Lollywood’s major production for 2012 Shareeka released this Eid, accumulating over Rs3 million alone on the first three days of screening.
The Punjabi film was screened in cities across Punjab including Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Sargodha, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi and Sheikhupura. Despite several constraints, the film has done relatively well, insiders revealed. “It is seen as risky because of the themes it tries to tackle regarding families,” said Achi Khan, an actor in the film. “This is a different attempt by Syed Noor.”
Acclaimed film director Syed Noor is no amateur when it comes to film-making. While critics have taken their toll on the director, he remains indifferent, consistently creating debatable films (primarily based on the Punjabi-village culture) — with both hits and misses. Staying true to his trademark themes of social and cultural issues, Noor’s Shareeka is no exception; touted as a “family film”, this drama-oriented production contains clichéd action-filled scenes as well.
The family drama
Shareeka depicts the issues of a typical joint family system. The dominant theme is that such problems are insignificant and should be overlooked and forgotten if families wish to happily co-exist under one roof.
Starring famous actors such as Shaan, Saima, Afzal Ahmed, Mustafa Qureshi and a few others, the movie revolves around the lives of seven conservative families living together in one haveli in a Punjabi village. These families face daily disputes, disagreements and even watta satta. Qureshi and Ahmed are the eldest brothers of the household, with Qureshi playing the role of a pious fatherly figure and Ahmed playing a victim of paralysis.
Shaan and Saima on the other hand, play the role of Qureshi and Afzal’s children respectively. Shaan is kicked out of the house at a young age and is raised by villagers while Saima is married off through watta satta to her aunt’s son Nawab Khan. As the story develops, Shaan’s character seeks to destroy the family that disowned him.
“It’s been a while since I witnessed families and women from different backgrounds take out time for a film — and that too a three-hour long one!” says Safdar Malik, the producer of the film, clearly pleased with the response.
Rana Naveed, the manager of Paragon Entertainment who is responsible for the film’s distribution, admitted that although the film benefited from the ban of Bollywood’s Ek Tha Tiger, people were reluctant to watch the film due to heightened security in the country on Eid. “With mobile networks down the first night, attendance was low,” he said, adding that the crowds started coming the following night.
Naveed then touched upon a problem that is a concern to cinemagoers all over the country. “From a national perspective, it is regrettable that this Punjabi film isn’t being screened in cities like Karachi or Peshawar,” he said. “It’s hypocritical.”
Despite the reluctance to watch Indian movies and lack of funds and government support, producer Safdar Malik does not understand why Punjabi films still aren’t being screened in theatres across the country. “Why don’t cinemas across Pakistan prefer to show Punjabi films? They are also Pakistani films,” he said, frustrated at the thought that only Punjab is promoting these productions.
Since Lollywood actor Reema’s Love Mein Ghum failed at the box office a few years ago, there has been reluctance within the film industry to make Urdu films which can be watched and understood countrywide and Malik explained that such films require heavier budgets. The lack of success and high cost discourage financiers and producers from taking on Urdu films. On a brighter note, however, Malik added that Syed Noor should be appreciated and encouraged for bringing some much needed energy back to Pakistani cinema.
While Shareeka’s actors are all exceptionally talented, what failed to impress about the film was the poor quality of the print and dull action sequences.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2012.