Old Lahori neighbourhoods. Two childhood friends, possibly — or possibly not — in love. A trapeze dance number in a grey-toned set. A soulful solo song in a well-lit studio shed. A controversy. A karmic shift. A transformation. Hurt and heartache. Aspirations — there is a lot of take in from the trailer of the Adnan Siddiqui and Akhtar Hasnain-produced film Dum Mastam, set for release this Eid by HUM Films.
Possibly the fastest paced, and definitely the sharpest cut, trailer of a film coming this Eid — at times so much so, that this writer had to watch it at least five times to fully appreciate the depth of the narrative screenwriter and star Amar Khan and director Ehtashamuddin forced into this two-and-a-half-minute introduction of the film — Dum Mastam is more than a boy-falls-in-love-with-girl story. It is a story of aspirations and reversals of karmic fate of two immediately relatable characters — Aliya and Bao, played by Amar Khan and Imran Ashraf.
Aliya loves to dance. Before turning into a gorgeous and elegantly groomed international sensation, she lives the life of a realistic girl next door — albeit one who might just have a secret world brimming with innocent fantasies. There is a shot of Aliya, frolicking in a ditzy-blond wig and a polka-dot dress in her bedroom; an ode to Hollywood musicals, this could be a part of a song sequence.
The other lead, Bao, is a lovable lout, who eventually hits it big as a singer and his meteoric rise dramatically changes him from a smart-alecky hick to an emotionally detached — and very bald — musical sensation.
Dum Mastam appears to be the tentpole film, the way tentpole films used to be. Big, bright, filmic, with songs that could, potentially, rival the splendour of Bollywood (that is, the Bollywood of two decades ago). The film’s music comes courtesy of Shiraz Uppal, Azaan Sami Khan, Nabil Shaukat Ali, Shani Arshad and Bilal Saeed.
Always the skeptic, this writer had his set of reservations until the trailer came out.
Would the lead cast — both of them well-known and applauded for their work on television — work as a film-pair? Would Adnan Siddiqui’s debut production live up to its presumed pomp and pageantry? Would Ehtashamuddin be able to pull off another bona fide musical?
If a trailer can tell a thousand stories — and kill apprehensions — well, this would be it.
Dum Mastam is a tale of emotions. The fact was confirmed by the cast and crew to Images a night before the film’s trailer launch at Pearl Continental today.
The film is about journeys, but that doesn’t make it a dull and dreary affair, director Ehtashamuddin says. “We’ve made a film that people want to see. This is our film — a film that’s close to our culture and people, a ‘Pakistani’ film the audience wants, the audience craves,” he says.
“It’s a masala film. It’s a rom-com. It has emotions. It has songs. So, whatever you — the audience want — you’re going to get it all,” Siddiqui interjects. “The film is Dum Mastam!”
Siddiqui had been fairly adamant about the film being an Eid release since before the film’s cast and crew dazzled the audience at last year's HUM Style Awards — and why would he not be? He once told me that there is always audience expectation for big releases at every holiday, in all corners of the world, be it Hollywood or Bollywood. Why would our big seasons (Eidul Fitr and Azha) be any different?
Ashraf, in a voice note, says that the film turned out the way it did because of director Ehtashamuddin’s skill. Because of this ace in the hole, he says, “the film would have been perfect whenever it came out, whether it was the Eid holidays or Christmas vacations.”
“It took me two years to write the film, and another two years to gather the resources to get this film made, and that followed with another two years of lockdown,” reminiscences Khan.
“I believe if you have the staggering belief, and if what you have done is a labour of love, then everything turns out well. I came from Lahore to Karachi to make this film and today is the day when that trailer is debuting, so there is nothing more gratifying than this,” she says.
“It’s my baby — and I love my baby,” affirms Siddiqui affirms, before adding a plea: “But please, go with an open mind”.
“When you’re not expecting anything out of life, you get the best.” Siddiqui wouldn’t confirm if the mantra applied to the film. To confirm that, he says, you have to go and see it.