Zinda Bhaag

This film has been selected as the Pakistani entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards. The story of Zinda Bhaag (Escape Alive) revolves around the youth and their urge to find short cuts to life abroad. It is a Lahore-set comedy by a Pakistani director Farjad Nabi and an Indian filmmaker Meenu Gaur starring the Indian legendary actor Naseeruddin Shah and featuring Indian technicians.

This is the first time in 50 years that Pakistan is sending a movie for consideration in the foreign language film category. The movie Zinda Bhaag stars Shah as a Lahori gangster. Giving a humorous look at the hopes and aspirations of ordinary Pakistanis, the movie marks the feature film debut of Gaur and Nabi who had previously made documentaries together. The comedy follows the exploits of three young men Khaldi, Chitta and Taambi who want to escape their city

and country for better prospects abroad by adopting any means possible. It shows how these young men are trying to escape the reality of their everyday lives and are desperate to get on to fast track of success.

Zinda Bhag reflects the aspirations of independent film makers from Pakistan as to how they would like to shape the cinematic experiences of not only Pakistani audiences but also for the international audiences who are curious about Pakistan. We see films that are made for international audiences or festivals and then there is Zinda Bhag that actually encompasses a spectrum of issues that are not just local but also have a broader impact.

A journey that unfolds through the story of this film gives us a peep into what constitutes the everyday in the lives of many young men and women in Pakistan-giving a sense of entitlement that can’t be fulfilled.

Music Maestro of Pakistan Sahir Ali Bagga keeps the fun factor going as we hear vocals from the Talent pool Pakistan should be proud of.Starting from Rahat Fateh Ali to Abrar ul Haq and to Arif Lohar, its music would keep you engaged throughout.

According to the director, the screenplay is based on accounts by the friends and acquaintances who have been deported for trying to ‘cross borders and dodge bullets’. Naseeruddin Shah plays a local gangster who also provides the voice-over across the Punjabi-Urdu movie. The Editor Shan Mohammad, sound designer Vipin Bhatti and cinematographer Satya Rai Nagpaul are all from Mumbai.

The local infrastructure to make and distribute films was far from adequate, the director said. Zinda Bhaag has been shot entirely in Lahore’s Samnabad neighbourhood and got funding by several sources including the filmmakers’ own savings and a grant from Let’s Talk Men which is a film series that examines masculinity in South Asia and is supported by Save the Children and Unicef’s regional office for South Asia.

The filmmakers also plan to release the Punjabi-Urdu movie in India later for which they will be travelling to India to finalize distribution plans over the next few weeks. A contract with a leading music label to release the soundtrack in India ,will also be signed. In Pakistan Zinda Bhaag will be given a wide release by the distribution arm of the multiplex chain Cinepax.

One cannot stop from commenting the fact that Zinda Bhag has been a great collaborative effort between the talents of India and Pakistan. One may see the living legend of performing arts and cinema Naseeruddin Shah, in an altogether different character who even conducted workshops for his young co-actors before the shooting of the film.

It has to be noted here that it’s not just the performance of actors, art directors or musicians that one visually appreciates when watching a film. This movie, Zinda Bhaag right from the first frame demonstrates cinematographic strength.

Undoubtedly, the duo of Indo-Pak Producer and Director made sure that their directorial feature touches the right chords as the audience respond to every scene where it’s needed. So don’t miss this marvelous endeavour when it comes to the cinema near you.

Zinda Bhag is an upcoming Pakistani film which is directed by Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi and produced by Mazhar Zaidi.

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