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Bin Roye


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Bin Roye is a romantic drama directed by Momina Duraid and Shahzad Kashmiri and stars Mahira Khan, Humayun Saeed, Armeena Rana Khan, Zeba Bakhtiar and Javed Sheikh amongst others. It is an adaptation of Farhat Ishtiaq’s novel, Bin Roye Aansoo which is soon to be a HUM TV drama serial also.

A classic love story involving Irtaza (Humayun Saeed) and Saba (Mahira Khan), the story takes a turn for the predictable as Irtaza makes his transition from desi to pardesi when he leaves to go abroad for his studies. The triangular love story evolves with the entrance of Saman (Armeena Rana Khan) who lures Irtaza with her modern and Western styling choices and values with Irtaza responding favourably and losing his indigenous footing.

Finding out the fate of the three lovers is probably the most interesting thing in the movie, followed by the songs and dance performances. Balle Balle, from which we had expectant hopes, is just short of a Tarang ad, with nothing new brought to the table except for the debut of Adeel Hussain’s spectacular dance skills.

Wrong No.



Wrong No. is a romantic comedy film directed by Yasir Nawaz and starring Javed Sheikh, Danish Taimoor, Nadeem Jaffri, Danish Nawaz, Shafqat Cheema, Sohai Ali Abro and Janita Asma amongst others and is scheduled for local release on July 18, 2015.

An ambitious Danish Taimoor is the bratty and spoiled golden son of Javed Shaikh, a butcher by trade who owns his own shop. Smothered by his mother and given false hopes of confidence by his father, Danish aspires to be a movie star and wants nothing to do with his father’s smelly, dead-end butcher shop. Danish is betrothed to and relentlessly pursued by Sohai Ali Abro, whom he detests. All in all, the walls of responsible adulthood seem to be caving in on him, because of which he hits the road. He subsequently experiences a pleasant reversal of roles, not dissimilar from Trading Places (1983) featuring Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd and the rest is for you to find out.

Wrong No. has many an entertaining moment specifically held up by Javed Sheikh and his dysfunctionally entertaining family: from funny instances like a little boy’s circumcision proceedings to deciding whether to cook champay or koftas. There is a featured band of three fat ghundas who are fumbling all over the place and who provide much comic relief.

Taking much from Na Maloom Afraad in the way of chasing scenes around Karachi’s city streets and dreams of being rich, Wrong No. is an entertainer with some good jokes that doesn’t take itself very seriously. It does have the privilege of coining #selfiyaan which is sure to create some shaadi song skits and spinoffs come this year’s shaadi season.

Dekh Magar Pyar Se


Dekh Magar Pyar Se is an upcoming Pakistani romantic comedy film directed by Asad ul Haq and starring Humaima Malick and Sikander Rizvi and is set to release on Independence 14 August 2015.

Set in Lahore, Dekh Magar Pyar Se takes its name from the slogan commonly popularised by the truck, bus and rickshaw industry across Pakistan. Steeped in familiar cultural phenomena, the trailer exudes realism, set in gritty real locations and deep inside complex emotional sequences, not very dissimilar from the cultural projection in Bollywood’s Dev. D starring Kalki Koechlin and Abhay Deol.

Sikander Rizvi’s acting debut has been much anticipated as has Humaima’s acting performance in a local film since she’s stepped up her game last year. Dekh Magar Pyaar Se will most likely be the stop for the-harder-to-please cinema goer this summer season.

Karachi se Lahore



Karachi se Lahore is an upcoming comedy road film directed and produced by Wajahat Rauf starring Shehzad Sheikh, Ayesha Omer, Javed Sheikh, Mantaha Tareen Maqsood, Yasir Hussain, Ahmed Ali, Eshita Syed, Aashir Wajahat and Rasheed Naz and is set to be release on July 31, 2015 locally. It is famously Pakistan’s first road-trip film which covers in real time the 36-hour journey from Karachi to Lahore by road.

