Did 2015 Mark the Revival of Cinema in Pakistan?

By Haadia Paracha | 3 Jan, 2016

This year was monumental for Pakistani cinema with a string of films released one after the other. These films ranged from ventures that were a perfect mixture of star-power and commercial value to ones that were more acclaimed because of their originality and artistic endeavors.

Thematic films have worked well in the past since directors started deviating from typical Lollywood ingredients of latkas and jaktas to films centered around social elements – ones that spur actual dialogue and counter social injustices.

 

Moor’s cinematography could bear witness to the metamorphosis of cerebral cinema in the country with stellar shots of Baluchistan.

Source: SamaaTv

Strictly in terms of story-line, the film tackles patriarchy by delving into families run by women in positions of power, “Moor” literally being pashtu for “mother”. A front-runner for Pakistani entry to the best foreign language film at the Academy Awards but didn’t quite make the cut, Moor was one desi art film you couldn’t afford to miss. A music junkie like myself would have a playlist solely dedicated to Moor’s soundtrack that stands out with its whimsical fury. ‘Jeeye Jeeye Ja’ being the only song with a touch of Bollywood whilst the entire album boasts instruments that drum into your soul.

 

Manto recreated Saadat Ali Manto’s life through dark biopic on the writer’s life. The result was raw and real.

Source: Dawn

“I sell fire, fire! Which burns inside me. And I cannot let that fire effect anyone else’s life”

With gripping screenplay that had you tugging to the edge of your seat, Manto quite literally boasts a war of ethos, pathos and egos as the lead character struggles in keeping a balance between passion and something worldly and trivial as basic economics. Khoosat Sarmad not only looks the part but doesn’t shy away from painting Manto in all shades grey – he doesn’t make a hero out of the protagonist which is the kind of glaring truth desi movie-goers yearn.

The Herculean task of bringing Manto to life came in full with the burden of incorporating his literary masterpieces; one saw his short stories like ‘Khol Do‘, ‘Thanda Gosht‘. ‘Hatak‘, ‘Toba Tek Singh‘ and ‘License‘ carefully crafted into the story-line making for a visual treat extraordinaire.

 

While Manto presented a half-completed canvas, Shah proved to be a challenge with many oblivious to boxer Hussain Shah’s story.

Source: Express Tribune

Another biopic but with a completely different dynamic altogether, Shah managed to turn some heads by telling a tale of an ordinary nobody from the slums of Lyari to the world boxing arena, being the only Pakistani boxer in history to win an Olympic medal.

 

The film follows years of strenuous training, the internal battle of not being good enough, rising above all odds and the immense honor of winning only to be brought down by the Nation’s collective amnesia.

Faring well by the standards of a low-budget film despite many technical shortcomings, some of the film proceeds were dedicated to the unsung hero.

 

Carrying the baton forward for the many “firsts” this year, 3 Bahadur was Pakistan’s debut into the world of animation. 

Source: ProPakistani

Visual effects specialists and animators like Mir Zafar Ali (The Golden Compass) and Novaira Masood (Maleficent, Thor) have previously proved their mettle in Hollywood, the former also bagging an Academy Award.

A project by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy of the “Saving Face” fame, 3 Bahadur was a fantasy superhero film, keeping in mind the cultural context.

Shiraz Uppal lent his vocals for the high-adrenaline title song that fully resonated with the youth. While light years behind Hollywood, let us rejoice the start of a journey with many milestones in the future.

 

Jalaibee showed off a westernized approach to action movies.

Source: BeingPakistani

Gone are the days with Maula Jutt making the airwaves and rightfully so. A collaboration of the Jaswal brothers, this crime-caper came with full-throttle to the cinemas. Zhalay Sarhadi’s item number was catchy at best, ironically criticized for not showing enough skin. ‘Jee Raha’ by Umair Jaswal is playing in the background as I pen this down. While the screenplay could have been more crisp, the effort is worth a nod.

Jawani Phir Nai Aani was a runaway success. 

Source: Express Tribune

Regardless of the quality art films, how well a film does in the box office is proportional to entertainment value.

Speaking of films with high entertainment value, JPNA was a huge box office hit, grossing a whopping ₨ 470 million. The jokes were genuine and relatable, there was a stark similarity to a few Bollywood films which only concludes that the recipe for a successful box office run is a simple formula, on either side of the border: A star-studded cast, foreign destination, series of unfortunate events that defy all logic and viola!

Granted it was an out and out comedy feature but the plot needed to work in unison within the boundaries of common sense however, I suppose the revival of Pakistani cinema urges us to take baby steps.

Of course, Hamza Ali Abbasi’s ludicrous remarks worked in the film’s favor as scores and scores of people rushed to see what the fuss was all about. Disappointingly, there wasn’t vulgarity the likes of which Pakistani audience hasn’t already seen rendering Abbasi’s rants unnecessary as per usual.

 

Karachi se Lahore became the first film to get a Hollywood Premier in Los Angeles.

Source: Playwire

While we can count five films in under five seconds that were more deserving, one must laud producer Wajahat Rauf for putting Pakistani cinema on the map.

The product endorsement in this film quite honestly gave me a headache but whatever works, right?

To be fair, Ayesha Omar’s ‘Tutti Frutti’ was bang-on and a sure anthem for the burgeoning wedding season. Other than that, the film pretty much nosedived in terms of plot development.

The film lacked the energy it so wonderfully promised in the trailers.

While a roadtrip from Karachi to Lahore could have been the perfect opportunity to instill a narrative in the story with the changing backgrounds, the director committed a sin in not being able to deliver. Having Noori’s ‘Do Dill’ was one of the few good calls the production team made and one that stuck a long way.

 

All in all, it was a good year for Mahira Khan who got to play the lead in Bin Roye and Ho Mann Jahaan.

Source: Dawn

The timeless beauty of the Humsafar fame also managed to land a Bollywood feature, working alongside Shahrukh Khan. While Bin Roye was a classic Mills & Boone, Ho Mann Jahaan was set to be more preppy and released on the first of January thus missing our list by a single day.

Bin Roye fared well on the charts, ranking amongst the top three, however, on-screen, on some instances, it felt more like the Hum TV soaps.

Humayun Saeed seems to have a certain charm with the ladies. His experience puts him miles ahead of the race, it seems. The sets are beautifully entrenched by our typical extravagant wedding grandeur and the soundtrack was lustful with giants like Abida Parveen and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan lending their vocals. All in all, it was an emotionally driven film that could have used a laugh or two.

 

Horror movie aficionados were pleasantly surprised by the release of the first full-length horror film ‘Maya’

Source: Online Entertaining Songs Blogspot

Revolving around the age-old horror movie plot of five friends spending a night in an abandoned building consequently next to a graveyard, this Jawad Bashir project had a Japanese horror movie vibe which was interesting to watch.

A step towards the right direction, despite having little scare factor.

The poor visual effects and lack of finesse in execution butchered an otherwise decent effort. Being a rarely showcased genre means there need to be a number of experiments before finding the niche. Previously, slasher film like ‘Zibahkhana‘ and ‘Siyaah’ had little to none cinematic reach so Maya definitely set a new precedent in the industry.

 

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