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Still have to wait for a break: Hajra Khan

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Recently released dubai-based Pakistan film Pinky Memsaab has got its critical acclaim because of its story and good work by actors. One of its characters was Kulsoom, which though remained onscreen for very short time but left a strong impact on audience. The talented actress who played Kulsoom is Hajra Khan, who has proved in her debut film that what the character adoption is. Hajra started her acting career in 2009 with Go TV paly Buri Aurat. Keen to carry on with her education, she took a break of two years to complete her studies in Business Management from Dublin Business School.  Born in Quetta to a Pashtun family, Hajra moved to Karachi at very early age. The family went back to Quetta, where she completed her secondary school before coming back to Karachi and since then the city is her base, from where she is giving full focus to her acting career.

How you were approached for the role of Kulsoom in Pinky Memesaab?

I was approached by Shazia Khan, the director and producer of the film. She had taken many auditions before but many perspective choices were very apprehensive as firstly, the character had very minimal screen time and secondly, they were concerned about how they would be portrayed as bar dancer when the film is directed by a first timer. Then Shazia called me in desperation and asked me to do the role of Kulsoom.

Why did you accept the role despite the reservations by their earlier options?

I also showed my reservation about the length of character but Shazia assured me that despite having a shorter screen time, it has a strong impact on the whole story. I also liked it, so even with my reservation, I accepted it. I even visited some bars in Bur Dubai and met with a few bar dancers there to get the feel of the character. I also insisted on adding a dance number as it was supporting the character and whole story of the film.

So, do you think that you did justice to your role?

I did, but at the premier, when I watched the film, my role was badly chopped off. It had lost its strength and soul at the editing table. I recorded the whole song, but in film it was less than a minute. I was really disappointed to see my role ruin like that.  

But it is also a truth that many of our new directors shoot almost double of the actual length and then edit it hastily. Don’t you think that was the case with this film too?

I agree. People find an only two-hour long film a drag because it had many unnecessary and irrelevant scenes but was short of many important ones. The camera work was not even satisfactory, as there were very long scenes in extreme close ups. Lighting was poor that it showed all the actors in bad shape. It was not fair with the actors. An art film doesn’t mean that you figure people badly.

So, you will be more careful in choosing your next project?

Of course! But despite all my reservations, I am grateful to people, who are praising my acting in Pinky Memsaab. I also loved the story and my character, I had a great experience of shooting in Dubai but what I have seen on screen has really shocked me.

Do you wish to do any particular role to play in a drama or film?

I think an action role is the most challenging role for a female actor. I wish to do one.  

Who is your inspiration?

I am a big fan of Sri Devi. She is my ideal. Her Chaalbaaz is my all-time favourite. I have watched this movie more than 100 times and still love it. Sri Devi gave two block buster films when she was over 50. The woman has made the history in changing the status of women in subcontinent cinema.

What else you want to pursue in this field besides acting?

I am also writing a story of a film and have been in touch with Sabiha Soomar to direct it. I will also act in it. It is a women centric film as I think we have to come out from the stereotype and regressive representation of women on screen. Even our female writers are compelled to write these types of roles for women. We have to change this perception and this change can only be initiated by writers. The film will be available on digital platforms like Netflix or Amazon.

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Natalie Portman confirmed as Mighty Thor in Marvel sequel

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Natalie Portman will take up the mantle of Thor in the upcoming Marvel sequel Thor: Love and Thunder, announced on Saturday.

Stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, and director Taika Waititi, will also return from 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, and Portman will reprise her character of Dr Jane Foster, who debuted in the 2011 original.

For fans confused by the character and gender shift, Waititi explained that the movie would be based on an existing 2014 comic book storyline where Thor loses his abilities and Jane Foster wields his powers and magical hammer Mjolnir.

Further details of the plot have not been released, but the New Zealand director clarified that her name would be Mighty Thor.

And at the end of Hemsworth’s most recent on-screen appearance in Avengers: Endgame, the character had left his role as ruler of Asgard to join the Guardians of the Galaxy team, and appointed Thompson’s Valkyrie character as his replacement.

Thor: Love and Thunder is the fourth instalment in the franchise, and Waititi’s second time directing a Marvel film.

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Ready Steady No is a complete entertainer

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Ready Steady No shows hope for the Pakistani cinema. Ready Steady No tells you a simple middle-class love story between dxfz (Amna Illyas) and Faisal (Faisal Saif), who cannot marry each other as they both belong to different castes.

