Posts from the ‘Entertainment’ category

WRITING SEASON 3 OF KARUHAKURU

A day ago, I wrapped up writing season 3 of Karuhakuru, the first Dhivehi sitcom series. In short, I had a blast writing all the 12 episodes.

In season 3, best of all, I weathered all the pressure that I faced while writing some of the episodes. However, unlike the previous seasons, they were few and far between. But most importantly, I was able to resolve them with show creator Munko and producer Saaji with ease. Thus, I delivered each episode right on time to fit the shooting schedule, including a day for table-reads. Shooting getting delayed, postponed, or canceled due to unforeseen reasons was beyond me.

The season 3 revolves around the funny yet the lovable family of Rasheed coping with the impending COVID 19 and the ultimate lockdown doom. It will be easier for everyone to relate to this situation since we are still living with it. But for this family, staying home for too long has comical side effects. Some characters find a new love for unusual things, and Liu and Liz, an infatuation for Mabrouk. For him, who didn’t?

One of the biggest challenges in writing season 3 was the newest addition to the family. Wish I could reveal this character and the actor portraying the role, but I can already see Saaji eyeballing and breathing fire at me. Worry not, Saaji, I am not going to spoil anything here. But I can peel this much, the new addition is no small feet, but yes, I consider the character a baby, but a very live wire baby. This actor inspired me to shift my writing into fourth gear and pedal to the metal.

However, the greatest challenge was to keep Nai, the leading man of the series, in a face mask throughout the entire season. But actor Raufath, playing Naai with OCD gusto, has given an outstanding performance in all the scenes he appeared with only his eyes exposed. I haven’t heard any other actor doing that for an entire season in a sitcom. Awesome!

Lamha, the heart, and soul of this series, has shown how quickly she has grown into her character as Liu. Her comic timing is spot on, and her acting sublime.

When I heard from the set that Aysha, who plays Liz, has improved so much, I was tempted to make her role very demanding. With each episode, I tested her acting chops. And I must say that she has come out with flying colors. Her bitterness over Kuday’s mishap is a testament that she could rip the screen even with her screams.

Rasheed remains the firm foundation of the family holding everyone together. Actor Nazim does justice to his character as he did with the previous two seasons, but this time with a coolness that would make even cucumbers green with envy. Wait, they are already green, no?

The always out of element Zack, played by National award-winning Ayya, shows why he is such a versatile actor. He can fit himself into any glove. But the character of Zack is a snug fit for him. In this season, he discovers a way to stand with neither of his feet touching the ground.

Finally, I can’t imagine anyone else but Afrah taking the role of eccentric Kuday. He is lucky enough to return home from Bangkok. He recommences his misadventures with the Rasheed family. This time he has more stories to tell about Joan. Or is it John? John or Joan, ingeynu?

Karuhakuru will always remain my sweetest writing experience ever. I am looking forward to spend few more seasons with Rasheed and his family. I also feel that I have grown with each and every one of them—my sincere thanks to the entire cast and crew, especially Orkeyz Inc. Yes, that did the trick. I no longer feel the fiery breath of Saaji anymore.

Cheers!

BAVATHI review

First and foremost, I want to congratulate first-time writer-director Ilyaas Waheed for his above par effort to bring a movie not only dealing with an ominous subject but presenting it with such a never before seen visual flair and style. His work as a writer and a director is promising and deeply felt. Our film industry has found a force to be reckoned with.

This film also marks as the first Dhivehi psychological thriller that focuses mainly on the psychosis of the protagonist and delving deep into a few clinical practices used in psychology. It’s a slow burner, though. But once it starts to simmer and comes to a full boil, it’s an experience both spine-chilling and thought-provoking.

The narrative is hard to explain without spoilers. But I say this much, it’s surprisingly imaginative. In most part, there are glimmers of brilliance in Ilyas’ writing and directing. And it’s the way he peels off the narrative layer by layer using beautiful and sometimes creepy visuals mixed with intense drama that stands out. For a first-timer, I say he is impressive.

Nuzhath Shuaib has established herself as one of the most versatile actors in the local film industry today, showing her acting prowess in a vast range of roles. It’s not surprising that she accomplished her stardom in such a short span of time. Here, her performance, which is evenly balanced with restraint and nuance, will put her a notch above the rest. She plays an alienated woman who begins to experience strange occurrences around her once she relocates to Male’ after marrying a fitness trainer she meets from her island.

