There is no denying Mikaal Zulfiqar’s versatility as an actor and performer. The now 36-year-old actor, who ventured into the industry as a model before making a breakthrough in Abrarul Haq’s famed song Sanu Tere Naal Pyaar Hogaya, has established himself as a household name in the Pakistani drama and film industry, all thanks to an impressive portfolio and his charming good looks.
Mikaal made a silver screen comeback last year with an extended cameo in Asim Abbasi’s, much-acclaimed family drama Cake. The film was also Pakistan’s official entry into the Oscars this time. He later starred in the comedy film Na Band Na Barati, but this one wasn’t as lucky as Cake.
He is gearing up for the flight of his life with the release of his upcoming Pakistani film, Sherdil, which is expected to hit the screens on March 22nd. From the name and the trailer of the film, it is evident that the film is inspired by the life and heroics of Pakistan Airforce and its men. Keeping in mind the current political scenario, the film could not have come at a better time.
Galaxy Lollywood sat down with Mikaal to talk about this latest film and thoughts on the role of actors and artists in sensitive political situations.
GL: Tell us a bit about Sherdil and your role in the film?
I’m essaying the role of a brave and courageous fighter pilot Haris Mustafa, who is also full of life. Meanwhile, the film narrates his journey and the battles he has to face in life, both personal and for his country, and how he overcomes them.
GL: You mentioned that this had been one of your most challenging roles so far. How so?
To be honest, playing Haris was an extremely physically challenging role, as almost every scene demanded physical exertion which included sprinting, intense fight sequences, obstacle courses, use of weaponry and the riskiest of them all: taking flights in fighter jets.
A fighter pilot doesn’t just risk their lives when in battle, but in fact, they risk it every single time they take a flight. Hence, when I took flights in the same planes for the film, I too put my life on the line. This completely changed my perception, and I have gained so much more respect for our brave and dedicated forces.
GL: How was your experience working with the director and Armeena Khan?
It was great working with the whole team of Sherdil. I’ve always been a team player and was lucky to work with a cast and crew who was on the same page as me.
GL: Parwaaz Hai Junoon (PHJ), also based on the PAF, was released a few months back and was a hit. Is the film borrowing from it and trying to follow the same path?
As per my knowledge, both the films were commissioned at almost the same time. However, I had no idea about the story of PHJ until it’s release; and after seeing it, I can safely say that both films are entirely different. The premise and story have no similarities whatsoever.
GL: How relevant do you think the film is in the current situation? Should movies be used as a medium to spread a particular message?
It’s a mere coincidence that the topic of Sherdil matches the prevalent situation in the country. We obviously couldn’t have predicted any of this. But it is definitely relevant. Sherdil will not only provoke but will also surprise too. You’ll have to watch the film to find out.
And yes, films play a significant role in conveying a certain message and have a great influence too, which is why a lot of responsibility lies on of filmmakers and actors.
GL: Should actors get involved in state politics?
Actors across the world have a great deal of influence and can inspire the audiences. In my opinion, actors try to preach and spread the message of love and peace. But there are times when one has to stand for his nation, pride, and honour.
In the current situation, I would actually commend Pakistani actors because we were the first to step into India in good faith, trying to bridge the gap. However, it is unfortunate how India always plays the role of an aggressor by banning actors or creating media spectacles out of them. Regardless, I am proud of the way our actors handled this with utmost maturity and sensibility.
GL: What are your thoughts on the statements by your Bollywood counterparts regarding the strikes?
Like any other person, I too was saddened to hear some voices from Bollywood call for war.
GL: Apart from Sherdil, two other films (Laal Kabootar, Project Ghazi) are also releasing around the same time. Moreover, a telefilm on the Pakistan Navy (Laal) is also under-production. Wouldn’t this overcrowd the box office and overpower the patriotic theme?
It’s a wonderful feeling seeing our industry flourish, and I wish all films, including the ones releasing alongside Sherdil, the very best. May we continue to grow and soar high. Nonetheless, it’s always good to have healthy competition because it pushes us to do better. This also gives the audiences a variety of options to choose from when they go to the cinemas.