Hisham Bin Munawar, a promising young film director and script writer is among those new lot of film makers, who have got specialized degree in film making. Fond of watching movies from very young age, Hisham knew it from very first day that he would become a film maker. In quest of his passion, his family supported him a lot and provided every requisite that could be needed. He started to work on his idea of a rom com ‘Ready Steady No’ some years back and succeeded to achieve his dream against all odds. He is the writer, director and producer of the film and has even recorded a song for it. Ready Steady No is releasing on 19 July 2019.
How the idea of ‘Ready Steady No’ came into your mind or what inspires you to write this script?
It came into my mind as I saw my very close friend going through some trouble. I also added some personal experiences in the story. It is about the frustration due to which our society makes very simple things and problems so complicated. We have tried to portray these absurdities of our society in a comical way in Ready Steady No.
What is the uniqueness of Ready Steady No?
We have put too much focus on content with our own flavour in it. It is somewhere between an indie and a commercial film. We have all the elements of a commercial film but presented them with indie sensibilities. It is a spoof of a typical love story to show that how a screen romance is so different and fantastical than a real life romance. How harsh and difficult is to get your love in actuality in our society. Moreover, we also have many interesting surprises towards the end of film.
Tell us about your cast. What was in your mind when you assigned them?
Cast designing is my favourite job in film making. In Ready Steady No, my cast is my biggest strength. It is a dynamic combination of freshness and experience. They are very committed actors and I am satisfied with everyone’s performance. We had finalized most of the cast during script writing. I personally prefer it to know my cast when writing the story of my film, like I wrote the character of Salman Shahid keeping him in my mind. I took the first draft of his character to him and was so lucky that he loved it and agreed to do it straightaway (as it is said that he is very choosy about his characters). It helped me to focus on actors’ ability to portray that particular character and by ability I mean how natural and believable they would look. But actually, there are many more parameters of casting like sometimes you have to decide that if you want to trust on the acting skills of actors or prefer their market value. I must thank Amna Ilyas, who joined us at last moment and admit that she is real bonus for my film.
How did you come into the field of film making? It is your first independent venture. Where did you get this experience from?
It had to be happened. I was a movie buff since my childhood. I was 12 when I got my first handy cam and I think that was the start of my journey to be a film maker. I did my graduation in film making from Beaconhouse National University Lahore. During my studies, I got the chance to work with Shoaib Mansoor, who was making BOL in those days. That was the life changing experience for me. The response of BOL gave me immense confidence. But I think it was my passion that mainly made it to happen. I want to mention here that my family supported me a lot in this whole journey.
In future would you like to make rom com like RSN or have some other ideas as well to work on?
I have many ideas and stories in my mind but honestly, not a rom com again. The kind of films which I like to do in future would actually need some financer to put money in and I know that to find them is not an easy job. It also depends on the fate of RSN.
You are writer, director, and producer of the film. How difficult it was to wear all these three hats at the same time? What about acting in a film in future?
It was really difficult. But it was necessary to make this film to happen. I hope that after this film I would more be able to give more focus on my writing and direction. As far as acting is concerned, I did it in my university days but when I came into writing and direction, tou bhool hi gaya ke acting bhee koi cheez hoti hai (I forgot that what acting was about) but I would love to carry on my singing in the future as well.
In Conversation with the Heartthrob; Usman Mukhtar.
We all have been drooling over this IT couple of Altamash and Izzah. Now that Anaa has come to an end, we got a chance to talk to Usman about his character, his upcoming projects, his take on harassment and women empowerment and that’s what we found out.
How is Usman in real life? Is he just like Altamash or totally opposite to him?
I’m not like Altamash in real life, but I’m not totally opposite to him. Altamash is always dressed up, I’m not. I’m very comfortable wearing my shorts and my T-shirt, I love dressing up casually. Altamash is a big businessman, I’m not. I’m a struggling actor. He’s very serious; I’m not that serious in real life. There are not a lot of similarities between me and Altamash.
According to you, what is wrong with directions and directors these days?
I feel like directors here don’t direct the actor, that’s one thing that they need to do. They need to work with the actors. Directors here think they can just sit on a chair, speak on the big microphone the word “ACTION!” and everything is going to take care of itself, that’s not how it works. Especially in advertisements, I think the director of photography is considered the director. Having said that, there are also some good directors in Pakistan as well but yes the director is basically the captain of the ship, he needs to be involved in everything from the sound design to costume design to the set design and also he needs to work with the actors and help the actors which unfortunately most directors here don’t do.
Name one movie that you think would have been better had it been directed by you.
I don’t think I would have done a better job at directing it but I would have really liked to direct Laal Kabootar, that’s the kind of genre I would like to direct but again I’m in no way saying that I would have directed it better. Kamal has done an amazing job and I really respect him as a director.
If it wasn’t acting or directing, what would have been your choice?
Well, my grandfather wanted me to become a lawyer and I wanted to become a cricketer. So either or.
we saw someone calling you “JOEY”, how true is that statement?
