Pakistan’s biggest celebrities speak about the expectation from 2019
Javed Sheikh: I think 2019 will be a breakthrough year for us. Delhi Gate, Wrong Number 2, a film on boxing titled Chaja Rey, Superstarand many other films to come from my end in 2019. I think franchises are very important for Pakistan, as they are in other countries. It’s a gimmick that pays very well.
Mehwish Hayat: There is the web series that has already been announced. There are a couple of film scripts I am reading that I may sign up and another project close to my heart that I am working on. Other than that, I will be paying a little more attention to my music.
Jami: Exploring Netflix with Faisal Rafi and Ali Dewan. Plus, a few films as a producer and director.
Adnan Sarwar: We are about to go into production for our new film which we will shoot next year. It is always exciting to start a new project.
Humayun Saeed: I want to make an action film next year apart from a rom-com.
Ahmed Ali Butt: I am working in Paray Hut Love which will be releasing on Eid Ul Azha in 2019. I have also started working on my own film and very soon we will be announcing it officially.
Asim Abbasi: I am currently focused on my writing. I want to explore more genres, in particular thrillers.
Tell us what were the worst development in Film industry?
Jami: The worst was a few producers hijacking Pakistan Film Producers Association to block Bollywood films for their personal gains. The best was the fading away of item numbers as I predicted a few years ago and producers now thinking of stories instead of boobies.
Mehwish Hayat: I think the best development this year has been the [diversity] of Pakistani films. In addition to the usual generic entertainment films, we’ve seen animated films and several story-driven films make a mark on the box office. It’s great to see that the industry has matured enough to allow filmmakers to take a chance on different genres of films and this is important for our cinema’s growth.
I do get upset that everything we do is immediately compared to our neighbours. No matter what we do, it is assumed that we are copying them in everything from storylines to costumes and dances. Through our new films I think Pakistani cinema is developing its own identity, which is essential as we move forward. We are a fledgling industry so everything good or bad is taking us forward. So we learn and grow from even our failures. So there has to my mind been nothing that I would see as a negative development.
Hareem Farooq: I am happy that more cinemas and screens have opened up increasing the overall market size of people who can see our films, as well as money we make. It is still way to early for us to call our cinema an industry – but we are getting there – and I am nothing but optimist with the coming years.
What steps are you taking to make the industry safer for women and upcoming talent with regard to harassment?
Mehwish Hayat: It may be a cliché but thankfully I haven’t personally experienced harassment or exploitation. But having said that I am more vigilant about what is going on around me and if I witness anything untoward I will take the appropriate steps. I feel very passionately about this and can reassure women and upcoming talent working with me that they will be in a safe environment. Every person has the right to a safe work place irrespective of what industry it is.
Ahsan Rahim: I have been associated with TV and advertising for 18 years and from day one I have been taught to respect the people you work with. The only step I can do is to set an example which we do on our sets.
Ali Rehman Khan: I think it basically boils down to raising awareness about the importance of keeping women safe at the workplace. Sometimes you know people have become so insensitive, [disrespecting women] has become casual banter to them. But I haven’t seen anything happen in front of me ever as I believe our industry has developed in such a way that shows respect to women. Women also are super smart and know how to hold themselves and even men do now. So, I haven’t been in a position to witness such a thing, but I am sure things do happen and if it does I am ready to stand by their side.
Ahmed Ali Butt: The MeToo movement has been very helpful in giving out the message to women that they can come out and be vocal about any bad experiences that they may have had. I feel that as an individual, as well as an artiste, I realise my responsibility to stand up against any kind of mistreatment and misbehavior and to extend support to any woman who speaks out about having suffered harassment.