In a country where generations of people have grown up on films from across the border — chiefly, Bollywood — it takes courage to attempt a feature that doesn’t come with any items conventionally considered saleable.
First-time directors Ammar Lasani and Kanza Zia, thus, deserve kudos for daring to move away from the norm with their debut movie ‘Gumm’, which is a thriller set in the dense forests of Margalla Hills, Islamabad.
It is not just “unBollywoodlike” (in Lasani’s own words), it is especially purposed to make “engaging cinema.”
Close to the release of the film, the husband and wife duo spoke exclusively with Gulf News tabloid!, and explained why they would like to be known as “serious filmmakers.”
“Everyone’s doing rom-com these days. Our cinema needs to diversify,” Zia said. “This is the age of Netflix and people want to see a variety of stuff which no one is creating for them, because we underestimate our audiences.”
She reasoned that “you can never tell beforehand if a film will click or not. So, why not try new subjects?”
“One thing a good film will do: it keeps the audiences engaged, from the first frame to the last,” Lasani said. “I believe our strongest point is our screenplay. I can proudly say that this movie is our masterpiece.”
Lasani and Zia donned multiple hats for the film — as screenwriters, cinematographers, production designers and editors. It helped that they graduated in filmmaking from the New York Film Academy and cut their teeth on short films. This also got them the kind of international exposure they coveted.
‘Gumm’ has already been screened at film festivals across the globe, where the film earned more than 15 nominations in various categories.
Last year, it won the Best Actor trophy for leading man Sami Khan, and the Best Original Screenplay for Lasani and Zia at the Madrid International Film Festival.
‘Gumm’, which has been three years in the making, also stars Shamoon Abbasi as the antagonist. Judging from the film’s trailer, both Khan and Abbasi have bagged the roles of their lifetimes.
As for the female lead, Zia mentioned auditioning a number of women before Shameen Khan was finalised.
“It’s a character that transitions through three different phases in her life. So we wanted somebody who could pull off that diversity and also bring freshness to the film. Shameen fitted the bill perfectly,” she said.
‘Gumm’ opens in theatres across Pakistan on January 11. It will be released internationally a month later.