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Even after the Dangal actor also got positive reviews for her work in Secret Superstar, she has no plans for turning acting into her sole career just yet.

Hindustan Times reports that Zaira, who grew up in Kashmir, says she did not grow up watching Bollywood films and had no desire of becoming an actor.

“I still do not know if I'm going to become an actress in the future as a serious full-timer, but every time when I act, I try to deliver my best. Both the films that I have done offer beautiful stories,” said the 16-year-old..

Zaira still became a real life secret superstar after auditioning for Dangal.

Remembering the experience, Zaira says, "I did not go there with any expectation, but with a curious mind to explore and know what is acting and how they audition. Rest was a process and I think I am one of the luckiest children who got the best opportunity. And then working with AK (Aamir Khan) twice... I am blessed."

Aamir Khan has been in both Dangal and Secret Superstar and Zaira admires how he made sure to never overshadow her performance. But that also means her newfound fame and recognition is 'overwhelming'.

"They look at me with so much love and affection and appreciate me for my work! What could be more overwhelming than this?"

But despite the critical acclaim and success, Zaira doesn't let her celebrity status define who she is.

"Nothing has changed in me, trust me... I can spend the whole day in a room with some good food, and play with my cats. I have three cats -- one is black, one white and a brown kitten. I love them... I keep playing with them."

While we love her grounded approach, we do wish to see her in upcoming films. Here's hoping!

The #UrwaFarhan wedding was a spectacular affair; celebrity bigwigs were part of the occasion, fancy designer clothes were worn and the fairytale wedding was organised to the T with family, fans and the media present. However, many weren't happy with the festivities.

 

 

After all the hoopla surrounding the events, Mawra Hocane decided to speak up on behalf of the newly weds and her family. She took to Facebook and shut down trolls for pointing fingers at Urwa and Farhan.

 

"My sister injured her ankle on the day of her nikkah so much so she could not walk the next day but what do you know about her pain because all you saw was that BIG smile on her face as she greeted each and every fan & every member of the family. We won't tell you and you won't notice because, of course, being a hater gets you attention," wrote Mawra.

The actor felt it necessary to speak up because the hate had turned ugly.

"I usually don't respond to negativity as it doesn't affect me but this time around it's about my family. While I'm overwhelmed that we are now three public figures in the same family, I want to say we are still human."

But she didn't let the negativity get to her, instead, she ended her note by sending love to all the trolls: "Close your eyes and think for a moment what it is that you lack in your life that you find pleasure in pointing fingers at others. It's probably a void due to the absence of love & compassion. So here's a bucket full of Love for you. Live and let live. We, as a family, wish well for you and hope you do too."

Deconstructing red carpet looks may just be the best guilty pleasure after an award show, and lucky for us the Hum Style Awards red carpet was buzzing!

Some noticeable trends on the red carpet included a focus on brights, specifically fall-friendly colours like red and orange.

In a welcome move away from frilly gowns, power suits and tailoring was spotted on several women.

But to get reallllly specific, how did some looks fare when they faced off against a rival?

We decided to find out.

1) Best black sari: Sadaf Kanwal or Sunita Marshall?

Ah, the timeless all-black sari. It's not as easy as it sounds. Although it seems like an outfit choice that you just can't go wrong with, that's not exactly true. It's a tricky one to pull off. Exhibit A: Sadaf Kanwal. Although her physique looks killer, we just felt the overall look fell flat. It was a little too plain Jane, coupled with a tight updo and black Bottega clutch. That arm bling also did her no favours.

 

Sunita Marshall on the other hand is making a great case for lace saris. The drop earrings and bangles kept the look traditional but the halter blouse and lace with silver detailing still made her look foxy.

Winner: Sunita Marshall!

2) Best white dress: Sajal Aly or Mansha Pasha?

A plain white dress, much like the all-black sari we mentioned above, is like a canvas: you must accessorize the outfit well.

First up we have Sajal Aly in Zaheer Abbas. Sajal didn't style her Zaheer Abbas number nearly enough, not to mention those vertical pleats looked a little awkward.

