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Pakistani Film Industry

Exclusive Interview of Yasir Nawaz, Director & Producer of the film Wrong No.

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We cannot exceed the budget of the film as we have a small market, so sometimes creativity is compromised, but not every time because every time it’s not important that heavy budgets win the heart of audience as what matters most is the content.
-Yasir Nawaz


Times of Youth: The movie’s trailer has already amassed amazing popularity. Please tell us how did it get ‘Wrong No.’ as a name & why?

Yasir Nawaz: ‘Wrong No.’ as a name suits the story and we don’t want to reveal the story as it’s a surprise for audience.

Times of Youth: Despite of the release date being around Eid, the audiences’ eagerness regarding ‘Wrong No.’ is increasing rapidly. What do you have to say about that?

Yasir Nawaz: It’s an entertainment movie full of comedy and action in which people can come with family to relax and to have an entertainment package.

Times of Youth: As a person, how and why did you enter the entertainment industry? What made you decide that it was your career calling?

Yasir Nawaz: I think I couldn’t fit in any profession but only in acting or direction, I love my work and I am made for this profession only.

Times of Youth: What is the plot of the movie?

Yasir Nawaz: Sometimes parents force children to follow their footsteps or profession and kids have their own dreams. The movie is based on this concept.

Times of Youth: The glamorous star cast chosen for ‘Wrong No.’ is honestly impressive. How important is each one to the movie?

Yasir Nawaz: Casting is done at the characters demand and every actor is important for the film. Even for a small character, a suitable actor has been casted.

Times of Youth: As you are both the director as well as the producer of ‘Wrong No.’, what’s the difference between the roles played by you for the same?

Yasir Nawaz: It’s very difficult to play both the roles at one time as the nature of both are different and I have tried my level best to cope up with being both and not losing focus. So yes, I am keeping my fingers crossed as me and my team have put in a lot of hard work and efforts to provide quality entertainment for the cinema goers.

Times of Youth: What part did each of the 3 producers play for this movie?

Yasir Nawaz: All 3 of us played a vital role as producers, but comparatively the load was more on me than the other two, as Nida being a host and the producer of her morning show was busy with her show, too, and Hassan Zia had to look after his production company which makes quality dramas. So I had to put in extra effort as a producer so that the quality of the film is not compromised.

Times of Youth: Are there any specific lessons you learnt in the making of this project, both the positives and the negatives?

Yasir Nawaz: The only negative lesson was the fact that it’s very difficult to shoot in Karachi due to law and order strikes, etc. & the positive part is the fact that we gave chance to new talent which turned out be good for us  because they are full of energy and committed which was good to see.

Times of Youth: What according to you is the USP of the movie?

Yasir Nawaz: Entertainment, entertainment and nothing but entertainment.

Times of Youth: In conclusion, why should the audiences go to watch ‘Wrong No.’- The movie?

Yasir Nawaz: It’s a complete comedy, action packed entertainment package so audience should go to have fun, get entertained and have a really good time watching the film.

Times of Youth: After this one, what’s next for the Nawaz duo?

Yasir Nawaz: We want to give the cinema audience a new kind of film every time we plan one, so next on the list is a pure romantic, musical film.

Times of Youth: What’s your top five evergreen favorite films?

Yasir Nawaz: Barfi, Khuda Kay Liye, BOL, WAAR & NA MALOOM AFRAAD.

Times of Youth: Comment about the revival of Pakistani cinema and its status now as compared to what was 5 years ago.

Yasir Nawaz: The cinema dynamics have drastically changed since 2013 with blockbusters like ,MAIN HOON SHAHID AFRIDI’, ‘WAAR’, ‘ZINDA BHAAG’, ‘NA MALOOM AFRAAD’ & ‘JALAIBEE’, and with more movies releasing soon, they will change the picture. So the stand of the industry is way better since the last 5 years but still a long way to go.

Times of Youth: How much do you have to compromise in creativity as a producer because of financial restrictions?

