Collaborative cinema

Published: July 21, 2010

Humayun Saeed will act in, while his wife will produce his film Daag. PHOTO: FAISAL FAROOQUI

Bollywood has spent the past few years capitalising on Pakistani talent. Whether its singers or actors, Pakistani artists have found success in India. Jawad Ahmad’s Virsa, which released this year, was a collaborative project. Up next for cross-border productions is Humayun Saeed’s joint venture Daag, with Bollywood veteran Mahesh Bhatt.

What sets their film apart is that unlike all previous India-Pakistan collaborations for which shooting took place abroad even when the story was set in Pakistan, Daag will be shot in the streets of Lahore and Karachi.

Initially titled Balla, the film Daag is being produced by Shahzad Naseeb and Samina, Saeed’s wife. The shooting of the film is set to kick-start soon and the script has been finalised. Written by Shagufta Rafique, the writer of Woh Lamhe and Jashnn, the film tells the story of a rape victim. It focuses on how she survives being rejected by society and the changed behaviour of friends and family.

The film will also mark Rafique’s debut as a film director.

“Humayun Saeed is a very famous Pakistani actor. He approached me to write a script. While I was working on the script, I realised that no one else would be able to express it (on screen) than me, because no one would be able to bring out the soul of this film better than I can. So I told Humayun that I want to direct it and he was kind enough to agree,” Rafique told IANS. She used to work in a bar and was discovered in Mumbai by filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt.

When asked why she chose Pakistan as a backdrop for her directorial debut, Rafique said it was not planned.

“I had not planned that I would make my directorial debut in Pakistan. It just happened that Humayun came to me with the script and I decided to direct it,” she said.

Though the cast of Daag is yet to be finalised, pre-production of the film is expected to start shortly, while shooting will commence at the end of October. Saeed had earlier told India FM that he would play the lead role while “talks are on with Pakistani actors Iman Ali and Juggan Kazim.” Saeed also said that Rafique is trying to get the Indian actor Tabu on board.

Humayun Saeed announced that the film would be a collaborative effort in technical and music aspects as well. “Music composer Raju Singh will be producing five songs for the film, which will be recorded in the voices of Indian and Pakistani singers. Plus, a lot of technicians will be hired from the Indian film industry, since they’re well versed with advanced technologies,” he revealed.

Saeed’s film career in Pakistan has not gone well. A popular television actor, he made his debut in Samina Peerzada’s Inteha (1999), playing the role of an obsessive lover. While Saeed tried his hand at other films, he reverted back to television and has enjoyed a successful run for the past decade as an actor and a producer.

But Saeed recently made a comeback in films by starring in Jashnn. The film flopped at the box office, but he received good reviews for his performance. Other than Daag, the actor is also re-uniting with Inteha co-star Meera. He will be playing the lead in Shehzad Rafique’s assistant Aamir Zafar’s debut Victim. The film is reportedly based on political instability and terrorism.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2010.

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