KARACHI: While it is true that Pakistani film industry struggles to make films that leave a mark in the viewers’ memories, it is safe to say that local film-makers are delving into multiple genres as well as experimenting with new methods.
Two-time Academy Award winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, being one of them, produced Pakistan’s first animated feature film 3 Bahadur and now she’s following it up with a sequel 3 Bahadur: The Revenge of Baba Balaam. The film follows the story of three children Saadi, Amna and Kamil and stars Fahad Mustafa, Sarwat Gillani, Ali Gul Pir and Behroze Sabzwari among an ensemble cast.
The Express Tribune sat down with Obaid-Chinoy, Mustafa and Gillani to discuss the film, and future of animation in Pakistan. “Initially, our team went out and photographed neighbourhoods, walls, graffiti, billboards, tankers, trucks, we photographed everything. Similarly, we recorded sound in busy markets, etc.,” Obaid-Chinoy said, talking about the references and inspiration for the film’s visual treatment. “Our department made a mood board of different areas. That’s where the inspiration came from. It wasn’t from Pixar or any Hollywood film, it’s all our own.”
She added that the second thing they wanted to play with was more animals. “In the first one, we had Gabru the dog, now we have Mithu the parrot. “With the film-maker taking inspiration from the surrounding environment for the visuals, the vision of the film was to localise it so people could relate to it. However, Mustafa noted that the best part about the film was that it was Urdu language. “70% of the kids in Pakistan don’t understand English language and they want their own characters and something to relate to,” he said.
The Na Maloom Afraad actor quipped that he chose to do the film because his daughter wouldn’t have it otherwise. He stated, “We have seen the animation done in Pakistan for commercials and other stuff, but I always say that they don’t have life. Somehow, they are dead. When we started on the film, I just told Sharmeen right away that there is life in these characters.”
When asked why she went for the project, Gillani, who lent her voice to the character of Saadi’s mother in the film, said, “I felt it has those emotions, it has those elements that viewers can connect to. The fact is that these superheroes are so cool and normal. In front of their parents, they are just kids. At the same time, they have such huge responsibilities to control the negativity that’s happening around them.”
Discussing the hero’s journey formula of narrative structure used in all superhero films including 3 Bahadur, Obaid-Chinoy said superheroes like Batman and Superman will always sell. “It’s about a feeling and power. Every kid wants to be a superhero. So first, we just have to start making things that our kids can look at on TV and say ‘This sounds like me’ or ‘That looks like my father!’”
Continuing the thought, Gillani said that the film sends a strong message to children and hoped it would be entertaining for both children and adults. “There are a lot of manners and things in the film that our children are going to be teaching us, rather than the other way around. It’s going to inspire them.”
Finally, Obaid-Chinoy hoped that children would drag parents to cinema halls. She ended on an interesting note saying, “It’s very rare that one can say “My film opened against Star Wars!” but my film is. So, may the Force be with us.”
The film is set to release all over Pakistan on December 15.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2016.