RIP Om Puri Sb…

When the world disposed their 2016 calendars, everyone looked towards a hopeful 2017, free of celebrity deaths and airline tragedies. But for the angel of death, the digits of a year certainly do not matter. The second day of the new year took away critic and artist John Berger, and the 6th, our beloved Om Puri.

With a career than spanned 4 decades, Om Puri acted in films large and small with amazing honesty and mastery.

We met last year in December during a shoot for Forbes LifeStyle in a cold and damp room at the Al Hamra in Lahore. Puri’s warmth melted me and my friend Sonya, as he narrated his inspirational journey.

He was no Amitabh Bachan. He clearly did not have the face, nor could he dance like the stars of the 70s and 80s. I’m sure this would have made things difficult for him. But in a world of sexy Kapoors and Kumars, Puri’s acting and struggle, were both intense and beautiful. And we shall remember him for that…Always…

Shooting production stills and BTS for ‘Shah’

_S811755A few months before the scheduled release of Shah on 14th August, 2015, I received a call from Farhan Ali, an old musician friend and an amazing bassist. He was also moonlighting as Shah’s production manager and wanted me to shoot production stills and BTS (behind the scenes) for the movie. Having shot a historic boxing ground (Kakri Ground) in Lyari in 2014, and photographing for a story for Esquire (Link to storythis year on Mixed Martial Arts, I was very interested. In the sport, and the movie.

I had already seen the promising trailer of Shah and had a good idea about the movie. I have to admit that I wasn’t too excited about shooting during Ramazan, since I would have to be there, every day, from 4pm to sehri. But seeing the entire Shah crew working endlessly 24/7 changed my mind. Adnan as producer, director, writer and lead actor was phenomenal! His team would shoot into the morning, sleep on the sets, and then start again.

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As the video crew shot the film, I sneaked in behind and along their cameras for their stills. I’d study their monitors to get an idea of their targeted shooting areas to avoid spoiling the filming.

Despite being among the team for a very short time, it was amazing to be a part of such an amazing and meaningful project. I have to say that the team worked really hard and hope the audience likes what they see! No disrespect to other film makers, but for me, such movies are the true revival of Pakistani cinema!!

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Shah is a biopic of Olympian boxer Hussain Shah, who hailed from Lyari, Karachi and was the only Pakistani to win a medal at 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Earlier, he won Asian boxing championship for five consecutive years. He was credited as the best Asian boxer in 80s. The government of Pakistan awarded him Sitara-i-Imtiaz medal in 1989 and announced reward of rupees 20,000 before on his retirement. On his protest, he was assured to be allotted two 60 yards plots, but only on papers. The Olympic winner Hussain Shah suffered financial crisis until he was called by authorities in Japan to train their boxers.

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