Pakistani Cinema has grown leaps and bounds since 2013. The new wave has gained momentum and new films are being released nearly every month. However, there is a huge list of films that never got a release despite several updates on their production. Here is a list of films that are ostensibly in the pipeline, but have been stuck in development hell.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that the films listed here were announced at least 2 years ago. Hence any recently announced films which are undergoing shoots or post-production aren’t included here. This list also doesn’t claim to be a complete record of all the unreleased films stuck in the development pipeline. We recognize there may be many other projects that never got off the ground. However, we have tried to include as many as we possibly could.
This article is the 2nd of a 4 part series about unreleased films in the New Wave of Pakistani Cinema. You can read Part 1 here.
One of the three films Jami had been working on for a long time, Downward Dog seemed to be his darkest. It showed a dystopian Karachi, a journalist running for her life, and sinister characters waiting in the shadows. However, the plot was anyone’s guess. The film’s trailer didn’t contain any dialogue, nor a release date. And it seems like there won’t be one for a long time.
After Operation 021 and Moor both failed to garner much commercial success, Jami decided to put it on hold indefinitely. His reasons were that Pakistan was probably not ready for a film like Downward Dog. Moreover, he said the plot questioned the very fundamentals upon which Pakistan was built like the Objectives Resolution. Obviously, such a film could not be passed by the censors in the current political climate. Downward Dog stars Joshinder, Sajid Hassan, Nayyer Ejaz and Ali Sheikh.
This offering from Shamoon Abbasi centered on the media. It would be a critique of local media, and a commentary on the common man’s interaction with it in today’s society.
It starred Shamoon Abbasi as the titular ‘Gidh’, with the teaser trailer showing him sprouting huge wings. It starred Shaan Shahid as the protagonist; a celebrity surrounded by glitz, glamour, cameras, and chaos. Sara Loren and Sabeeka Imam were also part of the film.
The film experienced delays because, according to Shamoon, Humayun Saeed had backtracked on his commitment to star in Gidh.
Despite several updates, Gidh never saw the light of day. Even in PakistaniCinema.Net’s interview with Shamoon Abbasi, he seemed reluctant to talk about the film, no doubt because of production problems that have delayed it. The movie had been in development since 2011, according to its Facebook page.
Gidh seemed like an original idea, and the visuals were also very enticing. It’s a shame all that effort never came to fruition.
Quetta: A City of Forgotten Dreams
Balochistan as a subject that gets very little attention in Pakistani art and literature. The most recent project tied to the province was Moor, Jami’s magnum opus about an old station master caught between survival and love for his motherland.
Quetta: A City of Forgotten Dreams seemed very intriguing. The teaser, released in 2016, showed an old coal miner reflecting on his life. It also showed a child being scolded by his father for playing football. The teaser also showed hints of the separatist movement in the province, and how people were living in fear, which connected with the “forgotten dreams” aspect of the film.
The film’s director, Murtaza Chaudhry said that the film was off the beaten path and would show Pakistani audiences something very different. The director, who had entertained audiences with the 4 Man Show and the Banana News Network was very excited about the film going to the Calgary Film Festival in Canada.
The film never had a release in Pakistan however. Due to the niche nature of the film, it very well may never be released in the country.
Kites Grounded (Hun Ki Tera Zor Ni Guddiye)
Starring Irfan Khoosat and Tasneem Kausar, ‘Kites Grounded’ or ‘Hun Ki Tera Zor Ni Guddiye’ is about a Lahori kite maker and his family. The story revolves around the ban on kite flying during the festival of Basant, and how it affected the livelihood of hundreds, perhaps thousands of people.
The ban on kite flying during Basant is shown to have devastating effects on Irfan Khoosat’s character, Chacha Kareem, and his livelihood. The trailer shows him mourning the loss of his livelihood, as well as his life’s passion. Not having held a new kite for so long is getting to be too much for him.
Written by Seema Hameed and Directed by Ali Murtaza, the Punjabi language film was supposed to come out some time in 2014. It had been in production for two years, and looked like a very well-directed portrait of the quiet lives of kite makers.
The film however, never made it to cinemas. As with most other films on this list, there is no news about what transpired after its announcement. One hopes that it may find its way to theaters or online streaming services one day.
Announced by HUM Films in December 2015 as a tribute to the teachings of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi, this love story would be a Pakistani-Turkish co-production. It was to be director Khalid Khan’s debut and would focus on love across borders. The Sufi film would be a departure from the norm in Pakistani cinema, as well as cinema all over the world.
