With Bol, Khuda Kay Liye and the recent Josh, our audience has seen an array of films on the injustice, corruption and moral conundrums that prevail in our society. These storylines have struck a chord with movie buffs as well as ordinary people as we can all relate to these issues on some level. In a similar vein, Norway-based Shehzad Ghafoor hopes to bring action-thriller The System — a movie that portrays how corruption affects the common man. The film’s shooting commenced about a week ago.
“A lot of films have been made in Lahore, so we are hoping to give these spaces different treatment,” says director Ghafoor, explaining how a scene was shot on top of the famed Panorama parking plaza on Mall Road along with other locations in order to provide a different viewpoint of the city. The System will be Ghafoor’s debut in feature films.
The first scene of the movie illustrates the film’s lead actor Shiraz Ghafoor (director’s brother) on the roof of the plaza, conducting a meet-up with the city’s mafia bosses. The huddle has been arranged by a corrupt senior police official played by Shafqat Cheema. “This location is unexposed and from the top of the plaza, you are able to get some top-shots — you get a feeling that you’re sitting on top of Lahore,” Ghafoor explains.
The System is all about changing the norms and clichés of the film industry — it’s what Lollywood stalwarts say will change the stigma around the dying business. The film gained attention as veteran director-cinematographer Syed Faisal Bukhari signed on as director of photography. Two songs have already been filmed in Norway and the team hopes to bring on set the expertise of Bollywood technicians.
Apart from Shiraz and Cheema, the cast also includes Nadeem Baig, Kashaf Ali (female lead) and a relatively less known actor Raees Patan. The latter has been a part of around 15 films but with the slight resurgence in the film industry, he admits his work has doubled. “It’s a nice change,” says Patan, who has normally been associated with regional films. “I think it’s the first time we have had the chance to work with the best technology and different storylines and ideas.”
“The time is of digital films now — we are talking about making films which have global relevance,” says Cheema, who has also been a part of films like Bol, Chambaili and Main Hoon Shahid Afridi amongst other upcoming projects. “The time for small films is over. It’s now time for new talent to be given space. I think people will like Shiraz as a hero.”
Speaking about his role in the film, Cheema says the film allows him to explore a different type of character — one that is both negative and positive at the same time. “One who can leave his own spirit and get into a character that has been thought out for him — that is the sign of a good artist,” he explains. “I am playing the role of a Station House Officer [SHO] who has a strong hold on the whole system. And through this control, he changes the system.”
Like his previous performances, Cheema feels the audience will appreciate the kind of role he is playing in The System, too.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2013.