Films to add to your watch list when cinemas reopen

Lockdown romance, action, zombies and more
Jul 05, 2021
Photo: Abu Aleeha/YouTube
Photo: Abu Aleeha/YouTube

Sheenogai was the first film to get a release date (March 26) when the National Command and Operations Centre announced reopening cinemas on March 15, 2021. But due to coronavirus cases rising again, the release was postponed indefinitely.

The feminist thriller is now slated for release two weeks after cinemas reopen on Eid-ul-Adha, director Abu Aleeha has confirmed to SAMAA Digital.

“We had signed a deal with a local OTT platform and Sheenogai was expected to be released on Eid,” he said. “But now that the cinemas are reopening, we have asked them to hold it for release on the big screen.”

Watch: Trailer of upcoming Pakistan action movie Sheenogai released
Watch: Trailer of upcoming Pakistan action movie Sheenogai released
Photo: File

Sheenogai stars stunt biker Marina Syed in the lead, and theatre actors Ayaz Ali and Bilawal Hussain. It is inspired by the events that unfolded after the Lahore-Sialkot motorway rape case (September 9, 2021). Sheenogai is the filmmaker’s take on the victim-blaming the survivor was subjected to that the unfortunate event could have been avoided had she not been travelling without a male guardian or at late hours.

“The film shows that a woman stepping out of her house to travel alone is, in no way, giving anyone the license to touch her.”

Related: Lahore-Sialkot motorway rape: a timeline

When asked if the audiences would still be interested in the movie now that the rapists have been sentenced to death and the hype surrounding the case has died away, Aleeha said the idea will never get old. “Unfortunately, public reaction will remain the same even after 10 years."

Marina believes the film is important for young aspiring women bikers who set out alone on tours. "It will teach them how to be safe and protect themselves on long distance rides."

Sheenogai is not the only film Aleeha is releasing this year. Projects such as Once Upon a Time in Karachi, LockDown and Udham Patakh are all lined up to see the light of day if big screens come to life again. All four of them have been executed against surprisingly small budgets.

Once Upon a Time in Karachi

“It is an action comedy based on a social problem,” Aleeha said. The story is about a middle-class man, his everyday struggles and how they affect his marriage. “The film shows how he grapples with these problems when his life begins to fall apart.”

Photo: IMDb

It stars Mohsin Abbas Haider and Nausheen Shah in lead roles. Marhoom Ahmed Bilal, Adnan Shah Tipu and Yasir Taj are part of the cast too. A poster was unveiled in April 2020, showing a long exposure shot of Karachi’s Char Minar Chowrangi split in black and white and flashes from a blast. A month later, an action-packed teaser was released.

“My character in this film is completely different from my characters in Na Maloom Afraad [2014] and Baaji [2019],” Mohsin had told SAMAA Digital. “Nasir is a very composed and serious boy who manages his married life while fighting for survival. The film will feature romance, comedy, music and some serious action.”

Related: Action-packed teaser of Once Upon a Time in Karachi released

Photo: IMDb

Most of the filming has been completed but an item song has yet to be shot. Once Upon a Time in Karachi is expected to be released towards the end of September.


The one film many people are looking forward to is LockDown. Starring Sonya Hussyn and Gohar Rasheed, it is a story of a married couple who become pillars of strength for each other during a time when science fails. 

Abu Aleeha with Sonya Hussyn and Gohar Rasheed. (Photo: Abu Aleeha)

“It talks about emotions,” Aleeha said, adding, “and shows how two individuals can survive through love and prayers.”

The shoot for the film has been wrapped up and the poster will be unveiled once a release date is finalised (Eid-ul-Adha). 

Udham Patakh

Udham Patakh, if delivers what it promises, may be a breath of fresh air in Pakistani cinema. There have been a number of horror movies before, but horror comedy has hardly been experimented with in Pakistan.

“There have been only three horror comedies, of which none has been released yet,” Aleeha said. “Udham Patakh is the first such film to come out this Eid, along with Peechay To Dekho [starring Yasir Hussain].”

What sets Udham Patakh apart is that it is going to be Pakistan’s first commercial zombie film, Aleeha claimed. “A heavy budget is spent on films and web series with zombies, but no work has been done exploring this genre here.”

It stars Faizan Sheikh, Hira Umer, Ali Rizvi and Shabana Hassan, who will be making their debuts. Aleeha said Udham Patakh will set a benchmark for filmmakers who may want to venture into the zombie genre.

It has yet to be seen how these small budget films fare compared to those starring top actors and shot using ample resources.

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