Bilal Ashraf has got his dream place in the industry after the release of his recent flick Superstar opposite to real life super star Mahira Khan. Getting both critical and box office claims, Superstar has become a milestone in Bilal Ashraf’s career and the dimpled boy of Pakistan film Industry is adamant to stay here with more confidence and vigour. And yes, he is in the news for his nerve wracking job on his body to be in the league of six-packed stars of region.
Born in a Karachi, Ashraf received his early education at his base city, and then studied visual effects direction from United States. He claims to have ten years of experience behind the camera.
Bilal Ashraf came into the field of acting by doing a cameo in 2014 thriller O21. In 2016, Ashraf played an angry young man in Janaan, which was appreciated by both critics and the audiences. Next year he appeared in an army office role in a war film Yalghaar, and later as a musician in Rangreza.
Here, Bilal openly shares about his journey to Superstar that how did he worked hard on his new looks and acting skills.
What is Superstar for you?
I have put my heart and soul in this project, which gives me a sense of satisfaction. Working with this team was a total excitement which led to happiness and the desired result. Superstar is the best journey of my career so far and we have shared this wonderful experience with everyone in cinemas on this eid.
We see you in Superstar as a typical sub-continental hero, who do romance, flirts and dances as well. How did you turn yourself into this role?
I have worked really hard for this role. I was put into theatre and dance classes for training. After training, we did a lot of rehearsals before getting on to the floor. I actually shut down my personal life for this film and there were so many days when I could not meet my parents because of the constricted schedule of my film. I believe to achieve whatever you want to do in your life, you have to sacrifice something and give its due time to it.
When you were asked to romance with Mahira Khan in the film, did you get excited or nervous?
At first, I thought how Mahira’s fans would curse me when I romance with her (laughing). Honestly speaking, it was a great excitement that I was going to work with such a big star and it was more relaxing for me when we quickly developed a bond at work.
We see a strong chemistry between you and Mahira on screen. How you build that chemistry?
I think this is something which Monina Duraid had foreseen. Then Ehtishamuddin put me in theatrical environment with Mahira for good 20 to 25 days as he thought it was necessary for our roles in the film. Then there were a lot of rehearsals. That whole process definitely helped us not only in learning things but to develop a trust and comfort level. That comfort level and trust has come out as a strong chemistry on screen.
How is Mahira Khan as a co-star?
She is perfectionist but a very commendable person at the same time. She used to come before call time and leave in the end. I must say that she is one of my best co-stars. She is literally a very lively person. We sometimes felt down due to the hectic schedule of shoot but she was always there to cheer us up with her energetic attitude like playing music and fun dancing.
You are getting mixed comments on your dance on dharak bharak. But tell us how much you worked hard to put this together?
We wanted dharak bharak to be viral like this and to get these types of comments on it. This typical chichora song is an inspiration from all the chichora songs that have been made till today. Why we have included this song in Superstar because that was required at a particular situation. It meant to be like this and is perfectly gelled in the film. I am so happy that people are calling it the way it looks like because it serves the purpose.
How the idea to include a shirtless dance in the film came?
Actually, to include this song in the film was a collective decision of three of us. It was initially my idea but Muhammad Ehteshamuddin and Momina Duraid encouraged me to it like this. If we had recorded this song in normal clothing, believe me that impact would have never been come.
Was that transformation for the film particularly?
I myself recommended it to make that particular body for that particular song but the belief of my director and producer in me made it possible.
How it took to transform your body into this physique?
It took almost a year because I did it in complete natural way. I didn’t take any injections or protein shake. It was very tough task but I must thank to my trainer Faisal Shafi, without whom it was not possible. He remained with me on shoots even.
How was the process of all this transformation?
I did it specifically for superstar but much else was transformed as well in the whole process. I think my mental approach is changed. Believe me to resist the food you like is not an easy task. It sometimes makes you cranky, but mentally this practice makes you stronger. It is all the game of belief in yourself and in that game; don’t let anyone put you down. Set a goal, and belief in yourself to achieve it.
What did you eat?
I had to eat clean food. It means lots of vegetables, boiled food and proteins and sometimes a little carbohydrate like roti. There was a complete ban on soft drinks and extra sugar. But yes, there were occasionally some cheat days.
What about workout.
Six days a week. It was twice or sometimes thrice a day. The routine was to run early in the morning, then a heavy weight session and in the evening, the light cross fix session.
After Superstar, would we watch Bilal Ashraf in a new avatar as an actor (in your next film)?
I like challenges. Let’s see what is next. It can be an action comedy film, which is still in pipeline. But before doing anything, I would give some time to myself.
How many your female fans have contacted you for personal numbers after this dashing looks of you in Superstar?
Actually, messages are flooded from both female and male fans. Appreciation is fantastic wherever it comes from.
Steps towards a Plastic free Pakistan.