Yasir Nawaz: We cannot exceed the budget of the film as we have a small market, so sometimes creativity is compromised, but not every time because every time it’s not important that heavy budgets win the heart of audience as what matters most is the content.

Times of Youth: According to you, what can be done to further improvise the film industry?

Yasir Nawaz: Audience should go to cinema to watch Pakistani movies at least once to play apart in revival of cinema and we will try to make good films to attract them.

Times of Youth: Any advice you’d give to aspiring youngsters who want to be producers now or in the future?

Yasir Nawaz: First experiment in dramas and then produce a film- this is my suggestion for aspiring youngsters.

Times of Youth: How would a young talented actor or director contact you about the possibility of working together?

Yasir Nawaz: They can message me on ‘Wrong No.’ movie page as I love to promote young talent (www.facebook.com/wrongnumberthefilm)

Times of Youth: Any message to your fans and followers via TIMES OF YOUTH?

Yasir Nawaz: Do watch ‘Wrong No.’ at least one time for the sake of entertainment

Times of Youth is an International Youth Magazine read by the youth of more than 82 countries. Times of Youth brings the latest Youth Opportunities, News, Interviews, Fully Funded Scholarships, Paid Internships, Future Stars, Rising Stars, etc. For further details you can email us at: [email protected]

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Featured Interviews

Exclusive Interview of Hassan Waqas Rana, Director & Producer of the film Yalghaar

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“I very firmly believe that money can only be useful if it is used for the purposes which are greater than ones self.”

Times of Youth: For those who don’t know about you and your work, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hassan Waqas Rana: Well, I am a businessman and a political economist by trade, however this journey of mine had extremely humble beginnings.  It starts on a cycle and ends on Ferrari 355 F1 Spider (which was the very first car I bought with my own money). The very first job I secured was of a janitor where I was studying and at the same time worked extremely hard to put myself through a business school. After I completed my education I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to work at some of the front running fortune 500 organisations which taught me a lot. Then I ventured to work for myself, I choose the field of Oil Exploration, Trading in heavy metals and LED Lights Manufacturing. I achieved a reasonable amount of Financial success, which encouraged me to put my financial gains to do something important because I very firmly believe that money can only be useful if it is used for the purposes which are greater than ones self.

Times of Youth: Yalghaar- What is the real story behind choosing this power-packed name of this film? Whose brainchild was the inception of this story altogether?

Hassan Waqas Rana: In 2007, I heard about an operation which the Pakistan Army had conducted in the Swat valley. The story intrigued me, so set upon researching on it, and the more I ventured in to it, the more I got inspired by the people involved in this daring act of soldiering and I thought this is a story that, I need to tell the world and most importantly to my people. Now as far as the name is concerned, the reason why I chose this name is because this one word “YALGHAAR” (which means “BATTLE CRY”) completely embodies the story of the film.

Times of Youth: What is the plot of the movie?

Hassan Waqas Rana: As I mentioned before, the story of the film has been inspired from a Military operation undertaken by the Pakistan Army in the Swat Valley. The plot of the film revolves around the lives of the soldiers and officers who were involved in this operation, the movie is about, love, romance, sacrifice, courage and valour.

Times of Youth: Considering the incredible success of your previous venture ‘Waar’, what valuable lessons did you derive from its making which you’ve implemented while creating ‘Yalghaar’?

Hassan Waqas Rana: The first lesson which ‘Waar’ taught me was that, I needed to formally educate myself on all the technical aspects of Film making, starting from camera operations to the art of colour grading. Therefore I spent a lot of time after its release to train myself and I went to almost everywhere and to everyone who could teach me a thing or two (by the way, I still learn something everyday). This training enabled me to better analyse what was lacking in our industry and during this time I learnt the most important reality of life that, the audience are too smart and their standards are too high, so if you have to keep them engaged for 2hrs and 20mins, you have to work very hard to meet their expectations and keep them engaged. I also learned that if one has to succeed one has to make a film on international standards and not only cater for your own market. Every aspect of your film has to be as close to perfection as possible. The devil is in the details and if you don’t account for it, you will lose and lose hard. Another important lesson that I learnt was that, “THE STORY SHOULD DRIVE THE ACTION AND NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND”.

