If there’s one person who can change the positioning of Lollywood and give the industry a new appeal, it has to be film-maker Shehzad Rafique. With hits like Mohabbatan Sachiyan and Salakhain on his directorial resume, Rafique is set to return with his much-awaited comeback film Ishq Khuda, which is scheduled for a global release this Eid.
With film stars like Shaan and industry legends like Syed Noor as his biggest supporters, the film-maker’s latest venture has once again roped in a multitude of artists and musical personalities. Ishq Khuda stars actors Ahsan Khan and Meera in the leading roles and features guest appearances from Shaan and Saima.
For Rafique, putting a star-studded cast was easy since actors like Khan, who are well-aware of the film-maker’s talents, needed little persuasion. Khan, who is popular for his acting on television serials, had previously turned his back on the film industry but changed his mind when Rafique offered him this opportunity. “I don’t normally act in films but there are very few people who can match the work done by Rafique,” said Khan.
Intriguing plot and theme
Written by Saleem Zuberi and Pervaiz Kaleem, the film is based on a love triangle between Khan, Meera and another actor yet to be revealed. Centred on the theme of Sufism, Khan explains that the film intends to show that when a person fails in the pursuit of worldly endeavours and passions, they start to question their reason for existence and start to struggle for a higher love.
Regarding the plot and cast, Rafique said, “It is based on the idea of Ishq Majazi (temporal love) and Ishq Haqeeqi (eternal love). I have always chosen the cast according to the requirements of the role. I think the chemistry between Ahsan and Meera will be exceptional.”
Moroccan artist Wiam Dahmani, who is popular in the Middle East, will be marking her acting debut with Ishq Khuda. Talking to the Pakistani media, Dahmani said, “I feel great to be in Pakistan. When the director approached me for the role, I immediately said yes.” Rafique said that the reason for his choice was that the debutant will add freshness to the silver screen and will open the gateway for other international artists to feature in Lollywood films.
Filming in Swat
Ishq Khuda is extensively shot in the war-torn and flood-affected region of Swat. Rafique, who had just returned from a shoot in Swat, also thanked the Pakistan Army and the people of Swat for their support during the filming process.
“As a director, I wanted to capture the beauty of the region through the camera. Pakistan is a unique and beautiful place and its people are tolerant and accepting of different ethnicities and religions,” said Rafique. “I think the education of Sufi concepts is important as it promotes tolerance and inter-faith harmony.”
Musically, the film will follow the footsteps of Mohabbatan Sachiyan, which featured an array of acclaimed musicians and artists. Leading playback singer Shazia Manzoor, who had officially left the film industry 12 years ago after the decline of Urdu films and the increasingly lyrical vulgarity that accompanied Punjabi films, has agreed to lend her melodic voice to Ishq Khuda’s soundtrack.
Regarding the decline of the film industry and its impact on the music industry, Manzoor said, “While singers can go to India to record albums, the technicians and musicians cannot and those are the people who suffer in the long run. Therefore, quality films with great music are important for their survival.”
The film’s music has been composed by Wajahat Attray and lyrics have been penned by Riazur Rehman Saghar. Besides Manzoor, the soundtrack will also feature Sanam Marvi, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and several other major artists.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2012.