KARACHI: Aamina Sheikh and Sanam Saeed-starrer Cake, releasing on March 30, may not have created as much buzz yet, but it should definitely be on the list of must-watch upcoming Pakistani films in 2018. Other than an interesting title which surely piques our interests, the film boasts of a fresh and realistic portrayal of family dynamics and relationships.
Speaking with The Express Tribune, the film’s director Asim Abbasi said the dominant theme in the film is time. “Time is the connecting thread... Absolutely. It’s time in terms of how people grow old, in terms of how we deal with the past and the regrets people have,” he shared. “We are exploring parent-child relationship, how children grow up but remain children for their parents. We are approaching the relationship between siblings and different dynamics within a family and between lovers, but all in a realistic way. We have tried to stay away from melodrama and keep it natural. It’s very emotionally-charged but not melodramatic.”
Abbasi has previously spoken about the meaning behind the film’s title. Reiterating the idea, he said, “Cake is like a silent observer at every big moment of our lives. It will be interesting to see how many times the audience will see a cake popping up in the frame.”
But as to why he went with a name that doesn’t answer questions (about the film’s nature, story or genre) as much as it raises them, he said, “Everyone approaches material differently. For me, having a clear-cut film name was never a thing. I don’t like being direct and giving answers. A film has to have a life beyond two hours in the cinema. I want viewers to carry Cake with them after the film is over.”
Abbasi also sang praises for his actors Sheikh and Saeed, as well as Adnan Malik. He admitted that he has always adored Saeed. “Adnan was a strange one because he was always in my head, when I was writing. It’s strange because I had not seen Sadqay Tumhare then. But his look stayed with me for the character,” he revealed, without sharing Malik’s role in Cake. “And when I met him, I realised he was a director’s actor, who would be open to exploring new territories. Aamina, in hindsight, was the perfect Zareen so I have been lucky.”
With majority of local films being either romantic-comedies or comedies, Cake looks surprisingly unique. “As a director, along the way, we are forced to lose our honesty at some point. We try and make a film, and you have everyone else telling you to do things differently to make it more sellable. Luckily, I had people who had no such requests. I don’t think most people get that opportunity and I don’t think I’ll get that opportunity again,” said the film-maker.
On whether Cake will resonate with the larger audience, Abbasi said that he feels most film-makers shoot in the dark. “I think a writer or director can only do honest work and pray that it resonates with the audience. We are doing a family film, and everyone has families. They know love and loss and grief. Is it a different film from the rest? Yes. But we are too young to say what works and what doesn’t.”
He continued, “I hope that it works at the box office so that more people have the confidence to make different kinds of films. Because I feel that for every different film that doesn’t do well, we will see more of the same. And I don’t think in the long-term, the industry can’t survive with that.”
Abbasi clarified that he is not dissing commercial cinema but merely pointing out an issue plaguing Pakistani cinema these days. “Right now, you have businessmen making films. Cinema is called a creative business but in Pakistan, the focus is only on business. It can work for short-term gains, but over time, we won’t build a legacy,” he said. ‘Hardcore commercial cinema should definitely be made, as long as people are trying something new and interesting. Every kind of film should be made but with the idea of wanting to be creative.”
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