WAAR – The Movie

If you want to catch an entertaining and impressive Pakistani action film, WAAR is the one to see. This film is Pakistan’s most successful film ever grossing over $5 million dollars but most importantly creating an expectation for audiences worldwide that there’s for more to come from Pakistan’s Film Industry.

Made on a modest budget of 1.6 million dollars, the film gives you a Hollywood blockbuster with drama, great action and high end production.

The film is directed by Bilal Lashari who’s making an impressive debut. WAAR, is a film set in Pakistan focussing on a Special Forces agent called Mujtaba. The character is played by Shaan Shaid. The agent works to fight terrorism, however when his family is killed by a terrorist called Ramal, he goes into retirement. The film picks up when there’s an imminent attack on Pakistan.

The cinematography, editing and directing of Bilal Lashari is key to the success. The film is edited tightly, moving seamlessly through scenes. The shot designs are impressive and appropriate. The soundtrack flows in Urdu and English gliding between moods, times and storyline.

The casting of the film uses experienced actors with new. The only element that lets the film down is some of the dialog. I felt the dialog could have been expressed it in a more natural way and not so contrived. But the film sidesteps this weakness, offering so much more. You see parts of Pakistan, the politics, violence, wealth and the fight for power. Shaan Shahid produces an impressive performance. His maturity and good looks give the storyline credibility. He plays the part perfectly and holds the film together.

The film really explores the contemporary issues facing Pakistan and how hard the armed forces work to protect their country. It shares a viewpoint that could only be presented by this generation that’s a mixture of East and West.

The film offers the actresses roles with credibility and strength, there’s little room in this film for women in distress, and they have a purpose. In particular Ayesha Khan and Meesha Shafi with supporting roles are women with skills, intellect and sophistication. In no way are the actresses exploited. Any scenes of romance are handled with care and limited shots are used so that actions are implied.

The film relies on its visuals to take the audience on a journey. The moving, sweeping and variety of close up shots give the film pace and an urgency that help to share the story. The choices are thoughtful, creative and skilful.

WAAR is an entertaining and enjoyable film although violent in some parts; it’s worth watching and getting out there to support Pakistan’s Film Industry.

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Good Morning Karachi

Good Morning Karachi

Cast: Amna Ilyas, Beo Raana Zafar, Yasir Aqueel

Director: Sabiha Sumar

Country: Pakistan

Genre: Drama

Good Morning Karachi is a film screening at the Indian Film Festival in Melbourne. The film is directed by Subiha Sumar who has made films like Silent Waters.

The story revolves around Rafina, a young Pakistani woman who is on the brink of an unwanted marriage; with ambition, she makes choices for a better life whilst moving against the odds. While society, her fearful mother and demeaning fiancé try to hold her back, Rafina chases her dream. And you can’t help but get caught up in her desire for change.

The main storyline is a standard cliché, a poor girl from the rough neighbourhood who gets ‘discovered’ and becomes a successful model. But there’s more to this film than the ‘corny dance party’ scene and the main character’s ‘hard to believe wardrobe’ in a very conservative neighbourhood of Karachi.

The parallel storylines have something to offer. They give the audience an insight into life in the poor and wealthy lifestyles of Karachi suburbs, insight into women who comprise for society or cultural expectations and the reality of politics in Pakistan.

The film tries to capture the time before the return of Benazir Bhutto, the brutality of politics and society. It also gives an insight into the modern society of fashion and the wealthy. It also offers a platform for the new generation to get their views across.

The film is a mix of good and bad, old values with the new, beautifully shot and a great showcase of Pakistani talent.

The Shahs of Sunset

I’m in love, you read right. I’m announcing to the world my new love, the Shahs of Sunset.

For the lovers, you know why. It’s the first time on American Tv we are getting access to successful rich Persians and having an insight into their lives, thoughts, hopes and somewhat messed up entertaining lives. It’s a true adrenalin rush. A mix of fancy restaurants, extravagant vacations and designer …everything! There’s so much bling it’s crazy.

