In the light of countless lives that were lost in the war against terror, it seems like an obvious choice for Shehzad Rafique to make a film that pays tribute to the young ones relentlessly fighting on the frontline.
“I had been searching for a script to follow-up Ishq Khuda. I was divided over the idea of making a comedy or an action film, but a politician’s statement made the choice very easy for me,” explained Rafique.
“I just couldn’t understand how he [Munawar Hassan] could make such a careless statement about the armed forces fighting on the frontline,” he added.
The film Salute will not be an ISPR-funded project. In fact, it will be Rafique’s attempt to explore the questions of morality surrounding extremism, and will give thorough insight into the journey of an individual from a man to a martyr. Film is an important medium that can be used to challenge extremist ideologies surrounding war on terror, and, more importantly, religious intolerance.
“This film will not be made on an agenda in terms of funding. It’s sort of a tribute to the journey of a young man and the challenges he faces on his way to becoming an army officer,” said Rafique.
“Till now, every film I have made always tries to address a broader question. I am over 40, I don’t feel the need to make a fun film. My target is to make an issue-based film that is serious.”
Even in an earlier movie, Rafique touched upon a sensitive topic. His previous film Ishq Khuda aimed to challenge the notion of extremist ideologies by addressing the idea of true love and spirituality. It also openly challenged rigidity and the fundamentalism that has flourished on a societal level.
Salute is currently being scripted by writer Tariq Ismail. He is hoping to cast Ahsan Khan in the lead role, with Nadeem Baig and Atiqa Odho as part of the cast, depending on availability. He will shoot major portions of the film at military academies as he feels that it is time to move beyond the methods of formula filmmaking. “The things that have to stand out in every film are emotions and sentiments. This is the only formula that matters. The rest is your story, your characters, and your topics,” said Rafique.
It is worth mentioning that Rafique is planning on giving young directors a platform under his production banner. He said that he plans on grooming his assistant directors for feature films and would be launching them in the near future.
When Assistant Director Hasnat Afridi was asked to give some insight on this upcoming movie Salute, he said, “This is not your typical story on the armed forces. Whatever I have seen of the script is very original, because it gets into the details of how one man becomes an army officer and the hurdles he comes across.”
He said that the film is not necessarily about the armed forces, but focuses primarily on patriotism and an officer’s life. Afridi disclosed that the film would be shot in Swat and Karachi and have some scenes shot in America, as well, since there is a parallel storyline set there.
“We are planning a lot of interesting things for the film. The main point is that the story will focus on the officer himself and there will be an element of patriotism. We are also planning on including a large production team, so that we can introduce more young people to the film industry,” said Afridi.