Yes, my friends call me JOEY, which is based on Joey Tribbiani from the television series “Friends”, because I have eating habits like Joey. I love food and I don’t share my food, I get really possessive about my food and I get really pissed off if somebody takes food from my plate.
Movies or Dramas, what would you prefer?
In an ideal world, I would love to do movies but right now the movies that the Pakistani film industry is producing does not have that standard and the audience has not been developed. There’s a lot that needs to happen in the film industry. Stories and script writers are very amateur, and sound is not up to par. So right now, I’d like to do dramas. If a good script comes my way I’d love to do it.
Cheesiest fan moment?
It’s not a cheesiest moment but a bit scary and creepy. Somebody dropped off a letter at my house and that letter started off with “Usman, I have been stalking you” so I don’t know if it’s cheesiest but I’m sure it’s very creepy.
One male and female actor that you really look forward to work with?
I think Bilal Abbas and Imran Ashraf are great actors and I would love to work with them because you feed off each other’s energy and if you have a great performer in front of you, you can also give a decent performance so I’d love to work with them. In females, I think Sajal Ali is a great actor and so is Sanam Saeed, they both are amazing actors and I would love to work with either one of them.
Any drama from the past that you would have loved working in?
Yes. Yes. Yes. There are two dramas that I would have loved working in. One of them is Dhoop Kinaray and the other one is Alpha Bravo Charlie.
After researching a lot, we still couldn’t find your relationship status. Would you like to comment on it?
It’s complicated, that’s all I can say.
Define feminism from your perspective.
From my perspective, I think anything that a man does; a woman should be allowed to do as well and anything that a man is not allowed to do, a woman shouldn’t be allowed to do it either. We need to be equals and we are equals as human beings and I’m a strict believer of equality and that is feminism to me.
What’s your take on sexual harassment in media/entertainment industry.
I think sexual harassment is a very serious issue and I think a lot of women go through that and it is the most horrible thing to go through. But, I also feel that we very blindly believe anybody and everybody and that shouldn’t happen. I think there needs to be a strict check and balance that if somebody is saying something it needs to be credible. I know it’s a little difficult but there are a lot of spiteful people out there and also there are a lot of sleazeballs and creepy people out there who harass women but I do feel there needs to be a strict check and balance.
What’s the reason/idea behind your witty captions? (Even if it doesn’t make sense to you, say something about that)
I don’t like putting quotes under my pictures, I like to believe I’m a funny person so I tend to write a caption that is funny and bring a smile to my followers, that’s why.
Tell us about your future projects?
I cannot tell you about my future projects right now but some interesting stuff is coming up so please hold your horses and be patient with me.
One person you secretly stalk on Insta but don’t follow?
If I like somebody I follow them, I don’t stalk people. I mean yes I do, I stalk the people I follow and it’s not stalking you just go through their profile but I don’t really stalk people I don’t follow.
A confab with Amar Khan, as an actress
The incredibly talented, multi-faceted, and gorgeous Amar Khan has become a distinguished figure in the entertainment industry with the remarkably unconventional and diverse characters she has played. Her roles in dramas like Bela pur ki daayan, and Ghughi have won acclaim from critics and audiences, alike. Amar started off her journey with a degree in filmmaking, and is now establishing herself as an actress, director, and a writer.
We decided to have a chit-chat with Amar Khan exclusively, to get a better insight into her life as an artist, and her journey so far.
What was the point in your life that instigated you to choose this career, as there aren’t even many acting schools in Pakistan?
“Ever since I was a kid, I was a big film buff, and I always extensively watched films. When I completed my A levels, that is when I decided that I seriously want to pursue this career and I wanted to do filmmaking. So, I attended a film school, and after my bachelor’s in filmmaking, I went abroad to specialize further. I think, the urge was always there to learn about this profession and then pursue it.
And obviously, my mother is one of the actresses who have been working in the field since there was PTV only, so I think it was in the genes as well.”
You’re known for always playing unconventional roles, especially the one in “Bela pur ki daayan”. Most people would shy away from playing a “daayan”. What is your reason behind choosing such characters?
“I think I have always enjoyed performing challenging characters. I have never really liked playing the damsel-in-distress, tear-jerking roles. And I think people identify with that persona of mine. If the script is thrilling and it demands me to perform in a different, unconventional demeanor, I always prioritize doing that. And I believe that even the audience enjoys seeing me play such characters, rather than typical ones.”
You made your writing debut with “Chashm e Nam”. What inspired you to write that script? And which is the one you would pick if you had to, acting or writing?
“I made my writing, acting, and my directorial debut through “Chashm e Nam, which aired on Hum TV. And I think even if I had to choose between writing and acting, I wouldn’t want to pick just one. Because there are so many people in the industry, like Woody Allen and Meryl Streep, who are multi-taskers and do all of these things together and do it really well. I think, all three, acting, directing, and writing, are interlinked as they all are a means of storytelling. And I love all three of them!”
You were born in Lahore, and now you are living in Karachi; how different do you find the two cities, in terms of work?
“I think, Karachi, in terms of work, is very proficient, very professional, and very on-time! Unfortunately. I haven’t worked in Lahore, because there isn’t any work there. So, they are two very different cities; one city I am very emotionally connected with, having spent my entire life there, with all my friends and my family. So, all my memories are from Lahore; I am a Punjabi, a Lahori. And then, coming here and adjusting according to the Karachi, city environment was lovely. Lovely experience in both the cities!”
You have worked in both, films and dramas. Which is your favorite?
“I think, I enjoy all the mediums. When I was in my film-school, I also did theatre; so, I love doing theatre as well. As an actor, you explore so many other avenues, and you think more. So, I enjoy all the domains, because you are performing and telling a narrative as well. Whatever medium is offered to you, you should just go on and see how it goes along with you.”
Tell us about the best compliment you have ever received.
“The best compliment that I have always received is about my rich, beautiful hair. People always compliment me about hair, and that again comes from my mother. Even today, she has the best, the thickest, the most shiny hair; so, I think that’s in the DNA!”
Amar seemed overwhelmed and admitted that she enjoys all the attention and the love that her fans shower on her, even the long paragraphs she receives on her Instagram! She emphasized that being a public figure who is active on social media, one often has to deal with trolls. However, she feels that when people appreciate her work and are kind to her, she can always ignore the negative ones, and had a message for the trolls to be kind and ethical, instead of demoralizing people.
An Informal Colloquy with Wahaj Ali
After spilling his magic in Haiwan, Wahaj Ali is all set for new and exciting roles. We sat with him to talk about his career, daily routine, his likes and dislikes and many more that you would love to know.
This is what we grabbed from a small meeting.
Q.1. Tell us how it all started.
Ans. My career wasn’t planned, nor was it accidental – it was actually quite sudden. I worked at the theater before as a hobby, and from that I got an opportunity to work on television – that’s where it all started from.
Q.2. Peeking into Wahaj`s daily routine – what does it comprise of?
Ans. Well, it depends! If I am not shooting for a project, I spend time at home with my daughter, and teasing my wife and mother. I am not a very active guy, so when I am not shooting, I am super lazy and I spend most of my time in bed. However, when I have a shoot, my work day starts from 9 am and continues on till 11 pm, and that’s how hectic it becomes. There are lots and lots of scenes that we have to record, and when I am back home, I’m usually too exhausted to socialize much. I’m not a very social person anyway – instead of going to parties, I would rather go and spend quality time with the three ladies in my life: my wife, mother and daughter.
Q.3. What kind of a person is Wahaj?
Ans. Wahaj is vulnerable, but he is indestructible.
Q.4. Did you always intend to get into this industry or you had other plans as well?
Ans. As I said earlier, this was never the plan. I had other things in mind, but this is what life has brought me to, and I am loving it. Life is risky, but it is calculated, and in the face of it taking surprising turns, we should plan out things to achieve targets and keep ourselves motivated to succeed at whatever we end up doing.
Q.5. Other than Haiwan, have you done any emotionally challenging drama? Your views about child abuse – what made you take up that project? Was it the subject matter or you just took it without any reason?
Ans. For that I will be very honest: it was a selfish decision to opt for Haiwan. The cast and the director was the major reason why I signed up for it, as they were experienced and I got to learn a lot from them. However, the fact that the drama is based on an emotional social issue was definitely a plus point, as the script was really intriguing.
Q.6. Who has been your favorite co-star so far?
Ans. For me every co-star is my favorite, since I have had a good working relationship with all of them and I had the chance to learn from them as well.
Q.7. Who has been the most difficult person to work with?
Ans. I think no person is difficult to work with. It’s just a lack of understanding that results in such friction, and I usually make sure I develop that understanding on set and off set if required.
Q.8. Any project from the past that you would love to be a part of?
Ans. What I think is that whatever is written for you comes your way, and if you weren’t a part of something, it probably was for the better. Your focus should always be on giving your best to whatever you have committed to do, instead of worrying about anyone else’s work.
Q.9. Any project you regret saying no to?
Ans. Not really. I don’t regret when I say no. it’s simple – when I take a decision, I think about it thoroughly before I decide on it, and once I’ve made up my mind, there’s no turning back, and no regrets.
Q.10. Any project that you shouldn’t have done?
Ans. There are a few projects which didn’t completely resonate with me, yet I did them. However, I don’t want to name them, and I now take them simply as a part of the learning process.
Q.11. What kind of projects you would like to work on? And most importantly, what is lacking in the drama industry?
Ans. I want to be part of those projects with which I can inspire and educate people. It is crucial for me to use my work to get a valuable message across. It has been noticed that as the number of dramas or actors are increasing in the industry, the quality of work has been decreasing, and I feel quality comes first. We have to maintain the quality irrespective of anything else. Teamwork is also something that our industry can work on.
Q.12. Are you ready to slide into movies any time soon?
Ans. I’m not prepared for movies yet, however it can be something I can look forward to sometime in the future maybe.
Q.13. Tell us about your future projects?
Ans. There are a couple of projects that are in the pipeline, and one of them is on child abuse which is under production currently. Another one is also in the works that will surely surprise you all!