‘Allahyar and the 100 Flowers of God’ (AY100FOG) is the biggest release for Eid-ul-Azha 2023. The film is the most ambitious and technically refined animated feature ever produced in Pakistan. The scale is epic and it may break new ground for animation as a whole within the country. You can watch the trailer here:
We caught up with the director of the film, Uzair Zaheer Khan, to dig deeper into the film and the filmmaking behind it.
The $100 Million Grant from Epic Games
In 2020, it was reported that Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, made an investment into 3rd World Studios (the studio behind ‘Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor’, the first film).
This grant was part of the $100 Million Epic MegaGrant given to studios around the world to invest in games and animation.
It’s safe to assume that quite a bit of this grant has gone into the production of the 100 Flowers of God.
“It is a great honor for 3rd World Studios as the first in Pakistan to be recognized by this prestigious fund.”
The 100 Flowers of God is an Epic Film Title
For those that have seen the original ‘Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor’, you would remember the opening sequence. It featured a mystic and a huge Markhor in spiritual congress. Hence, spirituality was always a big part of the film.
This time, however, the title itself carries then name of God. It’s quite a heavy name and raises a lot of questions, such as what the 100 Flowers of God are.
“I get asked that a lot. All I can say, without giving out a spoiler, is that it does refer to something tangible/material and is critical to the plot, hence is part of the title of the film.”
Massive Scale and Sci-Fi Shift
The original “Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor” was set in the north of Pakistan. Rivers and mountains and wild beasts dotted the film. However, in the ‘100 Flowers of God’, Allahyar is stuck in a different futuristic dimension; a huge city with robots and wild machines.
We pointedly asked if there was always a plan to introduce this sort of epic scale and imagery to the Pakistani audience.
“We decided that the entertainment aspect should be enhanced through a action / sci-fi / adventure genre. But the film is still true to its roots with meaningful storytelling, social commentary and lessons. The scale is massive for sure, even more so than the trailer reveals. That is part of our growth as a studio to slowly inch towards films that cater to international audiences.”
‘Allahyar and the 100 Flowers of God’ is the Pinnacle of Animation in Pakistan
While Pakistani animated features have not been scarce in the past few years, Allahyar stands apart. The detail and vibrancy of the animation is leaps and bounds ahead of the other studios working right now. We asked whether that was due to the budgets or the technical skill that 3rd World Studios has.
“Thank you for your kind assessment of Allahyar. I believe that generally Pakistani artists have great potential and therefore believe whoever comes up with the next animated film will, in sha Allah, be even better than AY100FOG.”
Allahyar Has A Huge Star Cast
Humayun Saeed, Iqra Aziz, Ali Zafar and even Meera Ji are all lending their voices to ‘Allahyar and the 100 Flowers of God’. However, these big names from Pakistani entertainment are novices when it comes to voice acting. The real veteran in the cast is Bushra Ansari, who has voiced Dirty in the ‘Commander Safeguard’ cartoon series.
We asked how the experience was working with this cast, and particularly Bushra Ansari.
“There are so many things I can say about my experience with this cast. It has been a pleasure to work with them. We all know that Bushra Ansari is a truly talented individual. But I found her to be a completely lovely human being. I was quite nervous when I first spoke to her about playing a lizard. But to my surprise, she was excited and found the character cute. Kudos to her for performing the role with such ease and getting it exactly right. I doubt many others would have been able to handle it so well.”
Will There Be A Third Allahyar Film?
If the ‘100 Flowers of God’ is successful, there would ostensibly be plans for a third film. Right?
“We would love to make more films for our country. However, it all depends on if people want us to make more films. Animated films are a lot of work and are expensive to make. We’ve put in a lot of effort in this film, but audience trends towards animated films in Pakistan are less than ideal. The cinema audiences in Pakistan generally prefer live action films over animated ones. So, how AY100FOG is received will determine if we continue to make more films or not.”
Kids Entertainment is Not a Priority for Pakistan’s Film Industry
Pakistan’s film industry has never really catered to kids. They consume mostly American animated films from Pixar and Disney. Homegrown films and shows scrape the bottom of the barrel in most cases. However, since 3rd World Studios got the attention of Epic Games, perhaps they could break the mould.
“Animation is the best medium for engaging kids, imparting values and can deliver clean, wholesome entertainment for the whole family. Unfortunately, children don’t seem to be a priority in Pakistan at any level at this point in time. I doubt we’ll be able to change the status quo by making a few films. This needs to be done at the government level through addressing and implementing a favorable policy towards entertainment/ film production as a whole.”
Does Allahyar Draw from Personal Experiences?
The plot of the 100 Flowers of God is far more personal than the original. It’s about saving a loved one and navigating a strange world. So, does it draw from personal experience on the part of director Uzair Zaheer Khan?
“I suppose every writer and/or director draws from their personal life and experiences, more than they realize, when working on projects. But I promise, even though I would have loved to, I’ve never travelled to a fantastic world to rescue a loved one (Laughs)”.
Hope for Animated Space in Pakistan?
The Pakistani film industry is still nascent, and so is the animation industry in the country. However, the market obviously exists. Kids love watching animated features, so good enough content could appeal to them as well. So what is the hope for the future of the animated medium in Pakistan?
“Audiences expect Pakistani films to be at par with international content. However, the returns cannot justify such budgets. Making cost effective, stylized, but well-made films with higher frequency can help slowly build up the film industry eventually.”
‘Allahyar and the 100 Flowers of God’ will hit theaters this Eid-ul-Azha. Take the entire family along for an incredible ride.