A kahani to make you sway

Director Omar Hassan to unveil Pakistani hip hop talent in upcoming feature film

Humay Waseem November 29, 2015
Film featuring Scottish actor Madeleine Hannah will hit the screens in 2016. PHOTO: PUBLICITY


Pakistan has a growing hip hop culture with dancers hailing from all walks of life. Seasoned ad film-maker Omar Hassan, is on his way to rediscovering their talent by bringing this feisty underground clique to the forefront in his debut feature film Dance Kahani. Speaking to The Express Tribune, the director spills the beans on his upcoming venture and what drew his inspiration.

Reflecting upon the plot of the film, Hassan shared, “The central theme of the film revolves around a British-born Pakistani girl who is forced to give up her dream of becoming a ballerina as her family has to move back to Pakistan.” Unwilling to give up, the girl looks for ways to pursue her dream and as luck would have it, she stumbles across an underground hip hop circuit, which might just provide her a way out.

It was the hidden hip hop talent in Pakistan that motivated Hassan to direct  a dance film and scrap the idea of a movie he was about to make earlier.  “I was flabbergasted by the talent and dedication I saw in the country, including the incredible talent of my current action lead Vernin U’Chong, who is a free style b-boy. I wasn’t even aware that we had actors who could pull off moves we normally see in Hollywood movies,” he added.

Intrigued, he decided to spend time with the hip hop dancers at ActOne, a Karachi-based dance studio where they practiced. Without any formal training or a platform, these teenagers dedicated all their free time to this art.  “The more I got to know them, the more amazed I became”.

Hassan observed that dancing not only positively channelised the energies of the youth but also diminished the socioeconomic disparities between them. “What I noticed was that once they were on the floor, the geographical and economic disparity between them disappeared. Irrespective of which class they belonged to or what mode of transport they used, you could see no difference between them,” he stated.

Summer fun: Dance like your ancestors are watching

The cast includes hip hop dancers from Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore and Hazara. Vernin Uchong, Alamdar Khan and Scottish actor and dancer Madeleine Hannah have also been roped in for the film. “We found Madeleine Hannah with the help of international talent agencies. She is a trained actor and ballerina, so she was a perfect fit for the role. Her enthusiasm to explore Pakistan and to spend time here was an added bonus,” added Hassan.

Of the casting for the movie, Hassan said it was a smooth process for him since he will be penning the script as well. “Before casting actors, I had written a few key roles based on the personalities of the boys. Through the help of ActOne, we managed to select a team,” he noted.

Owing to the novel subject of the film, the director has received positive feedback from anticipating audiences. “Dance Kahani is not just another mindless dance film. It is one that carries its own ‘kahani’ and substance. Dance is just a canvas that the characters of the movie are using to achieve their dreams”.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th,  2015.

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alisher khattak | 8 years ago | Reply best of luck alamdar khan .
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