The new year has kick-started, while the previous one was quite happening in terms of movie releases in Pakistan. Cinemas witnessed a hoard of local releases throughout the year that brought several new faces to the fore. A total of 25 films released in 2016 of which a few took cinemagoers by storm. The fresh new faces introduced captured the audiences’ attention and proved their potential. Some managed to make it big, some failed but one thing happened for sure, those talented got their chance, on their terms.
The year 2016 has ended and the film industry has reached to a point of no return following its self-imposed ban on Bollywood films, something that occurred in the last quarter of the year. However, Pakistan did manage to release as many as 25 films in the last 12 months that introduced many new faces to the industry. Some managed to make it big, some failed but one thing happened for sure, those talented got their chance, on their terms.
The year began with Asim Raza’s Ho Mann Jahaan where he introduced international film star Sonya Jehan. She had already done a handful of Bollywood films (Taj Mahal, My Name is Khan to name a few), and a Hollywood flick (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), before making her debut in a Pakistani film. She not only stood out in the super-beautiful cast as a supporting character but also carried the legacy of her grandmother Noor Jehan, forward.
It was Bachaana time in February, a flick through which TV actress Sanam Saeed made her debut. She later appeared in Mah-e-Mir, Rahm and Dobara Phir Se and in the last one, her acting was most appreciated as she was playing a loveable khala like never before. Farooq Mengal’s box-office disaster Hijrat sank the careers of models Rabia Butt and Rubab Ali, who returned to modelling after their movie failed. Maalik introduced action-girl Tatmain Ul Qalb to the cinema audience and her performance was hailed, but she faded from memory as her character was cut short in the second half. Aksbandh was the Pakistani version of Blair Witch Project and like the original, it had an entirely new cast. Shehzeen Rahat and Mahrukh Rizvi looked promising with their performances and one hopes to see them in a different avatar in future.
The cinema industry was in a make or break situation in the middle of the year, as many-a-films were released, however, not all of them managed to do well. Jamshed Jan Mohammad’s Sawaal 700 Crore Dollar Ka proved to be the first film for Quratul Ain ‘Ainy’ who had zero presence on screen and if she doesn’t improve, she might not get any films in the future. Noor Bukhari’s directorial debut Ishq Positive introduced her sister Faria Bukhari as a supporting actress and since the film failed, it did nothing positive for anyone. Jamal Shah introduced Turkish actress Emel Karaköse in his film Revenge of the Worthless, which was inspired from events that took place in Swat before the Pakistan Army took over.
Then came Omar Hassan’s Dance Kahani where Scottish actress/dancer Madeleine Hanna made her debut as a British-born Pakistani who loves to dance. Surprisingly, the beautiful actress not only looked the part but also impressed with her dialogue deliveries, especially the part where she understands Urdu and replies in her native language. However, the same thing can’t be said for Faisal Bukhari’s Blind Love that revolved around a ‘blind’ character, played by newcomer Nimra Khan. Her sightless character would take a dog for a walk, become friends with anyone and could make excellent coffee (how, beats me!), and so, the film fell flat on its face due to its many ‘blind’ing’ factors. The actress failed to impress again with Saya-e-Khuda-e-Zuljalal where she was paired with handsome hunks Moammar Rana and Sohail Sameer.
Jawad Bashir’s box office dud Teri Meri Love Story provided Ushna Shah a chance to show her skills as an actress but despite her best efforts, the film was taken down after a week’s run due to weak script, story and direction. However, the Eid-ul-Adha season helped Pakistan film industry get new faces including a sibling duo, in separate films. While Saboor Ali was introduced as the hero’s sister in Actor In Law, her elder sister Sajal Ali debuted as the leading lady in Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai. Both films managed to do well in cinemas, with Saboor Ali’s flick becoming the biggest hit of the year. Another film Janaan introduced Hania Aamir to the screen and the cute lass managed to impress all with her natural acting; Janaan however turned out to be Armeena Rana Khan’s film, who had earlier debuted in Bin Roye (2015) as a supporting actress. She was outstanding in her powerful role and can be termed as one of the better additions to local films in 2016.
And then there were the actresses who have been acting on TV for some time but didn’t get a chance to prove their mettle on the big screen. TV actress Sadia Khan managed to make her cinematic debut with Hashmi Nadeem’s Abdullah but when you have your voices dubbed and your scenes scattered, things are bound to come out bad and although the film was liked by many, Sadia Khan’s acting wasn’t. The Zinda Bhaag duo’s Jeewan Hathi also introduced two television actresses to the screen but only one managed to impress – the talented Kiran Tabeer completely overshadowed Hina Dilpazeer, who proved to be too much for no reason. Fans of the latter were hoping for a superlative performance from the actress but her inability to do so in a film that didn’t appeal to them also didn’t help the local cinema.
And then there was Saba Qamar who finally had her lead role in Wajahat Rauf’s Lahore Se Aagey and managed to give a tough time to the film’s leading man and writer Yasir Hussain. She managed to act as per her high standards, danced as per the situations and portrayed a potential rock star. It was due to her pull that people entered the cinema to watch the film. In Mehreen Jabbar’s comeback vehicle Dobara Phir Se, she introduced Tooba Siddiqui as one part of the love triangle and the actress did amazingly well considering she was pitted against seasoned TV artists Adeel Husain and Hareem Farooq. Sadly, model Sadaf Hamid failed to impress in Azeem Sajjad’s 8969 which couldn’t do that well in cinemas, despite having an extended cameo by Saba Qamar, who disowns it to this day.
The year 2017 is all set to bring new filmmakers as well as actors and directors to the fore including Neelam Munir (Chupan Chupai), Abeer Rizvi and Saima Azhar (Raasta), Syra Shehroze (Chalay Thay Saath & Project Ghazi), Mansha Pasha (Chalay Thay Saath), Aleeze Nasser (Yalghaar), Sadaf Kanwal (Balu Mahi), Uzma Hassan (Arth 2), Sana Javed (Mehrunisa V Lub You) and Rabi Peerzada (Shor Sharaba), to name a few. Let’s hope that these films along with many others manage to bring the audiences back into the cinemas, otherwise instead of going up, Pakistan’s film and cinema industry might take a nosedive, the seeds of which were sowed in 2016!