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Usman Mukhtar gears up for his short film, Bench


Actor and director Usman Mukhtar made his television debut last year with drama serial Anaa alongside Hania Aamir, Shehzad Sheikh and Naimal Khawar. The actor received positive reviews for portraying Altamash in his first TV project and now he is all set to appear in two drama serials, slated to air in the coming months. We already know that Mukhtar will star alongside Sarah Khan in drama serial, Sabaat, which is directed by Shahzad Kashmiri, who also directed Anaa. However, as viewers, we’ll just have to wait to find out about his next television project.

Apart from television, Mukhtar, who appeared on the big screen in Janaan (2016) and Parchi (2018), is also geared up for a feature length film as well as a short film, titled Bench.

In an interview with online magazine Something Haute, Mukhtar revealed that he is quite excited about the premiere of his short film, which stars Rubya Chaudhry and Mukhtar. While Usman Mukhtar has helmed the short, it is written by Ali Mudar and it is being submitted to festival circuits for consideration like the Tribeca Film Festival.

Recently, Mukhtar also shared the poster of Bench on his Instagram handle and captioned it, “A film is not made by one person, it’s made by the entire team. I was fortunate enough to have the most amazing team who worked on this and I can’t thank you all enough!!! The official festival submissions have started. I present you the official poster of our short - Bench.”

In an earlier interview with Instep, the actor shared that “it is a crime drama” that he plans to showcase at the Pakistan International Film Festival (PIFF) this year as well as Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) etc.
Legend of Maula Jatt finally gets a release date

The Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan starrer will hit cinemas this Eid-ul-Fitr.


It seems like only yesterday that it was announced a Maula Jatt reboot is in the works.

Just kidding. It feels like forever ago.

Ever since it was announced that Fawad Khan and Hamza Ali Abbasi will star as Maula Jatt and Noori Nath, people have been waiting impatiently for the film to release. And waiting. And waiting.

Even when the much awaited trailer dropped people were still waiting. And waiting. Sorry, it's just been so long now.

Finally, the film is ready to release in May. For real this time.


According to executive producer Ammara Hikmat, “It was a really ambitious project, so naturally we met a lot of challenges and the film took longer than we expected, to release. However, the film is in final stages of post production and will be in cinemas on Eid.”

Directed by Bilal Lashari and produced by Ammara Hikmat, the film also boasts a star roster including Mahira Khan, Humaima Malick, Ali Azmat, Shafqat Cheema and Nayyer Ejaz.

The Legend of Maula Jutt has been written not just by Lashari but also by veteran Nasir Adeeb, who wrote the original 1979's Maula Jutt.
Don’t bring your kids to watch The Legend of Maula Jatt, advises director Bilal Lashari

The filmmaker warns audiences of blood and gore, unsuitable for children.


The filmmaker warns audiences of blood and gore, unsuitable for children.
After a number of movies claiming to be family entertainers - with many not being so at all - director Bilal Lashari warns his audience against bringing children to The Legend of Maula Jatt.

The Legend of Maula Jatt is not for the faint-hearted or children”, said the filmmaker in a statement.

“Parents might not find the film suitable for their kids because of the graphic nature of few scenes so I would strictly advise against bringing children to cinema. Such outright violence is not for the faint-hearted and little ones.”

TLOMJ claims to be the biggest action movie in the history of Pakistan and with that kind of statement it's understandable that action-packed fighting sequences will have their fair share of blood and gore.

Bilal Lashari's contemporary take on the Punjabi cult classic Maula Jatt has been years in the making, with all of us on the edge of our seats for its release. Finally it was announced last week that the film is ready to hit cinemas this year. The film stars Fawad Khan as Maula Jatt and Hamza Ali Abbasi as Noori Nath.

“The film transcends cultural and linguistic divide," said Lashari. "The content will be very palatable to the new generation that in times to come will extend the immortality of the fictional characters, Maula And Noori.”

Lashari has also written the screenplay for the film along with veteran film writer Nasir Adeeb, who wrote the original 1979's Maula Jatt. The film will hit cinemas on Eid-ul-Fitr.
Last episode of Ehd-e-Wafa: Humayun Saeed to make special appearance


Amid the increasing hype of the finale of popular drama serial Ehd-e-Wafa, reports have emerged that the last episode will have a special appearance by one of the top Pakistani actors.

According to reports and pictures circulating on social media, Humayun Saeed will appear in the final episode as Major Humayun.

