The colonial home, stationed on a busy road deep within Karachi, was lit up with fairy lights and an elaborate floor took center stage in the front garden, decorated with florals, candles, pillars and crystalline light bulbs.
It reminded one of elaborate Valima functions but it was also an apt setting for the wrap-up press conference of Asim Raza’s upcoming movie Parey Hut Love: soft, romantic and a not-too-subtle hint that big fat Pakistani weddings are going to be a major part of the storyline.
This was also the location where the last spell of the movie had been shot – based on that beautifully set-up dance floor, I am guessing that this must have included a shaadi dance sequence – and right before they called it a ‘wrap’, Asim and his producer Sheheryar Munawar must have decided to utilise the set-up one last time for calling in the press and talking about their movie. It certainly made for some great pictures!
Adding to the glitz was the movie’s heavy-duty star cast. Aside from Sheheryar in the main lead, the movie also stars Maya Ali, Ahmed Ali Butt, Zara Noor Abbas, Hina Dilpazeer, Nadeem Baig, Rachel Viccaji, Frieha Altaf and Frieha’s daughter, Parisheh James, making her cinematic debut. In quintessential Asim Raza style, there’s also a hefty lineup of cameos from stars Fawad Khan, Mahira Khan, Meera and Sonya Jehan.
There’s more: the music’s been composed by Azaan Sami Khan, the sets have been created by Aarij Hashimi and the shooting’s traversed a number of scenic locales, from this old colonial home in Karachi to the mountains up-north and Istanbul’s historic alleys.
One of the movie’s biggest trump cards may be that the script has been written by veteran Imran Aslam. Imran’s most famous work to date has probably been that Moin Akhtar-starrer from long ago, Rozy, and he is known for his wit and wordplay. Also, designer Umar Sayeed has designed all the clothes and knowing his penchant for intricate craftsmanship, we’re going to be seeing the cinematic equivalent of a bridal couture show: tilla, resham, dabka, kamdani, tiny stitches, beautiful colours. Even at the launch, most of the leading ladies – except for Mahira Khan - were wearing clothes by the designer and how they sparkled!
Swirl all these ingredients together and you’ve got the Pakistani equivalent of a Yash Raj extravaganza – and Asim and Sheheryar must certainly be hoping that they’ll be ruling the box office the way Yash Raj movies do. The press conference itself didn’t reveal much except give away tiny anecdotes that may enhance the movie-watching experience when it finally releases next year on Eid-ul-Azha – the festive date that is eternally popular with local filmmakers.
There was the prettily dimpled Zara Noor Abbas who talked about why she’s making her cinematic debut with a side role in Asim’s movie rather than opt for a lead character. “When Abu calls you, you can’t refuse,” she laughed, “and Asim, for me, is like Abu.”
Similarly, Ahmed Ali Butt talked about how he would keep hinting to Asim to cast him in a venture. “When his call finally came, I figured that he must just want Fawad Khan’s new number from me,” he quipped, “but he just wanted to offer me a role. Asim didn’t remember this but I did my first commercial with him a long time ago. Also, this is the first time in so many years of knowing each other, that Mahira and I will be sharing the screen together. It’s also the first time that I am acting with my cousin Sonya Jehan!”
Mahira Khan, who had originally been slotted as the main female lead in the movie but couldn’t sign on due to date issues, said that she had seen the rushes and Maya Ali has done a very good job in her role. Maya talked about how her role allowed her to push herself further. “Asim told me that I had to be less boyish. Before the last shoot, which was a dance, I told Asim that I loved him because I knew that he certainly wouldn’t love me after the way I danced in that sequence!” she laughed.
His character in the movie, according to Sheheryar Munawar, is very close to his own personality. “This is scary because an actor doesn’t really want to reveal much about who he truly is,” he said.
And Asim talked about how he learnt a lot from his debut movie Ho Mann Jahaan and he has applied these learnings to Parey Hut Love. “I listened to what audiences said about my first movie and made the changes that I needed to make with this one. This movie also follows a coming-of-age storyline – I feel that every movie of mine will do so, because I feel that I am perpetually coming-of-age!”
There were smiles all around, everyone telling each other that they were wonderful and Ahmed Ali Butt stepping in for one of his classic selfies; that’s standard pre-release movie press conferences fare. But not every great press conference leads up to a great movie. And I speak from plenty of past experiences.
Scriptwriter Imran Aslam shared an interesting anecdote about how he came up with the title of his movie: he was at London airport in the ‘70’s and a Sikh maid was cleaning the floor with a broom. Every now and then, she would tells passersby, ‘Paray Hut Luuv’. Her words stuck with Imran.
That’s a funny story. I hope the movie turns out to be just as entertaining.