Cineswami talks about the Indian connection of Pakistani film Zinda Bhaag that is vying for the Best Foreign Language Film title at the 86th Academy Awards
It is truly Aman Ki Asha. The Pakistani Academy Selection Committee has selected Zinda Bhaag as the first Pakistani film in over 50 years to be submitted for Oscar consideration in the foreign language category. Pakistan has sent only two films to the Oscars – Akhtar J Kardar’s Jago Hua Savera in 1959 and Khawaja Khurshid Anwar’s Ghunghat in 1963.
Zinda Bhaag has a wealth of Indian talent associated with it. It is co-directed and co-directed by Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi and produced by Mazhar Zaidi. Gaur is originally from Kolkata and moved to Pakistan four years ago. She is married to Zaidi. The film’s cinematographer is also Indian – Satya Nagpaul who shot Gattu and Anhey Gorhey Da Daan.
Above, all, the Zinda Bhaag cast is headlined by our own Naseeruddin Shah, his second Pakistani film after Khuda Kay Liye. Shah said, “The genre Zinda Bhaag belongs to can only be called cinema of conviction. May the tribe increase! I am proud to be a part of this film.”
Zinda Bhaag is a comedy/thriller about three young men trying to escape the reality of their everyday lives through the use of the unconventional methods available to them. The journey that unfolds through the film is a telling tale of the sorts of circumstances that everyday Pakistanis find themselves in – an unfulfilled desire to achieve feats that are out of their reach, a yearning to prove themselves despite of the hurdles places before them, and an inescapable sense of melancholy that sets in when ones opportunities are dictated by forces that are out of their control.
Pakistan Oscar Committee member Mohsin Hamid (writer of Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist) said, “Zinda Bhaag is funny, natural, hip, and casually audacious – A real step forward for contemporary Pakistani cinema and a pleasure to watch.”
Committee member Mehreen Jabbar (director of Ramchand Pakistani, starring Nandita Das) said, “Zinda Bhaag took a risk in telling a different kind of story and did it in a very innovative way. It also stayed true to its content and approach and that I feel is a very welcome contribution to the revival of cinema in Pakistan.”
Directors Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi said, “We feel honoured, excited, overjoyed and many other things right now. More than anything else this nomination is an indication that the time has come for the spotlight to return to Pakistani cinema.”
Zinda Bhaag releases in Pakistan on September 20 and an India release will follow shortly. Meanwhile, all eyes are on Hyderabad where the Film Federation of India will decide which film will represent India at the Oscars. The overwhelming buzz is for The Lunchbox, but India has displayed, over the years, remarkable competence in sending wholly inappropriate and unlikely to win films as the official entry – Barfi! being a prime example. Let us hope better sense prevails this year.
Watch Zinda Bhaag trailer: