Pakistani Cinema

Snooze Fest Karachi

This review originally appeared here.

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Impressed by Sabiha Sumar’s earlier film Khamosh Pani with its strong script and poignant take on Pakistani politics, although admittedly sometime sketchy direction, I was intrigued enough to want to see Good Morning Karachi at the 3rdi film festival despite its rather predictable plot.

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Filmi Fhan: Interview with Afia Nathaniel

 

Asalaam-walaikum khawateen-o-hazraat,

Today marks an interesting turn in the evolution of this blog. Filmistani Journeys began as a online journal of all things South Asia and pop culture, it covers Pakistani dramas, Bollywood films, Pakistani films, and even as yet unpublished articles on Iranian and Israeli films. Its diversity reflects the diversity of our own (pop culture) experiences! And it is with this in mind that MM and I begin a new collaboration, a podcast called Filmi Fhan, for the filmi in all of us.

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A Pakistani Style Murder Mystery: 8969

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No, I didn’t come up with the name for this film. Thanks for that!

I wouldn’t necessarily write about this film but seeing that Saba Qamar makes an appearance, I just had to do a preview. Chances are, I’m most likely not going to watch this film, and if I do I’m pretty certain I won’t like it, which is exactly why I want to pen my thoughts down, in case 8969 proves me wrong (doubt it!).

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Retro Rerun!

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Hey, hey filmi travelers!

Keeping in mind my obsession with everything retro, I’m starting a segment on those retro highs(!) and lows, of course some choices will be more retro than others. All the way back to the black and white and rather gay 1920s to the acid trip highs of the 1990s, I’ll be picking hidden gems for your viewing and reading pleasure!

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Jackson Heights episode 4 – 5

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Now I am officially bored.

I am not against slowing things down and taking time to establish your characters and even their evolution is a slow process but Move. It. Along. People!

These epiodes focused on the foursome’s woes and troubles. Jamshed’s ups and downs post visa woes – his elation and a mami making parathas, to his nani who dreads his departure to the deflating reality of soaring ticket troubles. His sense of elation and bright lights of America beckoning dims everything else around them – a grandmother who gives up her savings, a loving (if unacknowledged) girlfriend whose sadness and heartbreak he doesn’t register.

Though truly, this track would be the one to be most easily resolved. Though Jamshed is an orphan child he still has the safety net of family and a loving nani to smooth things over.

His grand expectations come to a grinding halt once he reaches New York. His shared digs instead of his mamu’s grand home, the truth about his mamu’s cab company, the slights and his mamu’s position at home all begin to crack and crumble the façade that Bhatti sahib had carefully built from miles away.

Jamshed discovered truths unveil all those built up lies. I suspect the shine will wear thin and Jamshed despite his pharpahr angrezi is going to see the his grand crown of desi male entitlement and swagger crack with the wear and tear in times to come.

Not so much for Bhatti sahib, the family he has isn’t as easily won over and he finds himself in the unenviable position of begging and pleading with both his immigration lawyer as well as Kathy who by the way just seems to be a one note or really a blazing fireball of anger and resentment. Even if he has Jamshed in the door for now, it’s not going to be for long.

The unfolding friendship between Bhatti and Salma was probably the only thing that inched forward here.

As for Salma, the whole domestic violence angle really felt forced even if was meant to throw light into Salma’s past. Domestic violence is a serious issue in the desi community one that gets brushed under the carpet even as it rears its ugly head on occasion and not just in extreme case of acid attacks.

We are introduced to her daughter this time around so there is space for opening up of her story. Somehow Aamina Sheikh doesn’t look like mom to a teenage girl and this circles back to my point about her just not looking the part.

Michelle and Rizwan aren’t moving along despite sister Tania’s attempts to bridge the gap and get them to talk clearly to one another. Michelle for her part is pretty clear but Rizwan still hurt from earlier rejection is relying more on the unsaid but Tania seems, as sisters are wont to do, to push him towards the light in the shape of a diamond ring. Well at least someone got the memo.

As a diehard Marina Khan fan, I can’t believe I am about to say this – cute-sy was done with Ankahi and Tanhaiyaan. It’s not working here. The whole forgetting his birthday, the birthday celebration, gift conversation – there was nothing new here, even if was supposed to be romantic it sort of bombed but maybe that was the point.

Also that note about making your dreams come true was really about  elitist privilege that propels people from one position of privilege to another. There is no arguing about the hard work that most desis dedicate to their work and lives in America, but I am hoping both the writer and director showcase this with a lot more finesse in episodes to come.

So really despite sort of cliffhanger moment, it fizzed out. The only sparklers here were Vasay’s one liners – left hand man, personal bhanja, denting, painting – were delightful. Only a few bright sparks though, lets see if they can create some fire.

MM(aka A musing Muslim)

The Art of Writing and the Writing of Art: In Conversation with Sarmad Sehbai

Sarmad Sehbai’s work as a poet, author, playwright and filmmaker highlights his innovative approach to art and culture. His vision is reflected in the diverse mediums and languages he works in, from  poems to PTV dramas (Naya Qanoon, Toba Tek Singh), theatre plays (‘The Dark Room’), a documentary (‘Mughals of the Road’) and finally, his films and dramas (Fankar Gali, Jal Pari, and most recently Laa. His work constantly questions defined norms and now with Mah-e-Meer, even madness.

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We spoke to him via Skype about his upcoming film Mah-e-Meer, and ended up with notes on the Mughal Empire, a meeting with Omar Sharif, and a spirited discussion on the current state of Pakistani television and cinema.

Listen to the interview here and read the full article here. A modified version of the original article also appeared in the Express Tribune.

A BIG thank you to Sadaf Haider and MM (A musing Muslim) for letting me research and edit and Faraz Qadri for hosting it on Drama Pakistani.

Rab Rakha

RB

And Baby Came Out to Play: Siyaah and Contemporary Pakistani Horror

Lā ilāha illā-llāhu, muḥammadun rasūlu-llāh

Kya aap Shaitaan par yakeen rakhtay hain?

Karna chahiye kyunki woh aap par yakeen rakhta hai.

Hareem Farooq’s chilling question, one that’s an exact rip-off from Constantine, perhaps, as an homage, reminds me of a particularly telling ayat from Surah Al-Aaraf (16, 17), which clearly states: “Because You have sent me astray, surely, I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your straight path. Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones.”

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