Multiple award-winning TV and film director Mehreen Jabbar’s short film Lala Begum recently earned her the Best Screenplay trophy at the 6th Annual Washington DC South Asian Film Festival (DCSAFF).
Jabbar took to Twitter to congratulate writer Syed Mohammad Ahmad, whose association with her goes back to the drama series Kahaniyan (mid-2000s). Later, they came together famously for Ramchand Pakistani (2008), Jabbar’s first feature film that also starred acclaimed Indian actress Nandita Das. A prolific playwright and an occasional actor, Ahmad has earlier scripted dialogues for Bollywood’s sleeper hit of the year 2010, Tere Bin Laden.
For Jabbar, the award is yet another feather in her cap. Jointly produced with Zeel for Unity (a peace initiative taken by Zee TV Network early last year), the 60-minute “medium length film” (her own words) has already been screened at the Jagran Film Festival in Delhi besides a number of fests in the US and Canada.
An Indian newspaper editorial called it “hauntingly beautiful.” The paper also praised the lead performers Marina Khan (in the eponymous role) and Sonia Rehman Qureshi, who play estranged sisters in the film which is set in the 1970s.
Interestingly, as Jabbar tells Gulf News tabloid!, the story of Lala Begum “actually came out of Mohammad Ahmad and my desire to work with Khan and Rehman... It was originally meant to be a 40-minute short telefilm for Pakistan but when the Zeel for Unity project came along, we felt that this could be adapted for it.”
The film is yet to be shown at a festival or on TV in Pakistan. Jabbar hints at “a plan” being worked out; though, she rules out a theatrical release. “Sixty minutes is too short for that in Pakistan,” she maintains.