Pakistani student documentary makes it to Cannes Film Festival

Documentary titled 'What a Waste' revolves around gold panners of Saddar

Rahul Aijaz March 02, 2017

KARACHI: No matter how little the number of film schools, that is where a lot of talent is nurtured. As our current crop of film-makers tries to sustain the cinema industry, the upcoming lot continues to show potential to lead the future.


SZABIST student Shahrukh Khan's short documentary What a Waste has been selected for the Short Film Corner at the Cannes Film Festival 2017.


Khan made the documentary for his final year course Documentary Vision. It follows gold-panners who work in a close knit neighborhood of jewelry market of Sadder in Karachi. The story unravels an ancient profession that is preserved and passed down from generation to generation in a growing urban landscape. Speaking with The Express Tribune, he said, “I am speechless. It’s a dream come true for me.”


He shared his father told him about the gold-panners and he followed them around for five months in different areas of Karachi, including Korangi. “We had our documentary vision course last semester and I submitted a draft of the documentary. But I continued to work on it until this February so I could send it to Cannes.”

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He gave credit to the former head of department Shehram Mokhtar and his course instructor Zubair Ghunro. “My instructor was the one who motivated me to go for this topic. Then I sought guidance from Shehram Mokhtar, who is currently in the US, via Facebook.”


Regarding the documentary, Khan said it was difficult to make the gold-panners talk. “Mind you, they are not sweepers. What they do is, people who work with jewelry often have gold dust attached to their hands and feet. The trash in jewelry workshops also contains gold dust. So they collect their garbage and extract gold out of it by various processes including brushing, burning and washing.”

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The student film-maker shared an interesting fact about the Urdu phrase vaare nyaare. “It means becoming rich quickly and it actually comes from this profession. The gold-panners are called ‘nyaare’.


Khan finished the documentary last month, with a skeletal team, which included Moiz Faisal serving as the director of photography, Salman Ahmed as music composer and Ammar Alee Danish as the editor. When asked, the film student said he found inspiration in British documentary filmmaker Asif Kapadia, Wong Kar Wai and Christopher Nolan. “I am not just restricted to documentaries. I want to explore everything. I’m currently working on my thesis which is a fictional short that anyone landing at the airport would see and understand what Karachi is all about. I like to make films about socially and culturally relevant topics,”


When it came to going to attend the film festival, he said he was not sure about it. “I can’t afford to, but I will have to look for any sponsorship. If I get a chance to go, I definitely will.”

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Pakistani | 5 years ago | Reply excellent stuff kid!!! more important is the fact that documentary is about ordinary lives
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