Chit Chat

I didn’t like Amitabh Bachchan in Great Gatsby: Shaan Shahid

Shaan Shahid , one of the legendary actors of Pakistan Film industry will soon make the adaptation of Mahesh Bhatt’s Arth in Urdu in Pakistan.

Shaan Shahid , one of the legendary actors of Pakistan Film industry will soon make the adaptation of Mahesh Bhatt’s Arth in Urdu in Pakistan. The film will be made in Pakistan and will include actors and technicians from India. Shaan who has been in the Pakistan film industry for more than two decades wants to tribute to Indian film industry by making this film in Pakistan. Shaan spoke to TOI from Lahore about the movie and the expectations from Bollywood cinema.

You have always been against Bollywood films yet you want to make a remake and that too an Indian film … what makes you think you would do justice with Arth?
I grew up in a typical filmi background both my parents were well known personalities from the Pakistan Film industry. I was very little when I saw the film Arth. We would hear our parents discuss about the movie at home with us. When, Mahesh Bhatt saab called me to do the film Arth in a Pakistani version I was totally excited. The movie will be made in an Urdu version and it’s going to a multi level movie with actors from both the countries. The essence of the movie will not be affected at all. Bhatt saab was very kind enough to share the rights of the script of the movie to me. This is will definitely be the first collaboration of Indo Pak movies and that is a huge thing for both for the film fraternity. I was impressed when Shagufta the scriptwriter came to me and narrated the script. It’s high time that all the creative people from both the countries should get together and start building something that’s a better infrastructure where art literature is understood. Very honestly I have done 500 films till now, and there comes a time and I’m 40 now and I have worked all my life I wanted to work on a larger level which will create a difference for all. I want to take one step ahead and sign MOUs and start instructing something better. There are so many items coming from India to Pakistan so why not films , why is that only business man come out successful when they get goods to Pakistan so why not filmmakers, artist and singers able to survive? Why filmmakers, legendary actors directors, singers and various other artists from both countries can’t come together. So someone has to come forward and strengthen that bond and I will try to do it in the best way I can.

The storyline of the original movie Arth was very bold, do you think people in Pakistan which mainly is conservative and orthodox how will you convince them to watch the movie?
That s what I’m trying to tell to the world through this remake of the film that whatever the society does today wherever they are all the same. Everyone have their own ideas and perception and people are all the same. Whether be Hollywood, Bollywood or Lollywood such things are commonly seen everywhere these days and it is the reality of life. I’m sure people in Pakistan will accept the truth of today what is happening. Times have changed now, today the generation is far advanced and they are open to watching such realistic movies.

Ask him about the shooting details and he tells us…
I want to shoot the Pakistani version of Arth and want to bring in the woman character in the movie as the woman of today. The original movie was done in 80’s so I want to bring some changes in the current remake and experiment on the characters of the movie. I want to bring out the character relating to today’s world. I want to shoot the movie in Lahore and we shall be including some prominent actors of Pakistan like Humaima Malick who will play the role of Smita Patil. It’s yet to be decided whether I shall be playing the role of Kulbhushan Karbanda in the movie. Shagufta, the scriptwriter will be visiting Pakistan on Thursday and we shall then decide on the script , star cast and the entire shooting schedule. As far as the film is concerned Lahore will be the hub for getting the shoot done. For music I would like to rope in Indian musician -Shankar Ehsaan Loy. If you see one thing it’s not only about the remake of the movie but it’s the first time that we are collaborating technicians artists and production team to make this movie without the help of the government. Do we have to wait for politicians to take first step? It is first time from the Pakistan film fraternity that somebody is giving a tribute to Indian film and wants to make an Indian movie remake in Pakistan. That’s a different ball game all together how we are reaching out to each other without the politics or any help to set up a platform. For me, Aman ki Asha is not just few pictures and articles in newspapers but respecting communicating each other the way we are. I think that represents how educated we are how liberal we are, how we want to work together and create peace and harmony.

