By Momin Ali Munshi
“Warning. Hot room, no power and the backup is not working” says Omair Rana as he welcomes me to his home on a Sunday afternoon. I step inside, he hands me a chilled glass of lemonade and we start our conversation. It is my first interview with the actor so we dont share much of a rapport but he makes sure that I am at ease and does a wonderful job at that. Now we have hardly been five minutes into the interview but I am already in a different world. Mesmerised by the dynamic personality I see in front of me a man who I believe was born to be an actor. The passion he has for his craft is un-matchable and the conviction in his voice is just amazing. Here are excrepts from our wonderful conversation
Momin Ali Munshi: Tamanna is in cinemas, how do you feel?
Omair Rana: Honestly now it just feels like another day. But the day the film released it was a big day as we delivered something we had started about five years ago and it finally saw completion. Now its just that people are being sweet and kind, congratulating us, being honest with the feedback, sending in positive messages and those who have not yet seen it are eager to get their hands on a ticket and I am trying to help them with that.
Momin Ali Munshi: Well how is the film doing at the Box-Office?
Omair Rana: To be honest the film didn’t do that well on the first night as it was Shab-e Miraj. But from the second day ownwards the film is doing rather well. The occupancy at places is about 80% and I went to see the film in Cinestar cinema just a few days back and I got the worst seat ever!
MAM:But I am sure you would have been happy that you got the worst seat 😛
OR:Yeah (laughs) The Pakistani’s are supporting Pakistani content and I could not be more proud of that. I think its commendable!
MAM: I am going a bit off track but anyhow here it goes. Technically Chamabili was your first film but Tamanna is what one can call your star debut. Why did you chose Chamabaili as your first film where you only had a supporting role to play?
OR: Ironically most of the shooting for both the films happened at the same time. It had only been a few weeks after having done Chamabili that I got into Tamanna. Also I don’t mind doing supporting roles. I take things as they come along and the most important things I take into account are the script and my role.
MAM: What exactly attracted you towards Tamanna?
OR: The same things as mentioned earlier. I really liked the script and could relate to it as it was theatrical.
MAM: Would you agree that Tamanna would have been better as a theatre performance rather than a film?
OR: (Smiles) I would not say Tamanna would have been better as a play, I’ll say that generally theatre is usually a better way of story-telling.
MAM: Well I would say its debatable!
OR: I know. The film is interesting in the sense that it gives you a visual. Theatre has limitations in that regard but in terms of telling a story or dialogues theatre is superior! People are spending gazillions on 3D but theatre was the origial 3D no?
MAM: So does that mean Tamanna would have done better as a play?
OR: Well Tamanna is based on “The Sleuth” and that was originally a play so there is that. But as I said earlier, in cinema you can use the visual effects to your aid and can add more to the scene change and that is where Tamanna is more effective as a film! You can break the movie into three bits and from the cinematography sense of it, the visual sense of it, which theatre couldn’t do is that it is lit differently. All three scenes look different.
MAM: Acting in a theatrical play is quite different as compared to acting in a film. Theatre is more about exaggeration while film requires relatively subtle performances. Was it difficult for you to do a film after being a theater person?
OR: That has generally been a struggle for me as an actor because whenever I have to do screen work I have to control expressions in the sense of the exaggeration point. In fact, now I have to come to appreciate how a camera can capture even a slight twitch and that is so real whereas in theater you have to make it a little louder for people to see it. However Tamanna did give us opportunities to be theatrical quite a lot!
MAM: Lets talk about the acting in Tamanna. I think I would not be wrong to say that the acting by you and Salman Shahid was definitely the biggest strength of the film. Specially that one scene where you play the SHO was brilliant. Did you have a difficult time playing that part as that is so not you?
OR: See that part was quite theatrical. I was behind a mask and was playing someone else. I was becomign a different character and that was quite theatrical and hence became easy for me. But it was difficult to perform with that mask! I cannot express in words how painfully difficult it was to live in 10 hours with that mask!
MAM: Tamanna has been in the making for about five years as you said yourself earlier. Dont you think it takes quite long to make a film in Pakistan?
