The trend of horror movies seems to be picking up in the subcontinent. Following Siyaah, Zibahkhana and Zinda Laash, it’s now time for Pakistan’s first zombie comedy movie — Waking Dead by independent short film-maker Usman Mukhtar. He feels this production will be different and a “movie of its kind.”
Mukhtar’s first film Aasia, a story of child abuse, was released in 2006, followed by a short comedy Whattay Scary in 2008, Black Coffee in 2010 and I Dream a Day last year.
For this production, the film-maker has roped in international actors and admits that the experience has broadened his horizon as a director.
Shot in Dubai, the short film was produced in less than three days and stars UAE-based actors Nitin Mirani, Nadia Williams and Nidhi Jha.
“No doubt that there is talent in this country [Pakistan], but there are no proper institutions of support,” he said, adding that Pakistan has a long way to go in order to be at par with international standards. Mukhtar, a horror movie fanatic, has used professional prosthetic, make-up artist Nouf Al Jhadhami’s expertise to make the characters look “wonderfully scary.”
Waking Dead is PR and talent management agency Muse Dubai’s first zomcom production.
“A zomcom in particular, hasn’t been shot on this scale locally, making it a great collaboration between South Asia and the Middle East, based on talent,” says Roha Daud, co-founder Muse Dubai.
“And this ultimately is Muse’s forte and vision to bring together talent from across the countries to work on such projects.”
“Although the film industry in UAE is steadily growing, I haven’t heard of any [movies] being made in this genre,” says Rehaab Daud, CEO Muse Dubai.
She added that when Mukhtar came up with the concept of a short zomcom, it sounded like a fun movie to be involved in and turned out to be exactly that.
“It turned out to be a great learning experience and a step towards Muse Dubai’s goal of representing and working with talent from different countries,” she said.
The dialogues have been penned by Shahana Khan and the movie is in its post-production stage at the moment. It is scheduled to release in the next two months in Dubai — the exact date of release is still not final — and then Pakistan. Mukhtar also hopes to showcase Waking Dead at the upcoming Dubai Film Festival this year.
He is also working on a feature film whose script has been written by Pakistan’s versatile urdu legend, Anwar Maqsood.
Cast speaks up
The film’s lead actor Mirani said that he was ecstatic when he was first approached for the project. “The movie kept me up for a few days. But it is a zombie movie so the character came naturally to me,” he joked over a telephonic interview. “Mukhtar is a supreme talent and Pakistan has definitely made a mark when it comes to quality short films, globally.”
Nadia feels that there just aren’t enough short movies being produced in Dubai. “They should become more popular as they are fun to watch and even more fun to participate in,” she exclaimed. Jha, who has made her debut with this film, hopes that such projects are taken up more often in UAE as they are a source of inspiration and people get to showcase their talent and ideas. “We all need to come out of hiding and create more [movies],” she says.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2013.
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