Times of Youth: What was the total budget of the movie? 

Hassan Waqas Rana: We initially planned for almost 5m US$ but by doing certain things right we are now able to finish the film in almost 3 to 3.2m US$.

Times of Youth: What motivated you to delve into the field of action movie production & direction?

Hassan Waqas Rana: As I mentioned to you earlier, I wanted to put my money into some good use so I thought of reviving the Pakistani cinema. Because I very firmly believe that, in order to succeed as a society you need to have a very vibrant and successful film industry. Action films in particular have a larger audience because there is an ‘Action Hero’ in all of us and all of us tend to live vicariously through such action heroes. The reason why I got into direction was simple, I am a trained pilot, a sky diver and am half decent both at martial arts and weapons and tactics, and all of this gives me a unique insight into the emotional and biological changes which occur while you are doing all of the above, therefore I think I am able to go deeper into action and am able to show a different side to action which the audience has not seen before.

Times of Youth: Who were/are your filmmaking inspirations? It could be anything which inspired you all along.

Hassan Waqas Rana: As far as Pakistani Cinema is concerned I am extremely inspired by the Late Mr. Riaz Shahid, he was unique and the moment the first scene of his film would open you can understand that it is a Riaz Shahid film, from his subject matter to his execution he was different and always ahead of the game, wether it was “Zarqa” or “Ye Aman”, he was way ahead of his time. Internationally my inspirations have been Mr. John Woo and Mr. Guy Richie, both of these gentlemen have a unique style of execution and a unique and interesting style of engaging their audience and again you really don’t have to read the credits to find out who actually directed the film that you just watched. And now as far as writing is concerned both Mr. Riaz Shahid and Mr. Amjad Islam Amjad are in a class of their own.

Times of Youth: Any special experience you’d like to share with us regarding this film?

Hassan Waqas Rana: On an action film where we were using live ammunition and explosives, and you are either dangling under a helicopter or jumping out of the plane at 10,000ft along with your camera, you really can’t narrow down to one or two experiences.

Times of Youth: Based on how viral its teasers have been going, what kind of an impact do you expect once the movie releases?

Hassan Waqas Rana: We have more then a million views on our first look. This has given us a lot of heart as a team and we expect that the film shall achieve targets that we set for it.

Times of Youth: Which scene or moment while making Yalghaar was the most overwhelming for you and your crew?

Hassan Waqas Rana: Almost every one is as crazy on this set as me, especially my core team of AD’s which includes Mr. Imad Khalid, Ms. Sofia Haroon and Mr. Ameer Zaidi. We are so lucky that, everyday on the set we all get to do and try to achieve that, has not been attempted before and we tend to push the outside of the envelope every day, so can’t really narrow down to any one particular thing.

Times of Youth: As seen in Yalghaar’s trailer, a host of outrageous and daredevil-ish action sequences including lots of choppers and skydiving being involved including an awesome star cast. Based on the responses so far, what are your personal expectations from the film at the box office?

Hassan Waqas Rana: The film even before it is finished has sold over 500 shows which is almost a revenue of a 100million rupees, this is an unprecedented success and trust that, the people have shown us and this is exactly what I am hoping for.

Times of Youth: Which was the most difficult sequence that you shot for Yalghaar from a director’s point of view?

Hassan Waqas Rana: Most of the romantic sequences of the film were a challenge to me as a director, because they had to match up to the great action sequences we already have in the film, in a romantic sequence you have to do justice to your actor’s talent, so everything has to be perfect from lighting to the camera angles that you choose. I was extremely lucky that I had the talents of Mr. Shaan Shahid, Sana Buch, Adnan Siddiqui, Aleeze Nasir, Bilal Ashraf, Armena Khan, Ahmed Taha Ghani and Uzma khan to help me in these sequences and they came unto the exacting standards that we had set for our film.

