Makers of `Main Hoon Afridi` hope to set box office ringing

Karachi: The producer and makers of Pakistan`s first sports based film have chosen the perfect recipe for success -- cash in on the never-ending popularity of one of the country`s best known cricketers, Shahid Afridi.

Although the flamboyant all-rounder might not figure in the film due to the conservative and traditional background of his Pushtun speaking family but by naming the film "Main Hoon Shahid Afridi" (I am Shahid Afridi), the producer and makers are certainly hoping to cash in on the phenomenal popularity of the 33-year-old cricketer.

"One thing is for sure, the film is already creating a lot of anticipation and should draw crowds at its Eid release. It is rare for a Pakistani film to get a prime Eid release at the cost of Bollywood films," Nadeem Mandviwalla, a well-known film distributor and cinema owner, said.

Producer Humayun Saeed recently held a lavish press conference at the Atrium cinema and the theme was `Why use the name of Afridi when he does not star in it`?.

"The film is inspired by cricket and is a story of a poor young man`s and his unknown team`s rise to fame. The player and his team are inspired by the exploits of Shahid Afridi and that is why we chose to title it this way," Saeed explained.

The film`s writer, Vasay Chaudhry, elaborated on the kind of cinema actor-producer Humayun Saeed and his team support.

"Song, dance and drama is the style of cinema that we believe in. From 1947 to 2001, more than 4,300 films were released in Pakistan with dance, songs and drama. This is as much our style of cinema as it is our neighbours," said Chaudhary.

Mandviwalla expects his film to set the box office ringing.

"I would have easily made a shaadi biyaah type of a film, but I always wanted to pay tribute to one of our own Pakistani stars in their life time," Saeed said.

"Whether he performs or not, Shahid Afridi will continue to be Shahid Afridi for us," he added.

The film features Javed Sheikh, Nadeem Baig, Shafqat Cheema, Humayun Saeed, Mahnoor Baloch and Noman Habib, who plays the lead role.

Saeed said he had wanted Afridi to play a role in the film but the cricketer turned down the offer because of his family background.

"But he was nice enough to agree to allow us to use his name as the film is all about cricket and meant to inspire young players."

Veteran actor Javed Sheikh, who has also acted in Indian films, said the movie will surprise people with its storyline.

"I have always believed that if our dramas can beat Indian dramas, why not our films as was the case in the past. I believe this new wave of Pakistani films will usher in a better future for our film industry," he said.

The film charts the rise of a little-known team pitted in a tournament against leading teams and players and the film makers have used real locations, commentators and players to give authenticity to the film.

Director Syed Ali Raza had a more proactive approach towards the new wave of Pakistani cinema. "We are not here to compete but to walk hand-in-hand with our neighbours for the cause of entertainment," he said.

"Whether you win or lose doesn`t matter, but play with such a spirit that you can look into each other`s eyes after the game," said Raza, using one of the lines from the film.