“Zarrar is like a James Bond film with a true story,” – Shaan Shahid

Shaan Zarrar interview

Shaan is the undisputed king of cinema today. If there is any actor in Pakistan with the biggest following of a kind where people would flock to cinemas just because they are starring in a certain film, it is Shaan.

Despite all of that, however, his last outing, Arth – The Destination; which was his own directorial by the way, didn’t work out at the cinemas. But when you have acted in over 500 films in the industry, failures don’t bother you that easily.

His next offering, Zarrar, is an exciting high-octane spy-thriller whose trailer comes out on 23rd March 2019, whereas the film itself is expected somewhere in the first half of the year too. We had a detailed discussion with the superstar recently, where he candidly talked about the failure of Arth, the excitement for Zarrar, and why he wouldn’t work with names like Mahira or Mehwish. Enjoy!

Arth was a well-shot film, but despite that, there were some obvious flaws with it. What do you think were the factors due to which it didn’t work?

Although Arth was made on an already loved classic story with a spin to it, I personally love it and find nothing wrong with it. Perhaps, it was ahead of its times. The problem with art is that it may not necessarily be understood in the era in which it is created. Maybe with the passage of time, Arth may find more acceptance as it gets old, just like it happens with wine as it ages.

As a failed box office film, Arth still taught me a lot of lessons and I see it as a success that way.

Coming on to Zarrar, first things first, when is Zarrar coming out? Is it releasing on Eid ul Adha?

Well, I cannot give any confirmation on it releasing on Eid ul Adha yet, but I can’t rule out the possibility of that happening either. We are calculating our choices that include Eid ul Adha as one of them. One thing is for sure though, Zarrar is coming out in 2019.

What motivated you to make a film like Zarrar?

It was simple, we deserve a well-made action film. It’s been ages we haven’t seen any well-made, well-executed local action film, and Zarrar would be something that’s never before seen in Pakistan.

ISI has always been portrayed in a negative light in whatever Indian or Hollywood films there are on the subject, is Zarrar a rebuttal to those foreign portrayals?

Zarrar is based on 90% true events. It’s set in the real world and the current day Pakistan. All the threats to the country and its integrity are presented in a real and authentic way. It captures fifth generation warfare and other threats that should be highlighted in mainstream media but are ignored.

How would you describe the film? The style and treatment of the subject in it. Is it a glamorous film?

It’s like a Bond Film with a true story. Not a Fauji sort like we have been seeing on our screens in past. It’s not like Waar or Yalghar. It’s a new breed of a spy thriller action genre, and we are planning sequels and prequel to the film in the future if things go well.

Zarrar is planned to be a four-part series, and the one which is ready for release is basically the second part. It will second a third and fourth installment and then an origin film in the future.

ISI is fighting its war at multiple fronts right now, there are internal threats, then there are threats from neighbouring countries, which front Zarrar will be covering?

Zarrar will mostly address internal security threats faced by Pakistan. It is very much based inside the country, and it will be about protecting our own motherland.

Is the film made in the English language?

It’s not a single language film. Most of it is in Urdu, but there are a lot of English actors in it and I didn’t pressurize them to speak Urdu in order to maintain the authenticity of the events. Even the English used is an easy one which will be easily comprehensible. There is also a very nice Urdu soundtrack featuring Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and other big names of Pakistani music industry.

Did you consider anyone else besides Kiran Malik for the lead role, and why didn’t you opt for already established names like Mahira or Mehwish?

I did a lot of search for the lead actor, and I was really frustrated in that process. I was looking for a certain kind of energy on screen that I didn’t find until I found Kiran. She is a rare find where she has the freshness of a newcomer and timing of an established artist. She has done scenes which left me and Nadeem Sahib speechless, and he wouldn’t believe me that she was a newcomer.

As for Mahira and Mehwish, etc. I really like their work but they are so busy. Personally, I feel lucky to have an actor onboard who doesn’t have a portfolio or any sort of baggage. This way the project gets more attention that it deserves.

Recently, the teaser of the film was leaked online, were you able to track who was behind this?

We have a very strong inner team to protect the content yet ironically it happened when we were trying to avoid any leak. Someone sent it to me, and I asked, “how did you get hold of it?” Initially, I was scared but then I realised that whatever has happened has happened and decided to just let it go.

Would you like to work with other established directors like Nadeem Baig and Nabeel Qureshi? Why haven’t you collaborated with any of them yet?

I am an actor and this is what I do. If they come up with something that’s substantial and has that filmy flair, why not? I would love to be directed by them. I myself don’t know why I haven’t worked with them until now. I do two films a year, and I am always open for a collaboration with them since they are making great cinema.

Have you seen any Pakistani film released last year? Like JPNA, Teefa In Trouble, or any other film that you may have liked?

I haven’t seen any Pakistani film from 2018 because when I see it I happen to start giving my advice (which becomes unnecessary most of the time) to people who made that particular film (laughs). So, I want to avoid that.

But a lot of Pakistani films like Teefa did good business and they must be good films too.

I still maintain that the cinema element is still missing in certain films and we need to work on it. You can’t have Bulbuley in films.

Have you seen teaser of The Legends of Maula Jatt? If yes, how did you find it?

I saw it and I liked it. I think he [Bilal] has done great work and I am sure it will be a good film.

Have you done any cameo in the film (The Legend of Maula Jatt)?

No, I haven’t. I don’t do cameos. I would very rarely do a cameo if at all I did. There must be a reason for that instead of just being a cameo for the sake of cameo.

What are your expectations and hopes from Pakistani cinema in 2019?

I hope we make some good films this year around too, and I hope we work as one unit. Supporting each other and standing up for our rights together.

I also wish that more and more producers join Pakistani cinema. We have cinemas and new actors entering the industry, but we don’t have new producers. Whoever wants to become a hero makes a film casting himself as the lead. This way, Pakistani cinema cannot have sustainable growth.

Despite having successful films, we at Pakistani cinema haven’t been able to produce crowd-pulling stars. What’s the reason behind that?

The actors need to realize themselves about their potential. They are busy proving to people that they are stars on social media platforms. They are overexposed and thus, losing their cinematic charm.

The actors nowadays are very urban, and they maintain their presence via Instagram posts about what they are eating and what they are drinking. People have no interest in that in the long run. In order to make stars, cinema and corporate sectors need to collaborate and make a consensus on that.

Our actors too need to come out of the social media syndrome and focus on work and the art that’s going to last and matter.

What’s next for Shan post-Zarrar? We heard a rumor that there is a romantic comedy featuring you and Mahira Khan, Is that true?

Well, Mahira is a beautiful star, and we did have some sessions about a possible project. But I think she’s busy right now and whenever she gets into the zone where we could collaborate, we surely will.

Are you planning something in a different genre, something other than action after Zarrar, like comedy, drama, or anything else?

Right now, I want to make Zarrar and its other installments. After Zarrar, there will be another sequel called “I-6”. Having said that, I do want to do a sweet love story personally.

Read: Shaan replies to your Instagram questions

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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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