The last episode of the drama will also be screened in cinemas across the country.

Featuring Ahad Raza Mir, Ahmed Ali Akbar, Wahaj Ali and Osman Khalid Butt in key roles, the drama serial follows the story of four young men as they receive training to join the Pakistan Army.


Presenting, ‘Major Humayun’, aka Humayun Saeed, making a special appearance in the last episode of Ehd E Wafa, which will also be screened in cinemas.

The highly anticipated film, The Legend Of Maula Jatt, directed by Bilal Lashari and executive produced by Ammara Hikmat, is coming out on Eid ul Fitr 2020. With an ensemble cast including Fawad Khan, Mahira Khan, Hamza Ali Abbasi, Humaima Malick, Ali Azmat, Faris Shafi and Gohar Rasheed, the film is a contemporary take on the Punjabi cult classic, co-written by Bilal and Nasir Adeeb, writer of the original Maula Jatt film.

In a recent press statement, Bilal warned that the film is not for the faint-hearted and children. “Parents might not find the film suitable for their kids because of the graphic nature of few scenes so I would strictly advise against bringing children to cinema. Such outright violence is not for the faint hearted and little ones.”

The Legend of Maula Jatt features hardcore action sequences that one hasn’t seen in any Pakistani movie before; Bilal has spent years finalizing the product before announcing its release.

“The film transcends cultural and linguistic divide,” the director furthered, adding, “A Sindhi will enjoy it as much as any Punjabi. The content will be very palatable to the new generation that in times to come will extend the immortality of the fictional characters, Maula and Noori.”
Fawad Khan and Sanam Saeed are reuniting, this time for a movie

Also starring Zara Noor Abbas, Aan will be directed by Haseeb Hasan and will be about the Pakistan Navy.


Fawad Khan is pairing up again with Sanam Saeed for a feature film.

The two, seen together in 2012's Zindagi Gulzar hai have signed on to star in Haseeb Hasan's upcoming project.

The Parwaaz Hai Junoon director's next is titled Aan and will be about the Pakistani Navy. The film promises to not only "pack romance and drama" but also "a combat and touch of humor that makes it a complete package for the best cinematic experience."

The Zindagi Gulzar Hai reunion also includes writer Umera Ahmed who will pen the script for the film; the cast includes Zara Noor Abbas along with Javed Shaikh, Navid Shehzad, Nayyar Ejaz, Naeem Tahir and Aly Khan among many others.

According to Hasan, "It's a beautiful script and we're very excited to work on a project with Umera [Ahmed] because she is so popular in TV. And the cast being repeated from Zindagi Gulzar Hai is one thing I'm sure people will be very excited about. Zara Noor Abbas is also very popular among people so the cast is a powerhouse for sure. Combined with beautiful dialogues and this script, I hope people enjoy it."

Shooting for Aan will commence in April while the film is scheduled to release by the end of the year.

The teaser for Yasir Hussain’s Aik Thi Laila starring Iqra Aziz is out now

The Javed Iqbal actor said the murder-mystery is scheduled for release in October.


We’ve all heard the story of Laila and Majnu but what if we change the genre from romance to murder-mystery? Then who is Laila and who is Majnu? Guess we’ll have to find out in Yasir Hussain’s new directorial project starring his wife Iqra Aziz.

The Suno Chanda actor shared the drama’s first teaser on Instagram on Tuesday. She captioned the post with two questions, “Who actually is this Laila? Who is her majnu [lover]?” She added that the drama is coming soon and thanked her team for making her look “natural yet beautiful”.

In the teaser, Laila is introduced as a character that’s popular in her area of residence. “Just like France’s perfumes and Bengal’s tigers are well-known, Punjab gali’s Laila is well-known,” says the narrator. Laila is not only known, she is also desired but no one can seem to tell who is her majnu.

The screen shows her next to different men as the narrator asks, “But there are two questions, first, who is Laila’s majnu?” The plot seems to become clearer with the second question and what appears to be all the men she was seen with being interrogated by the authorities, “And second, where is Laila?”

We also catch a glimpse of Hussain at the end of the clip, his role unclear. Perhaps an investigator?

Actor Zara Noor Abbas dropped down in the comment section to congratulate Hussain on his directorial debut.


Actors Ahsan Khan, director Abu Aleeha and actors Rabya Kulsoom and Faysal Quraishi re-shared the teaser on their Instagram stories and lauded the team.