For those left wondering about the road trip phenomenon, think Little Miss Sunshine and We the Millers. Karachi se Lahore is expectantly packed with the fun-isms and unaccounted twists and turns one can only (not!) expect when on a road trip with so many people and with such an agenda. Shehzad Sheikh’s beloved is always threatening him with getting married off by her parents to which he responds by making an impulsive and passionate plan to stall the wedding.

The Noori clan makes its way back into the mainstream with Shiraz Upal for the music. Ayesha Omer’s item number is actually not an item number but a stand on empowerment for women and their ability to use their cunning and strengths for the greater good. Karachi se Lahore also promises to showcase some rich cultural diversity, something remaining amiss from much local cinema nowadays. A good one to catch with the whole family!

A new documentary featuring Pakistani superwomen

Having toured across the United States, “Pakistan Four,” a heartwarming documentary, is finally making its way to the motherland. Director Shehzad Hameed has taken the ongoing slew of negative media that surrounds Pakistan and has turned it on its head, shedding light on the inspiring acts of determination as exemplified by four young Pakistani women.

A fencer, a heavy weight lifter, a chef and a comedian: these are the women whom the documentary follows.  Their professional lives and aspirations are showcased alongside their lives at home within fairly traditional Pakistani families. “I was very emotionally involved myself while making the film”, Shehzad told me. “I wanted them to win and was supporting them while I was filming. I was there at every match and screening and tournament.”

The four featured women — Hareem (the saber fencer), Fatima (the sous chef), Kulsoom (the weightlifter) and Nadia (the actor) became known to Shehzad one by one through Facebook, personal friends and the internet.  Hareem turned down her previous career as an investment banker to pursue her passion for fencing and trained to become a professional fencer. She is shown revelling in glory at the Fencing World Cup in Chicago and then later, giving fencing classes in her spare time to girls from underserved communities. Fatima fought hard to break the shell of her traditional background to become a chef. She is shown becoming the Chopped champion, a national competition that is also a popular reality television show on The Food Network. There is a moving moment where, after having been announced the winner, she says how winning was so important to her because it solidified her own faith in her chosen path. “It is a huge stamp of approval.”



Kulsoom, who practices strict hijab, is shown in her home, cooking with the women of the household. Next she is shown struggling with the national weightlifting regulations that decree that the arms and legs must be bare. But Kulsoom perseveres, building a case for why a hijabi can also be a weightlifting champion. (She wins the Emory Weightlifting Championship after having been allowed to compete). “It wasn’t just an individual challenge, it was a global one that was going to affect women in many countries,” said Kulsoom, who has been the only one representing Pakistan twice at global tournaments. She was later hosted at a reception by Hilary Clinton where she spoke about the growth of Pakistani women in national sports. Nadia, the actor, is featured working on a play where she chronicles the experience of coming from a conservative Pakistani family in England. The play is full of familiar hilarity, scenes documenting what it’s like to be a Pakistani who is raised abroad. But the documentary also shows the darker side of strict parenting and confused cultural identities.

Fatima is shown becoming the Chopped champion, a national competition that is also a popular reality television show on The Food Network

“When asked what it was they want to do with their lives, many of my Pakistani friends would say ‘get married,’ and I always wondered why that was the only thing they seemed to want to do,” Shehzad told me. Certainly, as part of Pakistani society, locally and abroad, we tend to believe there are certain roles for men and women. Not only are women supposed to play the specific roles of mother, sister and  daughter, men too are stereotyped into the various roles of breadwinner, patriarch and homeowner.

“This is the message I want to convey to Pakistani women: If these women can do it, you can do it too,” says Shehzad. At the screenings in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, Shehzad is curiously awaiting the audience’s reactions.




Shehzad hameed


Mehek Raza Rizvi goes to Chandigarh and talks to the real Milkha Singh


On my recent visit to India, I felt like everyone was talking about the same thing: the sports biopic ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag,’ starring Farhan Akhtar. The movie traces the life of former field and track sprinter Milkha Singh, also known as The Flying Sikh – a sobriquet given to him by former President of Pakistan, Ayub Khan. Famous for his vim and pizzazz, Milkha Singh is much talked-about in his small and beautiful hometown, Chandigarh. From incidents at the Chandigarh Golf Club to his fitness, almost everyone I met had something to say about him. Yet hardly anyone knew his real story until filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra decided to make a movie about it. And what a movie it is.


