Mumbai: The official entry for Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film from Pakistan is Zinda Bhaag, a Lahore-set comedy by Pakistani director Farjad Nabi and Indian filmmaker Meenu Gaur, starring Indian thespian Naseeruddin Shah and featuring Indian technicians.
Zinda Bhaag, which will be released in Pakistan on 20 September, stars Shah as a Lahori gangster. A humorous look at the hopes and aspirations of ordinary Pakistanis, Zinda Bhaag marks the feature film debut of Gaur and Nabi, who have previously made documentaries together. Editor Shan Mohammad, cinematographer Satya Rai Nagpaul and sound designer Vipin Bhatti, all from Mumbai, have worked on the film.
This is the first time in 50 years that Pakistan is sending a movie for consideration in the foreign language film category. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the final nominees in the category on 8 January. The Academy Awards will be given out on 23 February.
In an earlier interview, Gaur and Nabi had described Zinda Bhaag as a quirky comedy about “doing the dunky”, which is local parlance for illegal immigration. The filmmakers plan to release the Punjabi-Urdu movie in India later, and will be travelling to India to finalize distribution plans over the next few weeks.
India will announce its official Oscar entry on 22 September. Among the movies in the running are Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus and Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox.
Other countries have already sent in their nominations. The entries from around the world include Australian filmmaker Kim Mordaunt’s Rocket, about a 10-year-old boy’s attempts to deal with armed conflict and poverty, Austrian director Julian Polser’s The Wall, a parable about a woman trapped in a mysterious valley, and Saudi Arabian debutant Haifaa Al Mansour’s Wadjda, which looks at the state of women in the orthodox nation through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl.