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Mahira silenced her critics with a power pack performance in Superstar

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Star Rating 4.0 / 5.0

Superstar is a very simple love story, what makes it grand is the star cast that turned this boy meets girl story into something special and magical.
Director Ehtehshamuddin crafts this Pakistani love story with some non-traditional twists and turns which makes this film a pure treat for cinemagoers this Eidul Azha.

Superstar story about Noori (Mahira Khan) and Sameer (Bilal Ashraf), Noori works in a theatre which is run by her grandfather Sameer Malik aka Agha Jaan (Nadeem Baig) and occasionally she also works in small budget TV commercials. Whereas, Sameer is a Pakistani film industry’s superstar, he is a son of business tycoon Zulfiqar Khan (Javed Sheikh) and his mother Laila Khan (Marina Khan) was once a famous actress of her era. As usual Sameer’s father wants him to leave the film industry and help him run his business, while Sameer is passionate about his acting career, thus it makes father son relationship a sour one.

Agha Jaan was once a famous film director who has now limit himself to a theatre in Lahore’s old city area.

Somehow Noori and Sameer meet on a commercial set and soon Sameer developed soft corner for Noori and his feelings are not one sided. They started falling in love together. One day Sameer went to watch her theatrical performance with his commercial director friend Shaan (Ali Kazmi) who immediately decides to cast Noori in his debut film after watching her power packed performance with Sameer.

This is the point when we have an important twist in the story and unpredictably Sameer’s self-centeredness pulls him cross the border and it changes everything completely for Noori and of course for Shaan.

Here come some real-life inspirations from the Pakistani film industry and the sequence is exquisitely filmed thanks to strong screen play by Azaan Sami Khan and skillful presentation on screen by Ehtehshaamuddin.

Superstar has a bag full of stars like Mahira Khan, Bilal Ashraf and Nadeem Baig, which helps it create an onscreen charm that never fades away.

If we talk about the performances Mahira Khan has certainly exceeded all her previous works till date. In superstar, you will find Mahira Khan at her best. She has proven herself to be director’s actor, and Ehteshamuddin has undoubtedly brought her character to life as the dreamer Noori.

With an exceptional performance as Noori, Mahira Khan has successfully silenced her critiques and all those who were trying hard to bring her down sending a solid message that she is here to stay. In this movie, as a theatre actor Mahira Khan has performed some remarkable skits with utmost brilliance.

Superstar is Mahira Khan’s first film where she choses to reveal her glamourous side as she dances in a traditional Lehenga Choli in a dance number ‘Noori’ and also wears some exquisite Ball Gowns, western attires and of course Sarees. Superstar is surely a joy to watch for all of her fans across the planet.

Coming from behind, Bilal Ashraf as a superstar brings the best of himself especially with the body transformation he has gone through, he managed to portray a superstar persona that brings joy, happiness, and charisma to the silver screen. In Superstar he actually impresses his audience with his acting skills and his romance with Mahira Khan. Bilal Ashraf somehow shred all the stiffness that we have witnessed is his previous work.

His chemistry with Mahira Khan is phenomenal, the one we had only witnessed with Fawwad Khan before Superstar.

Ali Kazmi as Shaan as always delivers his best in each and every frame we saw him. He demonstrates that he is a class actor that delivers whenever he is asked for.

Although Javed Sheikh has a very limited screen time as Sameer’s father, but he did very well, especially the scene with Nadeem Baig which complete the story arc of that generation was quite nostalgic to watch on a giant screen it reminds me of golden age of Pakistani cinema.

Nadeem Baig as Agha Jaan has a major role to play rather than a usual cameo presence. Ehtedhamuddin unlike many directors did well not to use him as a prop, but a real character and he prove why he is still a superstar. After over a decade we have seen Nadeem Baig lip sync a song which definitely makes you feel nostalgic.

The man behind the outstanding music and screen play of Superstar is none other than Azaan Sami Khan. Having music in his DNA, Azaan gives us some best melodious songs of recent era. The beauty is that every track pushes the story forward, it focuses on telling you the story and never makes you feel unfit for the situation. Tracks like ‘Bekaraan’ and ‘In Dinon’ makes you feel loved while ‘Dharak Bharak’ and forces you to wear your dancing shoes.

In the end I would say that Superstar is a pure romantic saga, it has some of the best acting performances, brilliant music, good storyline and remarkably well execution. Director Mohammed Ehtehshaamuddin deserves every bit of praise for this wonderful jewel being presented on Eid ul Adha.