On my way to watch the movie, my hosts told me I wouldn’t register how quickly time would pass. They were right. The movie explores Singh’s rousing struggle to rebuild his life after his parents and siblings were butchered in front of his eyes in the carnage that preceded Partition. Traumatized and distraught, twelve-year-old Milkha Singh fled from his village, Govindpura (now Muzaffargarh District, Pakistan) and reached Delhi where he united with his sister. From the impoverished refugee camps, which were his home for a long time, Singh learned how to face all odds and take responsibility for his life.  In 1951, at his fourth attempt, he was recruited in the Indian Army at the Electrical Mechanical Engineering Centre. This was where his career as an athlete took off.

Sonam Kapoor, Milkha Singh & Farhan Akhtar

After making it to the top 10-winners list in a race, he was selected for service commission and eventually sent for the selection of the Olympics team. Amusingly, Milkha’s motivation to win this race were the milk and eggs that were to be given as a reward to the winners.  He went on to break the 400- meter-race world record and represented India in the Summer Olympics in Melbourne (1956), Summer Olympics in Rome (1960), Asian Games in Tokyo and the Commonwealth Games in Cardiff.

Singh expressed his deep unhappiness at the fact that ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ was banned in Pakistan

He was also awarded the Padma Shri which is India’s fourth highest civilian order.  Out of the 80 races he has participated in, he has won 77 and owns numerous medals, trophies and awards. However, his ultimate brush with success and global recognition did not come effortlessly. He trained tirelessly to increase his stamina and skill. His coach Havildar Gurdev Singh guided him through a training regime so intense that sometimes the young athlete would vomit blood.  But mentioning his fatigue, bruises and injuries would be like detailing the everyday.

Milkha Singh standing next to a poster of the film

After the movie ended I knew I had to meet this man in person.

Two days later, I found myself sitting in Milkha Singh’s drawing room for an interview arranged by a dear friend (who happens to be Singh’s neighbor).  Larger than life, gracious and genial, my host greeted me with a huge smile and offered refreshments. Around twelve journalists had just left his house and more kept calling throughout the course of our interview. After exchanging pleasantries I expressed my utter shock at how similar he looked to Farhan Akthar in the movie. “Yes, I get that a lot,” Singh laughed. “One of my daughters met Farhan while the movie was being shot and was just as stunned. Farhan is a wonderful actor and has worked very hard for this movie.

Milkha Singh & Rajinder Chhibbar

He’s done a great job.” I couldn’t agree more.  Farhan Akhtar outdid himself. His performance was convincing and impassioned. I asked him how much of the movie is actually true and he told me it was complete truth. One of the most endearing parts of the movie was Milkha’s love affair with Biro, played by Sonam Kapoor. When asked about Biro, he smiled. “When you’re that young love is a very fascinating thing. She used to come to a tube well nearby to fetch water and I would follow her.” This romance however did not last as Biro got married to someone else and Singh got busy with his newfound love for running.

Milkha Singh with family

Milkha Singh got married to Nirmal Kaur, former captain of the Indian Women’s Volleyball team in 1962. The couple first met in Ceylon in 1955. Together they have three daughters and a son, Jheev Milkha Singh. Jheev is a renowned professional golfer and the first Indian golfer to make it to the European Tour.  Clearly these athletes form a family of high achievers.

After exchanging pleasantries I expressed my utter shock at how similar he looked to Farhan Akthar

Singh expressed his deep unhappiness at the fact that Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was banned in Pakistan. “If you watch the movie rationally you will realize that in no way does it put Pakistan down. I was left scarred after my family was butchered right in front of my eyes, isn’t that natural? The movie depicts my sentiments at that time truthfully. This doesn’t mean I think of Pakistan as an enemy. I’m sure a lot Pakistanis my age went through the same trauma during partition, so they would understand this best.  That was just not a good time.”