Times of Youth: How does it feel to be one of the rare Pakistani directors to create films incorporating VFX on a large scale for an entire feature film?

Hassan Waqas Rana: It is strangely satisfying and liberating when you have an amazing team backing you up, Mr. Bilal Ashraf who is deputising me on VFX is doing an amazing job along with Mr. Syed Abbas and Mansoor are my strengths and they give me the courage to push the boundaries as far as I can.

Times of Youth: What lessons would be learnt by the audience on watching the movie? In other words, what would be the take-home message of this movie?

Hassan Waqas Rana: I want my audience to feel pride in the amazing achievements of our country and our countrymen, and I want my international audience who don’t know much about Pakistan leave with a better understanding of Pakistan and its people.

Times of Youth: What’s your top five favorite movies of all time?

Hassan Waqas Rana: Its very hard and the list keep on changing, however on this day and at this very moment it would be,

  1. Zarqa

  2. Shawshank Redemption

  3.  The Untouchables

  4.  Lock Stock and Two smoking barrels

  5. Scent Of A Women

Times of Youth: Do filmmakers have any responsibility to culture? Do you feel that being a creative person requires that you give back something to the society, or just tell a particular story and not do anything else? Why or why not?

Hassan Waqas Rana: Filmmakers have the biggest responsibility of them all. It is because a person will come to the cinema, pay money and listen to you sitting in a dark room with his full faculties. So it is incumbent upon us filmmakers to take this responsibility extremely seriously and honour the audience and their time.

Times of Youth: How much do the film-makers have to compromise in creativity for film production owing to financial constraints?

Hassan Waqas Rana: Especially in Pakistan, its a lot.

Times of Youth: Any advice you’d give to aspiring youngsters who want to enter movies now or in the future?

Hassan Waqas Rana: It’s the most difficult industry to break through in, so if and when you come, be ready for the hard graft and a very hard time, but also know the flip side of it. If and when you break through every ounce of struggle that you had made getting here will give you dividends a thousand times over. There is no field which can give you all but this, provided you can push yourself hard enough.

Times of Youth: Any message to fans and followers via TIMES OF YOUTH?

Hassan Waqas Rana: Firstly, is thank you for reading my babble, I truly appreciate the effort from the very core of my heart. Secondly, do everything in life with a knowledge that every action you take as a young person is going to determine the future of this planet. So no pressure!

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Featured Interviews

Exclusive Interview of Pakistani Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

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“I am also in the final stages of ‘Peacekeepers’, a film about Bangladeshi policewomen who are serving as peace-keeping forces in Haiti with the UN.”
-Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy
 

Times of Youth: For those who do not know about you, how would you tell them about yourself and your work in brief?

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: My name is Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and I am a filmmaker. I have been working in documentaries for over 15 years now and I am just venturing into animation with ‘3 Bahadur’ – Pakistan’s first animated feature film!

Times of Youth: Your upcoming ‘3 Bahadur’ movie’s trailer has already gone viral. Tell us who named it ‘3 Bahadur’ and where was this concept derived from?

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: We came up with the name ‘3 Bahadur’ after several discussions were held about the name. The concept was derived from the fact that children are ‘Bahadur'(brave) generally and we wanted to empower them to believe that they can do whatever they put their minds to!

Times of Youth: What inspired you to make an animation movie for children?

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: I had wanted to do something for children for a long time. Pakistan has a very young population and a booming media industry, but we have stopped producing quality content for children. All of our content is imported, from animation to variety shows, and thus our youth grows up with mentors and heroes that are far removed from what they see around them in real life.

Times of Youth: Despite of the announcement of the movie being last year and there being a span of 6-8 months until its release, the audiences’ eagerness regarding the movie has been enormous and still is. What do you have to say about that?

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: When we started the project 2 years ago, we weren’t sure how the material would be received. But we held numerous focus sessions with children between the ages of 6 to 16 years, boys and girls, across socio-economic divisions and we fine-tuned our script according to their feedback.

We recently released a teaser and we were amazed by how many people responded positively and expressed interest in knowing more about the project. This is because ‘3 Bahadur’ is a quintessentially Pakistani story, which resonates with the local audience. For the first time, audiences will see streets and characters that look more Pakistani – from the familiar calligraphy that is painted all over the streets, to the criss-crossing wires that we have gotten accustomed to seeing around local neighborhoods.

Times of Youth: What is the plot of the movie?

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: Armed with courage and superpowers, three fearless friends set off on an epic journey to save their town from the criminal overlord Mangu and his band of thugs.

Times of Youth: This being the first Pakistani feature-length animation film, what difficulties were faced while creating it in an industry which is still so raw?

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: The hardest parts were definitely in the beginning, especially since none of us had worked in animation before. It was an uphill climb – putting together a team, learning how animation works from the initial sketch to the final shot, and diving into a medium that is both expensive and time consuming. But we found our pace a few months into the project and what surprised me was the ease with which we found exceptional illustrators, writers, animators and visual effect artists.

Times of Youth: Considering the fact that you are quintessentially an Academy and Emmy award winning documentary film maker who is venturing for first time in the field of animated film making, what areas required most of your attention and to work the most on? How easy/challenging was it for you?

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: Animation is a beautiful medium for fiction storytelling because it offers a lot of scope for creativity and imagination. On the other hand, documentary films find their strength in a honest and realistic depictions of the world.

I was nervous because I had never worked in animation before, and documentary films are very different in terms of content and style. Seeing the characters that had only existed in static images come to life with their own quirks and mannerisms was an incredible experience!

Times of Youth: Why did it take so long for Pakistan to make an formal big screen animation film?

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: Pakistan has created animated content for many years, but the industry is overwhelmed with product driven content, in which the focus is on selling rather than story telling. We need to move away from this model, and put the narrative first.

Making an animated film is costly wherever you are – the nature of the medium is inherently costly and incredibly time consuming. Unfortunately, unlike films, the amount you spend is directly related to the quality that you can achieve. Pakistani animators are skilled enough to produce content that mirrors Pixar in terms of quality, but you need the budgets and timelines that will support such work. We haven’t done our animators justice in this country, and have not given them the space and resources required to show off just how talented they are. We have all the ingredients to one day be a nation that produces multiple animated films every year, and I am certain that ‘3 Bahadur’ will play its own small role in expanding the industry and getting more people interested in what animation has to offer.

LIFESTYLE


Best piece of furniture in your home: A table made of old suitcases
What makes you extremely happy?: Animals
The most funny thing about life: It happens when you least expect it to.
Best de-stressor: Swimming

Times of Youth: Going by the teasers, ‘3 Bahadur’ looks like a story of 3 rather brave children based in fantasy format. Why not base it on something more realistic?

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: ‘3 Bahadur’ is first and foremost an animated film that must be enjoyed. The great thing about animation is that on the surface your story may be about princesses and mystical creatures but there is always room for subtle messages and themes to run in parallel. ‘3 Bahadur’ seeks to do just that.

Times of Youth: According to you, what is/are the USP/s of the movie? Why should families flock the cinemas to watch ‘3 Bahadur’?

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: 3 Bahadur is Pakistan’s first animated feature film! Pakistani animators are skilled enough to produce content that excels in terms of quality. ‘3 Bahadur’ is a step in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go.

Times of Youth: What lessons would be learnt by the audience, children particularly, on watching the movie? In other words, what would be the take-home message?

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: ‘3 Bahadur’ is an epic journey of friendship, teamwork and courage that hopes to inspire the next generation to realize that they too hold the power to change the future of Pakistan.

