The good thing about ‘Pehla Pehla Pyar’ is that there is no slapstick comedy, cheap thrills or exaggerated action sequences. Of course, the masala and glamour is all there but with refined taste. To say that Pakistani cinema is on the brink of disaster is a statement that has been done to death in talk shows and random discussion. While our film industry has always been the target of abuse, no one has ever come up with a lasting or permanent solution. Excluding outsiders, even the filmwallas have done almost next to nothing to improve the situation. We all know that films like Fauja Amritsariya, Billoo Badshah or Bhola Suneyara, no matter how well made, can never save the industry. But so-called better films like Shararat, Kyun Tum Se Itna Pyar Hai, Hum Aik Hain, etc, have also been equally disappointing.
As a result, local cinegoers now believe that Pakistani film-makers can never make good films. But before writing off Pakistani cinema for good, let’s give it one last chance. If those within the industry cannot do any good, perhaps outsiders can salvage the remains and that is where Mubasher Lucman’s Pehla Pehla Pyar comes into play. With previous experience in television and advertising, Mubasher has ventured on to the big screen with his debut big-screen production. The film is set to release sometime early in August and is already being touted as the most expensive Pakistani film ever made in recent times.
The cast is a delicious blend of two generations of Pakistani cinema and features the likes of Nadeem and Resham, Zara Sheikh, Ali Tabish, Ali Sher, Kanwal and Sajid Hasan. Models Wasif Butt and Maheen and TV actress Arshia Awan also make their silver screen debut in important roles.
Film make-up has also been a much-neglected category and to make amends, Depilex was hired to do the job. Fashion designer Aasia Saail was in charge of the wardrobe. As long as looking good was concerned, the cast was well taken care of. Pehla Pehla Pyar has been shot in Thailand and Dubai. At a time when film-makers do not base their ventures on good scripts and are more inclined towards glamour and fiction, the film with a strong storyline by Irfan Ahmed Urfi and a crisp script compiled by veteran Ali Sufyan Afaqi, has strong foundations
Resham calls her role in Pehla Pehla Pyar “the role of a lifetime”. As an actress with inborn class, her grievance over the years has been that film-makers have never exploited her true potential and unjustly ranked her in the league of the aging lot.
She says: “Pehla Pehla Pyar is quite a landmark in my career. It is after a very long time I have really enjoyed playing a character. And it is perhaps for the first time that the entire cast of a film oozes a sense of style. My role demands a variety of moods — she’s happy and carefree in the beginning then come moments of love and emotion. Eventually, my character adopts the image of a housewife leading to sorrow and struggle. Mubasher Lucman has visualized my role well and I have tried to do justice to it.”
During the shooting, both the cast and crew faced hard times but came through with flying colours. Film-making is a gruelling task and the good thing about Pehla Pehla Pyar is that there is no slapstick comedy, cheap thrills or exaggerated action sequences. Of course, the masala and glamour is all there but with refined taste. For instance, the heroine’s classmates are not the aging extras of Shahnoor Studios but girls from well-to-do families who do justice to their respective roles. The film was also shot on location rather than some film studio premises.
Debutante Ali Tabish is all excited and geared up. “I was given a big responsibility,” he says, “as mine was a lead role opposite veteran actors. I had to put in my best effort. To shine among such big names stars is easier said than done but I knew Pehla Pehla Pyar was the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m sure no one will be disappointed after seeing the film.” Judging Ali Tabish by his looks alone, one can assume at this point that Lollywood has a new ‘chocolate hero’.
Zara Sheikh, too, has a very significant character in Pehla Pehla Pyar. Her song Hai Hai Re is one of film’s main highlights and pitting Zara against artistes like Nadeem and Resham brings out the best in her. “My character in the film has very interesting shades. I also enjoyed working with a competent team and it will definitely bring about a good change in Lollywood. Mubasher Lucman is a good addition to the list of film directors and the way he handled every detail is admirable. He will go a long way and I have a very positive feeling about Pehla Pehla Pyar.”
Mubasher Lucman was in no hurry to release a half-baked Pehla Pehla Pyar as he took his time to mould the screenplay to perfection so that once out, no critics would be able to point out flaws in it. The film has been treated rather well and technically speaking, it’s Pakistan’s most sound technical venture as the film processing has been done in Bangkok. Yet another highlight is the film’s soundtrack comprising of six very musical and catchy numbers. The soundtrack was recently launched at an impressive ceremony in Lahore and has been well-received by music buffs countrywide.
Pehla Pehla Pyar is bound to be a harbinger of Lollywood’s better future. What better dose of life does an ailing and dying industry need? With Reema’s Koi Tujh Sa Kahan, Imran Malik’s Tere Bin Jiya Na Jaye and Javed Sheikh’s Khulay Aasmaan Kay Neechay also to grace the silver screen sometime soon, let’s all celebrate and bask in the rebirth of Lollywood. Long live Pakistani cinema.