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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 August 2018

Nazah: The agony and the ecstasy of Dubai collective’s new movie release

'This movie is made purely by residents of the UAE, most of whom have a separate day jobs. We need the institutions to come forward and actively support and promote such work to put the UAE on the map

Poster of the movie Nazah. Courtesy Kahaani Baaz
Poster of the movie Nazah. Courtesy Kahaani Baaz

Dubai filmmakers “Kahaani Baaz” (Story-Tellers) are set to go public with their latest movie, following two successful appearances at international film festivals over the summer.

The short film, Nazah, which translates from Urdu as “agony”, or more specifically the agony one feels immediately before dying, was picked up for screening at both the Calcutta International Cult Film Festival and the Punjab-based AAB International Film Festival. It tells the story of a young man, Yasir (Asad Raza Khan), who has mental health problems and desperately wants to take his own life. His sister Sarah (Hiba Khan) tries to act as a voice of reason in the movie.

The film was shot and produced entirely in Dubai, with a Dubai cast and crew, and Raza Khan, who is also a mainstay of the Dubai theatre scene, says the team behind the film are just some of the many people working away in the background in Dubai to create quality local content, despite the challenges of being recognised.

“We have a lot of talent in the city which we live in”, he says. “There is a lot of work being done in small pockets that is of international standards. This movie is made purely by residents of the UAE, most of whom have a separate day jobs. We need the institutions to come forward and actively support and promote such work to put the UAE on the map.”

Turning to the film itself, Raza Khan admits that the subject matter is one that doesn’t feature too regularly in locally produced work. “It is a very dark theme, the depiction of the feeling before death is not for the faint at heart. We decided to do this as there is a rise in the stories of depression, suicide, mental disorders that we hear every day. The movie is supposed to suffocate you by giving you a glimpse of their reality.”

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The film’s director, Hammad Sheikh, agrees that the movie had something important to say. “Nazah has a special place, not only because it is my first short film at this level, but also because I felt I was able to deliver a message along with the creative edge,” he explains. “With limited resources and a great cast, we have received an overwhelming response among certain film festivals and our peers.”

Co-star Hiba Khan, another stalwart of the local theatre scene, adds that, although the film’s subject matter may be rather sombre, the process of making it was still good fun. “Although the theme of the movie is quite dark, on set everybody made the experience an enjoyable one,” she says. “At the end of the process we had all become like one family. Playing Sarah was very challenging even though it was a short movie. The shades that come out are unique and diverse, which the audience will realise once they see the film.”

Nazah will be released online on July 20 at 5pm. Check Kahaani Baaz’s Facebook page for more details

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