Kamran Bari, who some would recognize as the co-frontman of the music group Suroor, asks Adeel Pervaiz Kaleem – son of writer-director Pervaiz Kaleem, often credited in films as editor Adeel PK – to turn off the bathroom lights. mounting their desk.

At the computer, a young assistant, who has been listening to our conversation for a while, puts his head to the beginning of the title song of the film Kahay Dil Jidhar (KDJ) – a happy number with Kamran (also the actor, screenwriter and producer of the film), Junaid Khan, Mansha Pasha and Roma Michael as the cheerful and young versions of their characters.

The film tells the story of four friends, how they break up, become part of an imperfect and corrupt system – Junaid becomes a cop, Mansha a TV presenter, Roma his research assistant and Kamran, unsurprisingly, a musician – then come together for the greater good.

If you’re one of the 30,000 viewers who saw the KDJ trailer in January and have a good memory, you might remember bits of that upbeat track at the very end of that serious first look at the film. .

As well as being the debut of musician Kamran Bari as an actor and producer, the upcoming Kahay Dil Jidhar is also about friendship and values. His creative team hopes to strike a balance between the needs of commercial cinema and conveying the message he wants to convey. Will they succeed?

A better version of the song can be heard in the new trailer which debuted a few weeks ago with the announcement of the film’s release date: December 17th.

Shot in Naran, Kaghan and Saif-ul-Muluk, the must-see “cinematic” areas of northern Pakistan, the full song, where the cuts land surprisingly at the shifting pace and tempo, is catchy – just like the next three numbers I Am show.

Mastam, possibly set at a pivotal point in history before young people turned into serious adults, is a party act bathed in shades of blue, pink, and purple. In the song, the alcohol is flowing freely and the drugs are snorted and swallowed harmlessly. Normally, the amount of intake you see onscreen would likely kill a hippo, but I’m guessing the young adults in the movie have more robust digestive systems than the animals – and they can jump to the beat of the song for start without switching. Chalk one up to the film license, I think.

Mansha Pasha – whom I’ve never seen in an avatar like this (i.e. dressed in a shimmering silver top and pants) – moves to the beat, sending sultry, inviting looks straight out in the objective. There are others in the scene as well – Dino Ali DJ-ing the rave party, Junaid, Kamran and Roma sensualized in a skimpy dress.

The song intersects with Atiqa Odho in a drastically different dress code: the uniform of the leader of the Anti-Narcotics Force. His character raids a warehouse and shoots down the bad guys.

The next song I see has a spoiler: a dark background song for a road trip that would likely play in the third quarter of the movie (to say more would probably betray the movie).

The last one, also one of the first songs we’ll see in KDJ according to Kamran, is Dholna – one of those wedding / engagement numbers that sound great, but look better on screen. The music for the film is by Atif Ali and Kamran Suroor’s band.

At my request, the aforementioned young assistant plays a scene between Kamran and Atiqa Odho. Surprisingly, Kamran, who would make his debut as an actor, feels competent.

KDJ, the actor-producer tells me, is a film he wanted to make for a long time – 2014 to be precise. However, he wanted to be an actor even longer. Even before he was part of Suroor, he said.

“I was still in grade 9 when I wanted to be an actor. Now my daughter is in the 9th grade. Whenever Allah gives you this opportunity, I guess, ”he laughs.

This, however, is a risky time to release the movie… not that Kamran knows.

Adeel PK, the creative producer, editor and co-writer, sitting across from Kamran, says the pandemic threw a wrench into their plans, otherwise KDJ would have already been released and there would be another film in production.

Kamran reaffirms: The plan is to make at least two films a year, and the plan really doesn’t depend on KDJ’s box office success or failure.

There is authenticity in Kamran’s words and his body language. Eager to listen to the stories of the industry and how it works, to understand and learn first-hand production and distribution practices, Kamran accumulates knowledge on the go.

As we speak, we realize that he knows KDJ is a test for bigger things. But rather than embarking on a little adventure, learning the ropes and then making a film for the big screen, he chose to go all out. It’s a risky business, yes, but one that will teach him a lot.

“Kamyaabi nateejay mein nahin, koshish mein hai [Success isn’t in the outcome, it’s in the struggle]. “It is also the motto of his company, Wajdaan Films.

“We made the best movie according to our ability,” he told me, “the rest is with Almighty God – and the audience. “

Jalaluddin Roomi, the director – who went on a set and didn’t respond until this feature was printed – was the only one Kamran reached out to, as he was the only one he knew and with who he felt comfortable with (Jalal directed the clips for Suroor and other bands).

KDJ was filmed between August, September and October 2019 with a 35 day filming schedule, including songs.