As the narrative progresses, she keeps raising the level of her performance as her life starts spiralling both physically and mentally to a point where her reality becomes blurry. In some sequences, she made me disconcerting and in one pivotal scene, gasping for air even.

However, its at the climax where she bites to the bone of her meaty role showing her acting brilliance with aplomb. It’s a role that any actor would die for. But she made her performance so convincingly powerful that it’s hard to imagine anyone else in it. I am her biggest fan now.

My admiration goes to all the newcomers in the cast, especially Ahmed Ifnaz Firag and Fathimath Latheefa. The former plays the fitness trainer that Nuzhath marries who is not only sympathetic, he’s likeable and will stop at nothing to protect the love of his life. And the latter plays Nuzhath’s uncompromising mother. For their debut, both give decent performances.

Even though veteran actor Mohamed Rasheed appears briefly, his role is crucial to the narrative and heavily supports the new actors. He gives assurance to them.

One of the highlights and in my opinion, also an essential character in this movie is the visual effects combined seamlessly into the narrative. I applaud Orkeyz, the VFX and the technical team behind this film to bring the unique vision of Ilyas to the screen with such finesse. If my memory serves me right, no other Dhivehi film to date has used visual effects so extensively, if not effectively as this.

Kandi Visan’s cinematography is another plus. The way he has set the mood elevates the mystery and the creepiness around Nuzhath. And the long tracking shots used sparingly are lively and a joy to watch.

Regardless of how much technical effort employed, a film is soulless without music. This is where Mistee, the music composer shines. After a praiseworthy composition for Illnoise, Hahdhu and the recent blockbuster, Gohraalhu, he has done it again. Unlike the previous films, which are of contrasting genres as well, he has composed a piece of brooding and moody music that’s so fitting to the sensitive theme of this film. It’s at times heart-pounding too.

In short, this film shines in all the filmmaking departments. For a film from a first timer, it’s technically good and well-performed by the entire cast with a gripping narrative. Highly recommended.

AND THE WINNER IS…

I have no explanation for my absence except that I have been away from publishing any posts here for one year, two months, three weeks and four days. That’s four hundred and forty nine days.

The night of April 29th, 2014, ILSHA MALDIVES FILM AWARDS 2014 was held at revamped Olympus Cinema. The little film called INGILI (Finger) which Ravee Farooq, Hussain Munavvaru and I produced and released on May 16th, 2013 was nominated in 14 categories. It was behind DHILAKANI (Fire Sparks) written by me, leading the awards with 16 nominations.

INGILI which barely managed to break even its budget commercially ran away with most of the awards including BEST PICTURE. Here’s the list of awards that INGILI bagged that night.

BEST PICTURE

BEST DIRECTOR

BEST ACTOR

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

BEST SCREENPLAY

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

BEST MUSIC

BEST SOUND EDITING

BEST SOUND MIXING

BEST ART DIRECTION

BEST NEWCOMER ACTOR (MALE)

DHILAKANI took BEST ACTRESS and BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS awards. It was an added joy for me since DHILAKANI which was thrashed critically, most of the heavy criticism targeted at the role of the leading actress. Most felt she was portrayed like a loose canon. But for me I saw a terrific character arc in the role delivered with composure by none other than superstar, Niuma Mohamed. It was her third consecutive best actress award. Awesome!

Sadly, I watched the whole show from Colombo.

Cheers!

HELLO 2013

Adios 2012. And hello 2013. I wish all my fellow bloggers a fabulous year ahead. Let there be peace, love and understanding in this world not just this year but until the end of time. But most importantly, keep blogging!

Cheers!

45 MINUTES

Tuesday night I had a sneak peek at the first edited 45 minutes of DHILAKANI (Fire Sparks). Yet again, it’s so frustrating for me to conceal the editor. Yes, he is yet to be unveiled. Who he is doesn’t matter at the moment. But what he’s doing behind concealment is nothing short of what every masked superhero does. This superhero is called THE EDITOR and he is a genius at the editing table. He can cut, insert, cut again and insert again any video clip at his reach and turn it in to a well paced movie. Once again, he has come up with a riveting 45 minutes of editing.