FETISHES:


An accessory to die for: New Yorker Magazine
Oldest item in your closet?: Track pants
All time favorite shoes: A pair of Todd’s Loafers
You’re addicted to: Work!

Times of Youth: A video game based on the film with the same title has also been released for Android and iOS. What impact do you think will it have on the box office prospects of the film?

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: For the first time ever in Pakistan, we created a game to be released with the movie. This game allows children to interact with their favorite characters on their tablets and cellphones. The game has been a huge success! It has been trending on Android and the total number of downloads has reached over 85,000.

The ‘3 Bahadur’ game provides a single player experience, in which players take on the role of Kamil, Saadi or Amna to defeat the thugs of Roshan Basti. Throughout the 5 levels of the game, players encounter different thugs and battle it out in exciting missions in hopes of restoring peace to the colony.

Times of Youth: As a filmmaker, what do you see yourself doing for your future projects- animation or documentaries or both or something totally different from your current genre?

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: Going forward, I see myself working in both animation and documentaries. SOC Films has partnered with ARY Films to create a new production house, Waadi Animations, which will solely produce animated content. We have our second project in the pipeline at the moment, and hope to expand the amount of animated material that comes out of Pakistan. I have always expressed an interest in live action films, and continue to develop ideas and stories with my team.

I also recently finished working on ‘Song of Lahore’, a documentary film about a jazz ensemble in Lahore that is trying to revive classical music locally. This documentary was screened at Tribeca Film Festival this year. I am also in the final stages of ‘Peacekeepers’, a film about Bangladeshi policewomen who are serving as peace-keeping forces in Haiti with the UN.

Times of Youth: Your views about the revival of Pakistani cinema and its status now as compared to what was 5 years ago- what kind of evolution is Pakistani film industry witnessing today and what can be done to improvise it further as per your opinion?

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: In a country of 180 million people, the resurgence of cinema is occurring at a rapid rate. An unprecedented amount of multiplexes are springing up all over the country to cater to growing demands for quality entertainment. If we can sustain the interest being created now, we can achieve exponential growth over the next 5 years.

YOUR STYLE:


Casuals or formals?: Casuals
Fragrance you love: Izi Miyake
Favorite holiday place: Italy
Love or money: Love
Calm beach or lounge party?: Calm beach
Best icebreaker for you: Sports

Times of Youth: Your most cherished moment in life has been?

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: For me, the time that I spend with my family are the moments I cherish the most.

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Featured Interviews

Exclusive Interview of Wajahat Rauf, Director & Producer of the film “Karachi Se Lahore”

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“Our culture is so rich and it would be foolish not to throw light on it even if it’s on a lighter note. For e.g., truck art is huge in Pakistan and we’ve played with it in a song. And then there are ethnicities unique to Pakistan. But more could have been done. Perhaps in my coming films.”
-Wajahat Rauf
 
Times of Youth: For those who don’t know about you and your work, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Wajahat Rauf: Well, I was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan. Got my undergraduate degree here in Karachi in Marketing from Greenwich University (then affiliated with South Eastern University, D.C.) and my Masters in Mass Communication from California State University in Fullerton, CA. I’ve been in showbiz roundabout 13 years now.

Times of Youth: What sparked your initial interest in film industry.

Wajahat Rauf: Watching Star Wars, the Superman and Rocky movies since I was 7 years old, I always had this fascination with movies. Wasn’t too late before I started making home videos and then editing them on two VCR’s (Video Cassette Recorders)

Times of Youth: The movie’s trailer has already gone viral. Tell us who named it ‘Karachi Se Lahore’ [KSL] and where was this concept derived from?

