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EXCLUSIVE: Love in the time of a lockdown

Abu Aleiha's latest film is about love amid a pandemic

SAMAA | - Posted: Jun 10, 2020 | Last Updated: 8 months ago
Posted: Jun 10, 2020 | Last Updated: 8 months ago
EXCLUSIVE: Love in the time of a lockdown

Photo: Abu Aleeha

The formula for a typical love story revolves around a boy meeting a girl and falling in love. The script then bursts into a song, then there is some opposition from the family and eventually the lovers end up together or like Romeo and Juliet.

But the novel coronavirus has given filmmakers a new villain. Imagine this: a common man meets the love of his life but they can’t be together because there’s a pandemic.  

Bringing this idea to a digital platform near you is filmmaker Ali Sajjad Shah aka Abu Aleiha. The director hopes that his film Lockdown, starring newly-wed actor Faryal Mehmood and Money Back Guarantee’s Mirza Gohar Rasheed, will end up on Amazon Prime or Netflix.

Explaining why they were leaning towards an online streaming service, the makers of the film said that a physical release was out of the question as cinemas across the country had been shut down because of COVID-19.

They said that during the lockdown, they noticed that digital platforms had seen a massive increase in viewership and it’s time we opt for the same strategy.

An extraordinary story about the ordinary man
The script has been written by Saudi Arabia based Abida Ahmad, who has penned multiple drama serials for TV.

She told SAMAA Digital that Lockdown is an emotional love story set in an Eastern context. The film will try to convey how a common man is surviving the lockdown during the pandemic.

“The film’s characters and dialogues have been set up in a way that the audiences will laugh and cry with them,” she said.

“The movie has not been written as movies traditionally are, it is an extraordinary story about the ordinary man,” she said, adding that you will have to find out the rest of the story by watching the film.

How will the film be shot?
Abu Aleiha told SAMAA Digital that they will follow all SOPs issued by the government while shooting the film.

The film’s director has already directed two films including Taimoor (a psychological horror) and Kataksha (a revenge thriller) his third film Once Upon a Time in Karachi was slated for release on Eidul Fitr but has been delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak across the globe. The film is being produced by Mont Blanc Entertainment.

“The film will show the reality of how the lower middle-class is surviving the lockdown,” he said. “We are currently shooting the film in Karachi and are taking proper precautions.”

How does a film make it to Netflix?
According to available details, Netflix does not directly negotiate for any project or idea. Instead, every country has licenced literary agents who collect details and pass them on.

Shooting starts after Netflix gives an initial go-ahead. The film still has to go through a review for quality control before a final decision is made.

Netflix reserves the right to deny any film a spot if SOPs such as the sound design, color grading and camera choice are not up to the mark. If Netflix does decide to acquire a project, payment is made by according to how may minutes the project is spread over.

The first Pakistani animated production to make it Netflix was a short-film called Sitara: Let Girl’s Dream. Directed by two-time Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, the film explores the unfulfilled dreams of girls who are married off while still underage.

Pakistani dramas such as Zindagi Gulzar Hai and Humsafar are also available on Netflix. Janaan, Rangreza, Waar, Cake, Teefa in Trouble, Dukhtar, 7 Din Mohabbat In also made it to the platform after screening in cinemas.

If Lockdown makes it past Netflix’s tough standards it will be a big win for Lollywood, where filmmakers have been trying to go beyond the traditional way of doing film.

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