Cinema in Pakistan: What’s Brewing?

Samra Muslim gives TFT readers a glimpse into the many Pakistani films currently on the production floor

Cinema in Pakistan: What’s Brewing?
In 2013, the entire nation of movie watchers and cinema-goers heaved a collective sigh of relief – many watchable Pakistani movies had released in the cinemas, the metros had multiplexes opening their doors, Pakistan even had a movie to send to the Oscars after over 50 years as an entry for their “Best Foreign Film” category and then came Waar which did crores of rupees of business nationwide – we had finally moved on from the clichéd ‘revival of Pakistani cinema’ phase – and the ‘new wave of Pakistani cinema’ was actually here!

Post Waar or 2014, the situation, has been rather unclear and anticlimactic. Many production houses, actors, writers and even TV channels have announced a movie, with some even bringing out super-swanky trailers or promoting the film’s first looks. But so far they haven’t gone any further than that. What has become of Pakistan’s first dance movie that Hum TV announced? Or Kaptaan, on the life of Imran Khan that has been releasing since 2013?

Half of 2014 has passed, and the only Pakistan movies to release have been Norway-based Shahzad Ghufoor’s “The System” which was out of the cinemas faster than the blink of an eye and Tamana which has garnered no buzz, and from its promos looks more suitable as a telefilm.

ARY Films hosted a glamorous film awards function in Karachi where at least 6 films were unveiled in various stages of production, in addition to awarding 2013 films. Yet, no film has announced a confirmed release date for the rest of the year, although many have claimed a 2014 release. “At least 8-10 films, big and small-budget, will release in the latter part of 2014”, said Jerjees Seja, Chief Executive ARY films, in a recent conversation.

A quick search on Google tells you names of over 50 ‘upcoming Pakistani films’ – but questions to the makers about their possible release dates usually lead to extremely vague timelines. Mazhar Zaidi, producer of the Pakistani film Zinda Bhaag, in a recent article in Dawn cites, shortage of film script writers and crew, such as assistant directors, unit production managers, gaffers, directors of photography, etc., lack of film financiers, and that a film cannot give a profitable return unless it holds appeal to an international, especially audience, as some of the key reasons behind the sluggish pace of cinema post-Waar.

Industry insiders claim lack of understanding market dynamics vis-a-vis how the industry functions, as one of the crucial factors hindering a faster growth of the Pakistani film industry, and that local film makers need to work closely with the distributors and exhibitors; who understand the local audiences, seasonality as well as market demands for upcoming Hollywood and Bollywood movies (which provide the exhibitors with the consistent income to run the cinemas and even open new ones).

Veteran filmmaker Syed Noor, who has two movies releasing soon, feels that the audience needs to demonstrate some patience and understand that movie making is a creative and technical process, which requires time and no one should realistically expect a film to be ready for release at least 12-18 months after it has been announced.

With Pakistani cinema still fighting an uphill battle - for film buffs, the only thing that keeps us happy is a movie list for the films expected to release in the next 12 months, at least something we can keep our fingers crossed over.


Dance Kahani

Producers: H2O Films and Ion Entertainment in association with Act One
Director: Syed Omar
Starring: Madeleine Hanna, Alamdar Khan and Vernin U’chong

Dance Kahani is perhaps the first film exploring the underground dance culture and free running on the streets of Karachi. “With her dream of pursuing a professional dance career shattered, she must now fight the odds to keep it alive in a society she never wanted to be a part of.” This is how Nizzy (Madeleine Hanna), an upscale British Pakistani must survive her predicament.



Producers:  REDRUM Films, Jaswal Films & Sermad Films
Director: Yasir Jaswal
Starring: Danish Taimoor, Ali Safina, Ali Rehman, Uzair Jaswal, Wiqar Ali Khan & Zhalay Sarhadi.

Jalaibee is Yasir Jaswal, former lead vocalist Call, music video director & ad film maker’s debut venture as a film director. The film is an action thriller, portraying intertwined stories of characters that are all struggling with their problems and seeking the means to deal with them. In director Yasir Jaswal’s words, “Watch the film for five amazing boys.”


Hamza Abbasi during the shooting of his film Kambakht
Hamza Abbasi during the shooting of his film Kambakht


Producers: ARY Films & Kahani Films
Writer/Director: Hamza Ali Abbasi
Starring: Humayun Saeed, Shafqat Cheema, Shehreyar Munawar Siddiqui, Sohai Ali Abro, Fizza Zehra, Hamza Ali Abbasi, Latif Sheikh, Gohar Rasheed, and Yousuf Bashir Qureshi.

Kambakht is an action comedy about two people, a middle-aged man from rural Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Hamza Ali Abbasi) and a young urban city-slicker (Shehreyar Munawar), who strike an unlikely and accidental friendship.

Kambakht is Pakistani cinema’s new golden boy Hamza Ali Abbasi’s directorial debut. For that reason alone the movie has been garnering a lot of buzz. With Qayaas & Overload working on the film’s music, Kambakht might also be the movie that gives us a winning soundtrack!



