Exclusive: ‘I feel that Karachi and Lahore are on completely different pages’ – Shaan Shahid

Back in 1990, when Bulandi released, who knew that the film would give Pakistani Cinema an actor who over the course of next few years would establish himself as a force to be reckoned with, and emerge as a true blue superstar.

Shaan Shahid- an actor, writer, director, and above all, a perfect ambassador for Pakistani Cinema. He’s been a part of the industry for 26 years now, and to stay relevant for such a long period of time, he must be doing something right, right?

We met the actor on the sets of his next film ‘Zarrar,’ and here are excerpts from quite a candid conversation about his upcoming films and the Karachi vs Lahore debate among other things. Read on.

So Yalghaar is releasing this Eid. What do you have to say on that, especially how you’ve been missing from the promotions of the film?

Well, I would like to wish Hassan Waqas Rana and the entire team of ‘Yalghaar’ all the best and I hope the film does wonderfully at the box office.

You closed the camera for Arth 2 but before releasing it, you’ve already moved on to your next film Zarrar. How does that work?

So it works as I plan a film about two years prior and I planned two films which I wanted to release by 2017 and started working on them in 2015.

What’s the update on the two films?

Well, Arth 2 is going to be Inshallah somewhere towards the end of the year. It’s still into post-production and once that’s done I’ll be needing two months of marketing time so yeah later in 2017 is the plan. As for Zarrar, I feel that we will be ready by December 25.

So that’s when you release it?

That’s the plan right now and if the film gets ready on time and we have two months of marketing we will release the film. But honestly, I don’t like the fact that people announce release dates before they finish the films so I don’t want to do that. It’s all tentative right now as I’m not in any hurry, I just want to make my film and release it in a timely manner.

 Among these three films which one has you most excited?

Well, it’s a difficult question I would say. They’re all different films.

If you had to bet on one film?

It would be very difficult. I don’t know, but I think Arth 2 is a totally different genre, it’s a romantic film. It’s a first mature love story! It’s not about young kids getting together its about mature people falling in love.

Like the original Arth?

Well, if you want to put it that way I think the DNA stays the same but rest everything changes.

I’m sure many people have already asked you this but Arth 2 is the remake of an Indian film and you’ve always had a very anti-India, pro-Pakistani stance so then why remake an Indian film?

See when there is a trade happening between two parties I think it should be on grounds of equality where both parties involved have equal opportunities. We got a script from India and we are making it in Pakistan and this I think is equal opportunity.Trade should be done respectfully and with equal opportunities and that’s exactly how we did it. Also, Mahesh Butt sahab was kind enough to give us the rights for the film without charging us anything and I must thank him for that.

So it’s basically a remake?

No, it’s not a remake that’s just what people think.

Is it a reboot? Why call it Arth 2?

Not really a reboot. It is called Arth 2 is because basically it’s the same story but it’s presented in a different way. The thing is I have changed the protagonist and I’m the protagonist now. I am not playing the husband, I am playing the singer, so it’s a whole different thing. It’s like whatever was happening at that time with the singer that the director chose not to show. So with this film, we are showing that and the singer becomes the protagonist.

So you’re probably aware of the entire Lahore vs Karachi debate. You know I personally feel that the Karachi people have something against you. Would you agree?

Yes, they do. I don’t know why though. I think they misunderstand me. See, I am who I am! I mean if I am the way I am it’s not because I don’t like you it’s just because that the way I am. If I don’t say hello and if I don’t come to parties and if I don’t show up in areas where I don’t want to I think that’s highly mistaken.

And it’s not only about the actors and celebrities that I am talking about, it’s also the journalists, the print people and I think there is this negativity that surrounds your name.

Yeah, because Karachi is all connected you see. If you eff up with one person everything effs up because they all have connections. They all have their particular writers who belong to one particular camp and they would ruin other people’s films and they would put their films on the top and that is how it works! It is not just one person doing, obviously, ARY Media is associated with particular kinds of films and they would boost their films, HUM would be doing something else…

So would you say your fall out with ARY is what started this entire thing?

Not really. I personally think people should come out of their cocoons and they should evolve. I think right now we need more bonding, more collaborating together rather than having egos as large as mountains! I think there will be a time when we will have a booming film industry then it’s understandable that there will be fights. But right now there are four people and they are fighting with each other! Karachi is saying Lahore doesn’t do anything, Lahore is saying Karachi doesn’t. I feel that Karachi is on a totally different page and Lahore is on a totally different page. They need to align together, they need to trust each other and come out of their egos.

But I don’t think that’s happening, I think we are drifting apart with each film.

And you can see what’s happening with the films! It’s right in front of you.

Is there some upcoming film which has you particularly excited? Or some actor that you feel is promising?

I think Fahad Mustafa is good but he needs to be less exposed, I mean he is everywhere!

You mean because of the game show?

From the game show, Harpic commercials, to whatever he does. I think he should focus on films as he has got the talent. Although I’m in no position to tell him what he should be doing and he is a better judge of what he is doing. But I feel as a coach, if he considers me a coach, this is what I would say.

But do you feel that we have ample opportunities in films that an actor just focuses on films and leaves everything? After ‘Wrong Number’ released in 2015 Danish Taimoor decided that he would focus only on films but it took two years for his next film to come out and the other films he has in the pipeline aren’t that promising either.

See Danish Taimoor and Fahad Mustafa are standing on two different areas right now. Fahad Mustafa’s films have done well. There is a ‘Na Maloom Afraad’ sequel coming and he has some 3-4 more projects on hand, and I’m sure he is making enough money from the commercials so I think that’s good enough.

So an actor should be less exposed?

The less you get exposed, the higher you charge and the more you get exposed the lesser you charge. It’s a thin line and you only know it once you’re on the other side and have made some bad decisions and you want to recheck and see where you went wrong. I think this is one of those areas where we don’t realize what’s happening. You’re left wondering why are they running away when I charge more money. See when I demand more money they don’t run away, they only come to me when they really want to do something. It’s better to do one good commercial instead of four shitty ones.

Any particular film-maker you like from the new lot?

I think they are good but directors should venture into different things. New directors are going through the evolution process and haven’t evolved as yet. The day they understand what they need to do, the dimensions become bigger and it’s not one kind of films you are making. It’s a tool, if you know the art of making a film then you can make comedy, drama and should venture into different all areas.

So do you think a director should just stick to films because there are directors like Nadeem Baig and Wajahat Rauf who make a film, then make a television serial and then proceed to making films again? 

Well again I’m nobody to comment, but I would not do that. But then there are people who make dramas and then extract a film out of it. I wouldn’t be able to do that! I think that’s the lowest part of how to make a film. You’re thinking of money first. You’re compromising the script, compromising on ten thousand more things just so you can make more money. I think its better if you invest that in property, you’ll make way more money.

So stick to one thing you mean.

Okay so this is a bad example but if it’s my house that does not mean I can go pee anywhere, there’s a bathroom for that. So there are rules and regulations when you come to this medium. There is a reason it’s a different medium and that it has its own laws and we should respect that.

 

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I might be an Economics graduate from LUMS, but cinema is where my heart truly belongs. Always up for a discussion on fims and I guess you could call me a Pakistani Cinema aficionado. Email: mominalimunshi@yahoo.com

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