In the past, you were offered lot of Bollywood movies like Rok Sako to Rok lo, Ghajini , Delhi 6 and so .. but why is that you always rejected the offers and now after 20 years all of a sudden you have agreed to do a remake of a Bollywood movie?
Yes, it’s true that in past I have been getting lot of Bollywood offer but I refused mainly because of the scripts.Honestly speaking I never liked the script of the movie. Like the Indian movie Ghajini when I was offered to do the role of the villain I bluntly refused to do it because of the script. I somehow felt that I wasn’t comfortable with the scripts of the movie and hence refused to do the role. In Ghajini when they offered me the role I felt that role could have been done by any Indian actor. So why do they want a Pakistani guy to play a villain which is not quite understandable. So I spoke about it to Aamir Khan and told him that the script didn’t have much to offer hence refused to do the role. But the media somehow always misunderstood me and thinks that I don’t like doing Bollywood movies because I refuse doing it. I have worked for more than two decades now in the Pakistani film industry and have done over 300 movies, personally I feel that for an actor there is one thing that drives and that is the script of the movie. So if Bollywood had good script to offer then I don’t think I would have refused to do a good film and good character for that matter. Another bollywood film Delhi 6 movie was also offered to me and even in that they wanted me to do a role of a 60 years old man. But I bluntly refused saying that you have such good Indian actors why is that you need me to do the role of a 60 year old man. Why do you want me for this role? You have to do make up , whitening on my hair and glasses you have to really work on my look so why to take such an effort rather than choose a good Indian actor who can play the same role. There are so many brilliant actors in India so you can easily cast them it’s not that character that the film cannot be made without me. So the media always took it in a very negative way whenever I would reject Bollywood offers. And honestly speaking , none of the Indian press ever asked me why I refused to work in an Indian film or a subject that I didn’t like. So just saying NO didn’t mean that I didn’t want to work in Indian cinema.

What do you think about Indian films being screened in Pakistan?
As far as Indian films being screened in Pakistan there are lot of problems in Pakistan because the local industry is suffering a lot and it is not because of the Indian films but because of the government policies. The kind of policies we have towards Indian and Pakistan films. So honestly, the local industry in Pakistan is being crushed. When I had talks with Bhatt saab I started talking about building new infrastructure for both our film industry. The reach of Indian film is growing everyday and its gaining popularity all across the globe it needs to be tackled and handled , wherever its going they need to have a small are of production also. For ex: Indian and Pakistan film fraternity collaborate together as the cost of making a movie in Pakistan is very cheap. And imagine the kind of scripts your directors will have , the variety of subjects, colours, different ideolgy it will be a benefit for both the nations. People in Pakistan love watching Indian films and they will not stop watching Indian films for sure.

You have on and off criticized Pakistani actors like Ali Zafar doing Bollywood movies? Why so?
I personally feel that Ali Zafar hasn’t done one movie in Pakistan so we don’t consider him as an actor in Pakistan. Ali Zafar is more known as a singer in Pakistan . In India, Ali Zafar is an actor because he has done films in India. Again I think it’s not about Ali Zafar or anybody else, but one individual doesn’t make a difference to the society it has to be a group of people who can collaborate and can take one step forward to make a landmark. This is first time we are doing a movie where the Pakistani film fraternity will be part of the remake of an Indian film before there have been only Pakistani singers who lend their voices in Bollywood movies. So we see a lot of scope to collaborate and do production together. I feel a lot of venues are slowly opening up and when you talk about Indian films being released in Pakistan a lot of people definitely watch it. But at the same time India has to develop the infrastructure and involve manpower from both countries and structure a collaborative film that will help in strengthening the bond. Indian cinema is growing every day so we have to find different venues for cost cutting and if Pakistan offers cheap cost production then that will increase the rate of making movies both in India and Pakistan.

How will you revive the Pakistan film industry?
Why is it every time that business who trade between both the countries can easily do what they want to but the actors / singers are accused of going to India or Pakistan to act or perform. Why not film and infrastructure here in Pakistan be revived? Why has one to go from Pakistan to New York film institute to do a course in acting or film production? Why can’t we collaborate with the Indian filmmakers, actors and directors and build up an infrastructure that can help us in setting up a new opportunity for the People in Pakistan to learn something new. I would love to set up an academy here in Pakistan and train our people with the latest technology of filmmaking concepts. I would love to train the young minds who are keen to enter this field and gain some knowledge. I would love to invite scriptwriters, filmmakers from India and give their ideas and knowledge to our people here in Pakistan. What matters now, as a global giant the Indian film industry has a corporate social responsibility on them.

