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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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4 Facebook Groups with Great Initiatives that Serve Significant Purposes

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Old were the days when a review was not a “thing” and it was extremely difficult to get information about anything be it travel, food, medical issues or any problem related to everyday life. It was not common to have a forum where people would share their experiences directly with the public. Reading first-hand experiences was rare and forums like Quora and Yahoo Answers were considered the only reliable sources. 

Now, everything is available on the internet and is just a click away. But, should we rely on such sources to be authentic and true? It depends and varies from source to source. It also depends on who moderates the source and how.

When the trend of having groups on Facebook started, people only used it for fun, to gather at a place to talk and share jokes. At that time, a few were trying to utilize this source for a meaningful purpose and those people gave birth to some amazing groups that, now, have a huge following and are considered reliable sources for any information related to the subject matter of the group.

Now groups have become a popular and the safest space for like-minded people to congregate and discuss specific stuff- from hobbies to pets and celebrities.

If you are still living in the stone age or looking for answers to your riddles related to food, travel, pets, allergies, mental health, etc., these are the groups that are at your service with a meaningful purpose and a great initiative to help the masses through a direct communication and dissemination of information through various posts.

 

Foodies ‘R U 

Created in 2013, now this group has over 95k followers. This is the place where you will find reviews about any restaurant. You name it and people will share their experiences. If you are a foodie, this is surely going to be your favorite group as it has all the solutions to deal with your appetite. Not only the masses, but this has also helped a lot of restaurateurs and home-based chefs with their businesses.

The founder of the group, Asad Sheikh says “I started this group 6 years ago for one reason only and that’s the passion for food. I just want to tell and guide people on what’s good out there to try and what’s good that our country has to offer. I don’t write bad reviews of any kind but that doesn’t mean that I have not had my share of bad food. Always try to highlight the good while telling owners of the restaurant about things that need improvement.

We all are ambassadors of our city or country and others who see our posts or reviews create an image of where we are from. Over the years Foodies ‘R Us has helped many people living out of Siri or out of country to pick the trees when they visit Lahore Karachi or even Islamabad. The same passion was translated into encouraging home-based talent to post as much as they can and later encouraging them to turn this talent into a business.

Many small businesses have blossomed from this platform and we later encouraged them further to be part of our Coke Food Festival, giving them a face to face experience with their consumers.

We have never charged anyone to advertise on our platform and that’s the reason for the success of many small businesses.” 

Soul Sisters Pakistan

This group is home to 212K women who interact and share their issues and experiences related to health, relationships, feminism, networking, their moments of happiness, moments of suffering or any piece of advice related to the ongoing discussion. Not only this, through the group, women were able to find their long lost friends, online jobs, solutions to their problems and a lot more. This has become a safe place for them to talk about stuff they do not normally share publicly or are afraid to talk about. Anonymous posts have become the new trend to send your message across.

“In a culture where women are often silenced and their issues trivialized, I felt that we needed a space and people to talk to, other than their immediate family and friends; a space where we could give unbiased advice as a third person, for each other’s problems and a space where we could come together to share our stories, experienced and inspire each other.

And so in August 2013, Soul Sisters Pakistan was formed, and within months we were getting scores of requests to join the group as the concept of a safe space like this wasn’t so common back then! From discussing taboos to breaking stereotypes to providing legal aid and emotional support – the community has really made a mark and become a household name. It is also one of the 115 most impactful communities in the world, recognized, supported and trained by Facebook itself!- Kanwal Ahmed (the Founder)

The Travel Diary 

Earlier, it was extremely difficult to know about the experiences of people who travel. Now, you just have to post a query and hundreds will be there to assist you or guide you about a particular thing, food place, culture or about people of a certain country. All in all, this group is a complete package to know about anything related to a country. Founded in 2016 with more than 72K members, this group is a query-home for all travel enthusiasts.

 Mishaal Hashmi, the founder of the group says, “Traveling is something that is an innate part of me. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to travel, be exposed to cultures and people. As an adult, I’m even more fortunate to be able to share my passion with like-minded individuals, who share a similar passion. The idea to create the Travel Diary arose from my desire to share my travel experiences as well as gain wisdom from the experiences of others. Never in my dreams had I imagined my passion to take on such a gigantic form and for a forum such as The Travel Diary to exist is a humbling experience and a dream come true.”

Soul Brothers Pakistan 

Even though most of the posts are light-heart humor and user-generated content; the group generally talks about various topics including networking, recruitment, and counseling. Similarly, it talks about issues that surround the men’s ecosystem i.e. relationship, health, masculinity, and mental state. Moreover, It discusses these issues in depth through live talk sessions also known as #SBPGuyTalk, where group members from all walks of life come and discuss issues varying from Depression, Suicide, legal affairs, and health-related topics. Their popular segment #AnonymousSoulBrother is also widely used by members who seek suggestions and valuable insights on a variety of topics.

We identified a need where we could create a crowd-sourced platform for men which would offer a healthy support system for Pakistani brothers here and abroad.” – Danish Javed (Co-Founder) 

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Gawah Rehna: An Upcoming Film Glorifying The Past

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In dearth of enough content for the Pakistani Cinema and its audience, writer and director Tariq Mehmood, is ready to add something to make the numbers higher and give something different to the audience by going to floors with his first ever feature film Gawah Rehna in October this year.

