After being closely associated with the Pakistani drama industry for the past few years, producer-director Farooq Mengal has now decided to steer the wheel into another direction and shoot a feature film. Titled Hijrat, the Quetta-based director’s debut film is about a love triangle with a backdrop of human rights issues. It is set to release in October this year.
“The film is based on romance and commitment essentially but we also wanted to explore the background of human rights issues in Pakistan,” says Mengal. He feels Pakistani dramas and films have been focusing on such issues lately and this has to do with the changing face of cinema in the country. “In today’s times, we have an endless list of problems in this country and I think we have to find stories from this society so the audience can relate.”
The film’s cast includes new as well as experienced actors; Shahzad Sheikh (actor Javed Sheikh’s son), Noman Ijaz, Rabia Butt, Azra Aftab, Ayub Khoso and Wiam Dhamani, the Moroccan actor who is also appearing in Shehzad Rafique’s film, Ishq Khuda.
A quality project
Speaking about the project, Mengal reveals that he has been planning this film for quite some time; it took him a few years to make the transition from dramas to films. He feels multi-tasking — being a producer and director both — can only really work and seep rewards if you have a dedicated team to support you.
Mengal has made a conscious effort to inject new actors in Hijrat. “Film-making today is different from what it once was — we have to make sure films are up to modern standards,” he continues, referring to how India has evolved and kept up with the ever-changing world. “This new school of thought and attitude which allows new talent to emerge and come forward is very good for our film industry.”
In order to make a quality film, he has imported first-rate production and film-making equipment from India. “You can witness the difference in our economy. If you make a good quality film, it could potentially run in cinemas for several weeks,” he says.
Ayub Khoso, a Baloch actor who has appeared in several prominent films and dramas, says Hijrat is unique because it exemplifies the changing trends in Pakistani cinema; there are new actors in the industry with a renewed excitement and passion for the art.
“I think there is new energy today when it comes to films and how people want to push this industry forward,” says Khoso, pleased with the advancements the Pakistani entertainment industry has made. “There are several people with decent backgrounds who are now making films.” He feels scripts cannot be restricted to just people residing in Pakistan but should also be applicable to people around the globe.
Khoso believes this sudden rise in interest in film-making can be attributed to the success of our drama industry. “Initially, our film-makers were just very experienced. And now, people who have actually studied what film-making is and are very knowledgeable, have entered the field,” he continues. “So the current environment exudes confidence that we can make good films. However, although confidence is good, overconfidence is always a bad thing.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2013.
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