They decide to runaway once they are convinced that their parents are not going to adhere their choice.

RNS tries to highlight the troubles couple face if they opt for inter caste marriage, however the story doesn’t solely depend on this idea. Unlike many other films, RNS also highlights the issues an unmarried couples face in conservative society of Pakistan from sitting in park to getting a room in a hotel etc. The portray of a police station was much closer to the reality then I have seen in several other films.

Ready Steady No is a small budget film, and yet it was entertaining throughout the film.

I think the credit must be given to the director Hisham Bin Munawar who has proved that a good entertaining film can be made without a huge budget. He clearly sets an example that if a film is strong on paper it can be developed into an exciting project just like Ready Steady No.

To start with characters individual performances, I would like to start with Muneer Ahmed, who as cousin of Razia played the comic role in the first half of the film. His style and dialogue delivery will fill your hearts with laughter. He is dumb and yet extremely hilarious.

Amna Ilyas has once again demonstrates that she is no ordinary actress. The way she carries the persona of a simple girl next door throughout the film is phenomenal.

Faisal Saif, although just an ordinary guy in appearance presented himself as someone who is ordinary and he just loves a girl and wants to marry her. He never tried to show any sort of heroism in the entire over 2 hours of running and that makes him different.

Marhoom Ahmad Bilal, is his struggling lawyer character never let your attention divert, he keeps you engage throughout the film with his innocence and silly style.

Zain Afzal who played a maulvi character, is definitely the most difficult one to play. He was natural and yet influential and intense. He took to the areas where many of us do not want to visit. He reveals the dark and fanatic side of few religious fanatics which wasn’t an easy task to accomplish.

After Na Maloom Afraad this was the first time when Salman Shahid made me laugh. Undoubtedly, this is his best since NMA. He also played a double role in the end but lets just keep it a surprise for you.

Finally, Ismail Tara will remind you of his good old young days with his witty and situational comic reliefs.

The music of RNS is refreshing specially Dekho Dekho, which tops the charts for several weeks prior to film release and Nachee Ja, that gives you a reason to dance on a Punjabi wedding.

There wasn’t any chemistry between Razia and Faisal, perhaps because the focus was on comedy not romance. however, I think a pinch of romance would not have hurt the story.

Towards the end I would say that RNS is certainly not a perfect film, it has flaws like unnecessary long scenes and climax was a bit too long.
The film does highlight several issues in our society in a fairly entertaining manner, certainly not an easy task and the entire team of Ready Steady No must be appreciated for it.
My verdict, this is a must watch film for all those who believe in supporting Pakistani Cinema.

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Cinepax announces the launch of first ever STARZ PLAY Short Film Competition

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[Lahore, 16th July 2019]:After the successful launch of STARZ PLAY by Cinepax, Pakistan’s favorite entertainment company STARZ PLAY by Cinepax,  has launched STARZ PLAY Short Film Competition (SSFC) with the final event taking place on the xx of July with the sole intent to bring the young and aspiring filmmakers into the limelight and give them the opportunity to produce STARZ PLAY Originals and accelerate their careers.

The impact of the competition has created a global reach and garnered intense local interest, attracting more than 3,000 submissions from all over the world and over 200 entries from within Pakistan making SSFC the biggest film competition of the country.

Arif BaigMohamad, the Chairman of STARZ PLAY by Cinepax said “SSFC has been our dream since the inception of the company and we have been working on the short-film concept for a long while now.  We couldn’t be more proud and excited to have conducted this competition in such a successful way that it has become the biggest short film competition in Pakistan. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the talented youth of Pakistan to have taken part in such big numbers and to have trusted STARZ PLAY by Cinepax.”

Shortlisted films will be screened at the final event and the winner will be decided by a jury of judges from the entertainment and film industry. The winner will get an exclusive contract to produce a STARZ PLAY by Cinepax original web series. All entries will be judged by a panel of film and media experts and will then be uploaded on the STARZ PLAY by Cinepax app and website.

About StarzPlay :

STARZ PLAY by Cinepax, is a subscription-based video on demand (SVOD) service that offers an impressive library of blockbuster Hollywood movies, award-winning box sets, documentaries, kids’ entertainment and Pakistani content.

The platform utilizes advanced technology to provide a premium viewing experience with full HD content sourced from some of the largest Hollywood and Bollywood studios, such as Warner Bros, MGM, STARZ/ Lionsgate, Red Chillies Entertainment, UTV Motion pictures. 

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