Is Usman Mukhtar the Next Leading Man of Pakistani Cinema?

Umro Ayyar: The Beginning’ is shaping up to be the biggest release of the year. It may well break records and bring in box office receipts we haven’t seen since ‘The Legend of Maula Jatt’.

However, it is also bringing Usman Mukhtar to the wider public as the next leading man of Pakistani Cinema.

Who is Usman Mukhtar?

To be honest, I don’t really know the answer yet. I don’t watch Pakistani TV dramas, so my introduction to him was “Chikkar”. It was a brilliant film released last year about the alarming rise of mob lynchings in Pakistan.

Usman Mukhtar was the undeniable star of the film and his commanding presence and no-nonsense demeanor reminded me of Mohammad Ali. Now that’s high praise, and I don’t give it lightly.

Usman Mukhtar’s role as the stoic police officer Sarmad Zaman is among the best performances yet given in the new age of Pakistani films. And that’s something that he might bring to the screen in ‘Umro Ayyar’.

He has a more than a few TV roles under his belt, but he’s yet to be introduced to the Pakistani cinema audience. “Umro Ayyar” will undoubtedly do that.

Why Did He Choose Umro Ayyar?

Aside from the fact that it’s a risk, and a landmark in cinema, Usman Mukhtar’s motives to take up the role of “Amar” in Umro Ayyar were personal. He has grown up with the Umro Ayyar stories, as well as the “Inspector Jamshed” and “Imran series’”. These books got him through boarding school and he would often visit book shops on Maal Road in Lahore to get more.

Aside from a personal relationship with the source material, he also has a friendship with the filmmaker. He has known director Azfar Jafri for some time and trusted him to pull off a visual effects heavy project like this. (Usman also acted in and headed the cinematography of Azfar’s ‘Parchi’ )

Finally, Usman Mukhtar is a geek at heart, he has an active interest in gaming, comic books, and still asks relatives to bring him comics when they visit.

Umro Ayyar Was a Physical and Mental Test

“Umro Ayyar was the most daunting and intimidating experience of my life.”

With the same stunt team behind “The Legend of Maula Jatt”, Umro Ayyar promises to pull off some amazing action sequences. Usman Mukhtar describes the experience of shooting for the project as being stuck in a dream.

He remembers waking up with frozen shoulders, injuries, and sleeping in tents for weeks. However, he wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. It was exhausting, but fun, and he misses the feeling of getting up for the shoot every day.

His greatest joy was working with a team of actors who were all excited for the project. It was especially surreal facing Faran Tahir on set.

He’s tried to put his entire heart and soul into the project; something which he says is rare in Pakistan. Most actors just aren’t serious about these things.

A New Realm for Pakistani Cinema

Umro Ayyar’s success may open a lot of doors for Pakistani Cinema. A fantasy film on this scale hasn’t been attempted for decades. The last which comes to mind is perhaps “Gul Bakavli” from the 60s. You could make a case for “Shaani” from the 80s, but that was a science fiction film.

Either way, success for this film will open the door for more genres to be explored in Pakistan. Producers may gain the courage to try new scripts and, one can hope, make films for kids.

Usman Mukhtar hopes that his nieces and nephews enjoy ‘Umro Ayyar’, and that kids from all over Pakistan have fun along with their families.

“Umro Ayyar: The Beginning” hits theaters everywhere this Eid Ul Azha. Book your tickets now.

Written by Yousuf Mehmood


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