The entire cast has done an admirable job too. Thanks to sure handedness of director Hussain Munavvar. He does know how to handle the narrative. And his use of handheld camera for a very violent scene is raw and gritty, which at times is unbearable to watch, just like its impact on the leading actress who is witnessing the whole event unfolding right before her eyes. Though violent, the scene is staged very creatively using tight camera angles and of course the use of handheld camera.

The editor has estimated two weeks to wrap up editing. This is the first time he’s editing a movie where he wasn’t directly involved in the production. That’s what slowing down the editing when it comes to big scenes such as this violent scene I’m so interestingly boastful about.

In other news of DHILAKANI, director Munavvaru has scheduled 2 weeks to shoot the remaining 8 scenes including part of a song starting from 8th November.  But he’s keeping his fingers crossed for the weather to turn fine by then. Right now it’s unkind and unpredictable.

Before I finish off this post, it’s noteworthy to mention on the upcoming FATHISHANDHUIVARUGE FESHUN (The Beginning of Moonlit Dawn), the first local 3D film. In short it’s called F3D. At Dark Rain Entertainment Studio, the same night I watched DHILAKANI, I managed to watch a minute long footage of the film. Honestly, I couldn’t find my jaw. It dropped. I salute the work done by everyone at the studio including producer Mohamed Ali Mogre and cinematographer and director, Ali Shifau Chippe. But credit goes big time to Ahmed Shinan who is doing the meticulous 3D work and visual effects all by himself. It’s a remarkable experience the entire nation should and must witness, I mean everyone at the age group under which the film is classified. I take a bow to the team of F3D.

Cheers!

DHILAKANI, MAROCCHINO AND TWO UPDATES

Director Hussain Munavvaru including his cast and crew have returned from Shaviyani Atoll this morning after completing majority of principal photography of DHIKALANI (FIRE SPARKS). I just came from his studio after watching couple of dailies. They look absolutely great! The performance from all the actors were outstanding, Munavvaru’s direction looked solid and photography by Maskey was well handled. Their work was beyond my expectation.

The production of DHILAKANI started off in Male’ in late August. After shooting all the scenes required to be shot in Male’ except for two historical scenes, production was then shifted to Feevaku of Shaviyani Atoll. Most of the shooting was done there before leaving to Foakaidhoo of the same atoll.

DHILAKANI was inspired from one of my favorite films of Hollywood which was released some 18 years ago. However, my screenplay deals with one man’s tumultuous journey to seek vengeance, his undoing and his eventual redemption from an unlikeliest of sources. Some of the ultra violent scenes in the film were based on real incidents that were happened in different corners of Maldives in recent times. The film also has a political subplot which I think, if I’m not wrong, is a subject new in Dhivehi films. If some filmmakers contradict this, I sincerely apologize.

In other news, due to some financial issues, I was asked by my client to stall writing the dramedy I was going to start next and for which I have lost enough sleep and hair too. Though temporarily, I felt a ton off my both shoulders, that’s a total of two tons. But those tons will occupy my both shoulders once again when I’m asked to resume writing. Until then I can do some arm circles and rocky presses.

This evening I met with Ravee at L’Aquila, not the Italian city I mean. This place is my favorite coffee hangout these days. I simply love the ambiance and the woody interior. And their Illy Marocchino is my latest craving. An espresso shot with cocoa powder and milk froth, it’s yummy! Anyway, where was I? Yes, my meeting with Ravee.

We discussed on the final installment of our two characters at one location trilogy. We brainstormed on couple of additions here and there to my already done rough screenplay outlining. I must say the meeting was very productive. We even developed the two female characters and how their interaction with each other will be throughout the film. I’m so tempted to reveal in detail everything we discussed but this storyline needs to be kept under wraps.

Before I really giveaway any spoilers, I end this post.

Cheers!

AN UNRELATED TRILOGY

Some years ago, while I was busy writing INGILI (Finger) which was based on an award winning short story written by a fourteen year old student at the National Short Story Competition 2007, Ravee and I came up with this idea of turning the main concept of this short story into a trilogy. But this trilogy wasn’t going to be related to each other. All three films will have a standalone narrative within the concept of two characters in one location.

