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Bringing Pakistan's Film Style to the World Stage

MPTV alumnus Bilal Lashari is making history with his filmmaking

Academy of Art University has always prided itself on its international outreach to aspiring filmmakers. In recent years, that outreach has been solidified by Bilal Lashari. Since graduating from the Academy in 2008 with a B.F.A. from the School of Motion Pictures & Television, he has gone on to direct the movie, WAAR (translates to The Strike), which is the most successful Pakistani feature film in history. WAAR has been nominated for numerous awards overseas, including Best Picture and Best Director at the ARY Film Festival and the Lux Style Awards. The success has already green lighted a much anticipated sequel. 

Lashari is currently directing a reboot of the Pakistani cult classic Maula Jatt, which is being produced with a multi-million dollar budget. In an interview with The Express Tribune, Lashari said, “The entire world has been exporting their own styles and versions of cinema outside their territory, but we have been silent.

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Bilal Lashari. Courtesy of Bilal Lashari.

"Hollywood sent us the old westerns or the cowboy films, the Japanese gave us samurais. We have also had ninjas, but I now feel it’s our time to tell the world what our gandasa films are capable of … My version of Maula Jatt will be a visual epic, with less dialogue and many captivating moments. It will be a dark but stylized take on Pakistan’s original film genre.”

Prior to directing WAAR, Lashari directed several award-winning music videos for some of Pakistan’s most popular music artists: Abrarul Haq, Atif Aslam, Mekaal Hassan Band, Jal and Entity Paradigm.

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Bilal Lashari. Courtesy of Bilal Lashari.

Shaaron Murphy, editing director of the School of Motion Pictures & Television, remembers Lashari fondly. “From the beginning, Bilal showed an incredible passion and willingness to work hard,” she said. “He made the most successful music videos we had ever seen at the Academy and that’s because of his talent and his ability to work well with others. We couldn’t be more proud of his success in his home country.” 

When asked about his time at the Academy, Lashari said, “I couldn’t be any happier with my years at the Academy. I had the privilege to learn from many brilliant and caring instructors who taught me so much more than just filmmaking. There is nothing more valuable for an artist than being inspired and that’s exactly what I took home with me. That very feeling continues to drive me everyday. My time at the Academy of Art was in one word—priceless.”

The Academy’s School of Motion Pictures & Television congratulates Lashari on his incredible career, and we couldn’t be more proud of his success. We all look forward to what’s in store for his future.