Asim Raza is among ace Pakistani film, television and TV commercial director and producer, who believes that success lies in working with perfection and enthusiasm. Studied architecture from reputable institutions in Pakistan and abroad, Asim started his career in the same field and worked with renowned architectural firms of country. The story teller at heart, Asim could not resist him venturing into production and direction and from mid 90s has extensively worked in all visual mediums from TV commercials to music videos, long plays and feature films. Asim has directed commercials of big multinational brands from Coca Cola, Unilever to Mobilink, and beautifully picturized videos of musicians like Junoon, Junaid Jamshed, Najam Sheraz, Abrar ul Haq and Hadiqa Kiyani. In late 90s Asim established his own production company and worked a lot for music industry of the country from producing the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s last concert in 1997 to 2nd Lux Style Awards in 2003. In 2004, Asim won the Lux Style Award for Best Music Video Director for “Mahi Ve” . In between he continued to keep inducting himself in various film making workshops from institutions like New York Film Academy. In 2013, Asim wore the hat of a film director in a telefilm Behadd, for Hum TV, starring Fawad Khan, Nadia Jamil and Sajjal Ali. Finally in 2016, Asim won his ultimate dream of directing a feature film with ‘Ho Man Jahan’ featuring ace star Mahira Khan along with Sheheryar Munawar And Adeel Hussain. His upcoming film Parey Hut Love is releasing on Eid-Ul-Azha, featuring Maya Ali and Sheheryar Munawar as lead. Along with them, he is also introducing many new actors and is very optimistic about their future as new stars of industry. Here is a chat with this one the most talented personalities of our entertainment industry.
How the idea of Parey Hut Love came into being?
The idea came to me much before my first release Ho Man Jahan. I started working on this film almost seven years ago. I feel myself very lucky to be associated and have good relations with Imran Aslam (the writer of Parey Hut Love) and for the time he gave to my film. He came up with the idea of Parey Hut Love at that time and promised me to work on it for my film. Unfortunately things happened and Imran became so busy in his other responsibilities and our story took a halt in middle. In between I thought to do something else and started with a small project Ho Man Jahan, a smaller plot and simple story with least cast. After that, when I planned to start my new project I was adamant that it was time to complete Parey Hut Love. So here is the outcome of our hard work and development of last seven years, a gist of which you have seen in the trailer and songs which have been released so far.
You have a very big cast in PHL. How you manage them in a feature film time.
Parey hut love is two hours and 15 minutes long. Yes, the story of PHL is grand and cast is huge, so every actor has got time according to their characters. Interestingly, for me the key people are the audience, who would take some out to come and watch my film. I have made this film for them. So yes, audience are the most important people in whole process. Cast is there to entertain them. We have divided the time among characters keeping in mind the story line remained intact. I didn’t give the screen time because of this and that actor.
What about your lead cast Sheheryar Munawar and Maya Ali?
They are awesome actors. Obviously, the story revolves around them so they will get the more of it but I have tried to extract colour from every other actor in the film.
There are six songs in PHL, so how have you managed them in two hours and 15 minutes?
Parey Hut Love revolves around many wedding festivities and our wedding functions are incomplete without music and dance. I assure you that not a single song is included as filler but every number has its proper and appropriate placement and relevance in the film. Moreover, we have not only shown our traditional weddings but also of the other communities living in Pakistan, like the film have a Parsi wedding function as well.
Does Mahira Khan have just a powerful dance number or also acted in Parey Hut Love?
Mahira Khan has an important cameo in the film besides this dance number. Her role is a twist in the film and gives a different perspective to the story.
What about Fawad Khan’s role?
Fawad Khan also has a cameo in the film. He always comes to my film as tabarruk (blessings), which is very important to me. I have a belief that he is a lucky charm for my films.
You know other directors have a complain that Asim Raza always takes all the big stars from the industry and no one is left for them to work with.
As you said earlier that I took a long gap for my second film, so in between why don’t other directors cast them. And actually, this accusation is not true. In my first film Ho Man Jahan, Sheheryar Munawar and Adeel Hussain were both new comers and only Mahira was a big star. In Parey Hut Love too, Maya is just one film old while Zara Noor signed my film first before Chhalawa. I am proud that Zara is my search and I am sure she has a long way to go in industry. There is a lot of other new comers in the film as well. So, it is not true that I always cast stars but the s case is opposite as I always try that if I am casting two big established stars, then I should also introduce three new comers with them. I am thankful to God that if they become stars after doing my film. It is a great blessing for me.
THE DAY ONE OF SECOND VIRTUAL FASHION WEEK AIRED ON INDEPENDENCE DAY
With the Covid-19 lockdown slowly easing but not enough to host audience-packed live shows, Catwalk Cares Virtual Fashion Show Season 2 was recorded at Net Set Studio Karachi to be aired on three consecutive days from August 14 to 16 2020 on ARY Zindagi TV and ARY digital (YouTube).
The day one of the Virtual Fashion Show was aired last night featuring five designers with the central themes that reverberated was of hope, resilience and a sense of positivity.
