For someone who has been a hard-line proponent of Pashto cinema for the better part of the last four decades, it is quite a surprise to see them venture into alien territory just to keep up with the pace of times. Film-maker Qaiser Sanober has decided to do just that with his first-ever Urdu production, Laal Haweli.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Sanober said he wants to target the larger segment of society by presenting Pukhtun culture in the national language. “Urdu films are doing extremely well in our country and there is a great demand for them,” he said, adding, “I am aware of the tastes of audiences who watch such films. Hence, I am hopeful that the film will do well.”
Penned by Waqar Zafar, Laal Haweli will highlight the issues of honour and the feudal culture in rural Pakistan. Co-produced by Haji Imtiaz Ahmad and Ameen Qureshi, the film will be shot in different areas of Lahore. While casting is still being carried out, Sanober is hopeful shooting will begin next week and he will be able to put it out for release on Eidul Fitr.
He estimated the film’s budget to stand at approximately Rs10 million. “We will make use of modern technology in the production process,” he said. Like his film Sartaiz Badmaash that was released in Kabul on Eid, last year, Sanober also wants to take Laal Haweli to the Afghan capital.
He feels films like Laal Haweli are vital to bring some stability to the Pashto film circuit. However, still standing loyal to his place of belonging, he added, “Our film industry was destroyed when cinemas were destroyed in Peshawar, Mardan and Swat. No one was affected by this but us. Yet it was our commitment that we continued working and are still striving today.”
Condemning the workings of the Pakistani government, Sanober holds it is unjust that Punjabi and Urdu film-makers receive awards for their work but those involved in Pashto cinema are ignored. “When our cinemas were destroyed, the government should have stepped in and helped us out. But it did not do that and instead overlooked our sacrifices.”
This neglect was perhaps the primary reason that forced Sanober to make an Urdu film. “I encourage other Pashto directors to start making Urdu films. I want the audience to get a taste of different cultures through our films. My work, for instance, has been praised outside Pakistan before, and I am hopeful that my efforts will be appreciated this time also,” he maintained.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2016.
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