Pakistan is undoubtedly if not most, then among the most beautiful countries on Earth but its beauty has mostly remained undiscovered. There are number of reasons behind including the menace of terrorism and militancy. The foreigners have been reluctant to visit Pakistan especially to Northern areas which are main centre of attraction. The image of the country, especially in recent past years, has deteriorated and the tourism had slumped down.

The situation is slowly getting better by stability and peace in Pakistan and numerous individuals and groups are working to portrait the real beautiful face of the country through writings, travel experiences, photos and filmmaking. Ali Sohail Jaura and his team are among these individuals and groups which are working to show the splendid landscape and people of Pakistan. While talking exclusively to The Nation, Jaura shared the details of their journey, making process, efforts they put in making travel-video Arz-e-Pakistan which has won ‘Best Travel Film’ in Russia and India.

Why did you make this video means the basic idea behind this?

I always found international travel films inspirational, and I wanted the people to see Pakistan through the same lens that I do. We, here in Pakistan, haven’t explored this genre of travel shorts, since it’s vastly different from standard, well defined genres since there is no narrative in travel shorts, and it is purely based on visual narrative. We were inspired by international travel shorts like Turkey Watchtower, ‘Travel to Hong Kong’, and ‘India’, along with many others.

Which areas did you cover in this video?

We traveled more than 6000KM to capture the soul of our Northern areas, and managed to cover the major regions of Kashmir, Hunza, Gilgit, Skardu, Swat, Naran, Kaghan, and Fairy Meadows. Our purpose was to promote the local and international tourism in these regions, and make people aware of this beautiful treasure we need to preserve and protect.

Who is other participants/team in making of this video?

We had an 8-member crew that travelled to these areas. Three of them were part of the camera crew; M. Belaal Imran, Rehman Ali, and Unaiz Shahbaz. Daniyal Ali was our drone operated who was responsible for all the beautiful aerial shots. Haaris Pramani handled all our logistics and production stuff. Kumail Rizwi was my associate director, who was with me like a shadow during the shoot, looking after all the creative responsibilities.  And I would like to thank M. Yousuf Ramzan for handling the huge amount of data that piled up during and after the shoot. The post-production crew was the backbone of this project; Khurram Jamal was the magician behind bringing out the vibrant colors from our raw footage. The animators, Hassan Dar and Sunny Tariq, played their parts professionally and responsibly. Now, the music and sound were key elements in our video;the music handled masterfully by Mubashir Admani, who did justice to the video with his composition. And lastly, Kashif Ejaz gave the video a life of its own with his brilliant sound design.

How much time did it take to make this video? In what year you made it?

It took us 25 days to shoot the video, which was done back in late 2016. The post-production time was about two months due to the tremendous amount of data we collected during the shooting, and because the editing was extremely tricky. We had to compile our hours and hours of data and footage into a 4-minute video that would have the impact and feel we wanted to convey. However, the release was delayed by about a year due to some financial issues.

In which festivals you presented it in India and Russia? And kindly send the photos of certificates you received from these countries

Apart from Pakistan, the film got praise and recognition in international film festivals in countries including Czech Republic, Serbia, Russia, Bulgaria, India and Azerbaijan. The film won two awards:

i)                   Best Travel Commercial, Travel Film Festival, held in Moscow, Russia

ii)                Platinum Travel Film of the Year, India Film Project, held in Mumbai, India

Are there any other projects your team working on?

We are currently busy with the pre-production phase for our next Thriller-Drama short film inspired by true events, but before that, we will be releasing a trailer of our recently made short film, “Bas EkPiyali Chai”, Written & Directed by Muhammad Belaal Imran and it will be up in the coming month on our official page Family Films. The film has star renowned television artists Rashid Farooqui and Qazi Wajid.

Did you get any recognition local media outlets or government?

Our success was covered by some social media bloggers, and we were invited on a few television shows for interviews. However, we did not get any recognition nor support from the government. I guess we are promoting a positive image of Pakistan, so we should at least get some financial support to attend the various film festivals to represent our country on foreign soil. By now, we have received some really positive and supportive comments by international tourists, who are now ready to pack their bags and come to Pakistan after watching this video.

What are future plans of your team?

We aim to produce content that will be relatable and thought-provoking for every age group. Family Films believes that the content should not only target a specific audience, but instead make it enjoyable for every audience, no matter the age or social background. And most of all, we want our work to be original, which should leave our mark on the Pakistani film industry.

The work of Ali Sohail and his team is most definitely highly commendable and we need more of such individuals to promote the positive and real face of Pakistan.

Watch video here