Zainab Chottani’s diffusion high street line TAHRA presented a collection called ‘Joy’ with popular upcoming models Erica Robinson, Javeria Hanif, Rahima Ali and Fatima Hasan. The collection was inspired by the idea that amid the stress of the pandemic we should all remain positive and think about joy and fun.
Rather than traditional catwalk, models danced, gallivanted, drank soda drinks and high-fived wearing cotton kurtis and belted tunics in vibrant colours like marigold yellow, bright pink and cerulean blue, embellished with funny embroidered motifs of balloons, pineapples, cameras and airplanes juxtaposed with neutral black and white striped and chequered prints designed in wide pants.
One of the leading textile brands Al-Karam showcased a four piece Luxe collection titled, ‘Esfir’ (Star Like) that paid tribute to eastern roots and traditions, modelled by Robina Khan.
The sartorial consisted of old-style prints using vibrant hues including fuchsia, amethyst, tangerine, jade green and cerulean sky blue transposed onto the season’s latest trends inspired by traditional silhouettes including short and off- the -shoulder embroidered balloon-sleeved tunics and shirts paired with voluminous shararas, gharaaas and shalwars, embellished with intricate embroidery.
A showman, poet and esoteric creator, Yousuf Bashir Qureshi (YBQ) showcased his delicate 18 piece collection ‘Seen Unseen’ in an artistic poetry-laden fashion film featuring Sarah Bashir Qureshi, Hani Yousuf Qureshi and Anoushey Abbasi, inspired by dreaming of old Dhaka and the tale of a single mother and her connections with her offspring.
The Casual Pret wear collection made from pure cotton and mulmul in pure white and soft pastels hues composed of loose tunics, shirts, and crop tops paired with Thar pants and dhotis, end noted with a traditional Sari.
DINERS are known for their sleek menswear especially formal office wear including shoes, belts and accessories showed six outfits including three formal suits, in dark blue, brown and deep burgundy and three shalwar kameez suits in black white and cream colours paired with maroon, grey and blue waistcoats using a plethora of breathable fabrics keeping in mind Pakistan’s weather.
These outfits were modelled by upcoming TV actor, former Mr Commonwealth International 2015 and a fashion model, Danish Wakeel.
Kayseria’s Autumn Winter 2020 collection “Umeed” modelled by Maha Tahirani, buoyed the themes of human reflection and celebrating resilience.
A vibrant seven- piece limited edition Bridal wear capsule specifically designed for the Zoom weddings. Using finely embroidered fabrics including velvet, raw and pure silks, nets, fine khaddar and lawn karandi, the voluminous outfits included opera coats, sleek tunics, shararas and a billowing sari, imbued in bright colours with richly regal contrasting hues including cream, burnt sienna, deep burgundy, turquoise blue and black.
Folk-Rock songstress Natasha Baig rendered a performance of the raag-based song ‘Kesaria’ during the Kayseria’s presentation.
Meet The Churails
“When people will watch Churails, they would forget who we are in real and what we have done before but know us only by our characters of Sarah, Jugnu, Batool, and Zubaida, on screens,” say the four leading ladies of a first original web series of Zindagi, a tab on OTT app Zee5.
Written and directed by famous Pakistani filmmaker Asim Abbasi, Churails (meaning witch) is an action thriller series of women from different backgrounds to form a secret agency, with the mission of elevating women and solve their problems. The series has created much hype in just three days of its release and actually a breakthrough in changing in many stereotypes of Pakistani entertainment industry with respect to storyline, script, characterization, dialogue and overall presentation of the product.
According to Asim, Churails is his effort to modify the general meaning of the word in opposite subtext.
Here we meet main cast of Churails and know from them what they are doing in this one of the landmark project of their careers.
Sarah by Sarwat Gilan
Sarwat Gilani, plays Sarah in Churails, who fights against the various ills in society especially related to women.
“Sarah is a lawyer and living a happy family life in an affluent setup. She loves her husband madly but at a certain point because of his infidelity, she feels broken and during the process of recollecting herself she meets these four women, with different backgrounds but with the same amount of pain as hers, and forms the squad. Her love has changed into vengeance and that fire prompted her to fight for every woman who is betrayed by her husbands,” Sarwat elaborates her character in the series.
Sarwat admits that she has not played the character like Sarah in her 18 years of career.
“Media generally portrays a woman very suppressive and deprived who most of the time, needs a man as her savoir and a guiding force but in Churails, all these women are brave enough to uplift and support each other in fighting their own battle.”
The Jawani Phir Nahin Aani star wants people to not judge this series just by the title but understand its dual meaning, which talks about the issues and ordeal, which women of in Sub-Continental society go through.
About doing collaborative projects among different countries, Sarwat was of view that it was the need of the moment to break the monotony of our subjects and to find new levels and platforms.
“When we cross boundaries and collaborate, we try to give our best and they also do the same so the combination of these bests always promises for something new and better.”
