This Independence Day, audiences in Pakistan will have the chance to witness a cinematic love letter to the motherland.
Directed by Jami, Moor (pronounced 'Mor' and alternatively used for 'mother' and 'the land' in Pushto) has been in the works for a while. Jami began working on the film in 2007 and it sees fruition after nearly eight years, the year after he made his debut as film director with O21.
Packed with action and drama, the film is Jami’s answer to “how we should handle ourselves in a Pakistan where a new drama unfolds everyday.” The Moor team shared this and more at the press meet held in Karachi yesterday, where the film's latest trailer was shown and website was launched.
1. Moor puts Balochistan's beautiful scenery on the map
In a series of disjointed phrases, director Jami described Moor as “the cure for all hopelessness, a film about Pakistan, which is specifically about trains… (and) about families… (and) how we should handle ourselves in a Pakistan where a new drama unfolds everyday.”
Strangely enough, some people see it as a film about terrorism, shared Jami, but the rest of us can breathe a sigh of relief that we’ll be watching an action drama that doesn’t concern the war against terror.
More importantly, we’ll be watching a film that puts Balochistan on the big screen, a region with unparalleled cinematic value. “Wherever we placed the camera, the framing would be beautiful,” relates Jami, who likens Balochistan’s vistas to the setting of Lawrence of Arabia.
|“Wherever we placed the camera, the framing would be beautiful,” relates Jami about shooting in Balochistan — Photo courtesy the newly launched moorthefilm.com|
When asked why he made Moor in Balochistan, Jami further elaborated that issues in the train network are the worst there. The trains, which are the cheapest form of transport, were systematically shut down by corrupt people, which affected many, many lives. Balochistan thus mattered more, Jami said.
One of the film's most accomplished actors, Abdul Qadir, who's earned a Pride of Performance and several other accolades, summed it up nicely: “'Mor' means mother. We can do so much for our mothers; our land is also like our mother, and we should do every good deed to make its name shine. Jami’s film is one such beautiful effort.”
2. Moor’s making began on a train
The process of making Moor began in 2007 at a time when train issues were even worse than they are today. To write the script, Jami and team decided to travel to Balochistan by train. “The 10-11 hour journey took us two days on a train that had no windows, no bathrooms and barely functioning lights. The engine broke down multiple times, and the diesel ran out just as many. And oh, we couldn’t stand near the door, because “rocket launcher kabhi bhi asakta hai”. We couldn’t have anticipated the serious issues that we saw.”
|The cast and crew of Moor at the press meet — Publicity photo|
Shooting in Muslimbagh had trials of its own. Not only was the weather inclement, but they encountered lack of support from security forces who would intervene to tell them it’s not safe. Surprisingly, the 'Taliban' cooperated and even emptied out their headquarters for them to shoot in. “Our crew included girls wearing Western clothes, and nobody cared,” he shared.
3. Moor's final cast is the product of many changes
Moor stars Hameed Sheikh, Samiya Mumtaz, Abdul Qadir, Shabbir Rana, Ayaz Samoo, Soniya Hussain as well as New York-based actor, Shaz Khan, in prominent roles.
This final cast is a product of many changes: Shabbir Rana opted out from the lead role to give room to Hameed Sheikh, who would be able to meet the physical challenges of the role. Shot in freezing temperatures that dipped as low as -14 degrees, the cast (which included Sheikh's sons who play his younger selves) had to shoot their scenes wearing no extra layers. Sheikh was selected after Jami was struck by his entry in the film Kandahar Break, which the two of him were actually viewing to help select other actors from the region. Sheikh didn’t expect to be cast in that process.
Samiya Mumtaz was Jami's first choice for the female lead, but he reconsidered casting her after seeing her then hairstyle, which was a close approximation of Hameed Sheikh's current bald look! Jami had envisioned long, flowing hair for Moor's female lead, but after his second choice walked out, he begged Mumtaz to do the role.
When asked about her seemingly similar roles in Moor and her last film, Dukhtar, Mumtaz replied, “Peechay pahar hain and aur mai aik aurat hoon, us ke ilawa koi similarity nahi hai. (Apart from having mountains behind me, and being a woman, there’s no similarity between the two roles.)"
|Samiya Mumtaz considers her role in Moor completely different from the one half of a brave mother-daughter duo on the run she played in Dukhtar — Photo courtesy moorthefilm.com|
Ayaz Samoo, who’s known as a stand-up comedian, was cast as a villain in the film in a role that didn’t even initially exist. “Somewhere along the line, Jami bhai decided that Moor needed a wacko, and cast me in the role. For more than a decade, I’ve been stamped as a funny guy, and Jami bhai is the only person to be able to ignore it,” he shared.
The film also gives the opportunity for actors of the region to enjoy the spotlight.
“I’m from a people who know how to live in the mountains, but I can't swim. But Jami was able to make me do it. My fellow actors proved that they are no less than any other in the country,” said Abdul Qadir.
|Abdul Qadir is one of the senior-most actors from Quetta who will be seen in Moor — Publicity photo|
4. The film has a promising soundtrack
Strings were famously roped in to produce Moor's seven-song soundtrack, but yesterday's press meet reminded us that it will also boast the likes of Meesha Shafi, Javed Bashir and Rahim Shah, who's contributed a song in Pushto. Rahma Ali, whom we first heard on Coke Studio's last season, has also lent her vocals to one track (she was asked to sing a song called ‘Chalo Younhee Sahi’ after Anwar Maqsood chanced upon her singing during rehearsals for Sawa 14 August's Islamabad run, in which she played a small part).
Another interesting revelation was that Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia have sang solo tracks for the film.
Jami doesn't know when Anwar Maqsood volunteered to pen the lyrics for the film's songs, but he does admit driving Bilal Maqsood up the wall with his multiple revisions of the film.
"150 versions of the film were made, which means the music had to be changed as many times. Any other musician would have called it quits, but Bilal handled it. And I don't even know when Anwar Maqsood volunteered to write the lyrics for the film..." The soundtrack seems promising, and we'll get to hear it soon after Ramzan, promised film's producer Nadeem Mandviwala.
5. There was an elephant in the room...
While everyone skirted around the fact that Jami’s debut film O21 was less than well-received, Mandviwala himself assured the press that no one will say that they couldn't understand Moor.
“Jami thinks and talks abstractly. Wo shor sharaba nahi machatay. Zor se baat karte nahi ke meri baat sun lo, bohot piyar se baat kehenge jis may maanay bohot ho gay,” he said.