This might be the year of sequels and remakes for Bollywood; however Pakistani cinema has fresh and entertaining movies to offer in 2013. With a handful of upcoming movies being the talk of the town, the country’s first sports film titled Main Hoon Shahid Afridi is all set for release on Eid. A press conference held on Sunday at Atrium mall highlighted the film and the cast.
The film’s writer and host of the night Vasay Chaudhry elaborated on the kind of cinema actor-producer Humayun Saeed and his team support. “Song, dance and drama is the style of cinema that we believe in,” said Chaudhry. “From 1947 to 2001, more than 4,300 films were released in Pakistan with dances, songs and drama. This is as much our style of cinema as it is our neighbour’s.”
After Chaudhry’s brief on the film, film distributor Nadeem Mandviwalla shared his views. “On all such jubilant occasions, we should never forget to pay tribute to and thank people like Nadeem Baig and Javed Sheikh who have seen the industry go through thick-and-thin and have been resilient,” said Mandviwalla. According to Mandviwalla, Main Hoon Shahid Afridi is expected to do a great job at the local box office.
Like every cricket-loving citizen of Pakistan, Saeed also expressed his love for Shahid Afridi and how this film is a tribute to him. “I would have easily made a shaadi biyaah type of a film, but I always wanted to pay tribute to one of our own Pakistani stars in their life time,” said Saeed.
“Whether he performs or not, Shahid Afridi will continue to be Shahid Afridi for us,” said Saeed. He then thanked all the cast and crew for their continuous support and hard work but failed to mention Mathira, who performed an item number in the film. She walked out of the conference in protest. Main Hoon Shahid Afridi also features Javed Sheikh, Nadeem Baig, Shafqat Cheema, Humayun Saeed, Mahnoor Baloch and Noman Habib, who plays the lead role.
Saeed, who invested $1 million into the film, initially had asked the legendary cricketer himself to act in the lead role. “They offered me the role but my elders didn’t let me act, but I happily gave them permission to use my name as this film will bring a positive message,” Shahid Afridi later told AFP.
Veteran actor Javed Sheikh talked about his experience in contributing to the new age of Pakistani cinema. “I must assure you that Humayun Saaed and his team will bring you a pleasant surprise on the first day of Eid,” said Sheikh, who also believes that if Pakistani dramas can beat Indian dramas, then Pakistani films can also beat Indian films. “The new wave of Pakistani cinema will come from Karachi and the new film-makers will make better films than India in much more limited circumstances,” he added.
Senior actor Shafqat Cheema, in his signature aggressive style, explained his character, which is significantly different from the one in Bol. Being one of the most senior cast members, Nadeem Baig said he is hopeful of the new Pakistani cinema, while he grieved over artists going to Bollywood. “There is nothing bad about going to Bollywood, but not at the cost of your own cinema,” said Baig. “Respect your soil and culture because it’s a part of you and you are a part of it.”
Director Syed Ali Raza had a more proactive approach towards the new wave of Pakistani cinema. “We are not here to compete but to walk hand-in-hand with our neighbours, for the cause of entertainment,” he said. “Whether you win or lose doesn’t matter, but play with such a spirit that you can look into each other’s eyes after the game,” said Raza, using one of the lines from the film.
The evening ended with the unveiling of some very catchy songs from the film after which we can easily say that the audience is definitely in for some good surprises.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2013.
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