Cast of this film includes Muhammad Qavi Khan, Ghana Ali, Emmad Irfani, Rabya Kulsoom, Rehan Nazim, Faisal Imtiaz and others. A Turkish actor Mert Sismanlar will also play a very important character in the film.

Talking at a presser in Karachi, Tariq Mehmood said that the film was based on a significant historical period of Khilafat Movement. The film depicts the era of 1920 when British rule was at its peak in the Sub-Continent while our forefathers defied the British rule and at the same time started a mass movement called the Khilafat Movement to help their Turkish brothers and sisters in their struggle against the imperial forces”

According to Mehmood, “Gawah Rehna pays rich tribute to the unsung heroes of our independence movement as well as to the brave Turkish nation. The film will be a source of further strengthening the people to people bonds between Pakistan and Turkey as it will tell Turkish audience what our forefathers went through while helping their Turkish brothers and sisters.”

Ghana Ali, one of the lead of the film said she could not tell much about her character but she loved the script that is why I couldn’t say no to it. She disclosed that her character in Gawah Rehna was the role that her father always wanted her to do that is why was more excited to be part of this film.

 She further said “I am very honoured to be the part of this film as I always wanted to do something that could educate our new generation. Gawah Rehna is a peep into the history and our youth will get to learn about the past struggles of the Muslims of Subcontinent.”

Ghana was sure that Gawah Rehna will give us an international recognition and will be appreciated because if its topic.

Emmad Irfani, another lead in the film, said, he felt lucky to be an actor and being an actor it was his responsibility to portray his character it its true sense.  

Talking about his character in the film Irfani said, “Gawah Rehna carries a very strong message. The film is about how to achieve your aim and to remain determine to get to your destination despite all challenges come in the way. My character is very challenging in the film which will go through many emotional and physical despair but will carry on his struggle to achieve the point (actually the ‘why’ of his life) that has been lost. The character will transform at that point.”

He further said that he was really looking forward to this project as he loved to take different types of roles for his professional growth.”

Veteran Muhammad Qavi Khan said we need more of these types of films where we can glorify our past struggles which further strengthens our  present cause like Kashmir issue and others where Muslims are oppressed and the target of violence.    

Gawah Rehna will be released in both Pakistan and Turkey as well as in other foreign markets in March next year.

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Five Things We Loved about Strings’ Latest Track ‘Hum Aaye’

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Iconic pop rock band Strings is an integral part of the fabric of Pakistan’s music scene. Over the course of the last three decades, Strings has established itself as one of the most massively followed bands that has produced one superb song after the other. The band’s songs range from soulful to heartfelt, rustic to nostalgic as well as earthy and contemporary. But it goes without saying that the band, which comprises of the dynamic duo of Faisal Kapadia and Bilal Maqsood, has aced the genre of pop rock music.

It’s latest offering ‘HUM AAYE’, a foot tapping, energetic number, was recently unveiled by the band, to add to their latest music album ‘30’. They performed it live at the grand finale of Pepsi Battle of the Bands and sent the audience into a musical frenzy. We loved the track, but let’s narrow it down to five things that stood out for us above everything else:

  • Electrifying Music: The first thing is the blaring symphony of musical instruments that breathe life into the song. Among these, Bilal Maqsood and Syed Adeel Ali’s electrifying notes on the guitar paired with Aahad Nayani’s beats on the drum outshine everything else.
  • Vocals: You can’t write about a song without talking about the vocals. We are trying to think of the last time Faisal Kapadia disappointed us with a song and we know the man can do no wrong when it comes to his music. He lends his deep, baritone voice to the track and infuses it with an energetic, passionate vibe that makes it an instant favorite. You can’t help but play it on repeat until you can sing along to the song. That’s how you know a song works: it grows on you and you can’t stop listening to it. Hum Aaye is one such song.
  • Inspiring Lyrics: The lyrics are the soul of a song; without the soul, a song can easily crumple on the ground. Luckily, this isn’t the case with Hum Aaye. The song talks about the energy and with which one must face whatever life throws at us. The song is about announcing your arrival in the face of challenges, difficulties and the adversities of life, and in conquering it all. It’s a song that fills you with fervor and charges you up with the zeal that you didn’t know you had in you. This can probably help you shed a few pounds while you are working out 😉
  • Rocking Appearances:  The styling for the song and the way it has been presented on the stage has true pop rock stardom painted all over it. Both Maqsood and Kapadia along with their band members portray their readiness to take on the world, thanks to their aviator glasses and their devil-may-care attitude.
  • Onstage Performance: The performance is befitting the vibe of the song. It’s loud without being noisy, bright but not blinding and full of expression without being in your face. It compels the audience and the viewers like to groove to the beat and tap their feet to the song
    Hum Aaye is yet another remarkable addition to Strings’ sprawling resume that has one memorable song after the other. Listen to it, add it to your playlists and watch as it becomes one of your favorite songs of the season.

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