 

At the other end of the spectrum Mansha Pasha had a little too much going on: the off-shoulder, the frill, the sash. We also felt the dress was just not red carpet material and better suited for an event at the beach or a daytime affair. Maybe if she had skipped that scarf around her waist and just let her choker be the star accessory.

Winner: Neither

3) Best red: Mawra Hocane or Anam Malik?

We love a lady in red. But did both of them hit it out of the park with their crimson ensembles?

 

It was nice to see Mawra steer away from pastels and light colours and up the oomph factor with heavier eye make-up than usual. That's twice in a row now she's impressed us on the Hum Style Awards red carpet. Personally we would have picked a different clutch but hey, it's not make or break.

Anam Malik's trench coat dress with a slit, coupled with that sleek fringe hairdo and sultry bronze make-up was one of our favourite looks from the night. It was unexpected, sexy and sophisticated.

Winner: Both!

4) Best use of plaid: Shahzad Noor or Osman Khalid Butt?

An unexpected alternative to the good ol' suit, you don't have to be a rapper or a grandpa to rock one of these. Takes a bit more thought than your basic black/blue/grey suit but if you get it right, it's classic and bold all at once.

That being said, we think OB came out on top here; he didn't win Most Stylish Actor (FIlm) for nothing! The actor looked quirky but also quite dapper.

 

We felt like Shahzad Noor's three-piece suit was a little OTT and it looked like he hadn't put much thought into anything else other than the clothes.

Winner: Osman Khalid Butt, duh.

6) Best pantsuit: Nausheen Shah or Hira Shah?

We called it: borrowed from the boys, pant-suits are back in a big way. They look luxe AND they make you look like you mean business.

 

We honestly couldn't pick between these two, except maybe we were leaning slightly towards Nausheen Shah's look, because we love a little sparkle and prefer the bootcut.

Winner: Both!

5) Best ball gown: Ayesha Omar or Hareem Farooq?

If one of the biggest award nights of the year doesn't call for a ball gown, we don't know what does!

 

While both actors brought their A-game, we think Ayesha Omar takes the lead just by a little by channeling that old school glam (after all, retro classy was the theme for the night!).

Winner: Ayesha Omar

6) Best orange: Syra Shahroz or Saheefa Jabbar?

Syra and Saheefa went all orange for their looks at the HSAs. We love the change from lady in red and can't help but commend them for taking the challenge of such a bold colour. Seriously, oranges are difficult!

We love the pearls on Syra's suit but that's about it. The suit's asymmetrical style made her whole look appear lopsided and the cut-out was not the most flattering.

 

Saheefa's look was more put together as she topped off her suit with a blazer over her shoulders. The vibrant orange also looked more solid, probably because of the lack of odd cuts.

Winner: Saheefa

7) Best Shehla Chatoor ensemble: Shaneira Akram or Saba Qamar?

If it weren't for the colour, we'd have sworn Shaneira and Saba were twinning!

Both wore dresses from Shehla Chatoor which featured a hip-hugging silhouette dress ending in a flare of ruffles.

Saba's pastel tea-pink dress featured an embroided top with a hint of gold. While the colour is not one of our faves, we loved how Saba was pulling her look off with an air of confidence. Also, the rather tame top made way for the mermaid like finish at the bottom.

 

Shaneira's dress seemed to be a bit much with a poncho style top full of tassles and glitter. Because the dress was black, the look was saved but that doesn't mean it couldn't have been improved. We don't mind though, Shaneira's smile distracted us anyway!

Winner: Saba Qamar

8) Best printed sari: Tooba Siddiqui or Sonya Hussayn?

Saris definitely had their moment at the Hum Style Awards.

Tooba's Umar Sayeed sari-pant featured just the right amount of detailing, enough to keep us interested but not so much that we'd want to look away. She made the smart choice to keep her accessories minimal; with a fairly busy sari who needs bling?

 

Sonya Hussayn's deconstructed sari ensemble from Studio S was similarly intriguing. The bold slashes of black on the sari could have overpowered Sonya, but paired with a simple blouse and unfussy hair the entire look worked. Oh and bonus points for those killer abs!

Winner: Both!

9) Best colour-blocking: Mira Sethi or Bilal Abbas?

Both Mira Sethi and Bilal Abbas' outfits featured colourblocking. Unfortunately, neither had the intended effect.

