Tuesday May 17, 2022
LONDON/BIRMINGHAM: Pakistani film Javed Iqbal has bagged two awards at the 24th annual UK Asian Film Festival.
The film is based on the real-life story of one of the most notorious serial killers of 90’s Lahore Javed Iqbal who confessed to police of abducting, sexually abusing and murdering more than a hundred young boys in Lahore from 1998 to 1999.
He was later sentenced to death but committed suicide while in police custody.
The story of the film is adapted from the Urdu novel Kukri which was written by Abu Aleeha, who was also the director of the film.
The movie which is banned in Pakistan was premiered on the opening night of the film festival at London’s famous BFI Southbank and now has won the awards of “Best Actor” and “Best Director”.
Renowned Pakistani actor Yasir Hussain who played the lead role of “Javed Iqbal” was adjudged for the Best Actor award. Actress Ayesha Omar also starred in the movie playing the role of a police officer.
Speaking to Geo and The News actor Yasir Hussain termed this achievement as an absolute honour for not only himself but also for the Pakistani film industry. He said that he was grateful to UKAFF who chose this film to open this year's festival.
Yasir Hussain described his role in the film as one of the most challenging roles he has performed to date.
“It was a very complex character of such a person who has murdered so many innocent kids. The reason that it was an extremely difficult role to play was that you have to think like him so that you can portray a true character of that person”.
Yasir Hussain who is known for playing mostly comedy characters said that in real life he’s no way near that charter as fans have always seen him playing lighter roles so this was a more challenging role for him.
“Every actor loves to do these types of characters, especially the one who has also worked in the theatre industry for many years is always looking for challenging roles like this character”.
“That is why I’m also looking to perform these challenging characters which are not necessarily lead roles but more importantly have much bigger acting margin”.
Actress Ayesha Omar who played the role of the police officer Zara who’s handling the case of Javed Iqbal told Geo that her role in the movie was in no way near a routine character but she enjoyed playing this role as she always cherishes these types of roles.
“It was challenging and different character for me and that is what every good artist always hopes to perform”.
“We are always carving for such a role which is not easy to perform and have such a margin for acting”.
The film was initially cleared by the censor board and had its first preview screening in Pakistan last year but was later abruptly banned by the Punjab government and central film censor board. Both Yasir and Ayesha expressed their disappointment in the banning of the film in Pakistan and hoped that the decision of banning this film will be overturned soon.
Yasir Hussain told Geo that despite being a low budget film every one worked so hard during the production so banning the film was very unfortunate.
“We are still hopeful that the Government of Pakistan will overturn the decision to ban this film. These types of movies are not easy to make, a lot of hard work is done and this film should be allowed to screen in cinemas in Pakistan”, Yasir added further.
Ayesha said that everyone loved the film when it had a special screening in Karachi and the very next morning when she along with others was travelling to Lahore for the next premier came to know that a ban has been put in place even though the film was cleared from the censor board was extremely disappointing for her and all the fans and friends who were so eagerly waiting for the film to be released.
“We haven’t lost the hope yet because an appeal has been lodged in the high court now and we are all very hopeful that we will go back we will get a good news and the whole country will get to see the hard work we put into this film”, told Ayesha Omar.
The festival which is the longest-running festival of South Asian films outside the subcontinent lasted for two weeks.
Speaking to Geo News, Founder and Director of the UK Asian Film Festival, Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry said that the characteristics of this film festival which differentiate it from others are that instead of showing big-budget Hollywood or Bollywood movies it always encourages independent filmmakers who produce the small budget film.
“This a platform for those from the younger generation who wants to perform and build a career in the film industry”.
The theme for this year’s festival was “Dare to Dream” which also commemorates the 75 years of independence of Pakistan and India.
Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry told Geo that we are celebrating freedom and freedom to tell our stories.
“There are so many issues which we need to discuss like the mental health of boys and men, abuse of young boys as these are not easy to talk about. What better way to talk about these issues than films especially when it’s based on true stories”.
Expressing her disappointment Dr Chowdhry said that it is sad to know that the film is not being watched by people in Pakistan.
“It’s a real shame that in countries like India and Pakistan various forms of arts are constrained in such a way by banning them. We can’t say why this film was banned in Pakistan as every country has its certification system”.
But told Geo that the beauty of this festival that on this platform in the past films like “Fire” which was banned at that time in India was screened I this festival.
Last year, Sarmad Sultan Khoosat’s film Zindagi Tamasha was premiered at the festival which was also banned in Pakistan at that time and the organisers are looking to carry forward this tradition in the future too.
During the festival special screening were also arranged to show Javed Iqbal at theatres and cinemas in various other cities of the UK including Leicester, Coventry, Warwick, Stockton and Glasgow.