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Minaahil Umar- An Epitome of Grace and Grandeur

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Minahil, an architect by training, received her Bachelor of Architecture degree from the National College of Arts (NCA) in 2019. Before joining NCA, she studied at Lahore Grammer School where she pursued her interests in Art, Computer Science, and languages. Minahil’s work while at NCA revolved around Urban Architecture, particularly on reimagining South Asian cities.

Stunned by her eloquent talent for creating artistic visuals that are clearly visible through her work, we decided to catch up with the dedicated designer about her off-work routine.

What kind of a person Minaahil is when she is not working or designing?

Downtime is spent predominantly with family, especially my little angel daughter, truly a bundle of Joy.

What sparked your interest in fashion designing?

I’d always been observant and with the passage of time developed a firm understanding of fabric, designing, and color compatibility. I was already offering advice and guidance to friends, and it seemed only natural to take a step in this direction and introduce a revival in the Pakistani couture ecosystem.

Who has been your biggest inspiration from the fashion industry?
I have always been inspired by the originality of the idea or theme but if I have to pick a name — Coco Chanel tops the list; simple, elegant, and original.

Are you self taught or have you formally studied fashion? If so, from where?

The answer to this question is a bit more complex than a simple yes/no response. I didn’t major in fashion but went to what is without a doubt one of Pakistan’s best art schools – NCA that focused on our holistic development as artists. So, despite majoring in architecture, I received some form of training in a range of other arenas; fashion, theatre, music, and miniature art among other things.

 

How do you think Covid-19 has affected the world of couture? How has it affected your business?

COVID 19’s impact is rooted in its inherent uncertainty. We have experienced a massive disruption in our supply chains, have had to rework our workshops to ensure physical distancing, and developed alternative payment and delivery services.

When it comes to being an artist, what exactly are you most fascinated about that eventually becomes a part of your work of art?

They say ‘God lies in the details’. For me, details matter a lot. There’s a way to express yourself in depth which makes every piece truly unique. While I focus on depth and detail – my work at the same time is minimalistic.

Does this demotivate you that a strong lobby of designers has already been here and it is difficult to survive for a comparatively new designer?

I believe every designer has their own uniqueness and their work has its own charm. There’s no end to learning, whenever I see an artist whose work stands out, I connect with them, exchange ideas. To evolve, it’s so important to learn.

I believe firmly that I have in the past, and continue to prove myself by the quality of my work. Fear goes out of the window when you’re only competing with yourself for self-improvement.

What is your personal style statement?

I like to keep it simple, so a white kurta, jeans with a pair of khussas any day.

If you could dress up one famous face from anywhere in the world, who would it be?

Deepika Padukone for sure!

How do you manage to create a merge of contemporary and traditional at the same time while keeping the real essence of old-time charm alive?

Honoring your roots, feeling truly blessed to have a rich culture of native art, poetry, literature – grounds your ways of thinking. This grounding is the cornerstone of my work, and I strive for constant improvement drawing upon contemporary style. So, for me, it isn’t a challenge to capture the old-time charm alive. It is the tradition that fuels my passion for this line of work.

If not a designer, what would have been your career path?

I’d have been an architect, offering advisory services on urban development.

What were you most afraid of while entering into this business?

Keeping a balance between my family and work.

What one hurdle that you faced the most in this business?

I don’t think I have faced many hurdles, it has all been really smooth for me up till now.

What is one opportunity that you are impatiently waiting for?

Waiting for would probably not be the best way to describe it, I’d reframe your question a bit, if I may, and share the opportunities that I’m working towards.
1- I’m currently working towards expanding into North America. Currently researching on the best combination of digital platforms, comprehensive warehousing, and payment gateway development strategies to expand into North America and cater not only to the Pakistani diaspora but also to allies who admire South Asian designs and fabric.
2- Working towards transitioning into an ethical workplace, where raw materials are sourced via fair trade, safe and inclusive workspaces are provided, and staff is compensated and rewarded for the real value that they bring to the table. I firmly believe that the Karigars are the lifeline of any business and I hope to set a standard of fair compensation and inclusive workspace. We all know it’s about time, someone has to take the first step.

What are your further plans regarding your designs?
At this point I’m content with my creative expression, I’ve reached a position where the business is stable with a small but robust clientele. I wish to connect, learn, and be inspired by others who are doing work that’s similar to mine. We really are carving a niche, and it would be great to connect with likeminded people.