 

The awkward length of Mira's dress didn't do justice to her tall frame, and coupled with a zipped neckline and boxy sleeves we felt there was too much going on to let any one element shine.

Bilal Abbas too could have benefitted from a less-is-more approach. Sometimes it's ok to let a suit just be a suit.

The beautiful OST — written by Sabir Zafar, composed by Sahir Ali Bagga and sung by Ayma Baig and Sahir — sets a romantic mood for a rather unusual story that tackles immigration, loneliness of senior family members and workplace harrassment. Shakeel is simply delightful in the role of an endearing senior who meets the Katrina Kaif-lookalike Seher Afzal, playing the angelic Haniya, in the park he frequents. A situation arises whereby he brings her home as a paying guest and an intriguing love triangle develops between her, his son and daughter-in-law (Noman Ijaz and Iffat Omar). On the other hand, Noor-ul-Hassan playing a horrid man who physically and verbally abuses his wife and daughters makes you absolutely hate him. A great cast and Zaifar Mairaj’s absorbing screenplay definitely takes away those Monday blues.

Gumraah | Hum TV, Mon-Tue 9.10pm

 

Seriously? So now an off-beat American Beauty (1999)-inspired storyline will be presented as family drama genre? The screenplay by Malik Khudabaksh and Faisal Rehman looks rather dishy as daddy Sarmad who falls for his daughter Faryal’s (the gorgeous Komal Aziz Khan) bubbly friend Huma played by young actor Hina Altaf (Zebu of Udaari). She is doing a fabulous job in the challenging role of a gold-digger opposite a seasoned actor such as Faisal Rehman. Complications arise as their relationship progresses and he eventually discovers that Huma’s love is not for him but his wealth and status.

What to watch out for

Baaghi | Urdu1, Thursday 8.00pm

 

If there ever were a role that only Saba Qamar could do justice to, it is the role of Fauzia Batool in Baaghi, loosely based on the life of Qandeel Baloch. With Umera Ahmed’s plausible and realistic screenplay, Farooq Rind’s sensitive direction, Saba as the village belle transforms into a slick fashion model to discover the big, bad world of showbiz. From the tiniest nuances to her effortless Punjabi accent, Saba is consistently outstanding as her role sheds its many layers. Ali Kazmi (as the vicious Abid) and Khalid Malik (Gogi) are superb supports. When will Osman Khalid Butt make his much-awaited appearance in the serial and will he be a lucky charm for Fauzia Batool or just add to the list of evil men hounding her?

Saima Akram Chaudhry’s screenplay may have dragged a wee bit and Fahim Burney’s direction might have had a few flaws (people who shoot themselves in the head do not look as pretty as Hamdan Mustafa did with a red smudge on his temple), but the serial concluded on a strong note. Never before has the message of harassment of women resonated so crystal clear.

In the last episode one of the characters, an NGO worker called Mrs Rehmani, points out to the protagonist Salwa (Sohai Ali Abro) that only a few women know that on January 29, 2011, the Government of Pakistan had amended Article 509 of the constitution, making harassment of women a crime. Abro, by the way, carried off the role of the victim of such harrassment effortlessly. Meanwhile, Azfar Rehman as the villianous Hamdan Mustafa sizzled in his sequences with Ali Josh, the male lead, who yet again proved that he is a promising talent.

What to watch out for

Boriyat Busters | Geo TV, Friday 6.30pm

What could be better for Ahsan Khan than hosting an exciting game show for kids, to show his versatility as well as do some repair to his image after his brilliant performance as the much-hated child molester in Udari. With the dearth of local content on TV for kids, Boriyat Busters comes a breath of fresh of air as the first season focuses on kids from Karachi.

The show kicks off with a colourful, larger-than-life set, animation, exciting prizes and lots of energy. There are shades of Legends of the Hidden Temple and Takeshi’s Castle fused together with Khan’s own desi touch. Appearances by Mawra Hocane, Humayun Saeed, Shoaib Malik, Younus Khan, Sajal Ali and Ayesha Omar promise to add glitz to the show. — Fouzia Nasir Ahmad

Published in Dawn, ICON, October 22nd, 2017

Winter is here, and you know what that means — wedding season.

