KARACHI: It is great to see the Pakistani film industry finally attempting to break barriers of clichéd storylines and predictable plots to deliver something fresh. The country’s very first dance film, titled Dance Kahani, is all set to mesmerise audiences with a nationwide release on August 5. The project is going to be Omar Hassan’s feature film directorial debut, and aims to bring Karachi’s hip hop culture to the big screen.
Judging by the trailer, the film appears to be a complete entertainment package and yet, it somehow deviates far from the other commercial movies that the industry has been churning out lately. Speaking to The Express Tribune, Hassan reflected upon the idea of making a dance film, and attempting to do something different. “The idea was not just to make the first dance film, but to make something truly unique,” he said. “There has been a trend of military-inspired or comedy films and I wanted to go beyond that.”
The film revolves around a British-born girl who is forced to abandon her dream of becoming a professional ballerina when her family decides to move back to Pakistan. “In this completely different society she now has to survive. She looks for ways to continue pursuing her dreams and eventually, comes across an underground hip hop circuit,” explained Hassan. The lead role is essayed by Scottish actor and dancer Madeleine Hannah.
“Cinema, for me, is all about making dreams come true – not only the characters’ dreams in the film, but also of the people in the streets. They need to know that if they can dare to dream it, they can achieve it too. We must give them hope and relief through our films,” he shared.
Majority of the city remains entirely oblivious to any dance/hip-hop scene in Karachi. One wonders how Hassan came about finding out, and what inspired him to dedicate an entire movie to the dance enthusiasts. The director revealed that he drew his inspiration from a DHA based hip hop dance club that he discovered a few years ago. “They would come to this club every day and dance for two hours,” he explained. “There was no discrimination based on class and social status and thus, I decided to explore this talent further.”
The same idea became the basis of producing the soundtrack for Dance Kahani. Hassan decided to use his project to promote lesser recognised artists and their work. “I brought some lesser-known names on board for the movie’s soundtrack. I believe we have a lot of talent waiting to be polished and promoted. The film includes 13 tracks, ranging from bhangra to dubstep and even rock.” Two of the songs have been crooned by Ali Khan. According to Hassan, Khan is, “one the best talents in Pakistan” that he has worked with.
With a project this interesting, one would have expected large-scale promotion campaigns prior to the release but none of that seems to be happening just yet. “We didn’t intend on carrying out our campaigns during Ramazan,” said the director. “After Eid, business will pick up and you will see a lot of promotion.”
The film stars hip hop artists from across Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar, Islamabad and Lahore. “You know our film industry has been heavily relying on our television industry, and we hardly get to see any new stars on the silver screen,” said Hassan. “I believe Madeleine (Hannah) is going to fill that gap. She has done a wonderful job.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2016.