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Sidra Iqbal stresses upon the importance of education in Pakistan

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A well known T.V personality, PR practitioner, brand activist, and youth development advocate; we had a pensive conversation with Sidra Iqbal about the importance of education, the current situation, and her pivotal role in this sector.

As both a successful journalist and host, how would you describe the nature of your work in Pakistan?

 

In Pakistan, it is exciting and adventurous as a lot of these things are fairly new. I remember being a fresh undergraduate and the private media only opening up in Pakistan; so fast forward 10 years, I feel a lot of the values are still sort of evolving and there is a lot of work that happens on an ad-hoc basis. We are pressed for resources, we are pressed for sensitivity and ideas but that’s where the challenge and excitement is, and what really gets me going is that you can really make a difference in society with the avalanche of social media and this newfound freedom and power. It really is worthy to be behind the right cause, so I find it very exciting and adventurous.

Hosting a show, we see significant subjects regarding the future of Pakistan being addressed, do you feel that this representation brings light to serious matters adequately?

 

I feel they bring a lot of eyeballs and they bring a lot of attention to the problems. I’m not very keen and not very happy with the focus it brings on the solutions. I feel as a society they have become very pessimistic and we tend to just breathe and groove and sort of just allow ourselves to be mellow, but what we really need to do is be forward-looking, be optimistic and see we really don’t need the same kind of linear timeline mentality that a lot of people did. Even in our region, if we look at a number of South Asian countries, what they have done is they have actually made a complete turn-around change in their environment and society in one generation so I feel the same is possible for Pakistan but we are too focused on thinking, ‘Oh these problems will take a hundred years and perfect resources and a lot of political will to resolve’, I think that’s where the problem is.

Being an Ambassador for “IHope”, how was the response received regarding the discussion, which provided serious insights into the experiences of our youth in society?

 

I think as an ambassador of “IHope”, it was a fantastic opportunity for me to launch the initiative on International Youth Day. I think young people should realize that every crisis that they are presented with presents a hidden gift of compassion and of purpose, so I was very happy to learn that so many young people are motivated to actually give back and help people. In this pandemic they don’t feel that necessarily it’s a bad thing that they are stuck at home, they are devoted to compassion and to service to society; and IHope was a perfect opportunity for them. It was a call out to young people, whether they are in Pakistan or anywhere in the world to come and be a part of the community that would like to help people provide quality healthcare facilities to all.

 

Would community initiatives help create an environment where education and enlightenment can be accepted and therefore implemented for our children?

 

I think children all over the world are dreaming of a new world and it’s our responsibility as a society, as grownups, to provide them with those excellent opportunities. Personally, for me, I think two great pillars I really advocate for are Education and Healthcare. Once you educate a child and once you provide a household with quality health care, with hygiene, and you know the right to live, then there is no stopping there, because then you’re out of the survival mode. I feel that when children are told and they are demonstrated that all that they enjoy is not something that they are entitled to, in fact, what they need to do is be grateful for the benefits that they have. It does evoke a sense of compassion and service in them. So it’s a great initiative and it will go a long way in inculcating these values in children.

When in conversation with Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood, a change in the education itself was emphasized. What manner of change do you feel would have a significant impact on the system itself?

 

I think to begin with technology, ICT is going to be very important, the curriculum all over the world is being upgraded. I’ll give you an example, that they say that the children who are in grade school right now, studies point out that 65% of these children are going to go into jobs and professions that have not been invented so that is a huge responsibility on the education system to actually prepare a child for a future that is unseen, unheard and probably unimaginable as well. When we were in school, there was no internet, there were no social media but somehow our education prepared us for it, now the same challenge lies before us and in much greater intensity. So, I feel what we need to change is first and foremost give a child the right to question. You can no longer just dictate a child, you should give a child in the Pakistani school system the right to question, the right to understand, and the right to sometimes even prove you wrong, so until and unless the teachers have the ability to unlearn and relearn, we can’t really update our education system.

Do intermediate students have an advantage over A-level students when applying for universities, with their average plus predicted grade as well as an additional 3% grace marks given?

 

Well to begin with, as an answer, I think no students in Pakistan had any advantage. Our education system is deeply fragmented, there are too many factions, there are too many things happening and I really congratulate the Government to have a serious intent behind making it a singular hybrid national curriculum. Of course, it comes with its own challenges. I can’t really pick sides because these are students who are all Pakistanis whether you are in A-Level schools, I can’t hold that against you, or whether you are a parent for matriculation or an intermediate exam that should not be your disadvantage. But yes, what I am calling for is that the Education Ministry has to make a decision, make policy measures and take strategic moves that benefit and ensure a level playing field for all. This grace mark issue is putting the A-level students at a disadvantage and I would appeal and strongly urge and petition to the Ministry of Education to look into its decision and how it’s having an impact on all.

