For someone who has worked extensively within the Pakistani entertainment industry, producing no less than two films in the past 5 years, Adnan Sarwar is distinctly non-filmi. Adhering to schedules, and being strictly punctual lies at the heart of his work credo. No surprise then is it that the Shah director wrapped up the shoot of his upcoming web-series Baarwan Khiladi in a jaw-dropping 24 days. “It was intense — I am looking forward to sharing with the viewers what we were able to accomplish within the tight shooting spell,” he enthuses, and you cannot mistake the no-nonsense tone with which he talks about his work.
With his past two projects being about a wrestler (Shah) and Pakistan’s first female biker (Motorcycle Girl), Baarwan Khiladi sees Sarwar return to familiar terrain. “I have a natural affinity towards sports drama, it is something that I am naturally drawn towards. All sports-drama genre projects have many similarities, such as team friction, conflict, and the underdog rising. Baarwan Khiladi of course has all those ingredients, plus a whole lot more which you will have to wait and watch to find out.”
But why go for a web-series, especially when he has two successful movies in his repertoire? “It was a simple decision for me when I learned that Mahira Khan and Nina Kashif were producing the series. Usually, I write the scripts I direct, but here all the cogs in the proverbial filmmaking wheel fell into place once I was aware of the production team I would be working with – the decision was a no-brainer, really.”
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Baarwan Khiladi has become the talk of the town ever since its introductory promotional material made its way on social media. Not only has it caught the imagination of an audience caught in the middle of a Covid-19 induced entertainment vacuum, but it has also the industry buzzing with the series of new actors it promises to showcase. Musician Danyal Zee (Danyal Zafar) and Youtuber Shahveer Jaffrey will be debuting with the series, and I was curious to learn how Sarwar’s experience working with the relative newbies unfolded on the sets. “Well, one of the appeal of the project was that I got to work with a new cast; I have never been involved working with the youth the way I have in Baarwan Khiladi. The newcomers Danyal Zafar and Shahveer Jaffrey are all incredible talents and it was an amazing experience working with them. They took the direction really well and were open to new ideas and ways of approaching the subject material. While Shahveer is a YouTuber, Danyal too has worked as a musician, and Baarwan Khiladi will be their formal debut.”
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Now that the project is in its post-production phase, how does he reflect and evaluate his web-series experience, relative to making feature films? “My approach was the same as with filmmaking – we adhered to a strict schedule and the technical crew I used was the same as with film. I wanted the series to have the same look that I manage with my films. However, there were a few new things, such as the episodic format was new for me.”
Wrapping up the conversation, I pose the inevitable question to Adnan – when does the audience get to see the series? “It’s a question the producers or the digital platform (TapMad TV) can answer the best. We are already into post-production and hopefully, the audience will get to see it very soon.”
While digital streaming services and web-series have gained much market traction across the globe, they have not really made much of a splash till now in the Pakistani market. Baarwan Khiladi just might change that, so watch this space for the latest on this project that promises to showcase the best of Pakistani entertainment.