Pakistani actor Kubra Khan’s new Eid film has a ‘Kashmir connection’

Special Pakistani actor Kubra Khan’s new Eid film has a ‘Kashmir connection’
Pakistani film and TV actor Kubra Khan speaks during an interview with Arab News in Karachi on June 11, 2024, ahead of her latest release “Abhi” on Eid Al-Adha, June 17. (AN Photo) 
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Updated 19 June 2024
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Pakistani actor Kubra Khan’s new Eid film has a ‘Kashmir connection’

Pakistani actor Kubra Khan’s new Eid film has a ‘Kashmir connection’
  • Abhi premiered on Eid Al-Adha and also stars singer and actor Gohar Mumtaz
  • Khan says she prefers to play the role of strong women on TV and in films

KARACHI: Popular Pakistani actress Kubra Khan has said her latest flick, “Abhi,” which premiered this week on Eid Al-Adha, will focus on highlighting the issues of minorities and has a strong “Kashmir connection.”
Khan’s acting career spans over a decade with many prominent and unconventional television and film roles to her credit, including in “Sang-e-Mar Mar,” “Alif,” “Hum Kahan Ke Sachay Thay,” “Sang-e-Mah,” and most recently, “Jannat Se Aagay.”
Khan is currently starring in the TV drama “Noor Jahan,” in which she plays the titular role alongside veteran actress Saba Hamid. She made her debut in 2014 with the film Na Maloom Afraad and is often described among the nation’s highest-paid actresses.
Speaking to Arab News in an exclusive interview, Khan said the character in Abhi was a “flagbearer” for the Kashmir cause. 
“We speak about certain things [in the movie] that haven’t been talked about before,” Khan told Arab News, without divulging specific details about the plot of the film. “We speak about minorities. It has predominantly a connection with Kashmir.
“We have spoken about how the people who are powerful get away with everything and anybody who does not have that power in their hand might just be forgotten. I hope people recognize the fact that every life matters at the end of the day.”
The film, which hit cinemas across Pakistan on June 17, has been directed by Asad Mumtaz. Starring alongside Khan in the film is Goher Mumtaz, a Pakistani musician, music composer, guitarist and actor who is famous for being the founding member of the rock band, Jal. The movie has been co-produced by Ali Chaudry and Goher Mumtaz while Khalid Iqbal is the executive producer. The screenplay and dialogues are written by Shoaib Rabbani. 
Khan said the movie’s soundtrack was “gorgeous” and her co-star Mumtaz had done a “fantastic job” with the songs.
She described her character, Zara, as someone similar to her real self.
“My character is very similar to who I am and that’s probably because that’s how I made it,” Khan said. “I am a little sarcastic, a little funny and I am like ‘Let’s do this’, adventure, and just kind of get on with it and push through everything that I want to do in life. The way she speaks [is similar to me] as well.”
Speaking about her choice of characters, Khan said she preferred to take on the role of strong women.
“I feel like strength can be in silence as well as loudness,” she said. “You can have a fight within yourself. I have done so many characters who aren’t fighting with the world but fighting with themselves. I think the battle with oneself is something that empowers women to stand up for themselves in whatever capacity.”
“KEEP TALKING ABOUT GAZA”
Khan, who grew up in the UK, has often addressed criticism of her accent when she entered the Pakistani entertainment industry, insisting that “art comes in all languages.”
“Having said that, in order to connect with the audience, I worked really, really, really hard to actually be able to fix my pronunciation [and] my accent,” she said about her work in Abhi. 
“It was difficult, but it was something I knew I needed to do. Because the last thing I wanted was that if I am performing well but pronouncing a word wrong, people forget the performance.”
She acknowledged that social media trolls used to pull her down, but she no longer read comments about herself.
“I realized you can’t make everybody happy,” she added. “If you wear shalwar kameez, they will call you behenji [sister]. If you wear trousers, they will call you vulgar. If you wear a hijab, they will call you fake. So, nobody is going to be happy ever.”
Khan also spoke about her vocal stance on the ongoing war with Gaza. 

“It’s a topic that needs to be spoken about,” she said, pointing to a Palestine badge pinned on her dress. 
“An entire nation is being wiped out and there is nobody who has enough power to actually go ahead and make a difference. There is a country [Israel] that has decided to wipe [Palestine] away ... They have broken every law that has existed for human kind … We need to keep talking about it as much as we can.”

 


Azimuth music festival returning to AlUla

Azimuth music festival returning to AlUla
Updated 23 July 2024
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Azimuth music festival returning to AlUla

Azimuth music festival returning to AlUla
  • Popular musical extravaganza will return for its fourth edition from Sept. 19-21 ahead of Saudi National Day on Sept. 23
  • Features a diverse lineup of local, regional and international artists, set against AlUla’s stunning landscapes, blending music, art and culture

JEDDAH: The Azimuth music festival is returning to AlUla as the city’s Moments calendar goes into full swing.

The popular musical extravaganza will return for its fourth edition from Sept. 19-21 ahead of Saudi National Day on Sept. 23. The 2024 theme is “Until the Sun Comes Up.”

Azimuth has become a key event in the regional music scene, attracting loyal fans.

It features a diverse lineup of local, regional and international artists, set against AlUla’s stunning landscapes, blending music, art and culture.

This year’s performances will take place under the grand Qa’a Al-Haj.

Renowned artists like Ben Bohmer, James Blake, The Blaze, Cosmicat and Ghostly Kisses have been announced, with more to come. Past headliners include Jason Derulo, The Chainsmokers, Tinie Tempah, The Kooks, Jorja Smith, Peggy Gou and Thievery Corporation.

Azimuth launched in 2020, followed by editions in 2022 and 2023.

The AlUla Moments calendar also features five festivals covering art, culture, music, nature, wellness, equestrianism, dining and astronomy.

Early Bird tickets are available until Aug. 14, starting from SR760 ($202). For details and purchases, visit experiencealula.com.


Movies backed by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Foundation to feature at Venice Film Festival

Movies backed by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Foundation to feature at Venice Film Festival
Updated 23 July 2024
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Movies backed by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Foundation to feature at Venice Film Festival

Movies backed by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Foundation to feature at Venice Film Festival
  • International jury led by acclaimed French actor Isabelle Huppert

DUBAI: Two films backed by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Foundation are to be screened at the upcoming 81st edition of the Venice Film Festival.

Tunisian director Mehdi M. Barsaoui’s “Aicha,” which was supported by the Red Sea Fund and the Red Sea Souk, will feature in the competitive Orizzonti section, which highlights international films that represent the latest aesthetic and expressive trends.

“Aicha” is Barsaoui’s second feature following his award-winning drama “A Son.” The film’s plot revolves around a young woman living in a backwater in southern Tunisia who attempts to build a new life in Tunis after she is reported as having died in a tragic bus crash.

Egyptian filmmaker Khaled Mansour’s “Seeking Haven For Mr. Rambo,” which was part of the Red Sea Lodge development program in 2021 and supported by the Red Sea Fund, will have its world premiere in the Orizzonti Extra section of the festival, which highlights young talent in international cinema.

The film follows a young man as he confronts the fears of his past and embarks on a journey to save his dog and best friend from an unknown fate.

Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice Beetlejuice” — starring Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Justin Theroux, Monica Bellucci, Jenna Ortega, and Willem Dafoe — is the out-of-competition opener at the event.

This year’s international jury will be led by acclaimed French actor Isabelle Huppert, and includes James Gray (“Ad Astra”), Andrew Haigh (“All of Us Strangers”), Agnieszka Holland (“Green Border”), Kleber Mendonca Filho (“Bacurau”), Abderrahmane Sissako (“Bamako”), Giuseppe Tornatore (“Cinema Paradiso”), Julia von Heinz (“Treasure”), and Zhang Ziyi (“Memoirs of a Geisha”).
 


Gigi Hadid stuns at ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ NYC premiere

Gigi Hadid stuns at ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ NYC premiere
Updated 23 July 2024
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Gigi Hadid stuns at ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ NYC premiere

Gigi Hadid stuns at ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ NYC premiere
  • Ensemble from Miu Miu’s Spring/Summer 2024 collection
  • Hadid posed on the red carpet alongside friend Blake Lively

DUBAI: US-Dutch-Palestinian model Gigi Hadid turned heads at the “Deadpool & Wolverine” premiere in New York City this week wearing an ensemble from Miu Miu’s Spring/Summer 2024 Ready-to-Wear collection.

The outfit featured a yellow bandeau top that was paired with a matching mustard yellow skirt in a knee-length cut and flowing silhouette. Hadid’s look was accessorized with a brown belt, black strappy heels and a yellow handbag.

Her jewelry included large gold hoop earrings and a statement gold chain necklace. She wore several chunky bangles in brown and gold, and a glitzy diamond anklet on her left ankle.

Hadid posed on the red carpet alongside her friend Blake Lively. (AFP)

Her blonde bob was styled sleek and smooth, with her bangs shaped into a bouncy, old Hollywood-inspired swoop.

Hadid posed on the red carpet alongside her friend Blake Lively, who was there to support her husband, Ryan Reynolds, who stars as Deadpool in the film.

Lively donned a striking off-the-shoulder jumpsuit from Atelier Versace. The outfit was crafted from a deep red, satin-like material and featured intricate black lace detailing throughout.

Lively accessorized the look with statement earrings and several rings. Her hair was styled in a sleek high ponytail, completing the ensemble.

Both Hadid and Lively continued their fashionable night with new outfits for the film’s after-party.

Both Hadid and Lively continued their fashionable night with new outfits for the film’s after-party. (Getty Images)

Hadid opted for a vibrant yellow trench coat made from a glossy, vinyl-like material from LaQuan Smith. The coat featured a classic trench silhouette with a wide lapel, belted waist and flared hem that fell just below the knees.