Wajahat Rauf: The road trip idea was inspired by my 2 trips to Northern Pakistan when I was 15 and the 2 dozen road trips from LA to Vegas with college buddies. We’ve seen road trip movies from Hollywood and Bollywood (India) but never a homegrown Pakistani road trip. So I built it on our local characters and exaggerated some of the experiences I’ve had in real life. The co-writer of the film Yasir Hussain rewrote almost the entire script with me and we came up with characters that are unique to Pakistan only. It should be fun for both Pakistanis all over the world and non-Pakistanis to kind of look at the country from another perspective than what we see on the news. The title ‘Karachi se Lahore’ was suggested by our co-writer Yasir Hussain.

Times of Youth: Despite of the release date being post Eid, the audiences’ eagerness regarding the movie is increasing rapidly. What do you have to say about that?

Wajahat Rauf: I am overwhelmed with the response on only a teaser and a trailer. It seems like people are really looking forward to some fresh comedy and the Pakistani road trip experience. All I can say is thank you.

Times of Youth: What is the plot of the movie?

Wajahat Rauf: Our protagonist Zaheem has never stood up for himself in his entire life. So when his girlfriend of 3 years tells him over the phone that she is getting married, he decides to go to Lahore with his friends to stop the wedding.  They are joined by the female lead (played by Ayesha Omer) and her bratty kid brother (played by Aashir) but to know why, you’ll have to see the movie. There is a side story featuring Javed Sheikh too, one of our living legends from the TV and film industry.

Times of Youth: This being the first Pakistani road-trip rom-com film, what difficulties were faced while filming it?

Wajahat Rauf: Actually none. We shot all over the country and not one person interfered or tried to cause hurdles. On the contrary, the crowds were excited to see the filming and assembled in an orderly manner wherever we went. We had song and dance routines that we shot from 7pm till 6am for days. I have to give it to the Pakistani people for behaving so well and genuinely being excited about the film. Our star cast would give autographs and take selfies with them. It was pretty cool.

Times of Youth: The film depicts varied aspects of Pak culture and its people. Considering the diversity, what areas required to work the most on?

Wajahat Rauf: We have 4 major ethnicities in Pakistan: Sindhi, Punjabi, Balochi and Pakhtun. Since the trip is set from Karachi (Sindh, which Is the South) to Lahore (Punjab which is towards the North), one would expect to find people from all ethnicities on a trip. We haven’t made fun of anyone but in fact played with the fact that people here are a lot of fun.

Times of Youth: On watching the teasers, the song by Ayesha Omer being an item number or ‘situational’ song is the big question everyone is asking now. Your comments?

Wajahat Rauf: Song and dance routines have been a part of Pakistani and Indian movies since the birth of movies here. We just gave it a more contemporary shooting style and energy. Both ‘performance based’ songs are situational and when you see the film, you’ll know why they were important. They are again set in comical situations.

Times of Youth: The glamorous star cast chosen for KSL is honestly impressive. How important is each one to the movie?

Wajahat Rauf: Each character is well defined and different from each other. The thing about working with good actors is that they understand your brief in no time and bring additional value to a scene. I am lucky to have worked with the cast of KSL.

Times of Youth: Being a debut director for KSL, what was the prime difference it made to the movie as compared to what seasoned directors would have made?

Wajahat Rauf: Well, I directed and produced the movie myself. There are not too many people here who have directed contemporary cinema although there are ad film makers who have excelled in their field. I think each director has his own signature and KSL will show mine.

Times of Youth: What according to you is/are the USP(s) of the movie?

Wajahat Rauf: It’s the first movie based on a Pakistani road trip and Ayesha Omer’s first movie who is immensely popular due her TV show. Fresh humour, laugh out loud situations and brilliant music add to the USPs.

Times of Youth: How did having ‘Cornetto’ as promotional partners work out for the movie?

Wajahat Rauf: Due to the small number of screens in Pakistan, making a movie is quite an nonviable proposition business-wise. So I am happy that mainstream brands like Cornetto are coming into cinema and this makes the odds a little better.  Also the brand was a good match for the genre and storyline of the film. So its not forced product placement. Plus our movies need the additional promotion.

