The film Lamha (Seedlings), which has recently been in the limelight for bagging awards at the New York International Film Festival, impressed a crowd of students with its debut in Lahore on Saturday night at Lums International Film Festival (Filums).
The film’s first screening in Pakistan showed how the medium of films, abandoned in Pakistan over the years, finally seems worthwhile. The low-key inauguration only emphasised the fact that times have changed and a new sense of film-making has arrived.
“People have asked how I made something different from Bollywood,” says Meher Jaffri, the film’s producer who is also the CEO at Bodhicitta Works. “We need a revolution in film-making, audiences are smarter now and there is room for a niche audience,” she adds.
“I guess when the journey began, we had no corporate interest until after the festivals, my only advice to film-makers is to make films that you believe in, there is no formula,” says Jaffri.
The Seedlings team is like a family that has struggled. In fact, the project Seedlings was launched only after the team’s much hyped sci-fi thriller Kolachi was delayed.
Unlike mainstream commercial films, the Seedlings show didn’t open with an array of other trailers. Instead, the screen showed another Bodhicitta Works production, a short film directed by young musical sensation Usman Riaz.
The story involves three separate lives trying to connect after one tragic event. It revolves around a couple played by Aamina Sheikh and Mohib Mirza, who after a year of losing their son, are trying to come to terms with life. As everything around them deteriorates, madness prevails. The film is dominated by fleeting emotions and flashbacks, keeping the viewer engaged.
Gohar Rasheed gives a standout performance as a broken-down rickshaw driver, who is also trying to cope with the accident. The screenplay rolls smoothly with succinct and solid dialogues, the great camera work and sound which make up for the flat acting.
The cinematography showcases a different side to Karachi, a metropolitan city with flashing scenes of markets and the suburbs. More importantly, it sets a tone in the film where Usman Riaz’s musical score has a strong impact.
The film’s commercial release is yet to be confirmed, but Jaffri admits that despite its festival success, issues regarding distribution have prevailed. She says that creating a market for independent and like-minded film-makers is needed.
“Negotiations are under-way, but these things basically come down to the best deal,” adds Jaffri.
Director Mansoor Mujahid, who made his directorial debut with Seedlings, says, “The film is not constructed as a commercial film.”
“A lot of films have used some of the techniques we employed but I never looked at this through the narrative; I thought this was a collection of fleeting images that projected emotions on to the screen,” says Mujahid. “Viewers expect more action, but when you are stuck with low-budgets, you’re forced to make character-based films,” he adds.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2013.