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WHEN THERE IS A WILL, THERE IS A WAY: SHAZIA KHAN

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Shazia Ali Khan is a new entry in the director league of Pakistani Film industry with her debut project Pinky Memsaab. The story of the film revolves around two women who are struggling with their lives’ problems in the happening and glamorous city of Dubai. Call herself a feminist, Shazia is an independent film maker based in Dubai. She did her film school almost 12 years back and has an experience of documentary making and now owns a production company named ‘Shaz Media’. Happily married and a mother of two, Shazia is wearing all the big hats of writer, director and producer of the film at the same time and giving her all energies to her new baby. She is optimistic about Pinky Memsaab, which is being released in seven Gulf countries and Pakistan next week, and believes the film will not only get the critical acclaim but will also do well at box office.

This is your first feature film. How the idea came on to your mind?

I have also written the story of this film, which I think has never been told before in cinemas. I believe when you write a story, it should be closer to your real life as it gives you first-hand experience and the case of Pinky Memesaab is the same as being an expatriate in Dubai, I have observed its culture very closely. The people who go abroad for work and living try to make that place their home. They have their own sets of problems, which they faced in a relatively alien society.

Why did you shoot this film in Duabi while your major market is in Pakistan?

My Production Company ‘Shaz Media’ is Dubai based so it was more convenient for me to shoot this film at my base. Moreover, the story of the film is about Dubai that is why the 80 per cent of it is shot in Dubai and the rest 20 per cent is recorded in Pakistan.

You have cast many actors from other countries too besides Pakistan. Any special reason?

A big reason!  I wanted to cast the actors from the same origins, from where my characters belonged to. For example, my character Santosh is an Indian so I cast an Indian actor for the role. It is also a privilege to be in Duabi, that we can call anyone from any country to work as there are very less visa issues and tense political turmoil in the country. 

Being a female film maker, did you face any problem as the film making is still predominantly a men’s world? 

Fortunately, I was surrounded by very good team who were not chauvinists, so I didn’t face a big problem. Ask my actors, they would tell you how bossy I was during shoot. But when you look into the mainstream industry, there are a lot of problems faced by women directors. It is very unfortunate that in this part of the world, people still don’t accept to take orders from a woman. I don’t know why as in reality our first boss is a woman that is our mother. A woman has to be strong and firm in her decision to cope up with all these problems.

You are a feminist. So in future do you only aim to make movies on women centric issues or have some other subjects too in your mind?

Actually, the idea of my story was closer to my life that is why it became a women centric film. But it is not necessary that in future, my every film will be on a feminist issue.

Who is your inspiration?

There are too many. We had to learn from everybody who was already working in the field. In Pakistan, Shoaib Mansoor is an icon for me as I think he revolutionised the cinema in this country. Internationally I am inspired by American Indian director Mira Nair, who made Monsoon Wedding, which despite being an art film did very well at box office too. I am also a big fan of Iranian Cinema. I must praise the young and talented lot of female directors like Mereen Jabbar, Afia Nathaniel, Fizza Ali Meerza. They are doing a wonderful job.

The genre of Pinky Memsaab is closer to a parallel cinema. How much hope you have from its commercial success?

I don’t think that there is any differing line between a parallel or commercial cinema. Film is not commercial or non-commercial. A film is good film or a bad film. I keep my fingers crossed that our film would be considered in good films and will be a commercial success as well.

Would you aim to direct or produce a mainstream formula sub-continent feature film with a good looking hero and heroine doing dances in extravagant costumes? I think no. I have to be true to myself. I am a documentary film maker. I want to produce films that are closer to reality. I respect those, who are making these formula films. They are playing well in their fields, but as far as myself is concerned, I would never be able to produce these types of films, because that’s not me. But you never know, one day I decide to make that film in my own style.

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MTV Movie and TV Awards 2019 – The winners

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The MTV Movie & TV Awards celebrated the best on-screen work of the past year this past Monday night. Netflix had a whopping 14 nominations for its TV shows and films, including the award winning “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” – Noah Centineo & Lana Condor for “Best Kiss”

“It was a who’s who of Hollywood celebrities – stars like Daniel Levy, Dave Bautista, David Spade, Elisabeth Moss, Jameela Jamil, Kumail Nanjiani, Melissa McCarthy, and Tiffany Haddish were all there.

“Shazam” star Zachary Levi hosted the show. “The Rock” was awarded the Generation Award, and Jada Pinkett Smith was honored with the Trailblazer Award.