If you're anything like us, you'll find yourself stuck for inspiration every wedding season... until fashion week, that is. This year PFDC's L'Oréal Paris Bridal Week presented countless options for everyone even tangentially connected to winter weddings: the bride, of course, but also her sister-in-law, and also her second cousin's best friend who's only attending the wedding for the gulab jamun.

We isolated 6 trends that emerged from collections that ranged from uber-traditional — like Sania Maskatiya and Nomi Ansari — to quirky-cool — like Ali Xeeshan and Mahgul.

Let's get started...

1) All red everything

The designers presenting at PLBW must've picked up on the fact that red is trending internationally, because red could definitely be seen making a comeback on the ramp. And not just as an accent colour — we spotted all-red ensembles where everything from the dupatta to the gharara was scarlet.

Misha Lakhani brought red back on the ramp like a boss
Misha Lakhani brought red back on the ramp like a boss

 

Contenders for best red included Wasim Khan and Misha Lakhani, with notable mentions going to Sania Maskatiya and Mahgul.

Wasim Khan went all red with his show-stopper
Wasim Khan went all red with his show-stopper

 

2) Cathedral trains

Someone must've photocopied and distributed a memo that read 'go big or go home' because there were ALOT of trailing trains on the ramp at PLBW.

Sana Safinaz (L) and Sania Maskatiya (R) sure know how to grab our attention!
Sana Safinaz (L) and Sania Maskatiya (R) sure know how to grab our attention!

 

Impractical? Yep. Dramatic? Yep. We wouldn't recommend this look for anyone but the bride, but done right it can add the right amount of flair.

Wear at your own risk!
Wear at your own risk!

 

3) Party in the back

When it comes to wedding wear we often neglect the backs of our joras. But not after PLBW.

Go backless without going backless in Saira Shakira (L) and Sana Safinaz (R)
Go backless without going backless in Saira Shakira (L) and Sana Safinaz (R)

 

Designers made a strong case for treating the back of their outfits like entities unto themselves, with heavy embellishments, scooped backs, worked straps and more.

Intricate details like the one we spotted on this Sania Maskatiya ensemble will make you stand out
Intricate details like the one we spotted on this Sania Maskatiya ensemble will make you stand out

 

4) Borrowed from the boys

And if you're getting sick of being traditional, some designers presented interesting looks that borrowed heavily from menswear.

If you really want to wear something unique, these Sana Safinaz (L) and Ali Xeeshan (R) outfits could do the trick
If you really want to wear something unique, these Sana Safinaz (L) and Ali Xeeshan (R) outfits could do the trick

 

While we wish we would've seen more of this trend on the ramp, at least it was a start.

This golden Shiza Hassan with structured shoulders caught our eye
This golden Shiza Hassan with structured shoulders caught our eye

 

5) Evening gowns as wedding wear

On the other end of the spectrum, designers presented western-style evening gowns as viable options for wedding wear.

Sana Safinaz led the eveing gown as wedding wear style
Sana Safinaz led the eveing gown as wedding wear style

 

Sana Safinaz led the pack, but others followed close behind.

But Ali Xeeshan was also not far behind
But Ali Xeeshan was also not far behind

 

6) Two dupattas

Another raging trend on the runway had us seeing double: we spotted two dupattas on numerous outfits.

Sania Maskatiya was big on this trend
Sania Maskatiya was big on this trend

 

It went like this: one dupatta was draped over the models head while the other criss-crossed around her front. Alternatively, one dupatta was belted and one flowed freely.

This Shamsha Hashwani number was one of our favourites on the ramp

Warsaw is a city steeped in film history. For decades, filmmakers have been falling to its many charms. There are of course the local masters, such as Andrzej Wajda or Krzystof Kieslowski who have set some of their most iconic tales in the Polish capital. And then there are modern directors such as David Lynch or Lars von Trier who have used it as a backdrop for their existential, surreal commentaries on humanity.

