Screenwriter-director Pervaiz Kaleem has been a voice of change in Pakistani cinema and has tried his luck at all kinds of films. By writing more modern and explicit stories, he has attempted to tackle the unconventional genre of films. Today, however, he feels there is a shortage of trained film-makers, a development that will affect the film industry adversely.
“Today, we have to write screenplays in a new way — writers can relate but there is a change in tempo,” says Kaleem, who has written the script of 2011 film Bhai Log, a highly-hyped Lollywood flick regarding the gang culture in Karachi. “It’s not like it used to be. We, now, have the freedom to add more things into a script.” He has also penned the dialogues for upcoming film Ishq Khuda.
Kaleem believes the dearth of trained writers in Lollywood is due to technical issues the job encompasses. “There are many people who can narrate stories, but we have to understand that screenwriting in itself is a different thing; it is a technical job,” he continues. “You need to be trained by a professional to be able to write a solid screenplay.”
The director talks about his own trajectory; he points out that he made a conscious effort in 2002 to take a back seat from directing and invest his time in scriptwriting. “It was a time when a lot of my mentors had stopped writing scripts,” he says, adding that this subsequently motivated him to write. “In my mind, I always felt directing and writing were both equally respectable tasks.”
Kaleem feels a writer should be open to all sorts of themes and the audience should construe these stories with an open mind. “I have never tackled just one issue and have always tried to explore a broad base of subject matter when writing scripts,” says Kaleem. “I have used my profession to promote nationalism. This is something I am very open about — I am a nationalist.”
Kaleem also reveals his close relationship with actor Shaan Shahid, after spending years together in the same industry. “I have a good rapport with Shaan — we have done a lot of work together,” he says. Kaleem is currently writing two films out of which one, Mission Allahuakbar, is being directed by Shaan. “This film is going to be interesting. I cannot divulge too many details but it’s about a mission,” he adds, saying the film is presently under production in Thailand.
He has written several other films for Shaan’s production house, Riaz Shahid Production, including Guns and Roses, Moosa Khan and Zill-e-Shah. The second film Kaleem is working on is a Pashto romantic drama by Liaquat Khan.
On the side, Kaleem has dedicated some time to creating an art film, Dream for Sale, through which he intends to enter the international film festival circuit. He feels the improvement and advancement in technology has allowed the parameters of film-making to widen in the country. “I intend to shoot Dream for Sale with a Red or Mach3 camera and within a month’s time, the cast of this film will also be finalised,” he says.
“I said back in 2000, that our studio system was getting outdated,” he adds. “We are in a crisis right now but we won’t let our industry die — there are new and young people who will help us move forward.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 25th, 2013.