O21’s Press Event: Star-shine afternoon, glamour and Pakistani Cinema’s next monster

By: Aayan Mirza

If you thought Waar was a big film, this one is huge, if you thought Waar was the smartest film to come out of Pakistan film industry, this one is genius, If you thought Waar was Hollywood, this one is Pakistani Cinema two-O-fourteen, if you thought this one is just another Waar, you, in simplest words, were wrong.

The star studded Press Event of Operation 021, moderated superbly by the dynamic duo of Gohar Rasheed and Bilal Ashraf, was not only dot-to-dot organised, but had lights, cameras, celebrities, glamour and a lot of revelation. Attended heavily by the star cast of the film, the event also hosted many other named faces; Mahira Khan, Humyun Saeed, Adnan Siddiqui, Deepak Parwani, Mohib Mirza, Sultana Siddqiui and Nadeem Mandviwalla to name a few.

The main highlights of the event were, of course, Shaan, the ever new theatrical trailer of the film, and the surprise initial seven-minute cut of it. More on which later in the article. A behind the scene video was also run at the event.

Talking to the media and press present, co-producer Zeba Bakhtiar said, “I started off my film career with an Indian film, but the work there didn’t satisfy my internal Pakistani, so I decided I would comeback and work in Pakistan. I made Babu in 2001, and the reception of it convinced me that whatsoever may happen, I would no more make films here in Pakistan. But when Azaan grew up, and shared his idea of making a Pakistani film, I thought I shouldn’t let his generation down, and although I come from a generation that has seen the worst of times when equipment and technical work and labour used to be biggest scarcity, this time I made it my mission that I wouldn’t  let this generation face the stark realities of  the conventional cinema that existed before. And so we have made the best product we could. Now it’s on the audience how they receive it.”

O21's Press Event

Azaan similarly reiterated the point of his try in making an intelligent film. “A film that should be current with state of the world today.”

The co-director Jamshed Mahmood (Jami) while giving his word on the film said, “It had always been my dream to make a film. Whatever I did before O21, be that commercials or Music videos, my goal had always been to make a film one day, and I feel lucky to be associated with such great people for the very first film that I made.” In the very same breath Jami also thanked and praised Summer Nicks, who had originally been directing the film, but had to leave it mid way due to visa issues.

Furthermore, he said, “There were times when I was still pretty much in the infancy of my career with a single-minded passion driven aim of making a film, that Nadeem Sahib (Nadeem Mandviwalla of Nishat and Atrium Cinemas – one of the guests at the event) one day took me to a hall of his cinema, it was a big hall and there were hardly twenty-four, twenty-six people sitting there, it was the first day of the film at cinema and this was the response, which I believe was extremely sad as the name of the film that had been running there was, Jinnah. But we have come a long way forward, and things have started improving, which I hope would also work for O21 and all the films that come after it.”

The star celeb of the noon, superstar Shaan; who was accompanied by the veteran filmmaker and writer Pervaiz Kaleem in the event and who, for the most part of the main event, remained settled with Nadeem Mandviwalla of Atrium and Nishat Cinemas Karachi, while answering a question said, “It has always been my belief that Pakistan film industry would lift up when Karachi would start making films. For the film industry to touch its height, I believe Karachi and Lahore need to come together.” Further on, directing his words at Humayun Saeed (also one of the attendees at the event) Shaan said, “Humyun sahib is sitting here, and I would request Humayun that you have got numerous production related companies; so many that whatever door one opens, there is always a serial of your company running, and so I would request you to open one such company in Lahore as well, so that Karachi and Lahore can be united in this common struggle of making a success out of Pakistani cinema.”

Answering a question coming from Galaxy Lollywood; talking about the numerical scale (film budget) behind the huge visual scale of the film and the business sense that is in the minds of the filmmakers for the hoped returns with limited number of screens, Azaan said, “It would be really hard to compute and give some figure before we are absolutely done with the film, once the film is released, only then it would be possible to give out some figure. As far as the question of business sense behind our investment is concerned, I would say that there are at least 22 films currently under production as far as my knowledge goes, so these twenty-two people would have at least seen something, some promising thing that they have committed their money to this business, also I think the business sense has started showing its existence, and that’s all what we rely on.”

O21's Press Event

Now let’s come to the theatrical trailer and the initial seven minutes that were run for first time, exclusively for the participants of the event.

The trailer rightly depicted what the actual film seems to be. Dark, intelligent, music laden and master show of cinematography and action. It may not be the best film trailer there is, but it certainly is one of the best. Unlike Waar’s choppers, guns and style based depiction in its trailer, this one was more about storytelling, dialogues, plans and counter-plans. Just wait a little more for it to be released officially, and you’ll see for yourself.

As far as the first seven minutes are concerned, they start with Afghanistan and end on Shaan, the former being the story’s focal subject, and the latter being it’s carrier. Just like the trailer, the seven minutes shown were dark, smart and plot centered. Besides Shaan, expect a strong role from Hameed Sheikh, Ayub Khoso and the American actor Joe Towne, the first and last being Afghan Intelligence (KHAD) and CIA’s major authorities in the film respectively.

One person whose’s presence was highly missed at the event was Shamoon Abbasi, we wonder what was his reason for not attending the event.

So guys, gear yourselves up and keep your fingers ready, as we believe once the advance bookings for the film start, there is going to be some chaos. For now enjoy the pictures out of Galaxy Lollywood’s official coverage of the event.

Just your average writer/editor based in Karachi, who has the OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) to use commas (Oxford Commas, especially), and edit the heck out of editable pieces.Also, love movies, TV shows more than the movies, and books over everything else.If you find editorial mistakes or have any other feedback over the content of the website, I would appreciate if you email me at: [email protected]


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