I am looking at 2019 with hope and anticipation. Hope that the thrust of good fortune that films enjoyed in 2018 will continue and in fact grow further in 2019; all withstanding, cinema did deliver a number of diverse, entertaining hits last year. I also hope that television, for one, will manage to rise from being the voice of doom and gloom - especially for women - and will serve as a more aspirational and entertaining medium.
Last year was strong in terms of the number and genre of releases and there’s enough reason to believe that 2019 will be just as successful, if not more. There certainly is a lot to look forward to, beginning with Eid ul Fitr and The Legend of Maula Jatt. Starring Fawad Khan and Hamza Ali Abbasi in lead roles, with Mahira Khan, Humaima Malick and Gohar Rasheed in significant characters, this Jatt reboot has been on the cards for at least two years and is the most awaited film of the year. Will it rise to expectations or sink like most over-hyped projects do, only time will tell but what we can tell from the teaser is that the production quality is unprecedented in Pakistan. No to trivialize the fact that this will be Fawad Khan’s first Pakistani film in over a decade.
Wajahat Rauf, in a conversation with Instep, has also confirmed a film on Eid ul Fitr saying that it won’t be Karachi Se Lahore 3 (as initially rumoured) but there will be a film nevertheless. Eid ul Azha will see the release of Asim Raza’s Parey Hut Love, because one can never get enough romance in life. And there’s also Love You Jatta on Eid ul Azha, because, well, it appears that people can’t get enough of the Humayun Saeed-Nadeem Baig combo either. If Mahira Khan does sign her first Nadeem Baig film, as reports the grapevine, then it’ll be a Jatt to Jatta situation for her. Given that she’s also got a cameo in PHL, this may be Mahira’s year as 2018 was Fahad Mustafa’s.
Fahad Mustafa, unfortunately, has confirmed that we won’t be seeing him on cinema screens in 2019. He’s taking a break and focusing on his game show. He will sign up for a film but is looking at a possible 2020 release. Nabeel Qureshi has also suggested he will be making a film this year but with nothing concrete on the table and given the fact that he hasn’t made a film without Fahad Mustafa yet, I’m thinking they’re both going to align for the same project.
I’m also curious about Durj, which it seems will be exploring a new genre for Pakistani film. I do remember watching slash fest Zibakhana back 2007 but Durj is apparently inspired by real events, which will get magnified on the big screen. It’s interesting to know that cannibalism exists in Pakistan, literally and not just metaphorically, that is.
It’s interesting to note how audiences across Pakistan are paying good money to be entertained by rom-coms in cinemas, and yet TV channels continue peddling the same tragic stories of marital distress, season after season, implying that they are what viewers want to watch. It’s like they’re catering to a whole different audience, which they possibly are. It is so important for television to diversify in genre and target-audience too. The ‘social cause’ has been TV’s obsession for quite some time now and it seems will continue through 2019. However, as much as we need TV to educate viewers on sexual harassment, domestic violence and child abuse, amongst other serious subjects, things need to lighten up. Plus, with PEMRA’s new directive, it may not even be possible to address these issues on TV anymore. Looks like PEMRA would prefer this sinister part of our culture limited to reality only.
What we can look forward to, however, is Dil Kiya Karey, starting tomorrow (January 14) and starring Feroze Khan, Yumna Zaidi and Mirza Zain Baig in a love triangle. Directed by Mehreen Jabbar and produced by 7th Sky Entertainment, this serial - with its stellar cast - may be the next big thing on television. The much hyped Aangan, now past four episodes, may not be getting the ratings it expected (over-hyped projects rarely do) but it is unique in terms of production value and performances and will surely pick up with the entry of super duo Ahad Raza Mir and Sajal Aly and the love triangle with Mawra Hocane. Cheekh has just recently brought Saba Qamar back to our TV screens and the story is unraveling in an interesting way. Ushna Shah continues to be the strong actor that she is and it’s intriguing to see the otherwise sweet looking Bilal Abbas Khan in a negative role. My fingers are crossed for this one.
Amongst other serials to look forward to this year is Alif, currently being filmed in Turkey. It’ll bring Hamza Ali Abbasi back to our screens and one can dispute his brand of politics but not the fact that he’s a good actor; Hamza will be cast with Sajal Aly for the very first time. Alif will also feature Ahsan Khan and Kubra Khan in lead roles. I’m also looking forward to Meray Pass Tum Ho, with Nadeem Baig’s direction and Humayun Saeed and Ayeza Khan in lead roles. This is a love story and it’ll be interesting to see whether the Humayun-Ayeza casting can create the same magic as Humayun Saeed-Mehwish Hayat did in Dillagi, also a Nadeem Baig play.
Surkh Chandni, starring the super talented Sohai Abro and the politically correct hero, Osman Khalid Butt will tell the story of an acid-attack victim while Ladu and Barfi are being projected as two ‘happy’ plays to spread some joy.
We do need to see some happiness and diversity on television this year; some suspense/thriller, some medical dramas perhaps? Anything but stories of failed marriages because yes, these stories of human suffering, domestic violence and emotional abuse are true and very real but then there are stories of hope and happiness too. Let someone narrate those as well. Let’s give television viewers a break.