Thank you, more please!

From the return of Coke Studio to the return of Shoaib Mansoor, from the Grammys to Coachella, and everything in between … Instep takes a quick look at some of the (many) things that are on our radar for 2023

By Sameen Amer
January 29, 2023
After wowing us with her performance in Sarmad Khoosat’s Kamli in 2022 as the central character, Saba Qamar is set to make an appearance on our television sets this year. TNS

2022 was a glorious year for Pakistani entertainment. The unprecedented popularity of Pakistani music and the critical acclaim received by Pakistani films emphatically put us on the global map. We hope things will continue down the same success-laden path in 2023 and the new year will bring us more reasons to enjoy, praise, and celebrate the work of our creatives.

Here are some of the releases and events we are most looking forward to this year.



Aasmaan Bolay Ga

One of the most celebrated filmmakers in our industry, Shoaib Mansoor, is back with his fourth big screen venture. A collaboration between Geo Films and Shoman Productions, Aasmaan Bolay Ga is dedicated to the late Vital Signs singer Junaid Jamshed. Set against the backdrop of true events circa 2019, the story centers on the characters of a Pakistan Air Force fighter pilot and an Indian Muslim journalist, and promises fast-paced action as well as emotional drama. The film’s title track has been sung by Faisal Kapadia and written and composed by Mansoor himself.

Aasmaan Bolay Ga features Emmad Irfani and Maya Ali in lead roles and is set to arrive in cinemas around mid 2023. We can hardly wait! (Oh and we must admit: our minds are still a little blown by the whole “Khuda Kay Liye Bol Verna Aasmaan Bolay Ga” thing. Spectacular!)

Variety at the cinema

We love the fact that the year promises to deliver something for everyone. From the action comedy Money Back Guarantee (with Wasim Akram, of all people, in a prominent role!) and the big screen resurrection of the sitcom Alif Noon to the crime thriller Daadal, the rom-com Babylicious (which we can only hope won’t be as cringe as its title) and beyond, it looks like there will be variety at the cinema. And we are grateful.

The 2023 Oscars

Never mind. Strike that.

Oscar glory isn’t all that matters anyway. More power to Joyland and As Far As They Can Run as well as the very talented teams behind them. Onwards and upwards!

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

Pakistan has such a complex, vibrant, wonderful culture, which is something we may ourselves fail to appreciate at times. Which is one of the reasons why it’s always terrific when positive cinematic spotlight falls on our country. That is what we hope will happen with What’s Love Got to Do with It, the Jemima Khan-penned rom-com that takes a cross-cultural look at the concepts of love and marriage. Starring the likes of Lily James, Shazad Latif, Shabana Azmi, Emma Thompson, and Sajal Aly, the movie won the Best Comedy award at the Rome Film Fest a couple of months ago and is slated for a February release.

The third Guardians of the Galaxy chapter

Because we are allowed to have a guilty pleasure.

Oh and Kamala Khan will be in The Marvels (coming this July), so there’s that as well! Here’s hoping the MCU finds its footing again this year.


Coke Studio season 15

With Xulfi taking the reins of the series last year, the ridiculously successful revamp of Coke Studio made the show’s 14th season among its most memorable and definitely its most popular. We are now awaiting what we hope will be an even more ambitious season 15. We can’t wait to experience what Xulfi and his team have in store for us this time around and are looking forward to more fun collabs, the introduction of new talent from around the country, and catchy bops with lovely regional tones that find a permanent place on our playlists.

The original producer of Coke Studio, Rohail Hyatt, meanwhile, is planning to helm a different music show, Velo Sound Station, this year, taking the seat vacated by Bilal Maqsood, and it will also be interesting to see how he takes the series forward and what he does with the platform.

Coachella and beyond

We’ll be honest here: we’ve never really looked forward to Coachella. Or cared at all that Coachella exists. But then again we’ve never had to. Until very recently.

Last year it was Arooj Aftab who serenaded the desert crowd. This year Ali Sethi is all set to perform at the mammoth music festival that will take place in April. The runaway success of the phenomenon that is ‘Pasoori’ has opened doors for both Sethi and Shae Gill, and we’re all for it.

Speaking of sharing the stage with international stars, Young Stunners will perform at Wireless Festival Middle East 2023 in Dubai this March alongside the likes of Travis Scott, and while the optics of appearing at an event with the Astroworld founder might not be spectacular in light of the 2021 tragedy, maybe it will give our rappers the chance to befriend the Kardashians and … ok, that somehow makes it even worse.

Oh and Arooj has a chance for repeated Grammy success, this time with her song ‘Udhero Na’ that features Anoushka Shankar, so it’s definitely a totes exciting time to be a fan of Pakistani music and we hope to see our homegrown talent continue making waves around the globe in 2023.

New albums (we hope)

While the album remains a vital concept around the world, many of our musicians seem more hesitant to deliver LPs and often focus more on releasing singles. Even those who announce the impending release of their records don’t always follow through. (Like, where is Bilal Saeed’s sophomore album? We don’t know. But we are sure he will release it any decade now!)

We cherish the concept of the album though and hope for more full-length releases that build a world, tell a story, draw us in, and take us on a memorable journey.

Whatever Atif Aslam releases next

Because what else are we going to hear spilling out of the stereo of every single car that passes us on the road?


Gangs of London season 3

Ok, so there’s primarily just one reason we are looking forward to Gangs of London: Asif Raza Mir. The actor has been an integral part of British crime drama so far, and his character – like pretty much all the characters in the series – is (still) up to no good. There’s an interesting new alliance at play that promises even more mayhem henceforth, and while there is no release date yet, we do know the third season has been greenlit and we hope it comes out this year.

Is the show basically just non-stop sequences of violence strung together by a flimsy, barely-there plot? Sure. Will we need therapy after seeing this ultra-violent crime thriller? Of course, we will. But, heaven help us, we still can’t wait to watch it!

Familiar faces on the small screen

The success of television dramas and the unevenness of the film industry may have led to a severe lack of bona fide movie stars in Pakistan, but on the plus side, fans of local content get to see uber-popular actors on the small screen. Familiar faces that are set to make an appearance on our television sets this year include the likes of Mahira Khan, Ahad Raza Mir, Humayun Saeed, and Saba Qamar. And that is something that will draw plenty of eyeballs to local televisual content.

The transformation of our television drama industry from one that is obsessed with toxic romance and familial maslay to one that creates diverse, inventive, intelligent content

Hey, a girl can dream!