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24 September 2013

“Main Hoon Shahid Afridi” -- Giant leap towards revival of Pakistan film industry

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By Rohail Khan

Back in 1995, I recall my exuberance when I travelled all the way from Malibu, California to Saddar, Karachi, to watch and experience the Premiere of Urdu Film “Jeeva”. Directed by Syed Noor, this remarkable movie introduced Babar Ali and Resham into Lollywood and instantly turned them into stars. The film was indeed a “re-awakening of Pakistan Film Industry in the 1990s”. It received international fame at all foreign festivals. Jeeva also proved a milestone for my dear friend Anwar Rafi whose singing career was re-launched through the splendid songs he rendered for Jeeva.

Alas. After the great Pakistani movie Jeeva, we had little to brag !

Not anymore. “Main Hoon Shahid Afridi” has got all that it takes to put the Pakistan Film Industry back into action. The movie has been officially released on 23rd August 2013 all over Pakistan.

I was fortunate to witness the pompous premiere of "Mein Hoon Shahid Afridi" at The Atrium, Karachi. The red carpet event was packed with VIPs from Pakistan, India, UAE, UK, France, and USA. The arena looked like a fashion show with hundreds of DSLR cameras keen to capture the reaction of the socialites on the revival of Pakistani Cinema.

Humayun Saeed (Pakistan’s most-versatile model, actor, director, producer) , his esoteric partner Shahzad Nasib of 'Six Sigma ' (production house set-up in 2010 by Raju Jamil social media expert, senior banker, and son of Pakistan’s top poet Jamiluddin Aali), film director Ali Reza, renowned film distributor Nadeem Mandviwalla, Haji Abdul Rauf of ARY TV Network, and top celebrities were present to upkeep the premiere’s glory.

Simply put. The movie is spell binding ! Seeing is believing !. The hard work by actors, director, and the entire team, is clearly reflected from start to finish.

The premiere drew loud cheers and standing applause from all participants. The fervour of cricket (one of the few things that binds the Pakistani nation) was duly supported with the burning desire to produce a successful movie with its own identity.

The movie is story of an ambitious youth (Noman Habib) who dreams to become Shahid Afridi but finds himself down on luck when the only cricket club he ever knew goes bankrupt. With no place else to go, he discovers one last chance to save his club, his town and his dream. A cricket tournament coming to Sialkot which may be the club's last hope. But are they ready yet ? A team of misfits with no facility and no coach. Can they even qualify for the cup and face the highly skilled undefeated rivals who were born with a golden spoon in their mouths and every facility in their hands ? With that question in mind, the team decides to take help from an ex-cricketer Akbar Deen (Humayun Saeed), but Akbar has a dark past of his own. When fates collide and mysteries unfold, "Main Hoon Shahid Afridi" embarks on a journey of Mistrust, Betrayal, Love, Power and Unfulfilled Dreams.

Humayun Saeed, initially had asked the legendary cricketer Shahid Khan Afridi himself to act in the lead role. “They offered me the role but my elders did not let me act, but I happily gave them permission to use my name as this film will bring a positive message,” Shahid Afridi formally confirmed.

The music of Main Hoon Shahid Afridi is done by famous South Indian Music Director: Devi Sri Prasad (well known as DSP). He has recently composed the music of blockbuster Indian movie “Main Hoon Surya Singam 2”. The soundtrack consists of five songs, penned and composed by the duo Shani-Kami. The melodious song “Jera Vee” by Shafqat Amanat Ali is my favourite. “Malaal” is a love song by Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan which actually hit my soul. I found the item song “Teri Hee Kamee” performed by Mahnoor Baloch and Mathira as hillarious and technically promising.

Film distributor Nadeem Mandviwalla appeared confident that Main Hoon Shahid Afridi will excel at the box office. He candidly shared his views: “On all such jubilant occasions, we should never forget to pay tribute to our super stars like Nadeem Baig and Javed Sheikh who have seen the industry go through thick-and-thin and have been resilient”.

Super star Javed Sheikh proudly assured: “Humayun Saeed and his team has brought a pleasant surprise. The new wave of Pakistani cinema will come from Karachi and the new film-makers will make better films in much more limited circumstances”.

British-Indian Choreographer Sheetal Virani, who came specially from London, joyfully expressed: “The choreography of some recent Bollywood films would be taken as a joke after you watch the dazzling scenes filmed on Mahnoor and Mathira”.

Pride of Pakistan Television Samina Peerzada appeared jubilant: “Main Hoon Shahid Afridi is a real trend setter. Its a punchy movie with a definite appeal for people from all walks of life. It’s about struggling for success and progress whilst keeping the socio-cultural values intact”.

Comedy super star Umer Sharif remarked: “Every one should watch this great movie. It has everything one can ask for as entertainment required by every one of us in our daily life”.

Superstar Nadeem Baig opined: “There is nothing wrong about going to Bollywood, but not at the cost of your own cinema. Respect your soil and culture because it’s a part of you and you are a part of it.”

Director Ali Reza had a proactive approach: “We are not here to compete but to walk hand-in-hand with our neighbours, for the cause of entertainment. Whether you win or lose doesn't matter, but play with such a spirit that you can look into each other’s eyes after the game,” said Ali Reza, using one of the lines from the film.

A top Bollywood film producer (name with held on request) who flew from Singapore to attend the ceremony, confessed: “Main Hoon Shahid Afridi is a well-rounded attempt by Humayun Saeed and Shahzad Nasib. The duo and their team deserve kudos for an outstanding achievement”.

Ever-green media personality Bushra Ansari proudly giggled: “If that's what the Pakistani cinema goer wants, that's exactly what they will get. This movie shoots a clear message to the Divas not to mess with the Pakistani Film Industry any more !”.

Let us promote all promising efforts.

[Rohail Khan is a Senior Banker and CFO based at Jeddah. He is also Chairman, Urdu Academy International (UAI), Washington, D.C. He can be contacted at rohailkhan00@gmail.com]

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