Gohar Rasheed has done limited yet significant work on the silver screen. After giving well-praised performances in Seedlings, Main Hoon Shahid Afridi and O21, the theater alum is now going the extra mile and producing a film, titled Maidaan, under the banner of Shuffler Films.
Maidaan is based on the true account of street children, hailing from underprivileged areas of Pakistan and achieving impossible at Street Child World Cup 2014, Brazil.
The versatile actor and winner of multiple TV awards, Nauman Ijaz, is playing a football coach in the film. He will return to the big screen a decade after Mehreen Jabbar’s Ramchand Pakistani.
Galaxy Lollywood exclusively talked to Gohar Rasheed about his maiden production, casting Nauman Ijaz and transitioning to film production amid prosperous acting career.
“Maidaan is based on true events that took place in between 2012 and 2013. It is a story about twelve kids, hailing from the streets of various cities of Pakistan like, Lahore, Karachi, Quetta, and Hazara. They belonged to very low background and had no training, education or documents, like passport, birth certificate or domicile. Despite lacking basic amenities of life and support, they formed a football team and participated in Street Child World Cup, which was held in Brazil in 2014, and stood third in the competition.” He told about the film’s story.
This seems an inspiring story. Previously, movies like MHSA and Shah received favorable reviews from the critics and audiences alike, and showed that there is an appetite for sports flicks in Pakistani market. As Ramiz Raja announced to make a film on cricket, Maidaan will bring the passion for relatively less popular sport, football, on the celluloid.
Maidaan will be a complete commercial family entertainer, as promised by Gohar Rasheed. He further said that it did not belong to popular or “pseudo-intellectual” cinema. It is a great relief, indeed!
Talking about casting Nauman Ijaz in the film, Gohar Rasheed opened up about considering multiple factors before approaching him for the character and being lucky to get his nod.
“People in our industry, especially, cast an actor based on the commercial basis only. We usually ignore other casting metrics, like whether the actor suits the character or not; whether the actor would be able to perform the character or not; and then, yes, would he or she be able to bring in the commercial value or not. You have to consider all of these factors while doing the casting, and that’s why for that, internationally, they have casting agents and casting directors. Unfortunately, we don’t have such infrastructure here. So, the first choice that me and my partner Waqas thought of was Nauman Ijaz. Reason being, number one, yes, he is absolutely commercially salable. Number two, brilliant actor and he can perform any character and he can transform himself into any character. And three, yes, brilliant, brilliant actor. So, when we had all the tick marks then we were kind of little scared as well, whether he will do it or not. When we spoke with him, he loved the story, he loved our passion, and he was like I am completely on board. So, thanks to our lucky stars that he came on board.” He shared.
He further talked about having complete confidence on Nauman Ijaz for pulling off a role different from his previous on-screen work, which requires a lot of dedication, time and also physical transformation.
“I am 200 percent confident that he would be able to deliver this and he would be able to do this with bright colors. There was another reason for casting Nauman Ijaz as it’s a very demanding character. It requires slight physical transformation as well, as you would require to look the part. Also, it would require rehearsals and you would have to give a lot of time. When we spoke about all these things with Nauman Ijaz, then rather than us raising these concerns, it was him who started putting his concerns on the table that he would want to do rehearsals, and as it is based on the true story, so, he asked to spend time with the real life person to spend time with him and observe his mannerism and learn how he thinks. As a producer, it was quite a charm and delight for me that we had an actor who was giving his 100 percent to the project.” He expressed.
Whereas, the rest of the cast is concerned, he informed, “No on else has been taken on board yet, as we are working on the script of the film. Right now, we only have Nauman Ijaz locked in for this main character and we are more concerned about only his character only.”
Gohar Rasheed and his partner Waqas Rizvi set up Shuffler Films and acquired the legal rights to make the film on this story.
Jumping from acting to production was not a planned transition for Gohar Rasheed. “I had this story with me for many years. I went to many producers but no one took it. Then, after many rejections, I had to take this step myself and made a partnership with Waqas Rizvi to make a film on it. We started our production house Shuffler Films. It was not planned at all, as I did not think that one day I will switch from acting to production. It happened very abruptly. I got a brilliant story and planned to make a film on it.” He opened up.
Maidaan will go on floors by end of this year and it will be released next year. The film will be shot in Brazil, Pakistan and London.