LAHORE: Swaarangi — The Melting Embers is a story of drugs, local thugs, poverty and criminal activity taking place in poor neighbourhoods of Pakistan. It depicts how ordinary people are forced on the edge as a result of societal evils and how they ultimately deal with them. The cinematic Lollywood adventure, directed by Phida Hussain and produced by Mazhar Abbas, also features the comeback of actor Resham after a hiatus of almost seven years.
“When people watch the film, our goal is not to advocate a position or anything. We want to show how people who are drug addicts survive under those circumstances,” says Abbas. “It’s not just one individual who is being affected, along with his family and friends; the story is universal.” Pakistan-based Australian film-maker Summer Nicks is also on board as associate producer.
The movie is based in the city of Mianwali. A woman called Salma (played by Resham) fights for her family’s survival and their chance at a good life, while her husband Jamal (played by newbie Naveed Akbar, who’s also a part of Kaptaan), is a drug addict who would go to any extreme to gratify his cravings. The cast also includes Waseem Manzoo, Zulfiqar Gullshahi, Aftab Nisar, Hamza Mushtaq, Shahzaib Johar and Ayub Khoso, who plays the role of a local drug dealer.
Mianwali provides an interesting setting for the movie due to its emergence as a growing city as well as the prevalence of drugs and other issues. For the film’s director, this was the focal point when making Swaarangi — to connect with the local tales he had heard and encountered in the past.
“Over there [Mianwali], drug addiction is very common. So I think the story came about out of these local challenges,” explains Hussain. “The issues are those that are present across the country — poverty, drugs and crime, but at the same time, development is also occurring.”
Setting and music
The team of the independently financed movie (whose shooting began last year) has taken the dusty terrain of mountains and the rustic rural environment into account and incorporated it well in the project. “I had this idea at the back of my mind that I wanted to do a film that was centred in Mianwali and its culture,” says Hussain, who is from the city. “The scenery was something I wanted to present. So visually, we have shown all of Mianwali.”
During the spells of shooting, the cast and crew enjoyed an adventurous field trip too. They climbed the highest mountain in the Kalabagh range, which is known as the “shaheedan waali roh” or mountain of martyrs and there are also photographs of Resham crossing the aggressive-looking Indus River in a boat.
Music will not play a pivotal role in Swaarangi but a promotional song and video, done by Sami Khan, has been released which serves the role of a teaser. The movie has been shot using a digital camera and the production has been done in Lahore. The team is aiming for an Eidul Azha release but the exact date is yet to be finalised.
Hussain also feels it’s an interesting time for the film industry as films are being made by new directors and producers. “So I think veteran actors are also coming back [to the industry] in a new way, which is very important for the industry’s development.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2013.
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