Have you been wanting to go plastic free or at least reduce its usage but you don’t know how to get started or need a little push? Don’t worry, I have got your back with these seven easy tips and tricks to get you started!
- Start carrying a reusable water bottle with you everywhere and don’t buy one unless absolutely necessary. The earth will thank you and so will you wallet.
- Stop all usage of plastic bags and replace with reusable, non-plastic, earth-loving shopping bags. You can use a cloth bag, baskets, jute bags or get one stitched by your tailor. Get nice bags that you can even enjoy using. Take their care by washing them from time to time and keep them fresh.
- Switch out your usual plastic toothbrush with an eco-friendly bamboo toothbrush. Many non-plastic habits are hard to pick up. This one’s easy to make and stick to. None of the elements of a typical plastic toothbrush are biodegradable so they remain in our planet forever whereas bamboo brushes disintegrate into natural elements and leave no toxicity behind on the planet.
- If you are used to buying disposable drinks every day, get yourself a reusable straw or cup. The straws can fit in your work/school bag easily and the cups not only help you reduce plastic but look absolutely chic as well.
- Next time you are grocery shopping, pick pasta in the box instead of pasta in a bag. Choose cardboard over plastic bags. Paper products tend to biodegrade more easily without adding a lot of weight.
- There are a number of non-disposable options out there to cut down on period waste by using silicon cups to reusable pads. All these choices reduce incredible amount of packaging that most pads are encased in.
- Rethink about your food storage. Instead of using plastic zipper bags or cling wrap, why not use jars or glass containers or bees wax wraps to store food? When it comes to carryout, these types of containers can be reused instead of disposable ones.
- When buying anything new in plastic, stop & think if you can buy it in a non-plastic option – wooden cooking spoons, disposable plates.
- If you use cling wrap at home regularly, buy bees wax wraps from stores like @codegreenpk
- If you store food in containers at home, only buy new ones in glass, steel etc.
- Some Instagram accounts where you can your plastic free supplies from: @codegreenpk, @keano-ru, @recircle.life, @trashitpk
4 Facebook Groups with Great Initiatives that Serve Significant Purposes
Old were the days when a review was not a “thing” and it was extremely difficult to get information about anything be it travel, food, medical issues or any problem related to everyday life. It was not common to have a forum where people would share their experiences directly with the public. Reading first-hand experiences was rare and forums like Quora and Yahoo Answers were considered the only reliable sources.
Now, everything is available on the internet and is just a click away. But, should we rely on such sources to be authentic and true? It depends and varies from source to source. It also depends on who moderates the source and how.
When the trend of having groups on Facebook started, people only used it for fun, to gather at a place to talk and share jokes. At that time, a few were trying to utilize this source for a meaningful purpose and those people gave birth to some amazing groups that, now, have a huge following and are considered reliable sources for any information related to the subject matter of the group.
Now groups have become a popular and the safest space for like-minded people to congregate and discuss specific stuff- from hobbies to pets and celebrities.
If you are still living in the stone age or looking for answers to your riddles related to food, travel, pets, allergies, mental health, etc., these are the groups that are at your service with a meaningful purpose and a great initiative to help the masses through a direct communication and dissemination of information through various posts.
Foodies ‘R US
Created in 2013, now this group has over 95k followers. This is the place where you will find reviews about any restaurant. You name it and people will share their experiences. If you are a foodie, this is surely going to be your favorite group as it has all the solutions to deal with your appetite. Not only the masses, but this has also helped a lot of restaurateurs and home-based chefs with their businesses.
The founder of the group, Asad Sheikh says “I started this group 6 years ago for one reason only and that’s the passion for food. I just want to tell and guide people on what’s good out there to try and what’s good that our country has to offer. I don’t write bad reviews of any kind but that doesn’t mean that I have not had my share of bad food. Always try to highlight the good while telling owners of the restaurant about things that need improvement.
We all are ambassadors of our city or country and others who see our posts or reviews create an image of where we are from. Over the years Foodies ‘R Us has helped many people living out of city or out of country to pick the eateries when they visit Lahore Karachi or even Islamabad. The same passion was translated into encouraging home-based talent to post as much as they can and later encouraging them to turn this talent into a business.
Many small businesses have blossomed from this platform and we later encouraged them further to be part of our Coke Food Festival, giving them a face to face experience with their consumers.
We have never charged anyone to advertise on our platform and that’s the reason for the success of many small businesses.”
Soul Sisters Pakistan
This group is home to 212K women who interact and share their issues and experiences related to health, relationships, feminism, networking, their moments of happiness, moments of suffering or any piece of advice related to the ongoing discussion. Not only this, through the group, women were able to find their long lost friends, online jobs, solutions to their problems and a lot more. This has become a safe place for them to talk about stuff they do not normally share publicly or are afraid to talk about. Anonymous posts have become the new trend to send your message across.