Making a big commercial film in such a small timeline isn’t a minor feat – but again, back in the days when movies were actually called movies for a reason (i.e. they were filmed on celluloid), Lollywood’s routine fare wrapped filming in a month. But that was at different times. Today, the challenge is to bring the public to the cinema seats.

Adeel PK confirms that Pakistani audiences are harder to win over when it comes to films, which is why Kamran claims he made the film with as many commercial elements as possible. Most of them, he says, happen naturally because of the story.

There is a message, he tells me in detail, about young people and how they are led astray by their own fallibilities. This, he says, is done without “bhaashan” [sermonising]. KDJ is above all a commercial film, he reiterates. The message is embedded in the story, and the story is about friends and friendships, and how the relationship changes at different times in life.

“Let’s say we are three friends and one of us falls into drugs or other bad habits. What we don’t do is stop that friend from ruining their life because we’re afraid our friend will stop hanging out with us. By remaining silent and taking no action, we save our friendship but lose our friend – that is KDJ’s goal.

Two hours late, this screenwriter leaves the Wajdaan Films editing room to go to a house that also served as a stage set for the soap opera Koyal, directed by the very, very cold Yasir Hussain. I am here to meet Mansha Pasha.

“I’m known to ask a lot of questions – senior manager ka sar khaa jaati hoon [I drive directors mad], I ask so many questions, ”Mansha says.

In a scene with Noor-ul-Hasan, who plays her father, she asks the assistant director why she brings him bread and milk at dinner time. Mansha adds a line that legitimizes the reason for this action in the scenario.

We sit at a dining table during her five-minute break, where she tells me that she also asks a lot of questions on the KDJ set. As an actress, she needs to know what she is doing and why.

“I think people thought I wanted to do another movie like Laal Kabootar, mainly because I’m considered a serious actress who does a lot of serious projects. When Laal Kabootar came out, I decided that my next project would be… ”, she reflected for a moment,“ maybe not shock people but entertain them in a different way.

“Usually, I don’t judge a project by its script. I judge the script on the basis of the filmmaker. Frankly, I’ve read good scripts that are ruined in the hands of bad directors, ”she continues.

“When I met Jalal, I felt [the script] was something he understood. It was like he knew what I [as a character] wanted to [in the scope of the story], and how to get it out of me. He was on the mind of a desi person, like my husband, and knew what they would like to see on screen, with a story, a message, with the right emotions and compelling visuals.

Speaking of her character, Mansha cryptically offers a few details. “He’s a person who has stood up for a lot of good things, but like anything else your aspirations start somewhere. In order to achieve anything in life, you go through a journey where you have to give up a lot of what you believe in. However, it is not someone who has given up [her ideals].

“It’s like a question mark in his head. She is aware that she is giving up a lot of things that she once believed in, and it harasses her – it is not something that she is not guilty of. She knowingly does things to achieve a certain position of power. “

In KDJ, Mansha plays a news anchor with shades of gray. While this is a crazy coincidence, the character she plays is similar to the one Kiran Malik plays in Shaan Shahid’s Zarrar, a movie that ended years ago.

Junaid Khan, the film’s main character, is in the United States when we log on. Playing the son of a minister (Sajid Hassan), the character – who starts out young and carefree and becomes a tough, tough cop – gives the actor plenty of room to play creatively.

“Mustaches make all the difference,” he says. ” You do not believe me ? Grow one. It changes your whole attitude. He almost died seriously.

“I haven’t adapted the character of any existing character from a movie and I’ve never been able to play such a character on television. The characters I usually play are mature, who start their screen life when they’re married, ”he explains.

Correcting Kamran’s perspective on the story, its theme, and the characters, Junaid tells me that playing a cop is both a necessary cliché and a necessity for the story.

However, brutal and indestructible cops are not just a cliché in our region, he stresses. Hollywood films also rarely stereotype. Heroes, according to general public expectations, are often stereotypically male, larger than life, and so the police and military tend to become the go-to professions for the good guys in these stories, he explains.

“It ticks off a checklist. Aggressive, macho, tough. It’s a very cliché but doable formula. Plus, with the police, you can beat the bad guys within the system, which is more convenient and politically correct – and of course any man looks great in a wardi. [uniform]. “

KDJ, as Junaid, Kamran, Adeel, and Mansha explain, wants to go the extra mile and tackle – or at least tackle – issues big and small, without sounding judgmental – while also attracting people who yearn for mainstream movies.

No matter who you ask from this team, they’ll say it’s a delicate balance – although they feel they’ve maintained it pretty well. The rest, as Kamran says, belongs to the public.

Distributed by Mandviwalla Entertainment, Kahay Dil Jidhar hits theaters across Pakistan on December 17th

Posted in Dawn, ICON, November 28, 2021

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