INGILI has the same concept but the proceedings takes place between two male characters inside a small hut at the beach on a very rainy night. We bought all the rights of this short story for an undisclosed amount and in no time I came up with a screenplay. At that time, actor Muaa was also a co-producer alongside Ravee and me. But due to few personal problems Muaa backed out from producing. Then cinematographer Hussain Munnavvaru took the reins as the third producer.

Things were fast tracked and soon, the production was green lit and principal photography started in Kaafu Gulhi. We built a set from scratch on the beach of this island. We even devised a pipe system to create rain with full manual control.

However, things went downhill from the very first day the cast and crew sailed off to begin production which was scheduled for five straight days. Even before the cast and crew reached the island of Gulhi, the ferry they were sailing stopped in the middle of the sea with an engine failure. Bad luck kept hitting one after the other throughout the entire production. It looked as if the production of INGILI had bad luck written all over.

The first night of shooting was delayed by hours because the pipe system mysteriously failed. The crew had no time to fix it thereafter. Thus, rain was then created the old-fashioned way by using a water pump and a hosepipe. But then something else slowed down our control on the set. Suddenly, the weather turned all bad. Since the set was made outdoor, production was unable to continue at a long stretch.

So whenever the weather turned favorable, shooting resumed, sometimes for an hour and then waited without shooting for many hours until rain subsided. Bad luck kept prevailing. The water pumps crashed several times. One of the crew even had a bad cut on his hand while fixing a water pump. The pressure was piling on the five days schedule which in the end was extended to fifteen long days. Soon the shoe-string budget smashed the ceiling. We were really botched up big time.

Few days after the production team returned from shooting, we hit the biggest of all snags. We found out that the short story which my screenplay was based on was actually a rip-off of a concept of the fourth segment of FOUR ROOMS. That was the last nail that was driven hard in to our coffin. Post production went to a dead halt. The passion we had in making the mother of all experimental movies soon disappeared. Editing went at snail’s pace. After the rough cut was made, I don’t remember having watched it. Post production of INGILI was buried not just six but several feet under.

Two years later, for reasons unknown, we decided to resurrect INGILI. So we pulled it up from the grave and resumed post-production. But at the time when post-production of INGILI was stalled, Ravee and I began working on the second installment of our trilogy. This time the two characters were a male and a female and the location was inside the apartment they both lived.

During the two years we desisted working on INGILI, a friend of mine I befriended through either MSN or Facebook, which one I’m not sure, thanks to old age creeping in each passing day, asked me if I could comment on a screenplay he wrote for a short film.

He is Ahmed Rasheed from Laamu Fonadhoo and heads a production house there called Mandheyra Production. He mailed his screenplay of 26 pages. It was called MIKOE BAPPA BAEY BAEY (Come My Baby’s Father). After a gripping read, I found it had all the elements needed for the second installment to our trilogy and moreover it had great potential to be made into a feature film. But I didn’t tell Ahmed about this since he asked me to find a producer who might be interested in buying his screenplay and Ravee and I were in no shape to invest on producing another film anytime soon. None of the producers I met with were ready to take a commercial risk. Even Ahmed met in person with a high profile actor-director who was at that time shooting a film in his island. Even to this day, Ahmed has never heard of him ever again.

When neither Ahmed nor I could attach any producers to the screenplay, Ahmed decided to produce it on his own. I met with Ravee immediately and told him about the screenplay. Ravee was thrilled and asked me to negotiate with Ahmed. I called Ahmed the very next day. I asked him if he was willing to sell his screenplay to us so that once we have enough funding we could produce it. He spoke with his collaborators at his production house. Fortunately, they decided to sell all the rights to us as they knew the screenplay was going to be in good hands. Ravee had a read and when he gave me the green light, I sealed the deal with Ahmed within that week. If I remember correctly, the rights were bought on the last week of July 2010.

The outlining of MBBB went pretty neatly but writing was not immediate. I remember having few delays on the latter due to several health issues I faced and a month long fasting season that fell in between. But many months later I finally rewrote the screenplay with a more in-depth screen story including much more layered characters and a very disturbing back-story. Ahmed’s screenplay was completely re-imagined and revamped.

At the time of writing MBBB I couldn’t think of any other actor but Rishmy for the leading role. Ravee met with her and convinced her to accept the role. Even Ahmed had her on his mind and casting her really paid off. She not only played her character with great aplomb, but she gave a much needed grit to her character.

