Elegant Shabana Azmi lights up -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Elegant Shabana Azmi lights up

Pakistan Press Foundation

Karachi: If not for the dazzling Shabana Azmi, the red carpet event of the 1st Sindh International Film Festival at the Nueplex Cinema on Monday would have been a pretty drab affair.

The film screening event, which is taking place in collaboration with the UK-based Raindance Film Festival and Independent Film Trust, was marred by characteristic mismanagement and delays.

The two-day event is being held as part of the two-week Sindh Culture Festival, the brainchild of Pakistan People’s Party patron-in-chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

There seemed to be far too many clueless organisers and volunteers, if not more, and they were at least as many as the guests invited to the event.

When Meher Jaffri upon entering a venue asked a volunteer about the itinerary, all a young lady could tell her was that a number of celebrities were going to be there, much to the amusement of producer-cum-director.

But this was not to let down Shabana Azmi whose demure personality and elegant red purple sari lit up Bilawal’s otherwise dull red carpet.

Talking to the media, she said she would definitely consider if an offer to work in Pakistan came her way.

Azmi said she had no reason to fear extremists since they were present on both sides of the border. “Such things should not deter artistes from doing their work,” she said. “As always, I am very pleased to come here and be a part of the 1st Sindh International Film Festival which I think is a good attempt at boosting people-to-people ties. It’s about time that India and Pakistan began working together on film production.”

Other main guests included actor, script writer and director Roger Ashton-Griffiths, who is on the judges’ panel. Clad in a long kurta of traditional Sindhi Ajrak, he looked every bit of the character actor that he is.

The chairman of the Independent Film Trust and former journalist, Neal Mcartney, and an Indian director best known for ‘My Brother… Nikhil’ were also among the chief guests.

Other Pakistani visitors included Shehryar Taseer, son of slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, actress-cum-model Amina Sheikh, prominent television personality Zubaida Tariq, former Radio Pakistan director Murtaza Solangi, entertainer Fakhr-e-Alam and lawyer Saroop Ijaz.

The host of the event, Bilawal, sneaked in by the side entrance and went straight to his guests, leaving Owais Muzaffar and Sharmila Farooqui for the press briefing.

Pakistani films being screened at the festival include Zinda Bhaag, Waar, Lamha, Josh, Heer Ranjha, Anima State, Talking Walls of Lahore, Our Daughters, City by the Sea and Gul.

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