The biggest challenge for the upcoming film O21 will be to beat the benchmark created by blockbuster Waar, released exactly a year ago, but the film’s crew is bent upon proving that they have a fresh perspective to offer.
The spy-thriller, Operation 021, is set to release on Eid-ul-Azha this year. The film's official trailer launch event, which was held at Nueplex Cinema on September 21, 2014 was attended by many stars circling Pakistan's drama and film industry.
After the screening of the trailer, the film seemed to be following the footprints of Waar, but director Jami stressed that "it is nothing like Waar".
The film is produced by Azaan Sami Khan, son of veteran actors Zeba Bakhtiar and Adnan Sami Khan who was termed by 021 cast as the “youngest producer”. The trailer was dotted with both Urdu and English dialogues but Khan did not disclose the reason behind choosing to make the film bilingual.
"Have you watched the film?" asked Khan adding, "Once it is released then we will talk."
Jami who has been producing advertisements and music videos will be debuting in film direction. The shift from a shorter medium to a longer one does not seem to have been difficult for him.
“I think it was easier for me to make the transition since it’s more difficult to work on a short narrative.”
Jami was quick to point out that they had dissociated themselves from the trend of having item songs in films.
“There will be no such thing in our film; it’s going to be serious, emotional and thought-provoking for the people.
He also denied media reports of the film's simultaneous release in 22 countries.
021 will be competing with Na Maloom Afraad on Eid, which has already created a stir and curiosity among the masses. But Nadeem Mandviwala, CEO of Mandviwalla Entertainment believes O21 will do far better.
“O21 has what Na Maloon Afraad does not— star power. People will come to watch Shaan, he’ll take the film forward,” said Mandviwala while talking to Dawn.com
The release of two Pakistani films on Eid may indicate a positive step towards cinema revival, but Saqib Malik did not agree. Malik, a commercial and music video director, said while talking to Dawn.com:
"The movies must not be released on the same day. With such few films coming in, the audience would ultimately be divided.”
O21 has a star-studded cast which includes the likes of Shaan Shahid, Aaminah Sheikh, Ayub Khoso, Hameed Sheikh, Tatmain-ul-Qulb, Ayaz Samoo, Gohar Rasheed, Bilal Ashraf, Wendy Haines, Joe Towne, James Hallet, Abdullah Ghaznavi, Shamoon Abbasi and Daniyal Raheal.
Amina Sheikh, who has done versatile roles in both dramas and films, said she jumped at the role given to her because she is a diehard fan of actions films.
Gohar Rasheed’s role in the film remains shrouded in mystery, it has been purposely left undisclosed. “It’s a spy film so you have to wait and watch. All I can say is that my role is the most experimental.”
Actor, Adnan Siddiqui whose Yalghaar is slated for release this year, was all praises for Shaan and believes that his presence is enough to ensure the success of the film.
Star's presence may have lift the trailer-launch event, but the film's first seven minutes, which were exclusively shown to the media, exposed few sound glitches. But for Jami, those glitches were due to low volume at the theatre.
It is too early to say how 021 will turn out or be received by the people. But probability remains, keeping in mind the inclination of Pakistani audience towards military/espionage films that it will do well at the box office.