Cinema is a powerful medium that allows a filmmaker to provide thoughtful insights into some elements of the social conditions around us. A successful filmmaker effectively builds this larger than life cinematographic experience with the use of images, sounds and then post processes and edits them to create a view that sparks an intellectual thought process of emotions.
On June 8, 2013, at Big Picture Cinema on Gerrard St Toronto, we witnessed Pakistani independent filmmaker Iram Parveen Bilal’s endeavor, Josh(English title: Against The Grain) that left us with an experience of empathic closeness to the situations and circumstances portrayed on the screen, nostalgia took over as beautifully shot images of Karachi ran frame by frame on the large screen.
Josh has an interesting ensemble of some of the finest actors from the Pakistani entertainment industry, who include Aamina Sheikh, Mohib Mirza, Khalid Malik, Navin Waqar, Adnan Shah Tipu, Salim Mairaj, Kaiser Khan Nizamani, Nyla Jafri, Parveen Akbar, Ali Rizvi and Faizan Haqquee.
Josh is the story of a privileged woman whose life is shattered in a single moment. It is the story of a woman in search for a dangerous truth. It is the story of the biggest challenge to Pakistan’s still reigning feudalism: the country’s youth. The film explores the internal debates the young are struggling with, and how solutions can be attainable if and when they stand united.
Aamina Sheikh plays the character of Fatima, who is affluent, socially aware and leading a happy life. Fatima’s contribution towards society is by teaching at school. Fatima is very close to her nanny Nusrat Bi, whom she considers like her mother. How events related to Nusrat Bi would impact and change the course of life for Fatima is to be seen in Josh.
As the camera sets rolling, right from the first frame, one can’t miss and not comment on the brilliant camera work and cinematography. The locations, shots and above all the way Karachi has been captured had some viewers commenting, “I want to go back and see Karachi again…”
While there is no doubt that it is the brilliance of visual display that initially mesmerizes a film viewer, what makes the cinematographic experience a smooth sailing journey is the strength of the characters portrayed. Everything about Josh looked real, be it scenes from inside an affluent café to the slums or shanty towns, Iram Parveen Bilal has demonstrated her mastery on the art of creating a visually impactful experience. There is a strong message that one person’s passion can stir others from their apathy and become a catalyst of change for others. You can’t help others unless they are willing to bring about a change around their lives, that’s the catalyst we see at work in Josh.
The music of Josh is by veteran musician and composer, Shahi Hasan and his partner Noor Lodhi. In addition to that, the award winning British composer Andrew T. Mackay has been the soul of the score. Top it all with Pakistan’s rocking asset Ali Azmat. His song “Na re na …” perfectly blends with reinforcing message of Josh. As Iram Bilal puts it, “I just loved Na re na…. the fact that this song is in the film is an honor, he’s a great person and great artist.. we are honored…”
ApnaHub.ca in conversation with Iram Parveen Bilal at Josh Toronto screening
If we are to talk about individual performances, there isn’t a single question mark on the performances delivered by the entire cast. Be it versatile names like Kaiser Khan Nizamani or Mohib Mirza to Khalid Malik, everyone made the film look so real. Watch out for the character Gulsher played by Adnan Shah Tipu, he leaves a thought provoking impression of what this character’s mind is going through!
In the end, Josh is not going to be an average Lollywood dance, romance or action flick. It is a thought provoking film that actually triggers different questions in your mind. The engaging Q&A session with Iram Parveen Bilal after the movie ended was a proof of the powerful impact Josh left.
Some of the audience members we spoke with post Toronto screening had variety of aspects of the film to talk about. Some felt nostalgic, some commented about the close to reality characterization, while some spoke about the struggle of common folk under feudalism, while others commented about the food crisis and how the powerful few could end up controlling our grain?
Josh Review by ApnaHub.Ca