Kolkata, 14 November
Independent filmmakers in Pakistan will lift the country’s film industry out of a morass it fell into in the 1990s, claimed Meenu Gaur, co-director of Zinda Bhaag, while speaking to The Statesman ahead of the
screening of her film as part of the 19th Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) on 16 November.
The film, directed by Gaur and Farjad Nabi, deals with the issue of illegal migrants, and is the first Pakistani film to be sent to the Oscars in the last 50 years. Naseeruddin Shah essays a key role in the film, continuing his association with cutting-edge Pakistani cinema. Readers may recall his role as a progressive Muslim cleric in Shoaib Mansoor’s Khuda Ke Liye.
Gaur held the media responsible for creating a stereotype of women in Pakistan, and said there are many women filmmakers in the country who are doing very good work.
The Pakistani director, however, said that independent filmmakers face a lot of hurdles in swimming against the tide to churn out meaningful cinema in the country.
“Making films anywhere involves overcoming hurdles, but thankfully, Pakistan’s film industry, which sank to a low in the 1990s, is rising again,” she said.
“I think there are very interesting projects that you will see coming from Pakistan in the years to come. The spotlight is returning to Pakistani cinema,” Gaur added hopefully.
The filmmaker said it was not very tough to convince Naseeruddin Shah for the role. "Naseer graciously agreed to train the amateur cast of the film, and that helped a lot. His workshop helped polish the skills of the actors for this very realistic film," said Gaur.
Shah essays the character of a don in Zinda Bhaag, who narrates a story of three boys who wish to make a living anywhere but in their own country and their city Lahore.
The film has six songs, including a satirical one.
Sharing stories of the success of her film, she said, “The film has been running for seven weeks in Pakistan and it will be released in USA, Canada and UAE on 18 October. I hope it gets a commercial release in India in December.”