Sarmad Khoosat is an auteur when it comes to making a film. We learned that from Manto. He is experimental, bold and provocative. But with Zindagi Tamasha, Sarmad Khoosat is walking the path less trodden.
Since the film’s teaser arrived followed by its trailer, one has been wondering whether a film such as Zindagi Tamasha could – in a myopic Pakistan – release, even with cuts. But it looks like 2020 is beginning on an auspicious note as the film has been approved by the censor board.
The announcement was made by Sarmad Khoosat and the team behind Zindagi Tamasha. The film features powerhouse actor Samiya Mumtaz and marks the cinematic debut of Eman Suleman. Arif Hassan headlines the film as Rahat Khwaja, “a naatkhawan” who enjoys “a celebrity status amongst the community in the old city of Lahore. He is a devout Muslim, who, in the eyes of everyone is a superhuman incapable of any sacrilege. Hence, when he does wrong there is no forgiveness for him.”
The film also features Ali Qureshi and even Sarmad himself in a small cameo. Written by Nirmal Bano, it is a bilingual film.
Speaking to a live audience on Jan 1 while announcing the film’s release date, Sarmad talked to fans – some of whom were commenting on various issues – including the film’s exorbitant ticket costs at large and Sarmad agreed how distributors and exhibitors must work on it. But while he admitted he has no control over it, he does plan to take his first film of the year to as many spaces as possible. Among reasons why people should watch this film, Sarmad noted that its cast is extraordinary and it’s after 5 years that he is returning to the big screen as director.
Speaking about TV and film, he noted that investment in television comes in relatively easily, while raising funds for a story you want to tell in cinema is a lot more difficult.
The Zindagi Tamasha trailer was recalled and it applies to a lot of things “in a democratic system, respect the institutions; I might have ideological problems; I might have intellectual differences but the film has been cleared and I respect the decision of the censor board. I didn’t make this film for money. I don’t believe in one-liners that can describe the art-form; the idea was to get the film to a larger audience. ”
It seems the cuts were minor and haven’t hurt the overall narrative or aesthetic of the film, which is ultimately the point. It isn’t done arbitrarily.
Expanding on the casting, Sarmad Khoosat noted that it’s not about being star-obsessed.
Sarmad also spoke about how audience has always surprised him and we shouldn’t judge them. It was assumed Manto wouldn’t run in cinemas but it finished its run in the genre.
Sarmad noted that premieres have become obsolete ideas abroad but they are trying to do one.
“For industry friends, I’d rather they bought tickets!” He emphasized that they are a small production house. The film is co-produced by Sarmad Khoosat and sister Kanwal Khoosat.
Zindagi Tamasha is slated to release on January 24, 2020.
Music is never a second priority in Sarmad Khoosat films. For one thing, he heard music group Saakin’s ‘Saki-E-Bawafa’ and ‘Kundian’ (the latter on True Brew Records) and was sold on their collective talent, enough that he gave them the opportunity to design music for the film, which includes the sublime, ‘Sik Mitraan’ and the title track, which will not be in their voice but a feminine voice. “There are two songs and six soundtracks in total. Two songs have vocals; one is the title track for Zindagi Tamasha and the other is ‘Sik Mitraan’,” said Usman Shakeel from Saakin.