Producers: Mandviwala Entertainment & Azad Films
Director: Jami
Starring: Hameed Sheikh, Samiya Mumtaz, Shaz Khan, Abdul Qadir, Sonia Hussain, Ayaz Samoo & Nayyar Ijaz.

Moor (meaning Mother in Pushto) was supposed to be the directorial debut of filmmaker Jami, till he decided to helm 021. The storyline is based on the closure of the Zhob Valley railways in 1984 and shows how a family is affected by growing corruption in the system. The family/drama from the trailers does not look like blockbuster cinema for the masses, but something alternative movie buffs would enjoy and could garner massive accolades for Pakistan on the festival circuits.



Producers: Miraqsm Films
Director: Anjum Shahzad & Sarmad Sehbai
Starring: Fahad Mustafa, Iman Ali, Alyy Khan, Sanam Saeed & Manzar Sehbai.

Mah-e-Meer (the promiscuous moon) is a biographical drama, inspired by the life and work of Mir Taqi Mir, the first classical master of Urdu poetry. The story, penned by veteran writer/director Sarmad Sehbai, follows the struggle of a contemporary poet (played by Fahad Mustafa) and draws parallels with events in Mir’s life. His conflict with the royal court, his romance with a courtesan, his ideals of bringing Urdu poetry to the people in the streets and his eventual madness in the full moon; all reflected in his poetry.


Na Maloom Afraad

Producers: Filmwala Pictures
Director: Nabeel Qureshi
Starring: Javed Sheikh, Fahad Mustafa, Mohsin Abbass Haider, Salman Shahid, Urwa Hocane & Kubra Khan

Na Maloom Afraad is a social comedy thriller, directed by Nabeel Qureshi (BNN, Pandora, The President), and revolves around three protagonists and life’s paradoxes. The makers claim that the film’s plot is very close to the lives of people living in Pakistan and the film was shot mostly in the old areas of Karachi. Mehwish Hayat also has a special appearance in the film, including a dance number while Sajjad Ali has sung the movie’s theme song.



Producers: One Motion Pictures & Azad Film Company (Azaan Sami Khan, Zeba Bakhtiar and Jami)
Director:  Jami (Co-Directed by Summer Nicks).
Starring: Shaan Shahid, Aaminah Sheikh, Shamoon Abbasi, Ayub Khoso, Hameed Sheikh, Gohar Rasheed, Joe Towne, James Hallett, Wendy Haines, Daniyal Raheal, Abdullah Ghaznavi, Tatmain Ul Qulb, Summer Nicks and is Debuting Bilal Ashraf and Ayaz Sammoo.

O21 (previously called Operation 021 and The Extortionist) is currently being considered the most awaited Pakistani film of 2014. A man (Ayub Khoso) after 30 years of war in Afghanistan wants to save his country from another 50 years of corporate warfare. He works with his Pakistani ally Kashif Siddiqui (Shaan) to save the two neighbouring countries from further turmoil through a plan that could risk their lives and their families’. A plan that has 21 hours before it’s too late!


Price of Honour

Producers:  Paragon Entertainment
Director: Syed Noor
Starring: Rakshi, Naveed Raza, Asim Mehmood, Syed Atif, Jalal Haider, Gul Zaman, Danial Butt

Price of Honour, is the much-awaited film by the veteran Lollywood film-maker Syed Noor and has a debuting cast chosen from the talent hunt show Noor judged a while back. The film, inspired from real events in the country, is a look at honour killings in Pakistan and has mostly been shot in Rahim Yar Khan.


Producer: Jehan Films and AR Productions
Director: Umair Fazli
Starring: Shaan, Umair Sultan, Resham, Nayyer Ijaz, Arbaaz Khan, Nauman Ijaz, Shafqat Cheema & Rambo

After the success of Waar, Saya-e-Khuda-e-Zuljalal (Protection of Magnificent God) is the next film supported by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) and Air Force, with a similar feel-good patriotic narrative. As per media reports, it is a story of Pakistani heroes during the war of 1965 and has been scripted by a former doctor of the Pakistani cricket team, Dr Tauseef Razzaq.



Producer: AB Films
Director: Syed Faisal Bukhari
Starring: Aslam Bhatti, Sara Loren, Ahsan Khan, Shweta Tiwari, Javed Sheikh & Govind Namdeo

Sultanat is an upcoming action and thriller comprising a star cast of a host of Pakistani and Indian television actors and is claimed to be the most expensive movie ever made in Pakistan. The movie has apparently been shot across Pakistan, Dubai, Thailand and Egypt and the plot of the movie revolves around workings of the underworld.

2014 has seen the launch of many other promising film projects such as Oscar & Emmy award winner Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy & ARY Films’ joint venture – 3 Bahadur (Pakistan’s first animated film); remake of Mahesh Bhatt’s classic Arth by Shaan – Arth 2; Bilal Lashari’s remake of the classic – Maula Jutt and ofcourse Waar’s much awaited sequel – Waar 2 – but if and when they make it to our cinema screens is dependent on many variables. As Syed Noor aptly put it, “it took 25 years for our industry to hit rock bottom…the road back up cannot be overnight!”

Samra is a marketing and communications professional by day and digital diva by night. She tweets @samramuslim & bligs at