Next in line to join this august company is Ahsan Rahim. Together with Ali Zafar, he has created his debut feature Teefa in Trouble, an action-comedy that’s set up shop in Warsaw for the last leg of the shooting schedule. A busy crew and a positive buzz greet me the day I’m granted an exclusive behind-the-scenes look for Icon and what I see looks very promising: high-octane car chases with stunt work to make the heartbeat increase exponentially. But more on that later.

It’s a clear, sunny day and even though it’s the middle of July, for some reason my prejudiced head cannot process this fact. On my way over, I was picturing a dreary, rainy place but Warsaw makes quite the opposite impression on me as soon as my train enters the station. It’s a lovely city bursting with culture at every corner.

One or two monuments checked, local delicacies scoffed, I receive the directions from the production manager and make my way to the set. The place is easy to find but still quite a trek to get to. Looking back at my notes, I’ve scribbled “abandoned warehouse” to keep hold of my initial reaction of the location, but this isn’t true at all. It’s not abandoned; this is some kind of a racecourse where people can spin some laps for a small fee. I also spot, rather ominously, an arms shop. Two guys are sitting in front of it and cleaning their rifles. This is surely the perfect movie setting for hot pursuits and getaway vehicles.

Icon goes on the sets in Poland of Ali Zafar’s upcoming feature film Teefa in Trouble

I finally reach and see an assortment of police cars lining up a narrow, one-way road. I hear someone shout “action” (ah, that one global thing about movie sets) and they speed away one by one, disappearing around the corner. This is part of an elaborate chase sequence that I will get to see in various angles during the first part of the day. But before that, Ali Zafar greets me in his trailer. He’s taking it easy, as the concurrently shot stunt portions don’t require his constant presence.

Maya Ali has done a lot of stunts herself and earned the title ‘the queen of reckless driving’ | Krzysztof Seremak
Maya Ali has done a lot of stunts herself and earned the title ‘the queen of reckless driving’ | Krzysztof Seremak

 

“This may end up being the most expensive Pakistani production,” he says matter-of-factly whilst listening to Michael Jackson on a music player. “Because of the amount of action involved, it costs a lot of money.” He should know this best, considering that he’s not only the main star and co-writer (his younger brother Danyal was also part of the writing sessions) but also the producer.

Regardless of the many hats he’s wearing, it’s the acting part that will be the big talking point once the film releases. Ali Zafar has seriously bulked up for this role, having trained for four months prior to the shoot and now maintaining this rigorous process: martial arts and fitness training factor into his transformation, as do pre-cooked, protein-filled meals he is regularly handed on set by attentive assistants for immediate consumption.

No one from the tight-lipped cast and crew is telling me anything about the plot, other than Teefa, the main character, being a guy from androon shehr — Lahore’s Old City — who has come abroad for the first time on a mission. I resort to asking about the genre instead. Has Zafar always been a fan of action movies? What kind of films has he drawn inspiration from, for this one in particular?

First up, they do a test run during which the car flips as planned but then the stunt driver seems to lose control of the vehicle. It’s a nightmarish sight, the car’s wheels protruded in the air on the left, while only the right-hand side of the car is driving on the ground. The entire crew seems to be holding its breath; the set’s gone quiet for what seems like ages. This could go terribly wrong and everyone knows, but then eventually the car tilts back to the ground and resumes its course.

The ramp shot that could have gone terribly wrong but luckily didn’t | Schayan Riaz
The ramp shot that could have gone terribly wrong but luckily didn’t | Schayan Riaz

 

“A lot of people grew up on Superman and Star Wars … all these movies. And I mean, Rocky, Bruce Lee, things like that. I’ve been an action buff since I was a child. I used to make comic books. I used to make superheroes. Same with Ahsan. He draws his action heroes and sequences, so we both love action. We both love comedy. I also like intense, romantic stuff and in this film, we said: let’s do everything that we’ve been wanting to do.”

So it’s a little bit of everything. I understand that I won’t get any more information about who Teefa is, why he is in trouble and why in Warsaw, so I make my way across the set to where the action is actually happening. I spot a small crew of locals comprising technicians, assistants, one still photographer and several helpers. Ahsan Rahim is standing tall in the middle of them all, alongside his DoP Zain Haleem. After every shot, they put their heads together and discuss how to get the best possible result. As usual for any set, there’s a lot of waiting, a lot of talking, a lot of trying out and a lot of nervous laughter. And it’s a truly impressive setup, just for this one chase sequence. For the next take, they are using vans, police cars and motorbikes. A drone is being operated together with the camera and this will surely give more possibilities for the editing. A ramp has been installed too, so that one particular car can flip dramatically after driving over it and continue on two wheels only.