Times of Youth: What was the total budget of the movie? 

Wajahat Rauf: We just wrapped up filming this Saturday (2nd of May, 2015), so the accountants are still at it, plus post production plays a big part. We’ll know in a couple of months what we ended up spending. You can also take this as “I am not trying to reveal the budget at this time”.

Times of Youth: What lessons would be learnt by the audience on watching the movie? In other words, what would be the take-home message of this movie?

Wajahat Rauf: Friendship and love is above everything else. A softer image of Pakistan and its people.

Times of Youth: In conclusion, why should families flock the cinemas to watch KSL?

Wajahat Rauf: I think in these times of depression and suppression, it would be cool for one to be entertained thoroughly for 2 ½ hours. There is nothing vulgar in the movie, so I would encourage families to go out and have fun while watching this film.

Times of Youth: Your views about the revival of Pakistani cinema and its status now as compared to what was 5 years ago?

Wajahat Rauf: Cinema is coming back for sure. And though about 20-25 films are in the pipeline this year, true revival would be when we have film studios and film funds where anyone with a good idea will be able to make the film they’ve dreamt of making. We’re getting there slowly.

Times of Youth: What’s your top five favorite movies of all time?

Wajahat Rauf: The Shawshank Redemption’, ‘Almost Famous’, ‘The Godfather’ trilogy. I really liked the ‘Terminal’ and ‘Forrest Gump’ with Tom Hanks. Lately, ‘Inception’ was really good. In fact anything Nolan has done. And I’m a big fan of Aaron Sorkin. There is a gentleman by the name of Shoaib Mansoor here in Pakistan. Everything he has done in his career has been brilliant. His two movies ‘Khuda ke liyay’ and ‘Bol’ was what started the revival.

Times of Youth: Do filmmakers have any responsibility to culture? Do you feel that being a creative person requires that you give back something to the society, or just tell a particular story and not do anything else? Why or why not?

Wajahat Rauf: Oh definitely! Our culture is so rich and it would be foolish not to throw light on it even if it’s on a lighter note. For e.g., truck art is huge in Pakistan and we’ve played with it in a song. And then there are ethnicities unique to Pakistan. But more could have been done. Perhaps in my coming films.

Times of Youth: Who were/are your filmmaking inspirations? It could be anything which inspired you all along.

Wajahat Rauf: Mr. Shoaib Mansoor for sure. I’m a big fan of standup comedy and always try to catch a show or two when I’m abroad. Robin Williams (may he rest in peace), Chris Rock and a Pakistani comedian by the name of Saad Haroon who now lives in New York. It’s the spontaneity I guess. Personally, my father has been a big inspiration for me. So it’s a mix of all these things and more that kind of drives you to get up and do stuff.

Times of Youth: How much do the film-makers have to compromise in creativity for film production owing to financial constraints?

Wajahat Rauf: TV is where we compromise. Due to unattractive budgets and fixed plots and story-lines. You can’t be too creative as the meter tells us that the audience wants to see a certain genre of content which is drama. As for films, there are no limits to creativity as there is no approving authority or a committee that tells you that you can’t make this film. Budget wise, I think what is really cool is that equipment and human resource is not that expensive here. So you could still make a decent film with an average budget.

Times of Youth: According to you, what can be done to further improvise the film industry?

Wajahat Rauf: Like I said, we need film studios. And more talent agents who would go to lengths to find good writers, actors and directors. We choose from the people we know personally but I am 100% sure there is massive talent out there that needs to be explored.

Times of Youth: Any advice you’d give to aspiring youngsters who want to enter movies now or in the future?

Wajahat Rauf: Never take no for an answer. Pursue your dream and if you’re crazy enough to follow it through, you will most definitely achieve it.

Times of Youth: Any message to fans and followers via TIMES OF YOUTH?

Wajahat Rauf: I’d like to quote a line here that was used for Steve Jobs, “People who’re crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who actually do”.

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