While not much has been happening on the practical front of Pakistani cinema due to the Coronavirus pandemic, rather encouraging news has surfaced where Pakistan’s official submission to 2020’s Oscar committee and the yet-to-be-released title ‘Zindagi Tamasha’ has brought a coveted accolade home. The Asian World Film Festival (AWFF) is a Los Angeles-based film festival that aims to draw greater recognition to Asia’s filmmakers and strengthening ties between the Asian and Hollywood film industries.
“I am overwhelmed by the recognition this film of ours has received internationally,” Hassan said while accepting his award. “I am extremely grateful to our director Sarmad Khoosat whose dedication to the film was unparalleled. It’s about time we start telling stories that are unique to the Asian culture. There are so many stories that remain untold by the mainstream media.”
Arif Hassan was awarded the Snow Leopard Award for best actor during a ceremony earlier this week and was presented by jury member Joanne Goh. The actor was congratulated by well-known Pakistani writer Muhammad Hanif on Twitter with sarcasm on the extremist elements that brought the film’s release to a halt.
“Congratulations to the makers of Zindagi Tamasha. Not tagging them as still scared for them. Not saying FU to those who stopped its release cos still scared of them,” Hanif wrote.
Khoosat was extremely grateful for the honour too. “Winning two awards at the festival has given me and my team the right kind of morale boost and the emotional boost as well,” the filmmaker shared, upon receiving the prize for Best Film. “It has been a tumultuous journey with this film. Not being able to show it here in my own home country, it got banned. But finding this new audience for the film has made me believe more and more in the power of cinema,” he concluded.
Zindagi Tamasha is directed and co-produced by Sarmad Khoosat along with his sister Kanwal Khoosat and is a realistic dark drama, shot in Lahore. It is written by Nirmal Bano and features actors like Eman Suleman, Samiya Mumtaz, Arif Hasan in crucial roles. The film’s release was halted by protests by extremist elements who claimed that it has blasphemous content, although the film was cleared by all major censor boards and later by a special review by the board. However, it has yet to see the light of the day.