If Meera is known as the queen of controversies then Hamza Ali Abbasi should be declared the king of “social media” controversies. We usually don’t share or discuss the king’s controversies, perhaps, the latest one is exasperating as its not only making Hamza’s close friends and the makers of upcoming comedy/drama film Jawani Phir Nai Ani embarrassed and putting them in a difficult situation but it also shows how an actor can try to cast his influence on the effort of hundreds of other people working on the film based on his moral scruples, especially, at the time when the film is going to be released in about a month.
Hamza Ali Abbasi is one of the male leads of Jawani Phir Nai Ani (JPNA). The film is scheduled to be released on Eid-ul-Azha next month.
Hamza sparked the controversy part 1 several months ago when the teaser of JPNA was released featuring shirtless Hamza glancing at a bikini clad girl and dancing with not-fully-dressed girls on a beach in Bangkok. Afterwards, and consequently, he resigned from the post of Cultural Secretary of PTI on the pretext of having contradiction in one’s (his own) words and actions. His scrupulous decision was applauded by his fans but his criticism of the industry fellows for doing/adding item songs in films was not well received by some of the people both from and outside the industry. At that time a glimpse of Ayesha Omer’s dance number “Tutti Fruiti” from the film Karachi Say Lahore was revealed and many believed the poor Ayesha was the main target of Hamza’s criticism.
Here is the “controversial teaser” of JPNA which was released in March.
The film’s theatrical trailer was released a week ago and many were expecting to hear Hamza Ali Abbasi’s point of view on it. Finally, after a week, Hamza broke his silence and shared his “last words on this matter” in the form of seven points on his Facebook page, giving birth to the controversy part 2. In seven points he claimed that he was doing the film without being paid and as a favor (to the makers of JPNA) and he had issues with two songs of the film for having “indecent visuals”. He also mentioned that he had refused to be part of the film promotion if the songs were not dropped from it.
The snapshot of Hamza’s seven points is attached below. The actor is habitual of frequently editing his status and making changes as his 2.5 million fans on Facebook share their feedback. For reviewing the most recent version of the seven points, you can visit his official Facebook page.
While giving an interview to The Express Tribune on this matter Hamza cleared his position and explained his point of view. Hamza said, “Let me clarify, the reason for which I did this film was not money. I am not being paid for this film. I am not being paid a single penny for this. I did this film only for the sake of my friendship with Humayun Saeed.” In the interview he also shared that when he learned about the execution of the film he wanted to back off as few things in the film were against his values but he stayed on board for his personal reasons.
His interview with The Express Tribune further reveals that, majorly, he has issue with bikini clad girls dancing in a song with him and his co-stars, Vasay Chaudhary, Ahmad Ali Butt and Humayun Saeed. He claimed that he was not aware of these girls being included in the song and he could not back out from the project as it was difficult for him by that time.
Watch the full trailer of the film below. The cast of JPNA includes Humayun Saeed, Ahmad Ali Butt, Vasay Chaudary, Mehwish Hayat, Sohai Ali Abro, Javed Sheikh, Bushra Ansari, Ismail Tara, Ayesha Khan, Sarwat Gillani, Uzma Khan and Hamza Ali Abbasi. It is to be noted that many of the scenes from the teaser have not been included in the trailer, especially the scenes of shirtless Hamza Ali Abbasi with bikini clad girl(s). A big disappointment for girls/boys who were drooling over him in a “hot” avatar.
Hamza also told The Express Tribune that he was refraining from the promotion of film only because of his song with bikini clad girls. If the song was taken off from the film then he would promote the film.
Hamza’s status on Facebook has caused quite a confusion about the actor’s commitment with the project. At least, this did not make the distributor of the film and CEO of ARY Digital, Jerjees Seja, happy who posted a status on his Facebook profile directly addressing and linking Hamza Ali Abbasi. The snapshot of Jerjees status is attached below.
Jerjees Seja is known as a man of quiet nerves but it seems Hamza Ali Abbasi’s expected but unnecessary explanations are causing embarrassment and trouble for the makers of the film, and, also in other way, helping to “indirectly” promote the film which Jerjees himself identified.
Hamza, however, came with a rejoinder on Jerjees’s status criticizing the channel owners, producers and actors without “morals and decency”, as you can read in the snapshot below.
On the other hand Humayun Saeed, the co-producer of the film, seems relatively calmer on this controversy. While talking to The Express Tribune Humayun Saeed clarified that Hamza Ali Abbasi will be paid for the film as per his contract. He said, “He hasn’t asked me for the money, yes that’s true. But he is being paid. I don’t know if he has already received payment because I haven’t checked with the accounts department but he will be paid the amount stated on the contract he signed.”
In the interview Humayun also acknowledged that Hamza told him that he wanted to back out of the project before they started filming but it was too late by then. He said if he had been informed of Hamza’s concerns earlier then there would have been no issue if Hamza stepped out. “If you think about it, it was unprofessional of him to try and leave the film after signing it. I really was in a fix at that point; so, I asked him to stay. And he did. But that wasn’t a favor he had done for me. It was him who had put me in the spot in the first place.”
Humayun also criticized Hamza for his unprofessional attitude in The Express Tribune interview by these words, “Even now, it’s unprofessional of him to say he won’t promote the film. If he has made the commitment, he should honor it in full. His job doesn’t end at the completion of the shoot. Promotion is as much a part of the deal as shooting.”
This controversy has only fueled the debate of what type of films Pakistani filmmakers should make. Pakistani film industry is on the path of revival, or rebirth, after decades of downfall and this year we saw an influx of films after several years. The filmmakers are trying different genres and making films for different types of audience. It will be too early to generalize the pattern as the box office numbers are quite convoluted. A film with a sizzling item number can be a flop (i.e. Dekh Magar Pyaar Say) or a patriotic/intense drama film cannot attract a wide audience (i.e. Moor, Shah) whereas people can throng for a romantic drama (i.e. Bin Roye) or a comedy film with adult jokes (i.e. Wrong Number, Karachi Say Lahore). It is the game of numbers in the box office which directly reflect what people like and want to watch.
It is really confusing to find the real motives of Hamza Ali Abbasi behind these JPNA related controversies. It could be a promotion stunt by the actor or an effort to gain some of the more attention, which people find quite addictive at times. Or, it could really be voice of a person concerned about the quality of the films being produced in the country. In any case, this is against the professional norms and ethics to put a team’s work in trouble and influencing it based on one’s moral scruples at such a critical time.
Let people, who spend money, decide what they like to watch, as they are mercilessly doing with other films. Read latest box office reports on our website to get better idea of it.