OR: Well we are not an established industry as of yet and money is definitely a huge factor in any kind of industry and specially in ours. Currently it’s high risk and barely any return! All the projects we see are projects of passion! Moreover I believe most of us film-makers should not look east rather look west. Look at the Iranian cinema. Our strength lies in visual shots, stories, and performances. Also do it if you believe in it, forget about the money factor!
MAM: Do you think that there should be one set of rules for Pakistani films? One formula?
OR: No I think we should give the audiences variety. “Abhi say agar tah ho gaya na kay filmain is tarah ki banain gii toh woh ghalat hay” (If it gets decided that there is this one set rule for how films should be made that is wrong). If this happens then the new Pakistani Film Industry will have the same fate as Lollywod once had!
MAM: Okay as an audience, not as an actor, what kind of films do you like? Commercial masala films like Main Hoon Shahid Afridi or social drama films like Josh, Chamabaili which are all the rage in Pakistan?
OR: I being an adopted Lahori don’t go for the same dish every week. So I like variety. I get bored with the same kind of cinema! Also with so much depressing happening outside I don’t like to get depressed much that way.
MAM:Are you working on any film? What is the future for Omair Rana?
OR: I have done a short scene for this film and honestly I am really eager to see it. The film is called “Dukhtar”. It is a feature film that has been edited and will hit cinemas soon. Also I want to add that theatre is my base but I am up for films and also television but only if a great project comes along. It has to be brilliant, the script the role it all has to mean something.
MAM: You okay working in an Indian film?
OR: I am an absolute patriot but I don’t have qualms about working in International projects. However I understand that there are sensible limitations of all sorts like national pride, industry protection and I understand them all. Hence I would not want to do something for my personal gain at the cost of my nation. If it was the opposite I would work in an Indian film!
MAM: Did you get a chance to see the first Pakistani Film of 2014, The System?
OR: Sadly I was a bit busy and missed it.
MAM: So we at Galaxy Lollywood gave our readers and your fans a chance to ask you all the questions they had in their minds. Here are a few of the questions.
OR: Well okay. Bring them on.
MAM: Amen Saleem says “Tell us something about your life with your wife and children.”
OR: Generally I am a very private person and keep my personal life off line. However, my family is one of the most special things to me in my life. It’s my kumbah. I’m a homing pigeon. Whenever I get off from any work, I wish to head home. I like to set my routine as close to my family as possible.
MAM: Kara Mar wants to know “How was your experience working with an academy of acting Salman Shahid?”
OR: This is the third or fourth time I have worked with Salman Shahid. The previous experiences have all been in theatre. Theatre helps bond with fellow team mates. And if there is a team mate like Salman Shahid, to kya hi baat hai?! I never got to see him as a ‘senior actor’, I saw him, as he called me, as a partner! I’m one of his fans who is not just a huge fan of onscreen Salman Shahid but perhaps a greater one of the off screen Salman Shahid!
MAM: Samirah Rafaqat asks “Was it fun playing your character?”
OR: In a word – YES! Because the character was one of the driving forces of the story and he, Riz Ahmed, plays so many roles within the movie himself.
MAM: Abdul Rauf wants to know “Are you satisfied with the response of Tamanna from the classes and masses?”
OR: I did Tamanna without expectations. I did Tamanna because it seemed the right thing to do. However, we perform for the people and when they, unanimously, from London to Lahore, say that the story kept them intrigued and they loved the performances – mehnat halaal!
MAM: So here is the last question. Zee Hassan wants to know “Your honest view about the future of the Pakistan film industry ?
OR: Pakistani cinema has arrived! And by the will of God, this time we are here to stay!
MAM: Something you would like to say to the general audience with respect to Pakistani films?
OR: Dekhain zaroor (Do go see it). Anything coming from Pakistani cinema go see it. Give your feedback and tell us what you want. It may not be what you want but atleast go see it as it encourages us!
MAM: Any last words
OR:You know when you are a child you say that you want to become a so and so. Write it down! Even if it changes over time write it down and look back over time and say why not! I can say this because I am an actor today, I have always been an actor and I think God created me as an actor. It’s a talent that I had to share with the world. I am not doing and don’t want to do it for personal gain, for fame, fortune. I want to do it because it is the right thing. So follow your dreams and do what you want to!
MAM: Wow. That was inspirational. Thank You so much for taking out the time for us at Galaxy Lollywod. All the Best for Tamanna .