Downward Dog: Teaser Review & Catch Up with Jami

Published August 16, 2013
Teaser trailer for Jami's Downward Dog.

Building with a constant thump of a beating heart, the teaser for Jami’s second venture Downward Dog, due out in 2014, is an awkward fix.

A modishly composed motion picture that looks like a welcome conundrum — a psychological thriller that’s primarily a venture for the “pull kay paar” audience — stars Sajid Hassan, Joshinder, Nayyer Ejaz, Ali Sheikh, and a diverse set of localities.

The monochrome footage knitting a loose series of naturally lit shots (which filmmakers know, are painstakingly lit to appear natural), gives piddling insight into what the director calls a ‘classic Noir’ (my initial impression was Neo-Noir).

What we see is a woman (Joshinder), contemplative over a multiple scenes; a man in a biker’s helmet; a mid-shot of Mr. Ejaz behind a string-beaded curtain; a close-up of Mr. Hassan; an impoverished-looking youngster; a swirly sandstorm – and most importantly: no dialogues.

There’s not a lot to empathize with in the teaser’s 2:06 minute interval, apart from Nausheen Dadabhoy’s arresting cinematography (Ms. Dadabhoy’s last venture, Josh, was splendidly shot as well). Nevertheless, seeing the way these sequences unfold there’s evidence of a bound-screenplay pulling the strings of the production.

From first impressions, everything, including the intensity of the score, is calculatingly conspicuous in design. Jami’s direction in frames, like most of the director’s resume, guides the eye to distinct portions of the image without over-decorating the ambiance — which, given the genre and artistic inclination to go black-and-white, is thick enough already. Like I said, it’s an awkward fix whose appeal lies in its own idiosyncrasy. How well Downward Dog unfolds, of course, will depend on when the film hits the cinemas next year.

In conversation

It isn’t quite like me to seek a conversation with a director after a film’s teaser; Downward Dog, is an exception. Catching up via Facebook and Email (Jami is not in Pakistan at the moment), we touched on the bare essentials of the project.

Q. When did you start Downward Dog?

A. Well I started this film after Joshinder and Fawad decided to go with my story last year in November. I wasn’t supposed to do (the film) originally, but after some changes, we decided that I should direct this new complex storyline (that we had). So there you go.

Q. So, what's Downward Dog about?

A. Well in short, it’s about a writer gone greedy with a novel and all hell breaks loose.

Q. Seeing that there’s a lack of dialogues in the teaser, one cannot make an assumption to the film’s language. What is the film’s predominant language? Is it in English?

A. The film is 90 per cent Urdu.

Q. Why a film Noir?

A. My heart said it was needed for this story, so we did it. We are not going into how we’re going to sell this, or how to market just now. I am a filmmaker. Distribution is the next step. As Nadeem (Mandviwalla) has already taken it, so (I guess) all slowly worked out fine.

Q. A Noir is a chancy venture right now, so why not do something more mainstream?

A. Right now we don’t know what mainstream is. But, as you well know, I can't do films with Item numbers that abuse girls for a few (quick) bucks. So, (I’d like to think)of this as my mainstream.

Q. Do you think Pakistani audiences would accept a thriller made in Black and White?

A. I don’t think they would come to see it. (Whoever does come to the movie), I think would enjoy it. There was no point in making lot of films in history (if you consider their genres or their need to not be mainstream) but they were made. It is important to make these films.

Downward Dog releases next year. No date has been finalized.

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