LONDON: Leicester Square, the home to premieres of numerous major movies, on Wednesday played host to Cake‘s opening night in Britain, making it the first Pakistani flick to debut at the prestigious location.
As the cast and crew of Cake gathered at the Leicester Square’s Vue Cinemas, the festive evening saw numerous A-list celebrities walking the red carpet.
Among the attendees were the film’s own Aamina Sheikh, Sanam Saeed, producer Sayed Zulfikar (Zulfi) Bukhari, and debutant Adnan Malik, as well as actresses Melanie Sykes, Roxanne Pallett, activist Malala Yousafzai, Baroness Warsi PC, Northampton Town footballer Kashif Siddiqi, TV presenter Sonali Shah, Member of the British Parliament Naz Shah, cricketer Monty Panesar, English DJ Shahid Khan (aka Naughty Boy), Raana Zafar, and Queens Park Rangers (QPR) owner Amit Bhatia and his wife Vanisha Mittal.
Cake becomes the first Pakistani movie to receive press coverage of such level in Western media — the kind of attention given to Bollywood films — and garner social media reactions from international celebrities.
Its opening night made headlines of multiple leading British publications’ showbiz pages.
One of the UK’s biggest news websites said in its report: “It’s the first ever British-Pakistani film to be premiered at the Vue Leicester Square, and was shot on location in London and Pakistan and charts the bittersweet journey of a family and their eclectic lives.”
Daily Mail said Sykes, with her youthful looks, stole the show at the “swanky Pakistani film premiere”, while Metro commented that Cake, with its elements of surprise and romance, bags the distinction of becoming the first-ever Pakistani film to be premiered at the iconic venue.
Speaking to Geo News, Sheikh, one of the movie’s stars, said Cake is full of fun but deals with life’s real issues of life, and “will make viewers smile and cry”.
“I have loved acting in it and it has been a great journey working with a great team.”
Malik, who made his acting debut with Cake, said the film is original and “exactly like the cake — it has many layers and is full of sweetness.
“It’s a Pakistani story, based in and around Pakistan, [and deals] with the conflicts of Pakistani families. It’s a strong film,” he added.
Bukhari, the producer, said: “Cake is a film about love and loss, about ageing parents and siblings … it is a true family drama for all ages and will be a breath of fresh air for the Pakistani cinema.”
Recently making headlines for being the witness of Pakistani politician Imran Khan’s third marriage, Bukhari said Cake is aimed at promoting cinema.
“I have done my bit to play my part in contributing to the promotion of Pakistani talent and cinema. It needs revival and I hope more people will come forward and invest in Pakistani films,” the property tycoon said.
He said he hopes that more films like Cake will be produced to encourage the revival of the local film scene.
Baroness Warsi said Cake is a realistic movie that depicts “the beauty of Pakistan.
“It’s a must-see film for everyone, for every nationality and background.”
MP Naz Shah, on the other hand, said she was pleased to see the premiere of a Pakistani film in London. “It has made me truly proud, it’s a real depiction of Pakistan.”
A true crossover film directed by Asim Abbasi and produced by Zulfi Bukhari, Cake is a family drama about love, loss, choices, and responsibilities.
It follows the story of a notable family’s ageing patriarch who falls sick, forcing his eldest daughter and sole caregiver, Zareen, to reconnect with her sister Zara on her return from London.
Even Pakistan darling actress Mahira Khan praised the film for its “acting, direction, cinematography, the production design, the styling, theeee film!!!”
The flick is the directorial debut of Abbasi, a graduate of the London School of Economics (LSE) who quit investment banking to pursue filmmaking.
Cake will be released in cinemas on March 30.
—Editing by Haseem uz Zaman