KARACHI : Mahira Khan’s political drama Verna is all set to screen UK Asian Film Fest which will be held from March 15 to March 25 this year.
The UK Asian Film Festival will be celebrating 20 years of championing independent South Asian cinema by hosting a 12-day season of film screenings and events in Edinburgh, Manchester, Leicester and London.
The organisers announced that the film fest will be screening women-centric movies, and the opening gala, will feature an awards presentation honouring heroines that have challenged stereotypes, pushed boundaries and broken barriers to make a difference.
The honourees will include Bollywood’s veteran Simi Garewal, who is also an acclaimed film-maker, producer and a famous talk show host.
Regarded as one of the most inimitable female figures of Indian and international film fraternities, Garewal deconstructed the basic female heroine in Indian cinema from her screen debut in the 60s, and has since proved a consistent game-changer in the industry as both an outsider and insider.
The actor will also lead a posthumous tribute to Indian actor Shashi Kapoor (1938–2017), with whom she starred in the controversial English language film, Siddhartha (1972), based on the novel by Hermann Hesse, in which she boldly featured in a nude scene – the first starlet in Bollywood to do so. The film predictably faced backlash and censorship issues at the time.
Khan, who happens to be one of the Pakistani actors, has a massive international fan base.
The starlet made her cinematic debut with Shoaib Mansoor’s social drama, Bol, which starred Humaima Malick, Atif Aslam and many others and went on to becoming one of the highest grossing movie of all time. Khan rose to fame with her prominent role in a romantic drama serial, Humsafar alongside Fawad Khan.
The Ho Mann Jahaan starlet’s latest venture, Verna, fights taboos related to rape and honour. Synonymous with female-centric films that hold a mirror to the injustices of contemporary society, Mansoor’s latest feature boldly tackles the issues of rape, misogyny and the position of women in Pakistani society and culture.
The social drama is a powerful call to action for those wronged by the system and deprived of their right to justice. Due to its difficult yet deeply relevant subject matter, the film faced severe pushback from the Pakistani censor board prior to release.
Khan will be conducting a question and answer segment with audiences at Phoenix Cinema, Leicester on March 15 and at Regent Street Cinema, London on March 16, following a screening of the movie.
Talking about the event, Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry, Festival Founding Director, said, “We are delighted to be celebrating the festival’s 20th anniversary by expanding nationally and giving audiences across the UK the opportunity of engaging with our programme of screenings, guest talks and events with a strong, feminist theme.”
She went on to add, “From its inception, the festival has always championed gender equality in cinema, launching 20 years back at a time when there was but a handful of Asian women film-makers and the scope of female roles was restricted to women of a certain age, confined to certain archetypal parameters.”
“We are finally seeing a shift in this, as women continue to create a space for themselves in South Asian cinema, redefining and expanding their roles both in front of and behind the camera and on their own terms. We continue to celebrate those achievements with a rich showcase that represents the ever-evolving contributions and representations of women to cinema,” she added.
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