This DIY, hands-on approach is heartening to see in today’s day and age where CGI reigns supreme. It’s pure filmmaking by a dedicated bunch of professionals. Nothing makes me realise this more than the ramp shot: first up, they do a test-run during which the car flips as planned but then the stunt driver seems to lose control of the vehicle. He has difficulties balancing the car back on to four wheels. It’s a nightmarish sight, the car’s wheels protruded in the air on the left, while only the right-hand side of the car is driving on the ground. The entire crew seems to be holding its breath; the set’s gone quiet for what seems like ages. This could go terribly wrong and everyone knows, but then eventually the car tilts back to the ground and resumes its course. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief. “I thought for sure he’s going to fall over,” says Ahsan Rahim with a grin. All this reminds me of Ali Zafar’s description of the undertaking: “You could say the film is on steroids, right from the first frame.” I see that now.

Teefa in Trouble has an eclectic cast, comprising industry veterans such as Javed Sheikh and Faysal Quraishi and emerging talents Fia Khan and Mahenur Haider. Maya Ali is the main lead opposite Ali Zafar. From what I’m told, she’s far from “just a love interest.” She’s done a lot of stunts herself and gained quite a reputation. I hear one person calling her “the queen of reckless driving.” So it’s especially funny to me to see her body double, this lanky Polish gent exiting a car during a break, wearing a red dress and a wig. Ali Zafar, who has also done most of his stunts, is also using a body double for this particular chase. A guy with the same jacket and hairdo. Only then do I realise that Teefa has been in costume all day. That’s what he’ll look like!

Director Ahsan Rahim (extreme right) during the film’s Lahore shooting spell | Omer Khalid Butt
Director Ahsan Rahim (extreme right) during the film’s Lahore shooting spell | Omer Khalid Butt

 

For all the high energy and the complicated nature of shooting car chases and stunts, there’s an endearing quality to the small size of the crew. A sort-of tent has been pitched up by the side and after every completed take, the crew convenes under it to watch the playback. This gives off a sense of unity, as there’s no real hierarchy. Everyone is in it just as much as the next guy or girl. I’ve been on sets before where, even though everything is going according to plan, the atmosphere is stifled, joyless. Here, while everyone is doubtlessly focused and determined, there’s also camaraderie and a sense of fun. Especially between the four or five Pakistani members of the crew.

One can only hope that all this translates on screen. The chase scene goes on, now in another setup. We were in the open before, but now we’re inside the actual “warehouse.” Stacks of cardboard boxes can be found all over the site and metallic objects complete the structure. If I could paint a picture and choose a cinematic equivalent to what I’m seeing before me, I’m reminded of the last shot in Raiders of the Lost Ark, that vast space where a crate is stored among countless similar ones.

Blue light is everywhere, as police cars follow a motorbike. Round and round they go, until the chase comes to an abrupt, crashing halt. This shot is repeated several times over the next few hours. In the film, it will amount to just a few seconds. And I have no idea whether Teefa is still in trouble at this point or whether the police is chasing him at the beginning, or whether this is already the climax and he is about to ride away from trouble forever. My guess is as good as anyone’s and I look forward to seeing the finished product.

And so we’ve come to the end. The director has called “pack up.” The crew has a day off now and there’s a certain sense of excitement in the air. And it’s been exciting for me too, to get insights into contemporary Pakistani cinema.

Even though this sounds beside the point, I mean this as a compliment: Teefa in Trouble doesn’t feel like a Pakistani production. I’m aware that whatever I’ve seen is a mere glimpse, a small snippet. There’s an entire schedule in Lahore already wrapped. But when I leave, I leave in high spirits, happy that such a film exists, this most unusual cocktail of Pakistan and Poland, an ambitious action, romance, comedy and drama adventure with its heart in the right place. I’m curious to see how it all pans out.

Published in Dawn,

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