Gohar Rasheed talks about ‘Rangreza’, Pakistani cinema and clash with ‘Arth’

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 appearing in a quirky character in musical-romance Rangreza releasing on 21st December.

Galaxy Lollywood touched base with the passionate actor about his upcoming movie ‘Rangreza’ and talked in length about slew of topics ranging from Pakistani cinema to things missing in our films, clashing with the superstar Shaan Shahid’s upcoming movie ‘Arth’ on the box office and his upcoming projects.

Without further ado, read Gohar Rasheed’s interview, full of wisdom and insight, below.

How was the experience of working in Rangreza?

I was extremely nervous. Look at the cast – Saleem Miraj, Akbar Subhani, Imran Pirzada, Tanvir Jamal, Tahir Naqvi, Seemi Pasha, Saba Faisal, Humaira Bano, Bilal Ashraf, Urwa Hocane, Ghana Ali and Aleezay Gabool. These are all amazing actors and working with them was not an easy task. So, yeah, I was quite nervous. But overall, the experience was memorable. This film is very close to me. I am very emotionally connected to it and the character. And as the journey is coming towards its end, I am getting sentimental as well.

What are your expectations from the film and especially from your character?

To be really honest, I have no expectations at all. To tell you something, I actually contemplated not to go to the trailer launch the day it was released. I was so nervous at that time. I had no idea what would be the response. I had zero expectations. Thankfully, the trailer got well received and people liked it and also my character and dialogues. Even now I have no expectation as such. I have just put all my hard work in it. This film and this character is the labor of love for me to the audience.  That’s it. If they like it then it’s mercy of God.

Tell us about your character Waseem Walay in Rangreza.

This character Waseem Walay is not a villain, let me reveal this to you. This character is an anti-hero. Waseem Walay is something you will connect to at any level. I am not saying completely, but there will be some level at which you will find yourself connected to it. Like, there is a term ‘bridge ky is paar and bridge ky us paar’ known in Karachi. So, this is a character from the ‘other’ side of the bridge. A person from other side of the bridge lives in all of us. So, you might connect to him in that context.

How were you approached for the character and how did you prepare for it?

The time when I was casted for the film, I had no big scene in the industry. Mine drama serial Man Mayal was also not out yet and Digest Writer had just been started. To be really honest, these people approached me for the film. When they narrated the character to me I was so worried that I told them that I won’t be able to do it. I said no initially but later I gave a nod. Aamir (director) and Akhtar (writer) convinced me that it was only me who could pull it off and no one else. This character demanded extra energy from me. I had to gain weight, keep moustache for almost a year and half, grow my hairs, learn to play dholak and practice Karachi-wala dialect. So, I had to go an extra mile when someone showed a lot of trust in me.

Rangreza is releasing with Shaan Shahid’s directorial ‘Arth: The Destination’ on December 21. How do you see this clash on the box office?

It’s a good sign. See the trend of this year. Except Punjab Nahi Jaungi not any other movie could make money. We need to understand that we are developing our audience right now. We don’t have an audience for Pakistani films. We are hardly seven or eight years old industry and at the same time we are competing with Hollywood and Bollywood. So, we don’t have that muscle to release our films solo. We announced our date first and we actually contemplated that if we should come solo or not. The producers were confident about the product so they decided to go solo. So, when Arth also announced the same release date we were actually happy rather than worried about it. We were happy that we would get good footfall. Shaan is a superstar. I and Bilal played supporting characters opposite him in O21 and today our film is releasing in comparison to Shaan’s film. I see that as an honor.

Do you feel nervous about the fact that Shaan has the masses pull?

In this scenario we have nothing to lose. Its Shaan who has more things on stake. Suppose if Rangreza gets superhit, then its Shaan who is on the losing end. We all are new. So, we have less on stake as compared to Shaan. It’s a good sign that Arth is releasing along with Rangreza on 21st December. Before this year, everyone else used to fight over releasing their films on two Eid only. Now many producers are planning for their next year releases and seeing this part of the year as a potential release slot. Everyone has gotten the third release period for their films. So, I genuinely see it as a good sign. I really wish Arth best of luck on box office but, obviously, I will support my film (laughs).

Coming to your earlier point, you rightly mentioned that not any film was able to make big money beside Punjab Nahi Jaungi this year. Why we have not been able to build an audience for Pakistani films?

It is our fault.

What are we missing?

Content. Let’s talk about Punjab Nahi Jaungi. Technically speaking, the film was not a cinematic marvel. It did not have very amazing shots. I told it to Humayun Saeed and Nadeem Bayg as well. It was a hit because it had strong content. Its screenplay was tight. It had strong characters, good dialogues, perfect direction and excellent performances. Every actor acted brilliantly in the film, from Naveed Shahzad and Sohail Ahmad to Mehwish Hayat, Ahmad Ali Butt and Urwa Hocane. We have fundamental issues. We don’t focus on the content. We rush for making the film. Punjab Nahi Jaungi connected with the people. It was relatable to them. So, content is the king in cinema. We are missing on this fundamental thing. We are in hurry of making a film. No one works on the content’s quality.

What is the reason behind it? Why are we not spending the same amount of energy, effort and money in the writing department as we do on other departments of filmmaking?

We are in hurry for making a film. Everyone is in the rush, including directors and actors. It is responsibility of everyone. It’s even the responsibility of an actor to choose the right script. If I start giving a nod to every script then the filmmakers will get confidence that Gohar is giving a nod then our film would be good. No. You have to take a responsibility to correct them. The biggest reason is that everyone is in hurry of making a film. We think that we can fix the scripting issues on shoot or during editing. We miss the fundamental and first step. We should spend time on pre-production, which includes script writing, screenplay, story boarding, casting, character building and arc of the story. We don’t spend time on them. That’s why we end up making disasters. Another factor is our ego. If you are egoistic then its my humble advice that don’t make a film. Its for your own good. If you want to make a film then leave your ego at home and then come to the film’s set. It’s a creative process and in a creative process nothing is right or wrong. When nothing is right or wrong then you cannot be right all the time. You should listen to others. These are two things which I think we are lacking.

Are there any right stories which we need to make films on to build the audience?

In creative process there is nothing right and wrong. You cannot set a formula and say which types of films should be made. If this was the case then Shoaib Mansoor’s Bol would have not been a hit. If this was the case then Punjab Nahi Jaungi would have not been a hit. So, there is no set formula. Yes, we are passing through a transitioning and evolutionary process. So, the things are working on the basis of trial and error. Few things will work and few things will tank. We will realize that what should we do and what should not. Again, if content is good and the story is powerful then, either it’s a story from this side of the bridge or from the other side of the story, it will appeal to people. Good thing appeals to everyone. It’s a universal fact. Take an example of Yalgaar. I personally think it could not get the response it should have attained is due to the director. I think he did not have right intention to make the film. If your intentions are correct then you get a reward for it.

What’s next for Gohar Rasheed?

There are several things which are happening. Right now, I cannot really reveal them. I will reveal them on due time. I can, however, share that these are very exciting and absolutely unconventional projects. After Rangreza, I and Bilal are going to do two film projects together.

Telling very briefly, why should people go and watch Rangreza?

Because it’s a complete family entertainer. You can watch it with your mother, sister and even girlfriend. You will not be embarrassed or feel awkward at any point while watching it. It’s a shud khalis Pakistani film as everything of the film is done in Pakistan. On top of that, it has brilliant performances, great music and good story. So, you will have all the right perks.

Gohar Rasheed in conversation with Galaxy Lollywood’s editor Zeeshan Mahmood
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