The Shahs of sunset is a product from the Ryan Seacrest production house. Following in the footsteps of the Karadashians, the series is filled with excess and drama. Unlike it’s predecessor, this show I feel, has some heart. It’s the first I’ve ever seen a reality show with a leading gay male part jewish/muslim personality. Sharing his own struggles, honesty and sense of humour, Reza brings so much depth and I feel makes this show a success.

There are so many interesting characters and it’s almost like a little middle east with Persians of different faiths maintaining friendships and working together through their hardships. Whats also interesting is the way these American Persians interpret their faiths and culture. This can be up for debate particularly in the muslim communities living in the west. It’s definitely something different and entertaining.

One of the most interesting parts of working on documentary is meeting people. When I was shooting segments for the You Am I documentary, I had access to a number of artists attending the opening night. Hanifa Macfarlane, was one of those artists. She was my first interview and in my opinion, so different from what I expected. It was the first time I had met a convert who was Sufi. A new experience for me.

When I decided to create short segments for this online show, my aim was to show different types of artists and share how they expressed their artistic talents. I was moved by her life, attitude and love for art.

Here’s a small segment:

 

 

Saving Face

What happens when filmmakers and a doctor believe in making a change?

What happens when a horrific topic is shared with the world?

What happens when injustice, pain and sorrow for those who cannot defend themselves finds a voice?

The result is ‘Saving Face’ a the documentary directed by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and Daniel Junge.

The film follow the lives of victims of acid attacks in Pakistan. We meet the survivors who have suffered at the hands of their husbands, admirers and in-laws. Most of these women are disfigured as a result and are awaiting surgery with a Pakistani plastic surgeon, Dr Mohammad Jawad. The doctor who is behind the making of this documentary, tries his best to help assist the survivors and attempt to bring about change.

The film is not easy to watch, it’s difficult and gritty. The camera is right in the middle of situations, interacting with the women, in the hospitals and where they live. As an audience, you can feel their sorrow and pain.

The film was nominated and won the Best Documentary(short Subject) in 2012.

Like most people, I celebrated the fact that Sharmeen was the first Pakistani woman to win an Academy Award. But after watching the film there’s so much more to this than the award. I think that she has shown the world that there’s more to Pakistani society- YES, Acid attacks are horrible, VIOLENCE against women is disgraceful but amongst the hopelessness and pain there is still HOPE. There are people working hard within Pakistan trying to bring about change and end this disease of  violence against women. It’s a brave film.


Mustafa Davis and Anvil

Last week I came across an interview with a  filmmaker and a documentary that, are worlds apart and yet each were information rich and similar. In my opinion, both were were important.

Mustafa Davis is an American Muslim Filmmaker who has made a number of documentaries on topics ranging from creative muslim artists to segments about converts(or reverts) to Islam. In this backstage interview on that features on you tube, he talked about his film about the hip hop movement and it’ artists. He then highlighted the fact that making docos is for LOVE not money because people rarely make any cash from this genre. He talks about that  staying motivated, becoming a film director and about the advise his father gave which I found to be priceless.

The second was the documentary about the band ‘Anvil’. These eighties ageing rockers were on a  European tour and still trying to fulfil their dreams for fame even though they were nearing the 50 years age bracket. Hopeful and ambitious, Anvil were still performing with PASSION and looking for that ‘BIG break’. It’s an emotional roller coaster were you want these guys to get the break just because they have been trying so hard for so long! Absolutely loved the way the doco was shot and the storylines- from the band members, their families and most importantly, the fans.

When have moments that are lacking inspiration and motivation, it’s interesting to be ‘open’ to listen or in my case, watch the stories and journeys of others. Thank God for the internet, it’s opened the door to people across the world…

The Crescent Show promo

It’s been a long journey, almost a year BUT ‘The Crescent Show’ has arrived. The show is designed to feature stories about members of the Australian Community. It’s a small online program that will give a platform to multicultural topics and hopefully present a diverse range of stories.