In one simple wide shot that was revealed in the first official trailer of MBBB where Rishmy carries an unconscious Manik on her shoulder and climbs the stairs is a moment to behold. I must give three cheers to Rishmy since she decided to do it herself. And that shot more than described the sheer strength of her character in the film.

For this particular scene, in my screenplay I wrote close up shots of her feet ascending the stairs and a close up shot of Manik thinking that any actress who played that role wouldn’t be able to achieve that feat in a wide shot. Even Ravee wanted to follow the screenplay. But it was Rishmy who insisted on going for the wide shot. She went the distance and made her character all too plausible. In the film, Rishmy plays a determined mother who would do anything to protect her child even by risking her own life. Need I to say more?

After I rewrote the screenplay of MBBB, Ravee and I approached several producers. Sadly they all declined because of the risky concept which the screenplay was based on and they didn’t forsee dollar signs twinkling from their eyes.

Just to give one last shot at MBBB going in front of the camera real soon, we approached producer Mohamed Ali aka Mogre, the honcho of Dark Rain Entertainment (DRE). He green lit the production almost immediately. Ravee and I were really surprised. Soon we both met with Mogre and cinematographer Shifau and fast tracked production in no time. Rishmy accepted the role without any hesitation and Manik was offered the leading male role though we wanted a rookie at first. We realized Manik inhibited the characteristic of that role far stronger than anyone we could think of. Rishmy and Manik was a perfect match.

Principal photography of MBBB started on 17th April 2012. It was made on a shoe-string budget compared to the other films DRE has produced so far. Photography was wrapped up in thirteen or fifteen days. At present, editing has been done including dubbing. All the CGI shots are made except for one which will be completed in two days time. Currently the final cut is ready for music and sound design. Ravee has already started working on a second trailer based on very positive comments we have received. So stay tuned.

Going back to the current status of INGILI, composer Mohamed Ikram has finished music including sound design. Ravee will have the final copy with music come Saturday, which means INGILI will be ready for releasing as well. But we are in a total fix to release INGILI before MBBB. The availability of Olympus Cinema which is undergoing huge renovations even as I speak, the chances are just nil for INGILI. The cinema is scheduled to re-open in mid November. INGILI has a slot only available in late December. However, DRE has a slot already available right after Olympus is re-opened. The studio is hoping to release MBBB in that period, meaning MBBB will be released before INGILI. But Ravee and I don’t mind since both films are from the same unrelated trilogy. We just want any of them released as soon as possible.

To end this post on a happy note, DRE has already verbally agreed to produce the final installment when Ravee and I pitched them our idea. The third and final installment will have two female characters once again at one location. We are still brainstorming. However, one thing I can reveal here is that we have decided on a very cool title which sums up the whole narrative. And I have also come up with a rough outline of the screenplay. Ravee finds it awesome. Hopefully I will start writing the third installment somewhere around January next year. So stay tuned for more updates on all three installments of an unrelated trilogy.

Cheers!

FROM A ROMCOM TO A DRAMEDY

For my next writing gig, I thought I was going to write my first fully fledged romcom feature. But later, once I started brainstorming on the given concept, I realized it wasn’t turning out to be a romcom but actually a dramedy.

At this point I haven’t the slightest clue on how I’m going to mix both genres and come up with a dramatically funny screenplay in a months time. Not writing one would be funnier. Okay, jokes apart, I think I would need two or more months to wrap it. But first I need to go through something like a guide for dummies on how to properly write a dramedy, if there is any available. And looking at my projects in the pipeline, next in line is also a dramedy. What! More dramedy? I think at this very moment I better stick my head into the keyboard of this laptop. At least that would be less painful than the tiled floor underneath my feet or the bricked roads outside. But luckily that expression which is related to a unique habit of ostriches, no kidding, they don’t actually stick their heads in the sand, but they just duck down, usually in high grassy areas. Hallelujah! My grey matter is saved from becoming mashed potato.

So for reasons to pull me out of this dispirited feeling, I’m going to look back at some of my stints at comedy and maybe get inspired for this project in hand.

