Monday night at the Royal Palm saw the music launch of Pakistani film Tamanna, which will finally hit theatres across Pakistan on June 13, four years after being announced. The film’s release is timely, as it surfaces when the local film industry has taken on a new significance.
The film’s soundtrack has been backed by the Tradition Plus team, which includes music heavyweights Sahir Ali Bagga, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and cultural icon Yousuf Salahuddin. With fresh melodies and lyrics, the songs are pleasing to the ears.
The film’s British director Steven Moore says, “The unique thing about the film’s music is that it doesn’t just comprise Bollywood-inspired songs and dance numbers. The music [extends meaning] to the film.”
Moore, who was teaching film-related courses at the South Asian Media School in Lahore, has been avidly interested in the Pakistan’s culture. He has referred to the city as his home and has worked towards maintaining the entertainment quotient of the film while not succumbing to the normative, commercial content of local films.
“Artistes churn out different tunes all the time, which is why we don’t impose the kind of music we want on them. We simply give them some sort of inspiration and let them do their job,” Moore explains. “This is because if you tell artistes to make music for something specific, such as a film, then they tend to interpret it as an ‘assignment’, thus losing sight of creating something unique.”
The music album comprises three tracks, out of which two were unveiled at the launch: the title track, which has been sung by Amanat Ali, composed by Afzal Hussain and arranged by Hassan Abbas; and Chal Oye, sung by Ali Azmat and composed by Sahir Ali Bagga.
The film’s soundtrack has already received acknowledgment overseas; it has won an award at the London South Asian Film Festival for the track Koi Dil Mein, which Khan has lent vocals to.
The neo-noir film will be a test for independent filmmakers who are looking to make an impact through non-traditional stories. Despite limited resources and delays, Tamanna aspires to bring something new to the table, as it diverges from issue-based and thriller films that are commonly being made in the industry.
Another interesting aspect of the music is the way in which the music videos have been shot. The director of photography for the film Malcolm Hutcheson has been an avid collector of old film cameras, which he used for stills. For filming purposes, he found a way of using the classic wind-up camera, which had been used predominantly in the past for passport photographs and has now become obsolete.
“There were plenty of these cameras available in Lahore 20 years ago,” says Hutcheson. “Since I am interested in photography, I started to speak to local photographers, who were throwing these cameras away. I thought that it would be better to get hold of these cameras than disposing them. Now, at least these cameras are safe and with them the social history of Pakistan is preserved.”
He shares that despite constraints such as load-shedding in Pakistan, completion of the film was only made possible due to an innovative and hands-on approach to filmmaking. These handicaps even led the team to experiment with unusual aesthetic choices, so that they could efficiently utilise the production phase of the film.
It is fitting to see that the much-awaited Tamanna will finally be making it to the cinemas. However, one wonders why the discussed constraints were an impediment for the producers, considering that others in the industry are also faced with similar problems.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2014.