A group of young independent filmmakers has undertaken the initiative of producing an independent feature film called Kaptaan, based on Imran Khan’s high-profile life following the end of his cricket career.
As Pakistan’s former captain or Kaptaan, Khan stamped the cricket field with his talent and charisma. Years later, he is just as famous after transforming into a successful politician and social activist. The movie based on the former cricket star’s life, which is still in post-production phase, explores the experiences of a man who dedicates his life to his country while also struggling with personal and spiritual anguish.
Faisal Aman Khan, an independent filmmaker who is based in the UK, is directing the film. Aman Khan admitted that he had the idea of making this movie two years ago after he graduated from film school. According to his colleagues, Faisal met Khan several times during the research phase of the project to get his endorsement.
“Imran Khan was reluctant at first and claimed that it was more important to focus on other aspects of the country, Faisal’s persistence finally paid in ultimately convincing him,” said Naveed Anwar, the film’s assistant director and screenwriter. “We wanted to make a film that would project the positive side of Pakistan. It was hard as there are very few personalities in Pakistan that have a global appeal.”
Anwar, who has directed several short films, explained that the story centers on how Khan’s disappointment at Pakistan’s dismal state of affairs triggered him to enter the political arena. He also juxtaposes Khan’s struggle for Pakistan’s future with that of Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s.
The film also recreates scenes of major incidents such as his arrest at Punjab University in Lahore, his hunger strike while in jail and then certain intimate scenes with his ex-wife, Jemima Khan.
A big challenge before shooting the movie was the selection of the actor suitable for the protagonist’s role. After numerous screen tests and auditions for the lead role, the team decided to pick local model Abdul Mannan, who has an uncanny resemblance to the cricketer. Anwar said that it was especially difficult to find someone who could play Khan’s part, since there were very few people who match the physical features and demeanour of the 1992 World Cup captain.
Mannan, who is not an avid follower of Pakistani politics due to its dismal state, said that he had to study various video clips of the cricketer-turned-politician to do justice to the role. He claimed that the film provided inspiration and would make people realise the state of the country and hence take more interest in its affairs. “There have been films such as Jinnah and Gandhi, this is another inspiring story of a nation’s hero,” said Mannan. “There are things people forget about him.”
Mannan is paired with Saeeda Imtiaz, a Pakistani-American model based in New York, who is playing Jemima Khan’s role. Her role highlights the various challenges of living in Pakistan that Khan’s former wife faced and also highlights her complex relationship with the former cricket star. Imtiaz, who took nearly six months to prepare for her part, says “The way the movie is shot — the use of lighting and the fact that the filmmakers are young and full of ideas — will give the film a unique look,” said Imtiaz.
Insiders claim that the film will be ready for distribution this fall but are staying tight-lipped about the scheduled date for the release. Currently, the plan for distribution is that it will get a theatre-wide release in Pakistan and abroad as well. Over 107 actors have been used for the movie and the production team includes 12 people.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2011.