Also the visa is not the only issue. Things are happening and its not a big deal. If you can have a kabaddi match of Pakistan and India in Lahore then why can’t you have 25 creative people from India to do something in Lahore. Punjab is just half an hour from Lahore. If you can plan a film shooting in Punjab so why not I can just shoot the movie and come back home in half an hour. The Pakistan film industry is growing in its own way nobody is doing anything as such. The infrastructure is still weak. It’s been a long journey for me and I personally feel that now it is very important to create and build an infrastructure for the Pakistan Film Industry. And this collaboration gives me the hope that we may be able to see some changes happening in the future. And if that happens then there are lot of other things that come together. It will more of connect with people to people and not politicians to politicians. We can start create lot of harmony. We need to conduct more workshops together rather than talking about peace. I think it’s high time that people realize what they have to do. It’s not only one way. It should be a collective collaborative effort to bring things to a different level. Pakistan can be what is china is for America and there is lot of things that you can churn out from here. I would like more Indian actors to also give their support. Somehow I haven’t discussed with anyone till now. Any calls that I have got from India was either to make a film or act in a movie. Nobody contacted me apart from doing a film I put across lot of other ideas but no one took it seriously I don’t want to just do a film in 40days and come back home instead want to do something where I can help and create a place for everyone.

Do you criticise any Bollywood films or any actors?
Yes, honestly speaking I do criticise at times. See when you care and love somebody you tend to criticise and I have criticised Bollywood films and also actors. You will let them feel that you have made one of your fans to let down. For example: Amitabh Bachchan in Great Gatsby I didn’t like him at all. Or for that case Anil Kapoor in Mission Impossible. look at the kind of roles they got to do? As far as Indian actors are concerned they are highly acclaimed and popular all over the globe. I do feel they did a mistake by choosing to do such roles . As I would like to put in if you are the king of your own court you don’t have to go and stand in somebody else court. And that’s exactly what I felt after I saw their role in the movies. I feel that because we grew up watching all these great Indian actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Dilip Kumar and so on .. Obviously it was hard to expect me to watch them do such a role. In a way felt the west is still racist towards Indian actors and that’s not good. When a gora comes to India he makes Slumdog Millionaire and that is how he portrays the poor India before all. So If you see through a goras eye he calls India a Slumdog Millionaire. And he showed the dark side of the society and somehow we are convinced with the goras whatever they have done is good. But if a Pakistani does it then forget it you may not tolerate him at all. I think that’s racist as far as Goras is concerned. I’m not criticising their decision. But as a fan and as an actor everyone has an opinion. And every actor has an opinion about any other actor. And for that case, when I saw Bhaag Milkha Bhaag , I think Farhan was amazing. He is one of the finest actor in India now. It not that about making body and do Ghajini , you make a body and you can act as Milkha Singh in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.

Any favourite upcoming Indian actor?
I think Ranbir is certainly someone who is doing very well . I think it’s same coincidence like Rahet Fateh Ali Khan and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. So I would compare Nusrat ji with Rishi Ji and Rahat with Ranbir. Rishi ji couldn’t enjoy his youth unko itne roles nahi mile lekin Ranbir is the blue eyed actor. I think when Rishi saab was acting in movie as a teenager there were more audience who were in the age group of 40 plus, but today the majority Indian viewers is the youth so Ranbir is enjoying the phase.

When do you plan to visit India?
I came in 2004, 2006, then I came for a commercial shoot with Zeba three years back after that I haven’t been able to visit India. I was also invited by Salman Khan to play a charity exhibition cricket match but couldn’t make it because of my busy schedule. Inshallah , I hope to be in India soon. If people understand the love and respect for them and my work I think it will great to visit India again.


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