“In a culture where women are often silenced and their issues trivialized, I felt that we needed a space and people to talk to, other than their immediate family and friends; a space where we could give unbiased advice as a third person, for each other’s problems and a space where we could come together to share our stories, experienced and inspire each other.
And so in August 2013, Soul Sisters Pakistan was formed, and within months we were getting scores of requests to join the group as the concept of a safe space like this wasn’t so common back then! From discussing taboos to breaking stereotypes to providing legal aid and emotional support – the community has really made a mark and become a household name. It is also one of the 115 most impactful communities in the world, recognized, supported and trained by Facebook itself!- Kanwal Ahmed (the Founder)
The Travel Diary
Earlier, it was extremely difficult to know about the experiences of people who travel. Now, you just have to post a query and hundreds will be there to assist you or guide you about a particular thing, food place, culture or about people of a certain country. All in all, this group is a complete package to know about anything related to a country. Founded in 2016 with more than 72K members, this group is a query-home for all travel enthusiasts.
Mishaal Hashmi, the founder of the group says, “Traveling is something that is an innate part of me. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to travel, be exposed to cultures and people. As an adult, I’m even more fortunate to be able to share my passion with like-minded individuals, who share a similar passion. The idea to create the Travel Diary arose from my desire to share my travel experiences as well as gain wisdom from the experiences of others. Never in my dreams had I imagined my passion to take on such a gigantic form and for a forum such as The Travel Diary to exist is a humbling experience and a dream come true.”
Soul Brothers Pakistan
Even though most of the posts are light-heart humor and user-generated content; the group generally talks about various topics including networking, recruitment, and counseling. Similarly, it talks about issues that surround the men’s ecosystem i.e. relationship, health, masculinity, and mental state. Moreover, It discusses these issues in depth through live talk sessions also known as #SBPGuyTalk, where group members from all walks of life come and discuss issues varying from Depression, Suicide, legal affairs, and health-related topics. Their popular segment #AnonymousSoulBrother is also widely used by members who seek suggestions and valuable insights on a variety of topics.
“We identified a need where we could create a crowd-sourced platform for men which would offer a healthy support system for Pakistani brothers here and abroad.” – Danish Javed (Co-Founder)
Gawah Rehna: An Upcoming Film Glorifying The Past
In dearth of enough content for the Pakistani Cinema and its audience, writer and director Tariq Mehmood, is ready to add something to make the numbers higher and give something different to the audience by going to floors with his first ever feature film Gawah Rehna in October this year.
Cast of this film includes Muhammad Qavi Khan, Ghana Ali, Emmad Irfani, Rabya Kulsoom, Rehan Nazim, Faisal Imtiaz and others. A Turkish actor Mert Sismanlar will also play a very important character in the film.
Talking at a presser in Karachi, Tariq Mehmood said that the film was based on a significant historical period of Khilafat Movement. The film depicts the era of 1920 when British rule was at its peak in the Sub-Continent while our forefathers defied the British rule and at the same time started a mass movement called the Khilafat Movement to help their Turkish brothers and sisters in their struggle against the imperial forces”
According to Mehmood, “Gawah Rehna pays rich tribute to the unsung heroes of our independence movement as well as to the brave Turkish nation. The film will be a source of further strengthening the people to people bonds between Pakistan and Turkey as it will tell Turkish audience what our forefathers went through while helping their Turkish brothers and sisters.”
Ghana Ali, one of the lead of the film said she could not tell much about her character but she loved the script that is why I couldn’t say no to it. She disclosed that her character in Gawah Rehna was the role that her father always wanted her to do that is why was more excited to be part of this film.
She further said “I am very honoured to be the part of this film as I always wanted to do something that could educate our new generation. Gawah Rehna is a peep into the history and our youth will get to learn about the past struggles of the Muslims of Subcontinent.”
Ghana was sure that Gawah Rehna will give us an international recognition and will be appreciated because if its topic.
Emmad Irfani, another lead in the film, said, he felt lucky to be an actor and being an actor it was his responsibility to portray his character it its true sense.
Talking about his character in the film Irfani said, “Gawah Rehna carries a very strong message. The film is about how to achieve your aim and to remain determine to get to your destination despite all challenges come in the way. My character is very challenging in the film which will go through many emotional and physical despair but will carry on his struggle to achieve the point (actually the ‘why’ of his life) that has been lost. The character will transform at that point.”
He further said that he was really looking forward to this project as he loved to take different types of roles for his professional growth.”
Veteran Muhammad Qavi Khan said we need more of these types of films where we can glorify our past struggles which further strengthens our present cause like Kashmir issue and others where Muslims are oppressed and the target of violence.
Gawah Rehna will be released in both Pakistan and Turkey as well as in other foreign markets in March next year.
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