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    Thursday, 28 July 2011

    Rediscovering Fatima Jinnah

    The year 2011 has been a positive year for an apparently dull Pakistani film industry. Veteran director Shoaib Mansoor’s film Bol recently hit the theatres and other promising projects like KolachiRafinaWaar and Love Mein Ghum are in production and reported to be released soon. Entering the same league of films is Fatima — a feature film scheduled to be released this October.

    The film is being produced by Universal Dream Pictures (UDP) — a Pakistan and US-based production company established by the director of the film, Sean Ali and his friend Michael Ray.
    In an interview with The Express Tribune, Ali shares more details about the project, starring Farhan Ali Agha and Ayesha Khan, which is already generating buzz via social networking sites.
    “It is really difficult to make films in Pakistan, but after a discussion with friends and family, I decided to make one issue-based film. For that, I started going through Pakistani history,” said the film-maker.
    Ali was always interested in highlighting the issues of women in Pakistan and the readings of Pakistani history introduced him to a perfect inspiration for his film in the form of Fatima Jinnah; sister of Muhammad Ali Jinnah who played a vital role in the politics around the time of independence in 1947.
    “Fatima Jinnah was an amazing lady and the whole film is about the idea of her return in 2012 in the film. It’s explains how a lady like Ms Jinnah would prove to be an inspiration for the women in Pakistan,” Ali, who has previously made a number of documentaries and short films, told The Express Tribune.
    Explaining the plot, Ali said that Fatima Jinnah would not appear as a supernatural figure in the film. Instead, she would be portrayed as a modern-day version of the historic figure.
    Though the film will be set in 2012, it will also trace various political eras of the country’s history.
    “The film is divided into different eras, starting from the first term of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto to her second term and finally taking us to the time when she returned to Pakistan after exile. It is after these eras that Fatima rises as an activist and a political leader from the slums of Karachi and the local political parties start taking interest in this passionate leader,” said Ali.
    Renowned TV actor Farhan Ali Agha plays the role of a senior criminal lawyer and comes at a very pivotal stage in the film as a supporter of Fatima.
    “The film will be bilingual (featuring two languages) and I have taken a lot of theatre actors from Karachi. If everything goes as planned, we will be done with shooting in about 45 days,” said the director.
    Writing of the film’s script began this June — the time when Shoaib Mansoor’s Bol was released. However, it seems more than a mere coincidence that Fatima has a lot in common with Bol — both follow a similar narrative structure and highlight the issue of women’s rights in the country.
    “I know everyone has been questioning me about the storyline being similar to that of Bol, which has even killed some of the hype that we wanted to create regarding women’s rights issues. But still, if people compare my work to anything even close to Shoaib Mansoor’s film, it will be more than an honour for me,” said Ali.
    According to the director, “Lionsgate Films from Hollywood are the distribution partners for the project and the post-production of the film will take place in the US.” However, with too many Pakistani films remaining incomplete and not being released, we hope thatFatima hits the theatres on time this year.
    Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2011.

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