  1. Best Movie – “Avengers: Endgame”

2. Best TV Show – “Game of Thrones”

3. Best performance in a movie – Lady Gaga (Ally) – “A Star is Born”

4. Best performance in a show – Elisabeth Moss (June Osborne/Offred) – “The Handmaid’s Tale”

5. Best Hero – Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man) – “Avengers: Endgame”

6. Best Villain – Josh Brolin (Thanos) – “Avengers: Endgame”

7. Best Kiss – Noah Centineo & Lana Condor (Peter Kavinsky & Lara Jean) – “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”

8. Reality Royalty – “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta”

9. Best Performance – Noah Centineo (Peter Kavinsky) – “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”

10. Best Fight – “Captain Marvel” – Captain Marvel vs. Minn-Erva

11. Best real life Hero – Ruth Bader Ginsburg – “RBG” 

12. Most frightened performance – Sandra Bullock (Malorie) – “Bird Box”

13. Best Documentary – “Surviving R. Kelly” 

14. Best Host – Nick Cannon – “Wild ‘n Out”

15. Best Meme-able moment – “The Bachelor” – Colton Underwood jumps the fence 

16. Best Musical – A Star is Born – “Shallow”

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NOS4A2 – Bringing the Nosferatu back

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Vampires have long been depicted in media, from Max Shrek as Count Orlok in “Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens” to Luke Evans as Dracula in “Dracula Untold

Over the years it can be seen that vampires are no longer feared as the creatures of the night by moviegoers or people in general, the image associated with them via adaptations such as “Twilight” and “The Vampire Diaries” have made the vampire more of a creature that is to be envied and coveted after rather than dreaded. However NOS4A2 seeks to change that, this show takes us back to the old days when vampires were old, destitute and creepy, without touching much of their supernatural aspects and the show goes about their story in a different way; while we’re accustomed to view vampires as blood sucking creatures, NOS4A2 gives them a welcomed change.

Featuring the talented Zachary Quinto as Charlie Manx; a hundred year old vampire that feeds on the souls of children, and collects them at a place he calls Christmasland. He cruises around in his Rolls Royce Wraith on the hunt for pre-adolescents, on the opposite side of the spectrum is Victoria McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings) a working class aspiring art student who has the supernatural ability to find lost things, in a strange twist of fate Victoria’s path crosses with Manx’s and she becomes determined to put a stop to his reign of terror. The plot of this show is gripping, it keeps you on the edge of your seats, and concludes on a cliffhanger that’ll leave you wanting more.

So if you’re looking for a show that’s bloodcurdling, interesting, ominous and engaging, NOS4A2 is perfect for you; a wholesome plot complemented by an excellent cast, what more could one wish for.

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Music, Dance and Mehwish are Chhalawa only saving grace

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Rating: 2.5/5

Chhalawa is a story of a very traditional family. Chaudhary Rafaqat (Mehmood Aslam) has two daughters and a son. The elder one is Zoya (Mehwish Hayat) who went to city for higher studies and now wants to marry the love of her life Sameer (Azfar Rehman) whom she met during her studies. His second daughter Haya (Zara Noor Abbas) is a fired up girl, who usually lives in her own fantasy world of films, desperate to fall in love and loves to dance in her room on Lollywood songs. His son Haroon (Ashir Wajahat) is another character, blunt slightly manner less but loves his sisters.

From here, the age-old story begins that Chaudhary wants his daughter Zoya to marry his nephew, as it is a tradition to marry girls in the family, Zoya resists and conflict begins.

The first half of the movie is still bearable where at least some kind of story is developing, after interval; it nosedives and leaves the audience wondering what is happening. For example, first song makes sense but second was there because someone wants it to be. No effort was made to put some sense in it.

The story is simple, it is told several hundred times before, both in Bollywood and in Pakistani Cinema, and then extra level of creativity is required to make it interesting. Unfortunately, that is the biggest issue with Chhalawa. Scenes lasting for several minutes, borderline jokes and most of all, Zoya’s letters to her mother were a big question mark.

With a star like Mehwish Hayat, if the movie is still not able to pull the audience in, then to an extent it is a crime.

Wajahat Rauf’s Chhalawa is particularly disappointing for many, because people considered it a third time charm. Surprisingly, all the actors in the film performed very well despite having a weak script and practically limited room to perform.

The biggest surprise is by far the Zara Noor Abbas who played Haya, Mehwish’s younger sister. Zara turns out to be someone who handles her comic timings well, she is sharp and witty, and yet cute enough to keep the audience engaged. She danced quite well in couples of scenes. Ashir Wajahat also performed better than expected, although his character did not have much to do except for a scene or two.

Although, Azfar Rehman looks good on screen, however I am unable to understand his character, at one time he wants to commit suicide, then he plans to win Zoya’s father heart, then he just runs away when she asked him and without making a scene leaves her when she asked him to do so.

Mehmood Aslam in his role is picture perfect until the climax where he insisted on carrying out his daughter’s Nikah after he was shot.

Mehwish Hayat as usual shines bright even in this very limited role. She did well when she was playing a lover, arguing with her father, running away from home and coming back and again succumbing to her father pressure, but her biggest wins are two songs i.e. ‘Chhalawa’ and ‘Chiriya’ where she danced her heart out. Wahab Shah’s Choreography was engaging and full of fun, that is the only positive that you can come out with in the entire saga of over 2 hours.

Only thing that can save this film is music; Shiraz Uppal did very well giving not one but two already hit songs to Pakistani Cinema.

This is the weakest ever Mehwish Hayatfilm by any standard, with films like Na Maloom Afraad, Actor in Law, Punjab Nahi Jaungi the superstar stumbles at the last ball of the over.

You can opt to watch Chhalawa if you like song and dance numbers and that too from Mehwish Hayat and if you are ready to leave your brain outside the cinema hall.

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