The Pakistani film industry may be upping its game with better effects and direction but what’s still missing are unique perspectives — fresh new voices telling a story from the eyes of those who go unnoticed. In a conversation with Dawn, director Adil Bizanjo discussed his upcoming film DODA’s goal to promote Baloch representation in the industry.
Bizanjo named several reasons for choosing to do the film in Balochi language. “First is the Baloch nation, we want our language to have representation. Secondly, we want to encourage and motivate fellow filmmakers of the Balochi language so that they come forth with films and stories as well. If we can go to the cinema, so can they,” he said.
The filmmaker pointed out that this will open up “another chapter of stories” which may be different than what’s depicted in mainstream cinema. “Personally, me and my team want the regional cinema to get a new market, for new doors to open for them. If we can bring a film from such a province where cinema doesn’t even exist — except for one cinema in Quetta — if we can bring its language to cinema, its people will feel encouraged and will have motivation to bring their films to the cinema. There are mainstream stories out there but the grass-root stories are left out. With this, they’ll come forward.”
Diving into history, he remarked that this will be the first Balochi film to make it to theatres. “For the past 30 to 40 years, we Baloch filmmakers are trying to represent our language in cinemas. That is also one wish we have that our language is also displayed on the big screen and people have an awareness of our tongue and people. Last time someone tried to do it was in 1974, it was Anwar Iqbal saab’s wish but unfortunately it was unsuccessful. After that, films were made but they didn’t reach the cinema. Our first goal is to get it to the cinema so people can appreciate it and interact with Balochi tongue as well.”
Bizanjo explained why boxing was chosen as the main theme of the story and why it will still appeal to the public. “Boxing is a part of this story, this film is a boxer’s story — it is not based on boxing. Any ordinary person who is passionate about something in their life can connect with this. This is a passionate person’s story, it’s not just a boxer who can sympathise with this character, it could be anyone — someone working in an office or an artist or a sportsperson or a businessperson — any ambitious person. They will be able to connect with this story.
“It is a story of struggle, like any person’s life, their family, their society and the issues that come with is what the story is based on. We chose boxing because the story is based in Lyari and Lyari is known for two sports, football or boxing. Now there is a rise of artists in Lyari who are performing on national platforms. But because it is known for sports, the character has been chosen as a sportsperson,” he said.
Bizanjo is a Karachi University film school graduate who started his “own little film company”, Nosach Films. Their short films have been to festivals across the world and won awards too. They are also responsible for arranging the Lyari Film Festival and a short film course training for children from Malir and Lyari. He also helmed award-winning documentary Mohenjo Daro.
DODA is set to release on September 2 in cinemas. Produced by Habib Hassan and Imran Saqib, it is the story of a former boxer from Lyari reliving his glory days in his head and his “journey of DODA, how he can survive and overcome his past, and make things right”. The cast includes Shoaib Hassan, Abila Kurd, Fiza Akhtar, Shah Baloch and Ustaad Nooru.