Pakistani films have been on a hiatus ever since Bilal Lashari’s Waar came out in the last quarter of 2013. Since then, there have been Bollywood releases, Hollywood blockbusters that have graced the screen, but no local movie. The wait is over as first-time director Shahzad Ghufoor’s The System is all set for a countrywide release on May 30.
The System, as the name suggests, is a movie about growing corruption in our society and how it affects the common man. It seems like a bold topic for the first-time director, who was born in Pakistan, raised in Norway and has completed the post-production of his movie in India. “Yes I reside in both Norway and Pakistan,” says Shahzad, son of renowned distributor and veteran Lollywood producer Ghufoor Butt. “My family migrated from Pakistan when I was only six months old but I belong to Pakistan and will always remain a Proud Pakistani. By making a film on the social issues of my country, I have tried to show my love for my motherland.”
Shahzad feels that making a movie was a safer bet than working for television. “I always wanted to make a Pakistani movie, but with new technology and a new way of storytelling, and The System has provided me that opportunity. Also, I feel that it is the right time to make a film on corruption,” he asserts.
For a debutante director, to rope in veteran film actors like Nadeem Baig, Shafqat Cheema, Irfan Khoosat and Nayyar Ejaz was nothing short of a milestone. “This story demanded fresh faces but also a mature cast, and I was very happy to work with seniors,” says Shahzad. “They all liked the script and we agreed on the dates, so it was great to work with such big names in my directorial debut.”
The story of The System follows the ‘one man can make a difference’ formula which has been tried and tested many a times in the past. Shahzad, however, disagrees. “The basic idea is that every change, which is meant for good, is a step forward towards betterment. I believe that one man can make a difference, especially if many individuals take responsibility.”
The System will be the first major release in Pakistan this year, and it plans to open at as many as 59 screens across the country, a record since the advent of multiplex cinemas in Pakistan. It may not change ‘the real system’ in the country, but the director hopes that his film will at least motivate and give local filmmakers the push they need.
“The script, the way the story is told as well as the message in The System is fresh. I am confident that the technical work done using international equipment and studios will provide moviegoers a chance to view something different,” assures Shahzad.
The film also brings new talent – Kashaf Ali, Mariyam Ali Hussain and Saira Chaudhary – to the forefront and the director promises that these newcomers will surely impress with their acting prowess. He reintroduces his brother Shehraz as the leading man (he made his debut as second lead in box-office disaster Khamosh Raho with TV actress Juggan Kazim) who has developed a muscular, Salman Khan-type physique for his role as the protagonist. The director is certain that the film will provide him a chance to prove his mettle, which was overlooked in his debut.
And then, there is the cross-border connection since most of the post production work has been done in Mumbai. Most of the singers (barring Komal Rizvi) as well as the music composer (Shailesh Suwarna) and lyricists (Irfan Siddiqui and Mohit Pathak) are from across the border. “India is the nearest we can get to for our films. They have technical facilities, which are sadly not yet available in Pakistan. I have many friends in India including a few music directors and lyricists so it just happened on its own. Though, I hope in future we can do the whole post production in Pakistan,” Shahzad clarifies.
The film will be a welcome change for the audience since it has been shot in Lahore and the picturesque locations of Norway. “Of course the Norwegian input is there and I am glad that I can represent a bit of Norway in this movie. I have high hopes from the project which brings newcomers and seniors together for a fight against a common enemy – corruption,” Shahzad concludes.
Article by : Omair Alavi (Instep Magazine)