Independent feature films are making a mark in Pakistan — reviving the film industry and giving cinema-goers something local to look forward to. One such effort in independent cinema is Iram Parveen Bilal’s Josh. Likened to multiple Oscar winning director Frank Capra, Iram’s debut film as a director and producer is a resounding voice of criticism on appalling social customs.
The film has already been screened at International platforms including the Mumbai Film Festival, where it was a raging success. It will be screened across Pakistan on Eid-ul-Fitr. About the experience of showcasing her film at the Mumbai Film Festival Iram says, “The experience was enriching because of how well the film was received. Through an international screening the world was able to see Pakistan for what it truly is — a nation struggling with numerous issues, but where humanity prevails. It is a depiction of the Pakistani people hungry for justice and peace and I’m pleased I was able to show that to the world.”
Josh depicts reality because the story line is centered on social issues rooted in Pakistani culture. The protagonist is a school teacher Fatima who leaves her life in Karachi to embark on a mission to search for her missing nanny in the rural world governed by rules set by the feudal lords. With messages of eradicating poverty, fighting feudalism and injustice Iram says the strongest message the film projects is of unity, “This film is about unity and how that multiplies our strength. But, along with that the message that reverberates strongly in the film is that of self empowerment and how the strength of an individual has the ability to inspire and mobilise others. And the individuals in question are the educated working class who are responsible for shifting the country’s cultural dynamics.”
Talking about her experience of film making in Pakistan and where she thinks the industry currently stands Iram says, “The Pakistani film industry has a long way to go. But it is picking up pace because we now have a market for quality films and the establishment of multiple cinema houses in Pakistan has greatly increased the number of cinema-goers who want to see more local films on the big screen.”
Josh’s success is also greatly attributed to its cast, the actors who formed the soul of the film. “I had the privilege to work with great actors in the industry, Mohib Mirza, Aamina Sheikh, Khalid Malik, Navin Waqar, Khalid Ahmed, Parveen Akber, Nyla Jafri, Kaiser Khan Nizamani, Saleem Mairaj, Adnan Shah Tipu, Ali Rizvi, Faizan Haqquee, and so many others who became the life of Josh. I learnt a lot from their experience too,” says Iram highlighting the star studded cast of Josh.
Set to screen in Pakistan for the first time on Eid-ul-Fitr in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad the film will no doubt connect very deeply with the audience in Pakistan because each Pakistani bears the brunt of the socio-political issues highlighted in the film. When asked how well she thinks the film will do in Pakistan she says, “I have a lot of faith in Josh. However, I urge everyone to buy the ticket and see the film because the number of days the film is screened depends on the viewership and this is how we can ensure the success of national cinema in Pakistan.”