Zilay Shah-Press Review

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Shaan takes a new directorial turn with
After the success of Khuda Kay Liye, Shaan's much talked about directorial venture Zill-e-Shah has released in Pakistani cinemas and is touted to be a commercial success. Presenting an analysis of what has made the film tick - from its screenplay to its soundtrack to why Shaan's venture has driven moviegoers back into cinema houses.

By M. Saeed Awan

*ing Shaan, Saima, Noor, Mustafa Qureshi, Nayyar Ejaz, Deba Begum, Shafqat Cheema
Music By: Zulfiqar Ali
Directed by: Shaan

Whenever one assesses the innumerable causes of the 'lost glory of the once thriving film industry' in Pakistan, it becomes hard to count. It has truly been a downward spiral - Lollywood goes round and round, even as it goes down and down, plummeting to the depths of inertia, and yet we hope against hope. One's eyes are fixed on every new film these days that might, just might, be the magic wand that will wave and carry on the revival of Lollywood from where Khuda Kay Liye left off.

Indian films have now secured their place in Pakistan and are challenging Lollywood's poor standard of production. There are only a few directors such as Syed Noor, Shahzad Rafique and Shoaib Mansoor who have helped shake up the dying industry. After Khuda Kay Liye, Majajan and Mohabbataan Sachiyaan there hasn't really been any flick that we could take pride in.

This Eid four Pakistani films were released: Suhagan, Ishq Bay Parwah, Gunahon ki Basti and Zill-e-Shah. Zill-e-Shah didn't release simultaneously in Karachi due to unavailability of cinemas. But wherever it did release, it was declared a success. According to reports collected from the film circuit, Zill-e-Shah has won the box office race due to its good subject matter.

The story
Even though Kulsoom (Noor) is engaged to Sarwar Shah (Babar Butt) since childhood, she is deeply in love with Zill-e-Shah (Shan). When Kulsoom's marriage is discussed, she plainly refuses to marry Sarwar Shah, thus declaring her fondness for Zille instead. Consequently the matter is taken to Pir Sahib (Mustafa Qureshi) a widely respected figure in the village, who decides in favour of Sarwar Shah. Kulsoom's fate is seemingly sealed, but Zille doesn't accept it and kills Sarwar in an encounter.

He is sent to jail but is let out on the terms that Kulsoom marries Abid Shah (Shafqat Cheema), the elder brother of his foe Sarwar Shah. Kulsoom protests over this injustice, but her crying comes to naught and she ends her life on her wedding night, choosing death over having a man other than Zill-e-Shah as husband.

Zillay is mortified by this tragic incident and he changes his lifestyle completely. In a Devdas like turn, he becomes more diabolical; he takes up drinking and starts visiting a prostitute.

The prostitute is Sitara, who is the proverbial courtesan with a heart of gold. She becomes the balm for his wounds and encourages his poetry. Obviously, the two fall in love.

Last year Majajan did very well at the box office because of its fresh topic and the real story of Syed Noor/Saima. Zill-e-Shah's character in Majajan was so powerful that its impact led to the production of this film. The sets, screenplay and costumes all take their cue from Majajan. Despite all these factors Zill-e-Shah has proved to become a hit because of its sublime music, acting, choreography and thought provoking dialogues. Pervaiz Kaleem, the writer of the film, deserves a lot of appreciation. An example of this is a scene where Zille's mother slaps him and he says, 'Maan bi kia cheez hay, maaray to hath chothay ho jatay hain, lekin dua karay to yehi hath arsh tak baray ho jatay hain'. (What is a mother, when she slaps her hands are small but when she prays her hands reach to the sky) And one other scene where Zille expresses his pangs through poetry:

'Yadan day phul kadi sukkay naen / Pani dain lai nain do mali rakhay nain'
(Memories of the past are like flowers that never fade because I watered them with my tears)
Cinemagoers actually applauded the dialogues as opposed to the violent scenes, which is a very promising sign. Pervaiz Kaleem says, "The writer or poet's business is not to write of events that have happened, but of what happen of things that possible in the light of probability or necessity".

Talking about the dialogues, Kaleem also said that the script was successful because of Shaan's interest in the story as well as receiving a satisfactory budget from the producer Fayyaz Khan, which was encouraging. He also added that the next film he was working on: Reema's upcoming film Kitni Haseen Hai Zindagi would also be worth watching because the same level of commitment was being put into it.
The Soundtrack
The musical score, composed by Zulfiqar Ali, also adds to the film's commercial success, particularly the lyrics which are par excellence and brought to life with choreography by Pappu Samrat.

All the actors have done a marvelous job and deserve appreciation. Saima and Shaan both have made bad career moves by working in third rate gujjar/badmash films just to make money. But Zill-e-Shah shows the potential that both actors have if they are given a good script and an able director. One must also give credit to Nayyar Ejaz who played the role of Murad Shah. Nayyar has ample potential to deliver his message through non-verbal cues.

Shaan as a director
Shaan belongs to a creative family and that shows through his direction. Though he has already directed films like Moosa Khan and Mujhay Chand Chahiye but he has mostly remained attached to acting. Jamshaid Zafar, the Vice Chairman of the Producers' Association now considers Shaan to be the highest rated director. "He has directed my film Daku, and he impressed me a lot as I minutely observed his style of working," said Jamshaid. "Shaan is far more talented than even Syed Noor as his vision is broad and he is a creative person. He always thinks about innovative techniques to be introduced in a story or in Lollywood'. After watching Zill-e-Shah any critic would consider his direction surpassing his acting. Shan has taken a bold initiative to introduce a romantic movie in an industry, which is today only making films centered on violence. He said if we make good movies today, the world would appreciate the fact that despite budget constraints good films can be made in Pakistan. He further opined that Geo Network should come forward to launch another mega project like Khuda Kay Liye to boost Lollywood.

Commercial success
Families thronged cinemas to watch this film. The manager of Gulistan cinema in Gujranwala(i think so its Gulistan Cinema Lahore it has been mistyed in the article), is jubilant that women are coming to watch films, meaning that the trend where families went to theatres is being revived. "Only those films are profitable which are family oriented and Zill-e-Shah is one of them. So far its commercial aspects are encouraging," Jamshaid Zafar added. Secondly, the film has managed draw even an audience that is usually addicted to watching films entrenched with vulgarity and violence. Thirdly if it does well commercially it will encourage other producers to come forward and invest in films again.
While Lollywood critics admit that the film has a deep imprint of Majajan but due to its good music, acting and direction it has managed to become a hit. However Shaan must consider that Lollywood means Pakistan's film industry, not the Lahore or Punjab film industry. So other directors, including him, should pick up on national or global issues and make films in Urdu that all other provinces can equally enjoy. This will also
Posted 16 Nov 2008

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