Feature | High-Concept Stories, Adaptions and Branding: The Industry’s New State of Depression


Kamran Jawaid  |  This is the unedited original copy of the feature published in DAWN’s ICON with the title “Cinema Without Ideas” on the 21st of May 2017. The Dawn copy can be read here and its print copy is attached at the end of the post.

Pakistani cinema is in a state of rut. We push, we pull, we skid-forward a centimeter, if not an inch. We have cinema screens and motion pictures, and we have a working model where films “perceived” to be high-concept – that is, films that give you the best bang for your buck – vie for the most financially lucrative release dates: the two Eids. And yet despite the formula, good motion pictures are as rare as a big-foot sighting.

Like wrongly spotting the abominable beast (often just a bear, or an unshaved hobo living in the forest), the realization of a fake-hurrah at a films premiere gets embarrassing – fast. One sighs, and moves on.

Pakistani Filmmakers share that same awkwardness. They humbly apologize for their blunders, admitting their amateurism and lack of insight right after their film’s first show. Their initial rush of enthusiasm, instantly gunned-down by bad reviews and the audience’s indifference. Forget a five-star rating – at that day, three-stars would do.

Or would it?

The only recurring theme in Pakistani Cinema– other than the superfluity of brands and mediocre plots – is a producer’s state of depression. Today, even blockbusters lose money – and with rare exception, barely breakeven.

Talking to Icon, four filmmakers – Jamshed Mehmood (Jami), Asim Raza, Hassan Waqas Rana, and Hassan Azhar. Each representing an idiosyncratic mindset, discuss cinema’s “new lacks”: the lack of good writers, source materials, big ideas – all while holding on to one’s own identity in the current state of the industry.

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Interview: Hassan Waqas Rana by Kamran Jawaid

This post is the unedited copy of the review published in Mag the Weekly, on 18th of June 2016.


Hassan Waqas Rana – An Insight On the Man & Big Budget Cinema of Pakistan

By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

A few years ago when WAAR came, I was one of the most vocal of its critics. So impassioned was my review (with due reason, of course), that the director himself voiced his opinion in the comments. One of my strongest arguments were the problems with the screenplay. Now years later, when I had an opportunity to have a long detailed conversation with WAAR’s producer Hassan Waqas Rana, he himself admits that the screenplay was at fault; he was, as he points out, a first time screenwriter. Although we talked about WAAR is detail, most of my conversation was about Mr. Rana’s next big – evidently far more extravagant – venture Yalghaar, set to come out this year.

Talking about WAAR, Mr. Rana says that “I didn’t write Dr. Zhivago”, later adding that critics should understand what they are writing about. “It had the philosophical context of a bloody axe”, he adds to the genre of his first film.

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Interview: Adnan Malik by Kamran Jawaid

The following interview was published in Mag the Weekly, 5th September 2015


Adnan Malik Interview: Construing the Undefined

By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

I first met Adnan Malik sometime in the mid 2000’s at Nucleus. He had recently moved back to Pakistan, and was finishing work on a documentary, while I was looking for a lead actor to star in a project of mine. There was an instant camaraderie of sorts between us – like me, Adnan was familiar with the work sensibility of a very different industry. Working here was, for lack of a better word, new.

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Dawn.com – A Conversation with Jarrar Rizvi, Director ‘Son of Pakistan’ – By Kamran Jawaid

The conversation below was incorporated, in part, within the review of “Son of Pakistan”, now up at Dawn.com

Jarrar Rizvi, on the set of 'Son of Pakistan'

“Good Pakistani Movies” on the Back-Burner

By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

It was sheer dumb luck I stumbled on to Karachi’s press-screening of “Son of Pakistan” at Nishat Cinema, on the 16th of December. There was no spectacle. No flashy lights. No traffic jams. No prior press invitations or media kits. And although only the balcony was hired for the press by the film’s producers that day (a fact I learned much later), the actual number of audience turnout was distressing.

“Son of Pakistan” is an overexcited flag-waving action spectacle staring a number of actors including Babar Ali, Meera, each with their own under-explored story-threads. Its marketing campaign must have been in whispers.

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