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Thursday, January 3, 2013

A new film policy for the New Year

Usually, talk of anything ‘new’ is quite bland when it comes to film in Pakistan. This year, however, lady luck may just be kind to the much-maligned state of film, with talk of a new film policy in the offing. The adviser to the Ministry of National Regulation and Services Iftikhar Durrani, who is also one of the co-authors of the document, told The Express Tribune that the new framework looks at the promotion of Pakistani culture, locally and internationally through film.
“[The film policy] looks at how we will create a perception of Pakistan internationally,” says Durrani. He added that the drafting process involved a needs assessment and meetings with stakeholders of the industry. After the fact-finding, the initial proposals for the framework were sent to the Film Censor Board chairman and onward to the ministry. The document will be presented to a standing committee in the coming months.
In the past, the most formal film framework nationally was through the creation of the National Film Development Corporation (Nafdec) in 1970s under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Durrani is quick to clarify that since the Bhutto era, two military regimes have taken over, but that the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party has always taken an interest in culture.
Ghulam Mohiuddin
There were other priorities being dealt with at the time,” he says, explaining the delay. “But the government realises that this is an important sector that can promote Pakistani culture globally,” says Durrani. “So the issue was pushed to the right corners, and the government accepted and identified that this is a sector that needs support and reform.”
According to Durrani, the ministry is also looking to revive a national film council in Pakistan, which will help film-makers find personnel and also create opportunities for returnable loans. It will look to engage with new film-makers that have studied abroad and have skills but lack support.
“It’s very simple; if you can produce so many television dramas, it means the finances are there. Why can’t we produce films? Somebody is not taking an interest,” says Durrani.
Pakistan needs to think big
“You need to produce more and do more to have a healthy competition in the market,” says Durrani. “There is no other choice but to produce better films; and  that is something the government will have to help with.”
But help doesn’t mean the government will be barring Indian films anytime soon. Durrani says the issue of Indian films in the local market is now a thing of the past when it comes to a free-trade economy. The goal is to do “whatever is possible” to increase the production and quality of films. “In this type of economy, Pakistan has to think bigger and smarter; we need to produce better films and platforms,” he says.
Scepticism surrounding the film policy
Film-maker Akifa Mian, who is also the head of the Department of Theatre Film & Television at the Beaconhouse National University, is sceptical about how helpful the new film policy will be to cinema in the country. She feels that financial stakes must not take away from the creative control of film-makers in the country.
“The government has not been very proactive when it comes to film — it has never been treated as an industry,” says Mian. “There must be a discussion amongst the stakeholders, including producers, directors, and other film-makers, because they will be the ones implementing the policy. It cannot be a guessing game.”
Nadeem Mandviwalla, owner and managing director of Mandviwalla Entertainment, says he attended a censor board meeting, which was presided over by National Regulation and Services Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan, which predominantly focused on the film policy.
“A policy cannot be made in isolation, in which one segment of society is only catered to,” says Mandviwalla. “Probably only 1% of the country watches film in the cinema — others use DVD shops and television.”
Actor Ghulam Mohiuddin welcomes any initiative by the government to help the film industry but says that the issue with such initiatives has always been lack of implantation. Citing an example, he says that former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s promised Rs50 million grant to the film industry never materialised.
“The biggest issue is implementation. This was once a big industry and good work has been done. But there has to be an institution which provides funding and ensures that about 20 films are released each year,” he says.
A new censor board chairman
With newly appointed Chairman Dr Raja Mustafa Hyder, the censorship board is set to see a series of changes. According to Hyder, several older practices are being done away with to make the censorship policy more significant. In the past, critics have held the bureaucratic nature of the censor board responsible for the stunting of independent film-making and cinema in the country.
“We are quietly trying to improve the rules and regulations of the censor board, getting rid of some older and redundant rules,” said Hyder. “We are also in the process of upgrading our screening rooms to accommodate digital screens, as the 35mm film is not being used as much by film-makers today.”

After months of soul-searching, Shiraz Uppal is back to music

Musician Shiraz Uppal has made waves with his melodious voice; his songs such asTera Te MeraMann Ja Ve and Roya Re were frequently played on music and radio channels and earned him quite a fan following. So last year in March, when Uppal quit the music scene to embark on a spiritual journey in the name of religion, his admirers and music lovers were stunned that after the exit of stars like Junaid Jamshed, Najam Sheraz and Ali Haider from the music scene, another talented artist would no longer be making music. Now here’s the good news: Uppal has returned to the music scene and will be delivering soul-searching music once again.
When announcing his exit, Uppal had said that the industry seemed “stale” to him, and that he kept falling ill in a “strange” manner because of late night rehearsals. But in a recent interview with The Express Tribune, Uppal explained that he started studying the religious implications of music in Islam. “There were varied views on the applicability of music in Islam; some Islamic scholars argue that music is strictly prohibited,” he said. He continued, saying that music is his life and passion and that giving it up was a radical change for him. “I had forced myself to give up something that I had done for 22 years.”

Justifying his return to music, Uppal said: “My point is, look at Pakistan or Saudi Arabia — they are Islamic countries; they have anthems that incorporate music or tunes. Even our army marches to the beat of a drum!”
Uppal, who is usually a subdued and quiet person, spoke fervently about his decision to come back. He explained that his wife was also being treated for cancer while he spent his time away from music. It was during this period that he left everything and moved to America, where he stayed for several months. His famed SU studios, where leading artists such as Atif Aslam, Noori and Fariha Parvez recorded their music, was liquidated and sold in a short period of time.
“I sold everything for the price of peanuts,” says Uppal, who has upgraded and breathed new life into his studio. “While in America, I saw the way music was being used; it was seen as a cure for illnesses, so I started to question myself: how could music be bad?”
While he was in America in, he received a call from AR Rahman, who asked him to participate in the One World Peace concert in October 2012. He told Uppal that they would sing two qawwalis, Kun Faya Kun and Khwaja Meray Paas in a 10 minute set. It was at this concert that Uppal realised the power music has in promoting humanity, he said.
“I realised that God has gifted me with music to communicate with people. As a Pakistani, how many people have had the opportunity to perform in a World Peace Concert? ” he asks.
“There was nothing wrong with my songs; they were just romantic songs that were delivering a message of peace and love. I write the romantic songs for my wife,” he said with a smile.
“Regardless of wealth and worldly possessions, I still felt that I lacked inner peace,” says Uppal. “I related [this feeling] to music; I thought I was doing something wrong.”
Following the World Peace Concert, Uppal returned from the US. Having set up his studio again, Uppal says that he has several projects in the pipeline; foremost is his personal album. “I have to come up with my new album because it’s been a while and there is a lot of music left inside,” says Uppal. While he did not specify when the release is scheduled, he does give glad tidings by saying that his doors are now open and that he will be producing music as well.
“I learnt one thing while I was away, which is never disclose your projects until they are done, when they finish the world will know about them,” he said.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Sonia Ahmed gets ready to crown the New Mrs. Pakistan 2013

Sonia Ahmed, President of Mrs. Pakistan World announced that the new Mrs. Pakistan World 2013 will be crowned in January 2013. Ahmed said that she is very excited that the 6th Mrs. Pakistan World will be crowned and appointed.
Mrs. Pakistan World is a pageant for Pakistani married women from all around the world and now the entries directly from Pakistan are open as well!
Ahmed also stated that she was proud that Pakistani married women have taken this title to various international pageants as well as has supported the Mrs. Pakistan World pageant for 6 long years!
In an interview with Lollywood Cafe, Ahmed said, ” I am very happy for announcing that would be the first Pakistani news portal to know about the winning of Mrs Pakistan World 2013.”
Ahmed also stated, ” As Pakistani women, we need a voice through various mediums like Mrs. Pakistan World, Miss Pakistan World and other elements of the entertainment industry.
The woman crowned as the new Mrs. Pakistan World 2013 will be representing Pakistan in the Mrs. Universe pageant 2013 in Russia! Ahmed said, “I am so excited to send the new Mrs. Pakistan World to represent Pakistan as the “Best Personality” Award was won by Saiyma Haroon-Asif last year for Pakistan and this year our expectations are very high for our winner.”
We wish Sonia Ahmed and the new winner best of luck from Lollywood Cafe and we will be the first to report about national and international pageants for Pakistan!

Living On The Edge Season 4

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Nabeel Shaukat Ali (Pakistani Team) Wins Sur Kshetra

Pakistani singer Nabeel Shaukat Ali wins the cross border battle of music - Sur Kshetra.

Pakistani contestant Nabeel Shaukat Ali was crowned the winner of the Indo-Pak Musical series - Sur Kshetra on COLORS. In a close contest between Nabeel and his Indian counterpart Diljaan where both the 'musical warriors' were asked to prove themselves in a variety of songs, Nabeel walked home with the trophy on account of his versatility.

In the 16 weeks musical battle, Nabeel managed to win the hearts of the audience and judges alike with his diverse performances and ability to adapt to different singing styles. This is no small achievement for the man from Lahore who dreamed to make it big in the world of singing since he was a child. Nabeel has trained under the guidance of Ustad Ghulam Ali Khan and has also won the Azme Alishan National Song Competition season II in Pakistan in 2011. It seems that finally years of hard work has paid off for the young singer as he now holds the title of being an international singing star.

Talking about his win, Nabeel said, "Winning or losing is always the end of a competition, I believe what is important is the journey you take in the process of achieving that target. In a way, all four of us are winners to have reached the finale but since one of us had to win the title of Sur Kshetra, I feel privileged to have won it. It's a moment of pride that I did something for my country. For this, I would give all the credit to our mentor, Atif Aslam for all the motivation and guidance he has shown us throughout the show."

In one of the episodes of Sur Kshetra, Nabeel had mentioned Sonu Nigam to be his role model and his Team Captain - Atif Aslam had promised Nabeel that he would introduce him to the legend. We hope with this victory Nabeel gets a chance to not just meet his idol but also opens up an opportunity of working with him. As part of the win, the star has already won a chance to sing in Boney Kapoor's film No Entry 2!

Meri Shadi Karao (2013) Official Theatrical Trailer - A Film By Syed Noor

Director: Syed Noor
Cast: Gurdeep Singh Mehendi
Producer: Daler Mehendi
Music: Gurdeep Singh Mehendi
Genre: Romantic Comedy

The film is a romantic comedy, which has been shot in the beautiful landscape of Dubai. The film speaks about marriage, which is the turning point in everybody's life as one steps into a new journey of life. Those who are fortunate are successful in this journey and those who are unsuccessful are the few unfortunate. However it is the climax which leaves a lasting impressions of romance and emotions on your mind.