Earlier this week, Asim Abbasi’s Cake was announced to be Pakistan’s official submission for Oscars 2019. While the film’s cast and crew, along with other big guns of the local media industry all rejoiced, journalist Reham Khan didn’t seem to be pleased with the news.
Reham, on Tuesday, tweeted, “Who says you can’t have your ‘cake’ and eat it too? Zulfi Bokhari, friend of the PM, now gets his film selected to be sent in as Pakistan’s entry to the Oscar’s too.”
Her statement was aimed at Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bokhari who was recently appointed as a special assistant to Imran Khan on overseas Pakistanis and human resource development. He also served as the producer for Cake.
Reham’s tweet managed to catch Asim’s attention and he was quick to defend Bokhari. “I understand that our storytelling (unlike her storytelling) lacked drama and masala. But still, what a strange insinuation, discounting our hard work and the committee’s decision making,” he posted.
The film-maker also shared how he teamed up with Zulfiqar to make Cake. “In 2016, when I showed the script of Cake to one of the leading TV channels of Pakistan, they laughed me out of their offices. That is when Zulfi came in to help me produce it with one condition: Make a film that we can be proud of.”
Asim further revealed that in the last two years, a lot of people have asked him why he was making a film without any songs or dance shots. He was also questioned for not including any “gori chitti actresses” and requested to consider the “masses” and potential box office failure.
“Not once did Zulfi ask me to change anything. Cake is, creatively, 100% me,” he said. “As a writer-director, you can go to a conglomerate who forces you to include colours and choreographed dances in your film. Or you can find an independent producer who believes in your vision.”
Even author Kamila Shamsie came to Cake’s defense. “I was on the selection committee. I had no idea (and wouldn’t have thought it was relevant if I had) that anyone was a friend of the PM. I just knew Cake was the best film in the running.”
On the other hand, Zulfiqar is currently being investigated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in regards to establishing offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). The official cannot be part of the elected government as he holds dual-nationality.
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