Usman Mukhtar is a multi-talented artist and one among the fresh crop of filmmakers in Pakistan. After directing numerous music videos and short films, including the adaptation of Bollywood cult hit Gangs of Wasseypur, Mukhtar is debuting at the silver screen with Janaan along with the talented and beautiful cast of the film including Armeena Rana Khan, Ali Rehman and Bilal Ashraf.
In Janaan he is playing the supporting character of a UK-settled hunk with Punjabi background who, according to the trailer, is not ‘esa wesa’ at all and visiting Pakistan to marry a pretty girl (Hania Aamir) in a Pakhtoon family.
Galaxy Lollywood exclusively talked with Usman Mukhtar about his experience of working in Janaan, his upcoming projects and why did not he jump on the bandwagon of working on TV. Read the exclusive interview below.
From short films to first commercial feature film, how has been this journey for you and how was the experience of working in ‘Janaan’?
Well, it’s been a tough journey and it hasn’t been the smoothest. After doing short films and the stuff, I ended up doing my first feature film Janaan.
Working in Janaan was amazing. I got the opportunity to work with some amazing people, an amazing director, some of the people I have already worked with before, Ali Rehman, for example, and it was a great experience working with everyone. I hope that the film turns out great.
Tell us about your role in ‘Janaan’.
I cannot tell you a lot because you have to go to watch the film but I can tell you this much that my character comes from London and he comes to Pakistan to get married.
Share any interesting incident which happened on the sets of ‘Janaan’.
Janaan was a lot of fun. We had to shoot a fire sequence on the sets and one of the crew members caught fire but he is fine and it wasn’t really bad fire accident. It is not interesting but, yeah, an incident that happened on the sets.
Your short film ‘Aasiqui’ was adaptation of Bollywood movie ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’. How was the experience and is there any plan of more adaptations?
Aasiqui was actually an accident and I don’t think if I will make a Bollywood or Hollywood adaptation again. But, Gangs of Wasseypur is one of my all time favorite films coming out of India. It was such a well made film that I fell in love with it the first time I saw it and I wanted to do something like that. I thought this was the kind of film I would want to make and when I reach a certain point in my life I would love to be a person who made something like it. So, that was one of the reasons why I wanted to make Aasiqui which was a tribute to Gangs of Wasseypur.
We heard you are making a rom-com. Tell us more about it and how much progress has been made on it?
Yeah, I am making a rom-com but it’s in the process of being written right now and there’s a lot of problems with the dates of the actors I want to be in the film. Hopefully, by next year it will go in production.
Beside this movie, which other projects are in the pipeline?
I have a couple of film projects in the pipeline. One of them will be revealed as soon as Janaan is released, hopefully, in a month or month and a half. Then there are few other projects which I will be doing next year and these will be revealed soon too.
What are your views on the ‘new-age cinema’ in Pakistan? Are we doing enough to create a sustaining film environment in the country. What are your hopes for the future?
I think we’re already making a lot of films. Its like everyone is making a film now and that’s also because we have an insane increase in the cinemas in the country and the more cinemas we have the more films we will have ultimately.
Its a beginning right now for Pakistani Cinema and filmmakers need to experiment with different genres and not stick to one typical genre. Right now its like if someone is making a rom-com then five other people will start making a rom-com. Whereas, I think every genre needs to be tested and I am hopeful that soon we will see a lot of different films and contrast in films in this country.
Do you see scope of sci-fi, superhero and fantasy movies in Pakistan? Any plans to make a feature film in any of these genres?
That’s my favorite genre and I absolutely think there’s a lot of market for that kind of movies in the country. The only problem is that these kind of films require really big budgets and technical expertise. There is even one movie being made right now called Project Ghazi (starring Sheheryar Munawar, Humayun Saeed and Saira Sheroz) and its a sci-fi superhero movie.
As I am a really big comic books fan, so, I actually came up with an idea about four years ago but obviously I needed a lot of budget to make that film so it could not be turned into a reality. But, I am hopeful that in next few years we will have an industry where producers will invest into these kind of films as well.
The gorgeous Mishi Khan and the Handsome Usman Mukhtar posing for the camera while on sets of #Janaan, The chemistry of seasoned and young actors in #Janaan is a full entertainment package for the audiences. IRK Films Munir Hussain Films – UK https://twitter.com/JanaanOfficial https://www.instagram.com/janaanofficial
A photo posted by Janaan (@janaanofficial) on
Why have not you done any drama serial so far?
I, actually, never believed in doing a drama serial. I don’t have anything against drama serial. It’s just that drama serial made back in the 90’s were really good and now we’re just dumbing things down and I don’t want to support this kind of entertainment. Also the producers mostly want to hire a known face which can pull the crowd and ratings, instead of hiring a relatively less known person who has been doing indies or short films.
I was, actually, offered my first drama serial in 2010 and I think dramas aren’t for me. Whenever I see a drama serial it’s basically based around a crying woman and I believe women are so much more than that. I, at least, have never seen a serial based on a strong woman or having a strong female character. In dramas we are stereotyping women, men, and phupos and khalas. If there’s something that’s being done outside the box then I would love to do that but I haven’t come across anything like that till now.
Do you think we need a “revolution” in drama industry as well and its time to make dramas for wider audience and in multiple genres? Does any change seem coming soon to you?
To me, yes! Personally, I think there should be a revolution or if not such a revolution but just producers and people taking more initiatives towards making different genres of dramas and selling them to the television channels.
In reality, if you come up with an idea of a drama serial that’s kind of different than the troupe, then the channel will not buy it because they think it won’t generate ratings. It is true to a certain extent as well, as our audiences now are so used to watching all that stuff that’s been coming on television for the past ten or eleven years and they also enjoy it. But, I also say that how you can know something different will not work if you don’t give it a try.
Interview conducted and edited by Zeeshan Mahmood
Transcription by Iman Ali