As I quickly run through memory lane as fast as I could, I have come to a conclusion that I have actually written some bit of comedy mixed with romance in few movies and some television serials. On all these occasions, they were more like loose segments which was a build up to the ensuing drama that follows later on. But good thing is that I have tried comedy. So I consider myself funny. Now I’m trying to laugh by tickling my funny bones.

It all started with HUREEMEY INTHIZAARUGAI (Waiting For You) released in 2005, directed by prolific director, Abdul Fatthaah. This film could be dissected into three or four mixed genres or even more. It starts off with a romcom segment of about fifteen minutes or more. Rest of the film then becomes a tragic/drama and then the latter half becomes a suspense/ thriller respectively. And hilariously enough, after outlining the whole screenplay, I first wrote the third act to ease production scheduling conflicts. But it was a good experience. I guess it’s always a good feeling to break rules, as long as one avoids going behind bars.

Anyway, the audience loved the romcom segment of this mentioned film. They kept laughing at my one-liners and luckily almost everyone understood the jokes thrown here and there, thanks to a solid delivery and on-screen opposite attracts chemistry between Zuhura and Ravee in their debut starring roles. They definitely shone in the first segment.

My next effort at comedy came in a 13 episodes television serial called KURAMEY VADHAA’EE SALAAM (I Say Goodbye). In each episode I used acidic one-liners for the main villains played to evil best but in a cheery tone by Saeed and Hajja. Their bits were hailed and enjoyed by almost all the viewers. This serial was also directed by Fatthaah.

Comedy mixed with romance or viceversa was offered abundantly in the popular 52 episodes television serial, HINITHUNVELAASHEY KALAA (Smile, you). The whole serial was once again directed by Fatthaah. Yes, him again! I must admit that this serial was the turning point that fortified my writing skills in every way. The first 32 episodes were treated lightly with comedy thrown all over. This serial captured a nationwide following. Since I still have a never ending admiration for this serial, and in an effort to save my keyboard, my fingertips and my eyes, I’ll discontinue talking about it any further. I have already written so much about this serial in my previous posts. They are just a matter of few clicks away.

I also added comedy, but very sparsely for VAALOABI ENGEYNAMA (If You Knew How Much I Love You) which went on to win 12 National Awards including best picture and screenplay. On the premier night, my greatest gratification was the audience laughing at almost every one-liner I have used rather than them sobbing at the melodramatic second half.

Short film, ROCKY which was released on DVD was a failed attempt at slapstick comedy. And also I was credited under a pseudonym… whoops! I just spilled a lot of beans here.

After staying away from anything comedy for a while, I returned with my very first full comedy mini-series called AHARENGE LHA DADDY (My Youthful Daddy). Oh boy, the viewers really enjoyed this 5 episodes serial about a wannabe womanizing father who wouldn’t want to grow up. Legendary actor, Jambu Afeef gave a noteworthy performance as the title character. This serial was again helmed by Fatthaah. He sure knows how to direct comedy, I mean, of course, comedy written by who else but me. See this grin Mr. Cheshire cat. Now beat that.

My latest comedy mixed with romance came last year with SAZAA (Punishment). The film was kind of two films rolled into one. The first half was a romcom while the second was a violent drama. The reason I made the first part a no-holds-barred romcom was to subconsciously make the audience also suffer the gritty violence of the second half which befell upon the protagonist. While the audience laughed constantly at the one-liners in the first half, they were in complete silence in the second half. Mission accomplished.

This is where I snap my finger in front of my own face. Snap! With a sudden twitch to my head, clapping my eyelids several times, I finally return from memory lane and jumps into reality. I ask myself, am I inspired now? Now I ask whoever asked me that, are you talkin’ to me? I see right before my eyes written in bold, dramedy! Oh no! I don’t feel funny anymore. I could best write a horror film in this state. Keyboard, here comes my head!

Then there’s static sound…

Cheers!

THE FIRST OFFICIAL TRAILER OF MBBB

The first official trailer of MBBB is out. Check it out.

In short, MBBB is about a determined mother who’d do anything to protect her child especially from her father who’s the only threat whenever he has an episode of short term amnesia which he suffered after a fatal accident.

The film is currently in post-production. Once all the CGI shots needed are inserted, a final cut will be made for music composition. The production team is very upbeat about MBBB and so am I.

Stay tuned for the first official poster too.