Meanwhile, Lively wore a head-turning Balmain minidress with a red and blue color scheme. The off-the-shoulder ensemble was adorned with large, three-dimensional red roses along the neckline and hemline.

The upcoming superhero film “Deadpool & Wolverine” is based on Marvel Comics characters. In addition to Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, the film features Hugh Jackman reprising his role as Wolverine.

The plot centers on Deadpool teaming up with a recovering Wolverine to face a common enemy. The film delves into the dynamic between the two characters, exploring their regrets and quarreling relationship.

The film is directed by Shawn Levy and is set to release in Saudi Arabia on July 25.


REVIEW: Book censor falls victim to the malady of imagination in Kuwaiti novel

REVIEW: Book censor falls victim to the malady of imagination in Kuwaiti novel
Updated 23 July 2024
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REVIEW: Book censor falls victim to the malady of imagination in Kuwaiti novel

REVIEW: Book censor falls victim to the malady of imagination in Kuwaiti novel

NEW DELHI: Getting lost in a good story is an occupational hazard and a crime in “The Book Censor’s Library,” a dystopian political satire with elements of magic realism. The story follows an unnamed narrator whose life unravels after he reluctantly begins working for an all-powerful government.

With a spellbinding and smooth translation from Arabic by Ranya Abdelrahman and Sawad Hussain, Kuwaiti literary icon Bouthayna Al-Essa’s novel warns against the loss of originality and personal freedoms in its depiction of the transformation of a man into a reader and his inevitable fall down the rabbit hole of books and imagination.

Set in the near future “in a place that would be pointless to name, since it resembles every other place,” the novel follows the book censor in the New World as he combs through manuscripts, looking for any offending word or idea that would render a book unfit to publish.He is a “guardian of surfaces,” and his task is to ensure that books that carry depth and ideas should be identified and removed from the shelves because “one curious person who picked up a volume and read a few lines could poison the entire society.”

In a swift turn of events, the protagonist himself is swept away by classics like “Zorba the Greek,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and “1984,” his dreams and waking hours engulfed in the siren song of good storytelling.

As the world around him slowly regains color, he falls into the throes of an existential crisis, torn between doing his duty as a simple cog in the machine and the secret society of “Cancers” attempting to restore books to their former glory and preserve the collective memory of humanity.

Drawing from the power of timeless stories, El-Essa’s Orwellian tale delves into the terrifying heart of darkness to remind us that “cancer cells are the only ones that thrive in a dying body.”


‘Those About to Die’ stars talk new swords-and-sandals series set in Ancient Rome

‘Those About to Die’ stars talk new swords-and-sandals series set in Ancient Rome
Updated 22 July 2024
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‘Those About to Die’ stars talk new swords-and-sandals series set in Ancient Rome

‘Those About to Die’ stars talk new swords-and-sandals series set in Ancient Rome

DUBAI: British-Yemeni actor Moe Hashim (“Ted Lasso”) and Iceland’s Johannes Haukur Johannesson (“Succession”) spoke to Arab News recently about playing gladiator frenemies in new swords-and-sandal series “Those About to Die,” streaming in the Middle East on Starzplay.

The action-packed series set in Rome in 79 A.D., stars the legendary Anthony Hopkins as Emperor Vespasian, the founder of the Flavian dynasty, and is inspired by Daniel Mannix’s classic non-fiction book of the same name.

Johannes Haukur Johannesson and Moe Hashim star in ‘Those About to Die.’ (Courtesy of Starzplay)

Hashim, known for his minor role as footballer Moe Bumbercatch in hit Apple TV + series “Ted Lasso,” plays Kwame, a lion tracker, who has been taken to train as a gladiator and now faces an existence that means fighting for his life every day.

When asked what drew him to the series, Hashim said: “For me, (it was) Kwame where he was from and what he represents. And I was very excited because I was like: ‘This is a character that is not really spoken about or has been documented too much in the Roman Empire.’

“And when I did the research on North Africans and the influence they had in the Roman Empire, I was like: ‘Oh, I definitely want to be part of this for sure.’”

Johannesson, in turn, plays an imposing Norse gladiator who befriends Kwame in arena training. His main draw to the show was the grittiness of daily gladiator life. “I thought it was really beautiful to see how the gladiators, who were essentially prisoners made to fight till their death, fought for their lives daily, the way they found humanity and friendship, I thought that was really, really beautiful. That really stood out to me,” said Johannesson.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The show also marks the television directorial debut of blockbuster director Roland Emmerich (“Moonfall”, “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Independence Day”).

Said Johannesson: “Roland is a whirlwind to work with. He sweeps you along. He’s very intense, which is enjoyable. You sort of step on set and you just jump on the Roland Emmerich train. It’s an express train.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Added Hashim: “It was also fun getting to know him on a personal level. We practically did a tour of every restaurant in Rome, we had all types of pasta and, you know, during those dinners, you kind of get to see who Roland really is.

“A man at that point of his career still making time to listen to my stupid questions about ‘Independence Day’ and him being so happy to tell me about all the stories and willing to answer my questions.”