Sarwat also supports these joined ventures on order to get out of from the stagnant state of Pakistani dramas and films, which are mainly emphasizing for so long on the subject of victimisation of women.
Jugnu by Yasra Rizvi
Yasra Rizvi is portraying Jugnu Chaudhry, who is also Sarah’s best friend. An event planner by profession, Jugnu joins Sarah after facing losses in her business, with primary reason to compensate her damages.
Telling more about her character, the actress said, “Jugnu is a funny, fashionable and a forward looking kind of woman, who are generally categorized in a certain type by our society. Being the most glamourized in all four Churails, she lacks romance in her life.”
What was something different about her role in Churails, Yasra replied that like Sarwat, she was also tired of being typecast as a poor and oppressed woman on television, but in Churails she is playing a very independent woman who takes control of her life, though faces problems in achieving that state but used all means to get out of this that is why has become arrogant.
Churails would be the ice breaker in taking out our stereotypes characters from boxes of black and white and good and bad to real life people, who act like a normal human beings, she added.
About collaborative work with other countries, Yasra said there were so many positive perspectives of this initiative especially for Pakistan, firstly to fasten its pace in the digital world and secondly to find a way to be known in the rest of the world.
“I often observe in online commentary on social media that people from different countries pass very harsh comments for each other. It is all because of getting a view of each other from far, existing and living in different societies because of boundaries,” the actress elaborated.
Nimra Bucha as Batool
Nimra Bucha plays the role of Batool, a self-determined woman with middle class background, who is stubborn and violent many a times because of the adversities she has went through.
“Batool has had enough to bear from men and a society and now lead her life on her own terms and conditions’ Nimra added.
Having a rich background in theatre helped Nimra a lot to portray a complex role with detailing in Churails, “In Pakistan, female characters are most complex and explored in theatres as compared to films and dramas. So, I took Churails as an extension to my theatre experience. We had lengthy session of rehearsals, similar to the month long presentations of stage plays, while the absence of live audiences would be fulfilled through the worldwide reach of digital app”, she further explained.
Nimra was of the view that web portals in general are about to break the many prevailing laws of film and drama industry, “These platforms are not selling commodities, thus not dictated by the advertisers, which set various media’s target audience, and bound them to produce content according to that target. So, with these OTTs, it is the time to change many stereotypes of screens.”
About collaborative work with other countries, Nimra said that it was necessary as Pakistani artists are not distinguished in the rest of the world. “Even in international projects, if there is a character of a Pakistani, the producers don’t hire Pakistani actors as they don’t know about them much.”
The Manto actor added behind working in Churails was also greed of being recognized in other countries; if not globally at least to the neighbouring country.”
Zubaid by Meher Bano
Mehar Bano plays Zubaida, a young girl from a poor family, having strict restrictions on her form her parents.
“She wants to become a boxer and gets training without telling at home but when his father came to know about this, he beats and assault her daughter. At that point, one of the Churails rescued her and then inspired by their mission, she also became their part,” Bano explains.
Being a boxer in Churails, Bano has some fighting scenes in the serial as well, “I took special training of boxing and fighting from Liyari to get myself fit for the character. I had to fight with real boxers for three months during which I got injured many a times.”
Recalling an incident during the rehearsals of a fight scene, Bano told that her male co-star blow her so hard that she had to remain on complete bed rest for next few days as the injury had affected her sight as well.
Bano further said that after the shooting of Churails, she came to realize her own powers. “I could never think of fighting so aggressively before Churails”
Mehr Bano is of the view that entertainment industries all over the world progress when there are cultural exchanges of arts and crafts among.
CATWALK CARES SEASON 2 RETURNS TO THE RAMP TODAY
With the Covid-19 lockdown slowly easing but not enough to host audience-packed live shows, Catwalk Cares’ Virtual Fashion Show Season 2 was recorded with a proper ramp format at Net Set Studio Karachi.
The three-day Fashion Show will be aired on ARY Zindagi TV and ARY digital (YouTube) starting from this Independence Day i.e. August 14, 15, &16 at 9:00Pm (PST).
Organized by ‘Catwalk Event Management & Productions’, the show, keeping its spirit alive, promises to be filled with a cadre of pioneering and popular designers, leading fashion brands, and four graduates from AIFD (Iqra University).
The 17 finalized showcases inclides; Faiza Samee, Umar Sayeed, Nilofeer Shahid, YBQ, Sadaf Malaterre, Zainab Chottan, Maheen Karim, Zara Shahjahan, Shamsha Hashwan, Rozina Munib, Nauman Afreen, Arsalan Iqbal, Lal Karam, Lawrencepur, Kayseria, Diners and AIFD Graduates.
The theme set for Virtual fashion Show Season 2 is, “Sustainability of the Pakistani Fashion Industry with the incentive and inspiration of;: ideals of hope, resilience and positivity”
This Virtual Fashion claims to showcase so many diverse designers, multiple brands and fashion graduates together under one platform and representing the universality, inclusivity and communal spirit of the Pakistani fashion industry after a long while.
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