After a long delay, the premiere of Sabiha Sumar’s feature film Good Morning Karachi is finally taking place at the Goteborg Film Festival in Sweden on January 28 with hopes that it will create the much-needed stir to encourage a local distributor for a Pakistani launch.
The 90-minute movie, which is set in Karachi and revolves around a poor girl’s struggle to become a model, was supposed to be released in 2011 but was delayed because of Sumar’s health.
“It’s a very big film festival and we are hoping for a good response,” Sumar said at a press conference at The Second Floor café on Saturday. “The festival attracts an audience of more than 200,000. And all the seats for our first show have been sold.”
Sumar is too frail to walk without a walker but her firmness and straight-forward answers defied her illness. Good Morning Karachi was initially titled after its main character called Rafina, which has been played by model Amna Eliyas. The script has been written by Shandana Minhas.
Sumar, whose first feature film Khamosh Pani won international acclaim, says her new movie offers something different to the viewers as it shows a girl’s struggle in Karachi – a city that faces a unique set of problems.
It took the cast eight weeks to complete the filming following a three-month long workshop to get familiar with the characters.
“We had planned to complete it in six months if it had not been for the bomb blast near PIDC,” she said, referring to the November 2010 explosion at the CID Centre.
Not much was shared about the plot of the movie. The one-minute-twenty-second trailer showed the attack on Benazir Bhutto’s homecoming congregation, men raising religious slogans, Amna working as a waitress and then being chosen to mode.
The film had come at a personal cost for Sumar as once again her company Vidhi Films struggled to raise funds. But this is also the first time that a local company Getz Pharma had become one of the sponsors.
“This contribution is very, very important for me,” she said. “If you don’t have local support then international sponsorship doesn’t come easily. And even when it comes, they want you spend money in their countries.”
The film has not been launched in Pakistan because local distributors are not ready to market it, she regretted. “I don’t need help. The movie is good enough to sell itself. It’s just because of the attitude of preferring foreign content discourages artists like me.”
If no one came forward to distribute the movie in the country, her company will arrange a travelling-cinema, showing the film to people in villages. “But I will not show it for free in the cities.”
Amna Eliyas, who also attended the press conference along with Beo Rana Zafar, said it was easy for her to relate to the role. “After a while, it seemed I was playing myself.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2013.