Azfar Jafri’s “Umro Ayyar” Is Just the Beginning

Umro Ayyar: A New Beginning can be the biggest release of the year and may shatter box office records. However, it will also be a milestone for Pakistani cinema since we rarely get fantasy films.

This is a passion project for director Azfar Jafri as well as the rest of the cast. So we sat down with the director to see just how bright that passion burns.

Why Umro Ayyar?

Umro Ayyar is a character that children have grown up with for decades in Pakistan. Most know him from the abridged 10-volume versions of, “Daastaan-e-Amir Hamza” and “Tilism-e-Hoshruba”, by Maqbool Jahangir, published by the Ferozsons company.

I read these books long before Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings became popular. Each individual cover is still etched into my brain.

Azfar Jafri has in fact read the original 20,000-page epic! Hence, he’s had a vision for this story in his head for a while. However, bringing the epic to life right from the first film would be too big of a risk. The Pakistani audience aren’t regular visitors to their local cinemas after all.

That’s why Azfar Jafri is beginning with a contemporary version of the character to introduce audiences to this magical world. The new film is still rooted in that old world, but the story is completely original.

Umro Ayyar: A New Beginning is the First of a Planned Trilogy

If Umro Ayyar does well at the box office, Azfar Jafri has loftier plans. He wants to make a whole trilogy of films which open up the entire epic story.

The idea is to create something at the level of Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter, or the recent Dune films. However, that level of work requires depth and exploration which only comes with certain guarantees, namely the interest of the audience.

So, if Umro Ayyar: A New Beginning goes off with a bang, then we can see greater worlds and more magical ‘Tilismaat’ open up.

There are even plans for a graphic novel series based on the films to be printed for children.

Umro Ayyar’ Has an All Star Cast

Director Azfar Jafri considers himself very fortunate to have gotten so many of his first choices for his cast.

Usman Mukhtar, who plays “Amar” in the film, was his first choice for the role. Ali Kazmi, who is an old friend of Jafri’s also signed on immediately. Sanam Saeed too loved the script and didn’t need much convincing.

However, the biggest surprise in the cast is Faran Tahir as “Laqaa”. For those who have read “Tilism-e-Hoshruba”, that name is no mystery. The sorcerer “Laqaa Baakhtar” who fashions himself a god is the chief antagonist of the series.

Faran Tahir was already familiar with Azfar Jafri’s work and had grown up reading the stories of Umro Ayyar. He reportedly jumped at the chance to play the villain “Laqaa” and said yes immediately.

Actors Performed Their Own Stunts for Umro Ayyar

The stunt choreographer for ‘The Legend of Maula Jatt, Ian Temperley, has returned for Umro Ayyar. He insisted that the actors must be trained to perform stunts. And so, Usman Mukhtar, Sanam Saeed, Ali Kazmi, Sana Fakhar, and Faran Tahir underwent strict rehearsals for their scenes.

During the 47-day shooting schedule, a lot of the action sequences went smoothly due to rehearsals. Aside from a few injuries, which are quite normal, the shooting spell went off without a hitch.

Azfar Jafri is all praises for his cast, specifically Usman Mukhtar, who conquered his fear of heights to train, and for Sana Fakhar who pulled off some great stunts.

Is Umro Ayyar’ Made for Children?

Since the source material is usually read to children, Umro Ayyar’ may ostensibly be a children’s film. And that’s partly true.

Pakistan’s current generation, and several generations before, have grown up with little produced for children’s viewing. Shows like “Ainak Waala Jinn”, “Kaliyaan”, and the “Commander Safeguard” cartoons are decades old now. Many years have passed since the “Teen Bahadur” franchise and “The Donkey King” were shown on screen.

Azfar Jafri does want to engage Gen Z with this Umro Ayyar, and to show them that there is rich fantasy in Pakistan for kids. The most exciting thing for him is that his own children are excited to see the film.

Azfar Jafri Hopes Umro Ayyar’ Will Bring In Audiences that Don’t Visit Cinemas

The comment section underneath the Umro Ayyar teaser and trailer is filled with people saying how different the project looks. And that’s the hope; that a larger audience will come to cinemas for this film; one that doesn’t normally watch local films.

Azfar Jafri hopes audiences that go to watch superhero films, science fiction, and fantasy epics will come watch Umro Ayyar. And with this, he hopes a general interest in the Pakistani film industry will increase, along with revenues and profits.

Umro Ayyar’ is The Most Expensive Film Ever Made in Pakistan

Azfar Jafri and his team have pulled out all the stops to create a world class film for Pakistani audiences. Umro Ayyar: A New Beginning is more expensive even than ‘The Legend of Maula Jatt! What’s more, it supports local talent, since all the visual effects work has been done in Pakistan. If you’ve seen the trailer, then you’ll know how impressive that is.

Not only that, but the film’s music and sound design has been done by Ahmed Ali, who has been with Azfar Jafri since Siyaah’ (2013), his feature film debut.

Listening to the sound of Umro Ayyar in an international theater at WonderCon was reportedly a great experience. Director Azfar Jafri is confident that it will offer an immersive visual and audial experience for the audience.

Umro Ayyar’ Received Acclaim at WonderCon

The Umro Ayyar trailer premiered at WonderCon to a lot of praise. However, Azfar Jafri showed a distributor cut of the film to certain attendees and the reaction was quite positive. This has given him a lot of confidence about the film’s appeal not only to local, but international audiences.

Umro Ayyar: A New Beginning is as big for the Pakistani film industry as ‘The Lord of the Rings films were for Hollywood or the Baahubali franchise was for the Indian film industry.

Nothing of this scale or scope has been attempted in Pakistan before. Its success o

Written by Yousuf Mehmood


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *