Kamran Shahid isn’t new to the entertainment industry, besides being one of Pakistan’s foremost and credible journalists, his father Shahid was a huge film star back in the time. He could have played safe and opted for an easy breezy yet commercially viable project for his feature directorial debut. But he took the road less traveled with Huey Tum Ajnabi and choose to narrate an untold romantic fantasy set against the historical occurrences of the 1971 war.
“No other director in the industry would want to swim in the hot waters of a challenging script,” Kamran Shahid told Galaxy Lollywood. “I never thought of directing a film, I have not chosen to pursue direction as a full-time career. I am a journalist and will continue to be one. Being a historian, I discovered certain gaps in the tragedy of 1971. The revelation of facts opened a world of fantasy, eventually becoming the driving force for me to helm Huey Tum Ajnabi.”
Will Kamran Shahid Hit the Bull’s Eye with Huey Tum Ajnabi?
When its history, the audience is rooting for an accurate depiction of events, added the filmmaker who has also written the film. “First things first, Huey Tum Ajnabi doesn’t identify itself as a documentary. It is a mass entertainer with stellar performances, intense romance, drama, action sequences and soulful music. The writing process was of course very challenging; getting the facts right, especially balancing the romance and war history together. I am hoping that the untold narrative on celluloid will be a refreshing change for the audience.”
Creating another world is difficult and requires the settings to be authentic to get the feel of that particular era. “Yes, it was quite challenging as it took us four years to shoot the film in different time zones. In a film especially like this, you cannot skip the fine tuning of detailing of costumes, props, makeup, lighting etc. If you fumble on these accounts you haven’t entered the world. Despite my greatest efforts, there is always room for improvement.”
The film is releasing in four days. Nervous or excited, we asked. “Well, none (smiles). It’s just a project I’m very passionate about. If it hits the bull’s eye, I might make another. If that isn’t the case, I will keep making movies until I deliver a blockbuster. Failing won’t change how I perceive things that are associated with my name.”
A Different Territory for Mikaal Zulfiqar
Huey Tum Ajnabi is headlined by Mikaal Zulfiqar who plays the protagonist Nizamuddin in Dhaka University of pre-partition Bangladesh. Over the years, Zulfiqar has showcased his versatility with several diverse roles, but stepping into this territory is a first for him. “It is a dream role with a variety of shades like action, romance, heroism and patriotism. It is an honor for any male actor to play such a powerful character where you are practically saving the world,” Zulfiqar tells Galaxy Lollywood.
Since the narrative of the film is based on the backdrop of Dhaka fall, many external influences effect Nizamuddin’s journey. “It was interesting to create the required graph according to the timelines along with ample twists and turns. There was a lot of margin and diversity in every scene that enabled me to do something different. The huge production scale helped me to enhance my performance.”
Mikaal’s on-screen chemistry with co-star Sadia Khan is one of the major highlights in the trailer. “Well that’s just the tip of the iceberg (smiles) there is far more romance and chemistry once the audience watches the film. Sadia is an absolute beauty and looks stunning in the film. I was pretty much in love with her while shooting.”
How was the experience of working with the debutant director? “Great,” Zulfiqar said, “What’s good was the fact that Kamran Shahid knew exactly what he wanted out of the scenes. As the writer, he had command over his characters. Also, I believe that films based on Pakistan should be made in Pakistan. Pakistani’s all around the world are projected in a very different light, so we must be telling our side of the story”.
Music in films over decades has played a vital role to depict romance. After a long time, there is a Pakistani film that has an extensive list of eleven songs featuring melodies by Abida Parveen, Baqir Abbas, Sahir Ali Bagga, and Naveed Nashad among others. “The real highlight of the film are the songs. My favorite song from the album is Naina. I am sure the music album will be a treat for avid music listeners.”
The Dependable Antagonist in Huey Tum Ajnabi
The historical aspect of Huey Tum Ajnabi attracted actor Shamoon Abbasi to play the antagonist. “I am always on the go to play adventurous roles. I found huge margin to perform the role of a ruthless Bengali officer who commands the Mukti Bahini forces. I was always excited to be on set and to work on the nuances of my character. It wasn’t easy to portray and shoot a dark character. I feel the Gen Z should watch this film to have a better understanding of history.”
The Kamran Shahid debut directorial promises to be a good package deal. It has got mass appeal, aided by a stellar cast, offers intense romance, and heavy-duty action. The only hiccup seems to be the multiple Eid releases. Will Huey Tum Ajnabi hold its ground and succeed in pulling crowds to theatres?
Huey Tum Ajnabi opens in cinemas on Eid-ul-Fitr 2023. The film features Sadia Khan, Ayesha Omar, Alyy Khan and veterans Sohail Ahmed, Mehmood Aslam, Shafqat Cheema, Samina Pirzada and Shahid.