While it is still unclear whether Bollywood will open up to casting Pakistani artistes now or in the near future, all these films – planned and initiated back in the hey day – are releasing this year and they will count for the debuts of several credible Pakistani actors.
Mahira Khan – Raees
Release: January 25, 2017
Mahira Khan was already one of Pakistan’s biggest stars but Raees, opposite Shah Rukh Khan, put her in the 100 crore club; in fact it was the first film of 2017 to gross over INR 300 crores. It was a dream debut that may not have won her the praise for performance but it did get everyone talking about the chemistry between the two Khans. Songs play a monumental role in the success and shelf life of any Indian movie as well as any on-screen couple and ‘Zaalima’ somewhat made up for Mahira’s inability to promote the film with the cast and crew. The bigger tragedy is that Raees was not cleared for screening in Pakistan and thus her fans missed out on the experience.
Saba Qamar – Hindi Medium
Release: May 19, 2017
Saba Qamar could not have hoped for a better response to her debut film in Bollywood. Hindi Medium released to great reviews, which generously gave Saba credit where it was due. The fact that she melted into her character and held her own against Irrfan Khan didn’t go unnoticed and Saba – already a big name in Pakistani television – rose to higher fame. A low budget film with a social cause at its heart, the film has garnered critical acclaim while recovering the cost as well; it has been doing well at the box office both sides of the border.
Madiha Imam – Dear Maya
Date: June 2, 2017
The Dear Maya trailer is riveting. The film brings Manisha Koirala back to the big screen after several years and a traumatic struggle with cancer; it casts her in the skin of a middle aged recluse who’s locked herself away from people and life. Two 16-year old girls, Anna and Ira decide to prank the old woman and are thoroughly enjoying themselves until their prank goes wrong and Maya goes missing. Madiha Imam, in her debut, plays the young Anna and she really does impress in the trailer. We have a feeling this will be another strong debut.
Sajal Aly – Mom
Release: July 7, 2017
This is a highly anticipated film not only because it brings Sridevi back to the screen but it casts Sajal Aly as her daughter. Sajal has already proven her acting prowess in Pakistan and continues to impress, whether as a disturbed teenager in Behudd or an emotional woman in Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai. She has hit TV serials to her credit and is fast rising as a bankable star. Sajal’s debut in Bollywood will surely take her ratings a few notches up.
Adnan Siddiqui – Mom
Release: July 7, 2017
We’re all hooked onto Rashid, Adnan Siddiqui’s character in Sammi these days. But he will be making his Bollywood debut with Mom this July. Surprisingly, Adnan made a Hollywood debut with A Mighty Heart but his first Pakistani film – Yalghaar – is yet to release. Here’s a rare Pakistani actor who would have done Hollywood and Bollywood before a Pakistani film. Playing Sridevi’s husband in Mom, Adnan has an important character in a film that will undoubtedly be interesting to say the least. In March, when filming ended, Siddiqui took to Facebook to pen his thoughts and thank the cast and crew of the film.
“Completing a feature film is not an easy job,” he wrote. “I have learnt a lot as an actor, a film maker & most importantly as an artist. The professionalism, the focus, the attitude, the commitment, the urge was something I have never experienced before & for that I am ever so grateful to the entire team of Mom.” The post went on to thank each and every person he had worked with.”
This article was originally published in Instep on Friday, May 26th.