Would a change in the implementation and execution of educational policies pave the way for a promising change in Pakistan regarding the future of our children who are still out of schools?

 

Of course, I mean if you look at numbers, it’s astonishing. 20 million children of school-going age in Pakistan are not going to school. Even if you look at provinces like KP, one out of every 4 girls of school-going age is not going to school and that is a glaring  25% of girls out of school.  How do you expect her to bring a knowledgeable, aware, opinionated, informed, and civilized generation if she herself does not have the ability to read and write, If she does not have literacy, does not have education, does not have open-mindedness? So, I feel if you really want to turn the future of Pakistan around, education has to be the cornerstone for it.

How can we do our bit in helping bring about a positive change for our young children in terms of opening the doors of opportunity?

 

I think it is about getting them to be trained in design thinking; presenting the problems as a creativity challenge and not as a dead end. A lot of times the kind of discourse that we are exposing our children to in social media on mainstream television is robbing them of their hope. We are telling them that nothing in Pakistan can be fixed and we are going down the dungeons, which is the furthest from reality. Even if you look around the region just during the COVID 19, India in the last 3 months has lost about 25% of their GDP, I mean that is a grave loss, job losses. Something is happening right in Pakistan whether you want to give the present Government the credit for it or not is entirely your call, but something is right and there is a lot to be hopeful about if we really want to give our children and the young people something it is that hope, that believes that you matter and better things are possible!

 

  1. And lastly, do you feel we are doing enough as a country, for our future in education?

 

Well, it’s 70 years of not doing enough, you can’t take a snapshot and say are we doing enough or not, there’s been a lot of water under the bridge, there’s a lot of things we haven’t done right for the years to come. Yes, we can take a corrective course but in order for that corrective course to fully bear fruit I think it will need about 7-10 years and I’m hopeful that if we make use of this window of opportunity, that would be a big turnaround for Pakistan

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Raaz-e-Ulfat Very Well Relates to a Pakistani Girl Living in a Strict Household

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Raaz-e-Ulfat is one of the latest dramas that has instantly struck a chord with masses owing to its relatable story-line and amazing performances by the remarkable cast. For the uninitiated, what exactly is the plot?

Putting it briefly, Mushk Iftikhar dreams of exploring the world outside her conservative house. She accomplishes her dream life to some extent when she comes across a friend in her university who introduces her to the colours of life. Though, little does Mushk know that Sehba secretly envies her simplicity and innocence and wishes to ruin her life.

Mushk’s life is somewhat a true depiction of most Pakistani girls belonging to strict households, and hence the show has become more interesting and connecting for the younger lot in Pakistan.

You can’t move a bone without your parent’s permission

Yes! Parent’s approval is mandatory in everything you do. You can’t study, sleep, eat, choose a career, go out, come late, etc. as per your own will. You can only breathe on your own… rest will depend on your parents’ will. Poor Mushk is in the same boat.

Privacy is a luxury you can never afford.

Mushk has got no private space in her house. She shares a room with her sister, like how it is usually in most households. Even when she is on a call with a friend, someone comes to inquire about the whereabouts of the caller. Privacy is indeed an out of the world thing for Mushk and others like her.

You have to be responsible like a grown-up, but you can never act like one.

Like Mushk, most Pakistani youth, particularly girls, are expected to grow up and take responsibilities but are not allowed to think that they have grown up in a literal way. Hence, you are always a bachi/ bacha who is bound to live by what your parents say.

Marriage is your ultimate goal in life

You dream about marriage and your khuwabon ka shehzada because that’s what your parents aim for you on completing your studies.

 

Modern Friends Are A Big No!

You cannot stay in touch with rich and modern friends as they are supposedly some spoilt kids who will definitely leave a bad influence on you.

 

 Dating someone is a big struggle!

Going out on a date is a real struggle yet you want to experience it despite knowing that if your parents find out, you are gone for life.

 

Since the very first episode, Raaz e Ulfat has turned every local TV drama trope on its head to offer a refreshingly new insight by subverting all the typical clichéd plot-lines of most local dramas, bringing forth such nuances that make the entire watching experience oh so relatable and befitting for people around us.

 

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