A young Milkha Singh
A young Milkha Singh
Farhan Akhtar as Milkha Singh

Talking about Abdul Khaliq, the Pakistani sprinter he beat in 1960, Singh shared that during the 1971 war when Khaliq was imprisoned, he went to meet him and made sure he was treated well.

 “When you return to Pakistan please give my message to everyone back home. I am very fond of Pakistan,” he said. “I was born in Pakistan and it is where I got the title ‘the Flying Sikh.’ After my race in Pakistan against Abdul Khaliq, President Ayub Khan told me that I did not run, I flew, and gave me this appellation.”

Milkha Singh has lived an inspirational life from which both Indians and Pakistanis can learn a thing or two. His discipline and passion are admirable and perhaps the key to his success and youthfulness. But most importantly, his story testifies to the fact that hard work and dedication go a long way.

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Milkha Singh, Prasoon Joshi, Sonam Kapoor & Farhan Akhtar at the screening of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag in London

Pages-from-FinalPaar Chanaa De by Arif Lohar and Saleema Jawaad: An ingenious reworking of the popular folk song. It’s pulse is the comforting lilt of the earthen ghharha. First-time recording artiste Saleema Jawaad’s vocals are like a wonderful cawing — think of a younger, more soulful Ila Arun — and give this song its emotional undertow. Arif Lohar is surprisingly tender; and the flute at the end is absolutely devastating. The crowning glory of ZB’s soundtrack.

Rating: 5 stars

Pataa Yaar Da by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan: Composer Sahir Ali Bagga has called this an experimental qawwali. It is certainly unusual in its choice of beat-cycle, which gives it an interesting, lopsided feel. Otherwise it’s laden with curvy tabla, a wailing harmonium and lush, creamy vocals — all of which makes it a standard Rahat Fateh Ali Khan number. Hummable and unremarkable.

Rating: 3 .5 stars

Paani da Bulbula by Abrar ul Haq: Playful, capricious, fun-poking, happily facetious. The endless-ridiculous rhyming (“Peeli batti wala paan, Coca Cola te Shezan, Rab tera nigehbaan”) give it the feel of a children’s limerick. Charming, clever and winsome, with Abrar at his wonky best.

Rating: 4 stars

Saari Saari Raat by Sahir Ali Bagga and Farah Anwar: This earnestly tragic song is the least interesting on the score. Sahir Ali Bagga’s vocals are muffled by their own emotional strivings; Farah Anwar’s are too high, and make her sound like a cartoon character.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Kurri Yes Ai by Amanat Ali and Iqra Ali: Confident, triumphant, sexy. Amanat Ali’s nasal croaking is edgy and lustful, though they make him sound suspiciously like Bollywood singer Mika Singh. The female vocalist, Iqra Ali, gives as good as she gets, and with twice as much attitude. The dhol and trumpet combination works wonders. Destined to blare from the woofers of fast cars everywhere.

Rating: 4 stars

Dekhein Gay by Jaabar Abbas: Nobody can believe that the voice on this track belongs to Jaabar Abbas from Geo TV’s ‘Hum Sab Ummeed Se Hein‘, and not to Bollywood crooner Sukhwinder Singh. Is that a good thing? I’m not sure; all I can say is I was waiting for Abbas to trip — to let in a quiver of distinctiveness — but he remained freakishly faithful to Sukhwinder until the end. Otherwise: this is a satirical song, written by novelist Mohammad Hanif, who evidently does dialogue with Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s nazm of the same name, though in a decidedly less polished register. A grittier ‘Chhaiyya Chhaiyya‘, if you will.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Taariyaan by Sahir Ali Bagga: With clean beats and a jumpy, festive vibe, this is the perfect club anthem, seamlessly combining the warmth of Punjabi revelry with the anonymous carnality of a discotheque. Simple and additive, this song will keep you dancing through the night.

Rating: 4 stars


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