The 20th Busan International Film Festival began on October 1 with amazing energy, gathering filmmakers, producers, film artists and enthusiasts from all across the world. Among the hundreds of films screened as part of the festival, there was only one Pakistani film, Moor (Mother) by Jami Mahmood. But it was good enough to bring the Pakistani crowd to its feet and get our presence felt in the international film circuit.
With three shows lined up for the audiences, all of them were full of Pakistanis living in Korea as well as Korean film lovers who wanted a taste of Pakistani cinema. I managed to catch the last show on October 6. As the end credits rolled and the lights hit, director Jami Mahmood, actors Hameed Sheikh and Shaz Khan, along with the Pakistani Ambassador to Korea, Zahid Nasrullah Khan, came out for the post-show question-and-answer session.
Read: Whats Moor can Strings do?
The director and the cast thanked the audience for coming out to watch the film. The ambassador said, “I am proud to see a beautiful Pakistani film and that too here in Korea, it is great to see Pakistanis coming out to support the cinema.” He thanked everyone for inviting him.
Team Moor at the post-screening Q&A session
Jami started with how the film took about five years to make. Earlier, when I talked to Jami about the audience reaction to ‘Mother’, he said, “We are not a major film here so it is very interesting to see the way the audience were dissecting the film, the questions they were asking. I was not expecting this. Koreans have totally blown me away.”
The first show at 11 am on October 2 was half full, the October 5 and 6 show was sold out. Jami said it was interesting to see Koreans so involved and curious about the films.
It was evident as in the Q&A session, a young Korean man, who was a film student, appreciated the beautiful visuals and asked if Shaz’s character Ehsaan migrating to Karachi for money was inspired by the filmmaker’s real life journey. He also asked about a single shot in the film where the railway tracks are cut off by a newly built road, inquiring whether there is hope for the future, because Jami did not end the film by showing reconstruction of the stolen, broken tracks.
The question garnered a few chuckles. Jami agreed to the comparison by saying there was a reflection of himself when he came to Karachi to make films. Film industry is all about money and at times, you have to sacrifice your creative control, make ads, just for money. Moreover, he said, “I didn’t end it with the complete restoration of the railway tracks because it would be quite obvious. Throughout the decades, 300 kilometres of tracks have been broken and stolen and the shot is important because it was the exact same place where it happened. It was just surreal to be there. But I would still say, there is hope for the future as recently, some perpetrators involved in this corruption, were arrested.”
All three shows attended by Pakistanis living in Korea and Korean film-lovers who wanted a taste of Pakistani cinema
Further questions were asked by mainly Korean audience. One asked about the actors’ process of preparing for the role. Shaz Khan, who played Ehsaan, said, “It was interesting. I am from Pakistan but had been brought up in the US. So to learn the mannerisms, I spent a couple of weeks with them. Ate lunches with them, went for walks, just talking, learning their ways. I had to work on my character, learn how he talks, how he walks, so spending time with the locals was the way to do it.”
The Q&A ended with the makers of the film thanking the audiences while a group of Pakistanis chanted ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ and followed the filmmakers out of the theatre for some photographs. It will be to premature to say whether Pakistani cinema arrived with a bang but Moor’s world premier at Busan but definitely managed to create a few ripples in this very vast sea.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2015.
Like Life & Style on Facebook, follow @ETLifeandStyle on Twitter for the latest in fashion, gossip and entertainment.