The back and forth being experienced by Joyland was also meted out to the original Maula Jat, the censor certificate for which was cancelled by the Zia government. As film historian Mushtaq Gazdar writes in his book Pakistani Cinema 1947-1997, before the authorities could act, Maula Jat’s producers obtained a stay order from the high court against the censor board. The film ran for two and a half years, setting box office records. Finally, when the stay order expired, the police forcibly removed it from the cinemas.

The government’s attempts to defeat and silence Maula Jatt clearly failed. Maula is indestructible. As he himself declares, “Maulay nu Maula na maray, tay Maula naee marda [Maula won’t die unless God kills him]”. Not only did the film amass a cult following and kickstart a sub-genre of gandasa films, a remake is currently setting box office records around the world.

In the decades since, dozens of films have found themselves banned in Pakistan. A Twitter thread by filmmaker Javaria Waseem lists many of them. Recent examples include Durj (2019), Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story of A Serial Killer (2019) and I’ll Meet You There (2020).

The circus of life​

Then there is Sarmad Khoosat’s Zindagi Tamasha (2019), which also made its mark internationally at festivals including the Busan International Film Festival, only to have its release barred because of pressure from the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). Much like in the case of Joyland, those who pressured the government into blocking the film had not even watched it. While it was eventually announced that the film will be released in Pakistan in March 2022, it is yet to be released.

'Joyland' review: An easy-to-understand but difficult-to-accept story​

Saim Sadiq's directorial is bone-chilling, heartbreaking and above all, it’s easy on the eyes and hard on your nerves

Rafay Mahmood
November 22, 2022

KARACHI: For a mind that expects to find catharsis with the fall of a curtain and fading out of lights, the pain and pleasure of an honest artistic creation can be overwhelming. Especially when its aura is so captivating that it takes you further into reality instead of offering an escape from it, like the abyss you are staring at is looking back at you, but the gaze, the reflection is devoid of self, hence a lot more pristine and unfiltered projection of all the shadows that the spectator usually hides in the light.

But you can’t dodge the light in a dark room with a big screen. The story world, once entered, becomes even harder to accept when told with the simplicity of folklore – you know where it’s going but you don’t want it to go there and any search for an over-complication or an uncalled-for dramatic effect goes in vain. Like all exceptional stories, Joyland is an easy story to understand but a difficult story to accept: it’s a pure film and watching it is a purifying experience – so pure that almost everyone who hadn’t watched the film in the land of pure accused it of sin.


Nuns commit sins too and so do the clerics and so does everyone around us but while God remains the ultimate judge of sins and virtues, humans and their fallibility only make them vulnerable and restless to bypass all such boundaries set by society. They are humans because they are imperfect. They are also a part of society that is in reality made up of such imperfect individuals but expects them to be perfect in return.


Every individual and every family strives to breathe in their own fashion, just like the Ranas of Joyland. Ranas are an unhappy unit like so many unhappy families around you and me, who look happy and accepting till the façade breaks and their elder son is blessed with yet another daughter.


The younger son Haider (Ali Junejo) rushes her sister-in-law, Nutchi (Sarwat Gillani) to the hospital only to be scolded by the elder brother for being useless all the time. There he stumbles upon a beautiful person walking out of the maternity ward with blood all over her clothes but doesn’t get enough time to process who is he looking at.

Haider is a mellow, timid, and easily impressionable younger son, a caring husband, who cooks and looks after his nieces just so that his wife Mumtaz (Rasti Farooq) can earn a living as a beautician because he himself doesn't have a job. At the same time, Rana Sahab (Salman Peerzada) the patriarch of the house keeps on cursing Haider for not doing enough for himself and the family.

One day, Haider’s friend tells him of a job opening in a theatre. Contrary to Haider’s expectations, the job is not a conventional theatre job but an opening in a dance troupe led by a Trans actor and dancer Biba (Alina Khan). Haider recognises Biba from the maternity ward which Biba denies immediately, however, there’s something so humane about Haider’s curiosity that Biba takes him on board.

This kicks off a rather emotionally challenging journey for not only Haider, who finally finds a job and someone that he is attracted to, but also every member of the Rana clan, particularly Mumtaz, whose life is about to change completely. Fascinatingly, not because her husband is about to discover so many new things about himself, but because society can’t live with those so many new things, even if Mumtaz tries to, in all her honesty.

The beauty of Joyland is that it makes you unweave your social fabric, breath by breath, without yelling social drama. In a very Brechtian way, it forces you to search for sense and sanity with no pre-determined moral obligations, creating an illusion so strong that the only way of coming to terms with the unlived lives of the Rana family is by giving life and those characters a chance.

It’s bone-chilling, it’s heartbreaking, it’s cruel, it’s innocent and above all, it’s easy on the eyes and hard on your nerves; a symphony not a sermon about the lives of the ordinary. What you take home after watching Saim Sadiq’s Joyland totally depends on your own baggage. There’s enough in it for the wretched and the blessed.

Junejo lights up Haider’s eternal insignificance on screen with the dedication and discipline of a veteran, that life in between hell and heaven with no hope for either is truly magnificent to be played with only a handful of close-ups and no conventionally loud confrontations.

Farooq’s sublime yet wild existence is a master class in subtlety, only those who have lived and died multiple times with the script can imbibe such a dynamic range of emotions and deliver them like muscle memory. Mumtaz's painfully pinching laughter stays with you like a Hans Zimmer score as you walk out of the cinema, also wondering about what it must have taken Khan to immortalise a character that is often not allowed to breathe in our society.

Khan as Biba is honest to the bone, it’s clear that what she is playing means a lot more to her than to any of us and she does beyond justice to the sanctity of all the vulgar and brave attributes associated with what she plays on screen and lives off it. You are forced to think how many Bibas, Haiders, and Mumtazs have died with their honesty so that we can continue to live with our contradictions.

Joyland is a must-watch with the recommended parental guidance. It’s also so intense and heavy that you’d probably not watch it twice.
4 stars.
Note: The author of the review watched an uncensored/uncut version of the film.

Unnecessary censorship suffocates society, stifles creativity, rules SHC

Naeem Sahoutara
November 26, 2022

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has ruled it is not the job of judiciary to morally police the public by deciding what should be or should not be viewed by them as unnecessary censorship suffocates a society and stifles its creativity and growth.
“In our view, where a cinematic work has passed through the censors, who have examined its content and cleared it for release with an appropriate certification, an individual cannot be allowed to trump that decision through a court proceeding based on his conception of morality. Indeed, it is not the function of the Court under Article 199 to make a moral judgment so as to curtail the freedom of speech and expression of a filmmaker, as safeguarded under Article 19 of the Constitution,” stated the detailed order passed by a division bench dismissing a petition seeking ban on the film Joyland.

The bench, headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Shaikh, added: “On the contrary, the default position of the Court under Article 199 ought to be that of fully safeguarding the fundamental right by giving as expensive an interpretation to Article 19 as possible, and in that event of a restriction being imposed by the Board or any other authority that may be competent in that regard, testing the reasonableness of that restriction stringently, so as to ensure that the same is “reasonable” in the strictest conceivable sense.

“As such, in the absence of any restriction imposed by the concerned quarter, whether that be the Board of Provincial Government, it does not fall to the Court to morally police the public by making a determination of what should or should not be viewed and to take on the function of itself devising and imposing a restriction. Suffice it to say that unnecessary censorship suffocates a society and stifles its creativity and growth”.

Detailed order dismissing plea for ban on Joyland says transgender persons are equal citizens of Pakistan in all respects

“Looking to the matter at hand, we are confident that Islam, being the great global religion that it is, is strong enough to withstand a cinematic work portraying a purely fictional account of a relationship humanizing a transgender character, and are equally sanguine that our society is not so weak as to crumble as a consequence,” the order stated.

“Suffice it to say that transgender persons are equal citizens of Pakistan in all respects and the stories of their life, their struggle, and their human relationships deserve equal space and recognition,” the court order concluded.

The petitioner sought a ban on the film, arguing that it apparently portrayed a relationship between a married man and a transgender woman, and averred that the storyline violates the Islamic teachings and the Constitution.

However, the judges observed that the petitioner did not make any attempt to show how any Articles would be violated by the screening of the film, other than confined his argument to the extent that the theme and storyline thereof offended the Article 277.

The bench noted that the petitioner did not directly challenge the certification of the film or even referred to the Sindh Motion Pictures Act, 2011 or impleaded as party the Board mandated to certify films for exhibition in the Sindh province under the 18th Amendment. Nor was it even remotely alleged that the statue offends the aforementioned Article, they added.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2022


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