It is a clash of the titans as four mega budget Pakistani films (7 Din Mohabbat In, Azaadi, Na Band Na Baraati, and Wajood) are all set to battle it out at the box office this Eid-ul-Fitr. Interestingly, they are not the only players, as three Hollywood biggies (Hereditary, Jurassic World, and Ocean’s 8) will also be joining the party which takes the total number of new films coming out this Eid to seven.
Galaxy Lollywood’s Momin Ali Munshi met up with the cast of all four Pakistani releases to know more about the films, discuss release date strategies and to find out what all was keeping the actors on their toes.
Here is the third interview where we talked to the cast of Na Band Na Baraati, which is under fire because of the sudden preponement of its release date. For those unaware, the film was going to release on June 29, which was then postponed to July 6, but now has been revised to Eid (June 16) which has upset the other teams. The film marks the first full-fledged leading appearance for actor Mikaal Zulfiqar who has previosuly been seen in Pakistani films like Godfather and Cake. Joining Mikaal will be three newbies Shayan Khan (also the producer), Nayab Khan, and Komal Farooqi who are all going to make their debuts with this film. Here are excerpts from the conversation.
So initially, there were three films coming out on Eid, but now because of your preponement, there are four, why the change of release date?
Mikaal Zulfiqar: Firstly, I think variety is good for the audiences. You go to the cinema, you have four different kinds of films, serious, romantic, comedy so there are more options. As for the release date, one of the reasons was that we wanted to take advantage of the two-week ban on Indian films which though is just one week now.
So basically, you preponed the film because of the Indian film ban?
Shayan Khan: Basically the ban, but it’s not that we are concerned about Indian films, thinking that our film is not going to stand against them. It’s just that when the ban came we thought we will get a longer run.
This question is for HUM Films but I hope you can answer it for me. Momina Duraid pulled Parwaaz Hai Junoon out of the race because she felt that four films were too much, but then HUM Films replaced it with Na Band Na Baraati?
Shayan: Being the producer of the film I think I can answer this for you. I don’t know their reason for why they did what, but my brother actually pushed them and we had to actually fight them to prepone the release date. They were like no you’re not going to make it you’re not going to get promotions we said we’d rather, because historically Eid has been a festive season for Pakistan where there is about 40 to 50 crore in the movies. We’re not here to hurt anyone and if all of us make 10 crores each or you know if one of them is better and makes 20 crores, I hope they make more, I hope we all make 20 crores.
Mikaal: Also, I think what might work in our favor is that ours is a light-hearted romantic comedy where you come for two hours enjoy your time, see some new faces and I think on an occasion like Eid it actually might work.
I was interviewing the cast of 7 Din Mohabbat In, and Azaadi, and they were pretty upset by this information and felt it was unfair to them.
Mikaal: Well, earlier Parwaaz Hai Junoon was coming out on Eid, so it is not exactly unfair and to be honest we are not really here to steal anyone’s piece of the pie. They should be confident about their films like we are confident about ours. We feel our film will do well and I wish them all the best, Team 7 Din was just there on my show the other day. In the end we are all one business, hopefully, we will all do well.
Shayan: Eid is the season people spend money. If we are all good movies, we will all do well and this will benefit the next film that is coming out.
Mikaal: Maybe out the four only two are good or maybe only one is good but you know let’s see. We should never be scared of competition, we work better in tougher environments.
So Shayan, Zashko Entertainment is producing the film, could you tell me a bit about the company?
Shayan: Zashko is a company started by my father and brother. Actually, my father wanted me to be a part of the film industry since forever. I was quite young when we moved to the US, where I did some theater in my school and interest developed in acting.
So most of the cast is either veterans in supporting roles or newbies making their debuts. Mikaal is the only well-established star in the film. Since you’re also the producer, I want to know did you cast Mikaal because of his star power or his acting?
Shayan: You want me to be honest? The beauty! I wanted to be the brother of the most beautiful person in the Pakistani industry
Mikaal: I would have liked the answer to be acting but…
Shayan: And he is a versatile actor.
Mikaal: But I appreciate that comment.
Shayan: And the character in the movie is not something that everybody could have played. There were other people in consideration but we were primarily waiting for Mikaal and Mikaal has a lot of attitude. He was like yeah, I don’t know if I want to do this and we were like come on man we have been waiting for like forty days.
So Mikaal was the first choice?
Shayan: Mikaal was our top choice. We offered it to a couple of other people but when Mikaal said yes we dropped all offers.
So, Mikaal with a two-hero project you generally assume that there will be ego issues, concerns about the screen time and considering Shayan is also the producer he did have the upper hand. Were you worried?
Mikaal: I have been in this industry for quite some time and have a variety of work whether it’s trying to make people laugh or cry. Alhamdulillah, my body of work is large enough for me to sustain. You know I played a cameo in Cake which was hardly there but it was fun and I am very proud of it. It is not like I only want to be in the limelight, I generally like playing good characters. For me, this is a job you I need to be working all year around.
So Nayab how did you come on board?
Nayab Khan: Shayan contacted me, we knew a little of each other from before, so they cast me for the role and I was really happy to do it.
Was it difficult working with established actors?
Nayab: To be honest at first I was very intimidated…
Mikaal: I am only difficult with you, otherwise I am a really nice person!
Shayan: I don’t know about the nice.
Mikaal: Yeah, I am hard on my producers too.
Nayab: I didn’t have any issues working with him. He actually made everything so much easier for me and I am very grateful to have worked with him.
Shayan what’s next for you after this film? I have heard you have signed another film.
Shayan: You know I cannot confirm or deny that, but definitely something is going to happen regardless of the outcome.
What is the update on your upcoming releases Mikaal?
Mikaal: There is the ISPR project directed by Kamran, which I have seen in its entirety, and it is extremely powerful. Thakur sahab (Iftikhar Thakhur) has also seen the film, and when I met him recently what he said to me was that the film would go in history and would be taught in school! It’s a very secretive project, so I can’t reveal much but it is probably coming out later this year.
And Sher Dil?
Mikaal: Possibly, very early next year.
What is next for you Nayab?
Nayab: I am going through different scripts. I want to fix my Urdu a little bit more and then decide what I want to do next.
Lastly, a clichéd question, why should people go see Na Band Na Barati and the answer should be in one sentence?
Shayan: If they want to see something new, something fresh.
Nayab: Canada is beautiful. If you want to see Canada come to see our film.
Mikaal: If you want to be entertained, have a laugh come to see Na Band Na Barati.