Throughout history of cinema there have been films that follow contemporary conventions, and then there are those which defygenerally accepted norms; attempting to break the mold by creating something innovative and new altogether. Khuda Ke Liye from 2007, and Waar released in 2013, were two such films, which changed film making vocabulary in the country altogether and set new standards for the content, form and tone of Pakistani films. More recently Cake created a fair degree of curiosity through its quirky treatment and a non-traditional plot. It seems 2019 is going to be a promising year for film buffs looking for path-breaking content from local film makers, as we have three ready for release projects that seem to have attempted something never seen before in Pakistani cinema.
The Legend of Maula Jatt
Director: Bilal Lashari
Bilal Lashari’s much anticipated project has been generating media tsunamis of sorts ever since itwas announced in 2014. While many were left shell shocked that Lashari’s choice of subject had to do with the same film which sounded death knell for the rather mellow Urdu cinema of yore, there were also those who enthusiastically cheered the project, expecting the Waar director to create something interesting and unexpected out of a done to death subject matter dealing with Gujjars, Naths and their blood feud. Add to that the fact that producer Ammara Hikmat was able to sign audience favorites Fawad Khan, Mahira Khan, Hamza Abbasi and Humaima Malick as leads, and the grapevine went into overdrive about how this was possibly the biggest project in Pakistan’s film history. Well, fast forward four years, and we finally have its long awaited first look trailer which showcases a film which has finesse, style and the prerequisite gore and sex. From the Gladiator-esque fight sequences to CGI rendered Rohtas Fort, the film has top notch production values with Hollywood’s VFX savant Brian Adler pitching his talents. Hamza Abbasi looks suitably villainous, and Fawad Khan too leaves an impression in his brand-new macho avatar. Set to release in June 2019, The Legend of Maula Jatt like Waar might establish new benchmarks for the Pakistani film industry.
Director: Shaan Shahid
With films such as the aforementioned Waar and Khuda Ke Liye to his credit, Pakistan’s original superstar Shaan Shahid has surely been at the forefront of cinematic renaissance in the country.In a period when the audience was hesitant to brave (what was then) the infamous cinema cultureto watch a Pakistani production, his star-power had a major role in bringing his fans, old and new alike, back. With Zarrar it seems the actor/director is back to breaking conventions, as he did to a certain extent with his previous directorial ventures Guns and Roses: Ik Junoon and Mujhe Chand Chahiye. However this time, the look and feel is full-on Hollywood. Those who have managed to catch glimpses of Zarrar cannot stop raving about its cutting edge production values which boasts of many high octane action sequences and adrenaline pumpingchases. Extensively shot in London, Turkey and Pakistan, the film has an elaborate geographical canvas and has a relevant and realistic plot revolving around Pakistan’s security infrastructure. With Zarrar the audience will also witness the mainstream cinema debut of Pinky Memsaab’s Kiran Malik, cast as Shaan’s love interest. The visuals of the film are a step ahead of O21, a project which also starred Shaan and the aesthetics of which won much praise. This is one film that might just outdo Waar. Watch out for this one!
Director: Saqib Malik
Known for being avant-garde and yet very mainstream at the same time, Saqib Malik is one person who has been on Pakistani film buffs’ radar for a long time. Initially taking the showbiz scene by storm with his very cinematic videos for Khamaj, Behti Naar and Na re Na, the ad-film maker based in Karachi has been long touted as Pakistani cinema’s next big thing. After a couple of false-starts, it seems Malik will finally showcase his talents in the upcoming relationship dramaBaaji,which is set in the backdrop of Lahore’s dying film industry of recent times and is described by the director as his love letter to Pakistani cinema of yore. With Malik’s knack for crafting content that pushes the envelope while retaining enough commercial appeal, the audience can be sure with Baaji they will witness something that has possibly never been showcased in Pakistani cinemapreviously. The movie casts Meera along with relatively new entrants Amna Ilyas, Osman Khalid Butt, Mohsin Abbas Haider and Ali Kazmi, in what is a casting coup of sorts. Baaji apparently contains enough glamor, song and dance and high intensity romance, drama and intrigue to make for a compelling viewing, and we cannot wait. This one just might end up being Pakistan’s answer to Pedro Almodovar’s brand of cinema.