The film would be melody heavy as well, featuring the talents of Sajjad Ali and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, and Sunidhi Chauhan, Palak Muchhal, and Mohammad Irfan from across the border. Waqar Ali Khan would be composing and Ali Moeen and Sabir Zafar would write the lyrics. At the time of the announcement, the soundtrack was deemed ‘completed’.
The cast of the Zeher-e-Ishq wasn’t confirmed at the launch event, but Maira Khan and veteran star Shakeel were both said to be starring.
Yet, like all the other films on this list, eventually, the news stopped coming.
Pakistani Cinema has grown leaps and bounds since 2013. The new wave has gained momentum and new films are being released nearly every month. However, there is a huge list of films that never got a release despite several updates on their production.
A film by Manduck Collective, Naach was to be Pakistan’s first “dance based film”, according to the trailer. While that title eventually went to Dance Kahani, released in 2016, Naach still looked very interesting.
It had a lot of star power behind it including Shaan, Javed Sheikh, Momal Sheikh, Sohai Ali Abro, and Komal Rizvi. The film was apparently about the rivalry between Shaan and Javed Sheikh, the former a dance choreographer, and the latter, apparently a fashion designer.
Directed by Nasir Tehrany and Omer Ikram, Naach definitely had a lot of intrigue. It was supposed to be released in 2013, but was ostensibly delayed to 2014. However, like the rest of the films on this list, it has still not been released.
Announced in 2016, ‘Aks’ was touted as the first 3D horror film from Pakistan. It would consequently be the first 3D film ever made in the country. Featuring a relatively new cast, it was shot in Dubai and was to be Asif Pervez’s directorial debut. Titled ‘Aks-A Reflection of Darkness’, the film would feature 4 leads and a soundtrack that would give Bollywood a run for its money. Even Meera was reported to be making an appearance.
Aks was supposed to be released in December of 2017, but delays pushed its release to 2018. After that, there were no updates. The Instagram account made especially for the film also went dormant in March of 2018.
Debal: The Uncrowned Underdogs
This film is another mystery. There are no official pieces of news regarding its making or release. There is an IMBb page, but that’s about it. Barring a few posters and a few big names attached to its production, Debal is shrouded in secrecy. Digging a little deeper in to the internet, one can come across a few dead links including an article about the director, Duke Roth Simon, and an Indiegogo page which was apparently set up to fund the film.
The plot centers on the drug cartels and gangs within Pakistan during the 1960s. That’s an intriguing premise to explore. The film’s stars include Shamoon Abbasi, Yousuf Bashir Qureshi, and Sohaib Khalid. Its music is ostensibly being composed by Salman Ahmed. The man behind the camera, Duke Roth Simon, only has a single producing credit to his name according to IMDb. Otherwise, this is his debut directorial feature.
While search results for the film show a release date was set for December 16, 2015, that obviously didn’t happen. One can still hope that this film will hit theaters one day. Its concept and stylistic approach seem to be well worth the price of admission.
Starring Maira Khan, Aamir Qureshi, and Khalid Nizami, Khwaab-Aik Haqeeqat was announced in late 2014. The film would explore the thriller genre and ostensibly have to do with dreams. It was touted as the first film of the thriller genre since the revival of Pakistani Cinema. The tagline “Where there is a Dream, there is Fear” and myriad stylistic posters, the film both looked and sounded intriguing. Maira Khan would star as the protagonist “Roshni”, along with Aamir Qureshi as “Anas” and Khalid Nizami as “Khuda Baksh”. The story was penned by Khurram Nizami and the film was to be directed by Shahid Nizami. The film was slated for a 2015 release, but that obviously didn’t happen. Subsequently, any and all updates ceased and the Facebook Page went dark. There have been no updates regarding the film for 2 years now. Who knows if the film will ever get a release?
The poster sold the film as a romance. It featured a young cast including Sanam Chaudhry, Muneeb Butt, Marium Ansari and Furqan Qureshi. Ishq 2020 was also to feature a partially Indian cast.
Directed by Najaf Bilgrami and produced by M. Khalid Ali, the plot of Ishq 2020 would feature the lead characters eloping and their journey across Pakistan. The film was to feature locations like Lahore, Bahawalpur, Naran and Kaghan.
The filmmakers announced a 2016 release, but not even a trailer was released for Ishq 2020. No other updates have followed and a recent release seems unlikely.
There are literally only slivers of information on the internet about this film. Zara Sheikh is said to be starring in the movie, and Adeel PK is directing it. The only other fact known is that Jung has been ‘delayed indefinitely’.
Stay tuned to our website and social media accounts for more lists of unreleased Pakistani films.
We at Pakistani Cinema.Net are eager to see more films made in the country. A lot of these projects are quite appealing to us personally as well. We hope that much of the films listed here find their way into theaters in the future.