A sneak preview of one of the biggest on-screen collaborations between India and Pakistan is taking place today at Dubai's Jumeirah Beach Hotel.
Sultanat sneak peek at Dubai's Jumeirah Beach Hotel
Dubai's Jumeirah Beach Hotel is hosting an invite-only gala tonight that will provide attendees with a sneak preview of a combined feature film and television collaboration between India and Pakistan, produced in the UAE.
The event has managed to attract major Pakistani and Indian celebrities, including the Indian actress Sridevi (Prince Vaali), the Indian producer Boney Kapoor (Wanted) and the Pakistani star of the project and others, such as Om Shanti Om, Jawed Sheikh.
Sultanat is a 30-episode TV series based on the life of Aslam Bhatti, chairman of the Dubai-based AB Pictures, the producers of the project. Aslam Bhatti also stars. The company, which has been operating in the UAE since the 1950s, is also behind the 2007 gangster film Godfather: The Legend Continues.
Directed by Syed Faisal Bhukhari from Pakistan, the project was shot on location in Dubai, Thailand and London. At the same time, the actors and crew were also filming a movie version of the TV series, said Faisal Bhatti, chief executive of AB Pictures.
"Sultanat is our baby project. It is an action-based film inspired by actual events surrounding the chairman's life and incorporates romance," he said. "It is the first drama of its kind that is bringing India and Pakistan together, which is something all of our projects try to do."
Tonight, a trailer and a few short clips from the TV series will be shown to the audience to create buzz ahead of a release date announcement, expected in mid-March. Filming took a total of six months and wrapped in January. Post-production is almost complete.
"The filming went fantastically well and the artists were pleased with the experience they had," said Bhatti. "We have included a variety of established actors and new stars. Working with Faisal Bhukhari was also an amazing experience because he is one of the best directors."
The release date of the movie version of the Sultanat TV series is also yet to be announced.
"We anticipated at first that it may be quite difficult to shoot both for television and the movie together, but it was a lot easier," said Bhatti. "This is because we already had all the equipment and the crew and we had the same actors - it was a lot of fun."
One such actor is Sheikh, whose career spans more than 30 years and 200 movies, including 2007's Namastey London.
Sheikh, who is based in Pakistan and India, is in Dubai to promote the project, which he said was one of his most challenging and exciting. It is not his first time in the UAE, having visited many times before.
"Working on Sultanat was absolutely great - I was so happy to be a part of it because Aslam did his best with it," he said. "His goal was to make something that will be remembered for many years to come."
Sheikh plays the role of Aslam's business partner.
"What attracted me to this role is that it is one that is very interesting and tempting. In Sultanat, a few things happen in our relationship that turns us into enemies," said Sheikh.
As for working on both a TV series and movie at the same time, Sheikh said it was the first time he was asked to do such a task. Shooting for two different formats meant many double takes.
"I am confident that the project will create lots of excitement because there is none like it even in the pipeline and it's great for audiences to see such collaboration."
Other big names involved in the film and joining Sheikh tonight include the producer Rajat Rawail (Ready), the Indian actress Shweta Tiwari, Achint Kaur (Guzaarish), the director David Dhawan (Shaadi No. 1), Deepak Shirke (Sarkar), as well as diplomats from both nations.