Usman Mukhtar teams up with creator of graphic novel for new feature film, set in futuristic Karachi. PHOTO: PUBLICITY
Who exactly is Bloody Nasreen? Most of us don’t have a clue. Bloody Nasreen is the creation of graphic artist Shahan Zaidi, who says that his fictional character is a contemporary bandit-queen, who fights against injustice and evil.
While his graphic novel is still in progress, Zaidi’s character has been drawing quite an interest from several upcoming film-makers, who want to make a film based on the character. It was announced last week that film-maker Usman Mukhtar would be collaborating with Zaidi, for a detailed plan to create a full-length feature film based on Bloody Nasreen.
“I have been approached several times, not only for movies but also for games and T-shirts, and many fans have even purchased the posters,” says Zaidi.
“Usman showed great interest. I saw his work and he seems to be passionate [about comics]. I hope he will do justice to the character.”
The character Bloody Nasreen has gained relative cult popularity via social media. Zaidi started out as cartoonist in 1997 and is a painter and concept artist, who has worked in several major production studios, but comics seem to have taken the forefront for him.
“In 1999, when I was 17, I made a comic for a local magazine called ID Magazine. It was about a superhero fighting crime in futuristic Karachi. It was published, but I couldn’t continue it due to my studies.” It was then that Zaidi decided that he would be making another comic series based on local characters.
“The comic book culture isn’t particularly prevalent in Pakistan, but we have had a number of movies based on comics that have released in the past few years,” says Zaidi. The artist believes that people have now become familiar with the medium, and more artists are releasing comic books in the country. “I think social media has played a big role, particularly Facebook, and also, the revival of cinema has helped,” says Zaidi.
“I grew up reading comic books and graphic novels, I think it’s the second best way of telling stories, after movies,” he adds. Another reason for producing a graphic novel was that Zaidi didn’t have the resources to make a film. “Since I am not a professional writer, I haven’t yet finished the novel, but much artwork has already been produced,” he shares. Now, Zaidi will be involved in the creative aspect of the film, and that is something he is very excited about.
“I am sure if it is made right, this movie will be fun to watch. I think a cult audience will like it, just like Tarantino movies. Of course, if someone goes to the cinema with a Godfather type drama in mind, they will be disappointed,” says Zaidi.
Regardless, Usman Mukhtar says that the project was a dream, since he is a comic-fan, who has been searching for the perfect Pakistani superhero. He is expecting a two-year production time, in which they plan to complete the film. The two have already begun creating a screenplay and storyline.
“The challenge is that we have to create an entire world!” says Mukhtar. “We do not want to exaggerate it, but keep it very close to reality, so the challenge will obviously be finding the right creative team, since nothing like this has ever been done before.”
The challenge of finding an actor who can easily fit into the role of Bloody Nasreen, a powerful female character, will be challenging. But Mukhtar says they plan on doing all their homework before making a decision on the casting.
“We live in a male-dominated society, and generally, most superhero films have male leads. I think it will be interesting to see how this turns out,” says Mukhtar. “The challenging part will be finding someone to play Bloody Nasreen. If you asked me right now, I would say the only person I can think of is not from Pakistan but India. We will need to conduct local auditions, and the character will require a lot of dedication in terms of time, training and diet which most likely will affect other projects.”
We look forward to seeing not only a female protagonist in a film, but a crime-fighting one at that.
2016 is gearing up to be the year for Bloody Nasreen!