Â Interview by Ally Adnan
The trailer of Wajahat Rauf’s comedy road film, Karachi Se Lahore, attracted more attention than most Pakistani films do during their entire run. The teaser added to the buzz of the film by showing Ayesha Omer performing what is ostensibly an item number. The long-awaited and much hyped film is set to be released on July 31, 2015. Starring Javed Sheikh, Ayesha Omer, Shahzad Sheikh, Rashid Naaz, and Ahmed Ali, Karachi Se Lahore is expected to be both a commercial and a critical success. In a detailed interview for GT, the team of the film â€” director Wajahat Rauf, actor and writer Yasir Hussain and actors Ayesha Omer, Shahzad Sheikh and Aashir Wajahat â€” talk to Ally Adnan about their film.
Ally Adnan: What is Karachi Se Lahore about?
Wajahat Rauf: Karachi Se Lahore is a comedy road movie that is light-hearted, funny, occasionally romantic and entertaining. My goal was to make a movie that was fresh, upbeat and smart. No one had ever made a road movie in Pakistan. I wanted mine to be the first.
Ayesha Omer: Karachi Se Lahore tells the story of five people â€” each quirky and interesting in his own way â€” who take a road trip from Karachi to Lahore. They encounter a number of unusual and unexpected situations during the road trip and handle them in equally unusual and unexpected ways. The film is cheerful and bubbly, with a lot of humor and laughs.
Yasir Hussain: The humor in Karachi Se Lahore is different than what people have seen in Pakistani and Indian cinema. I worked with Anwar Maqsood in the theater and learnt a lot about writing comedy from him. I stay away from physical comedy and slapstick and try to generate humor using word-play and sharp writing. The emphasis is on writing with wit, intelligence and cleverness. These elements, in my opinion, create the funniest lines one can write.
Ally Adnan: Ayesha Omer, dancing in front of a large crowd of men, in the teaser attracted a lot of attention. Was it justified?Â Â
Shahzad Sheikh: Ayesha danced very well. So, of course, the attention garnered was justified.
Ayesha Omer: I think my dance â€” wonderful though it certainly is â€” attracted attention for the wrong reasons. Contrary to popular belief, I am not performing an item number. My character is dancing to get her friends out of a very sticky situation. She, and none of the men traveling with her, ends up saving everyone’s behinds. This is a cheeky reversal of gender roles. It is a first in Pakistani cinema where men have always been the saviors.
Aashir Wajahat, Wajahat Rauf, Yasir Hussain, Shahzad Sheikh & Safwan Bawany
Ally Adnan: Was shooting on the road from Karachi to Lahore perilous?Â Â
Wajahat Rauf: We had made arrangements for our security before we left for the shoot. As it turned out, we didn’t necessarily need the security team. There was no danger and most of the people we met, while on location, were friendly and supportive. We felt safe while shooting on the road from Karachi to Lahore.
Ayesha Omer: In fact we felt safer on the road than we do in our own city.
Ally Adnan: That is not saying much because you live in Karachi.
Ayesha Omer: Yes, it is not. Karachi is not a very safe city to live in.
Yasir Hussain: I must tell you that Ayesha created the most dangerous situation that we faced while shooting for the film. She almost got us all killed.
Ally Adnan Interviewing the Karachi Se Lahore team
Ally Adnan: What did you do, Ayesha?
Ayesha Omer: Nothing. These guys are just crybabies.
We found one of the nicest beaches in the world while shooting in Baluchistan. It was untainted, unpolluted and totally pristine. I did not want to leave the area without at least dipping my toes in the water and exploring the beach. I convinced everyone to spend some time at the beach before we moved on. All of us had a great time at the beach until Ahmed spotted a pair of fighter sharks swimming at a frighteningly short distance. That is when all of us made a mad dash back to the shore and to safety. It was a scary experience but look at the bright side: we had a wonderful time at a great beach, we experienced some genuine excitement and we ended up safe and sound. All thanks to me.
Ally Adnan: Ayesha, what role do you play in Karachi Se Lahore ?Â
Ayesha Omer: I play the role of an aggressive and feisty young lady who grew up without a mother and raised her younger brother alone. She evolves as a person during the course of the movie to become a stronger, wiser and more confident person. We see her conquer her fears and overcome her inhibitions as she deals with a number of challenging situations in the film.
Yasir Hussain, Ally Adnan, Ayesha Omer & Shahzad Sheikh
Yasir Hussain, Ayesha Omer & Shahzad Sheikh
Ally Adnan: Yasir, what role do you play?Â
Yasir Hussain: My role is based on a real life friend of mine who is very witty but stammers. He always has something smart to say but getting it out is not always easy for him. Often he holds other people’s hands to make sure he gets the time he needs to say what he must. He is a little weird but very innocent and likable at the same time.
Ally Adnan: Shahzad, do you play the role of the typical hero in Karachi Se Lahore ?Â
Shahzad Sheikh: No. I play a young middle class banker who wants to make it big very quickly in order to marry the girl he loves. He is someone who has always lived in fear of others and never been allowed to be his own man. A radical change takes place in his personality when he finds out that his beloved is being forced into marriage in Lahore while he is in Karachi. Uncharacteristically, he vows to stop the wedding from taking place and undertakes the journey to Lahore where he plans to halt the proceedings.
Ally Adnan: Aashir, you are the youngest cast member of Karachi Se Lahore. What role do you play?Â
Aashir Wajahat: I play Khoobsoorat‘s younger brother who is a precocious little child who can be impertinent and rude at times but is smarter than all the others taking the road trip.
Ally Adnan: What are the biggest fears that you have about Karachi Se Lahore ?
Wajahat Rauf: My biggest fear is that people will not like the film and walk out of the theater saying that they wasted their time and money watching a worthless film.
Ayesha Omer: My biggest fear has already been conquered. I used to worry about the reaction of my friends and family to my dance number but that is now out of the way. Everyone has seen a part of the dance and reacted in a manner that I have been able to handle. I no longer have any fears about Karachi Se Lahore.
Yasir Hussain: I had great success in theater where people appreciated my work a lot. I am scared that they will feel that I am not as good in cinema as they thought I was in theater. And I am afraid people won’t laugh when I expect them to laugh. Other than that, I am confident about the film.
Shahzad Sheikh: I am actually very optimistic about the film. I think all of us worked very hard and helped make a very good film. It is natural to be a little anxious before the release of a film but I don’t think we have anything to fear.
Ally Adnan lives in Dallas and writes about culture, history and the arts. He tweets @allyadnan and can be reached at email@example.com.
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