Pakistani film 'Zinda Bhaag' hit at Abu Dhabi fest

Abu Dhabi, Oct 27 (IANS) Bollywood veteran Naseeruddin Shah starrer Pakistani film "Zinda Bhaag", first movie from the nation sent for Oscar consideration in last 50 years, did excellent among viewers when screened at the ongoing Abu Dhabi Film Festival and showing the strong cultural bonding between the two nations.

The viewers enjoyed the film so much that they laughed, hooted and whistled while watching the immigration drama Saturday evening. Veteran actor Naseer's performance was much appreciated.

The fact that "Zinda Bhaag" comes from Pakistan, where filmmaking took a beating in the 1990s, and that it is contending for the Oscar in the best foreign film category, was a huge draw for film aficionados, who thronged the theatre here for the film's screening.

"It's very proud moment for us to show the film in UAE," said Farjad Nabi, who has co-directed the movie with Meenu Gaur.

Their movie speaks the mind of the modern youth in Pakistan through three 20-something men, who wish to make a living anywhere, but in their own country and their city Lahore.

It is about "doing the dunky", a local parlance for illegal immigration.

In between all the fun and jokes with which the movie begins, there truly underlies a serious expose to people's resort to dangerous ways to cross borders and enter foreign lands, reasons why they do it and its repercussions in most cases.

The first half of the film could have been crisper and it could do without a few songs. However, its tongue-in-cheek humour in chaste Lahori Punjabi kept the audiences entertained and one could hear sounds of applause and whistles on several dialogues.

The film's latter half delves deeper into the clamour of Pakistani youth to look beyond the borders to live their dreams.

A foreign viewer congratulated the filmmakers for delivering a "powerfully written and entertaining" film.

Starring first-time actors Khurram Patras, Salman Ahmad Khan and Zohaib, "Zinda Bhaag" has a tone different from movies like "Ramchand Pakistani" and "Khuda Kay Liye", which had come out of Pakistan.

It is quirky, fun and also intense - balancing light humour with a serious issue.

Naseer as the red-haired local don Puhlwan is as impressive as always, and there were NRIs who came in to watch the movie hoping the actor would have come. He hadn't.

The filmmakers said the actor had organised a week's workshop for the newcomers, and the result was there for all to see.

The film had more Indian factors than just Naseer.

A lot of crew members are Indian and there were subtle references to Bollywood via popular dance steps from songs like "Ek pal ka jeena", "Oh oh jaane jaana", "Kajra re" and some from "Dabangg".

Another scene had the protagonist singing lines from the song "All izz well" from blockbuster Bollywood movie "3 Idiots".

Talking about the Indian crew, Gaur said: "It made more sense to get crew members from India as India and Pakistan have a shared culture. It was the best decision we made."

Now the duo is planning to work on a film on a "historical span". But it will take time, they said.