Asim Raza returns to his directorial roots with the highly anticipated romantic movie, â€œParey Hut Love.â€ Haider Rifaat sat down with the A-list leads Maya Ali and Sheheryar Munawar to talk about their roles and more
How would you describe yourself?
I trust people easily. Iâ€™m a caring and loving person.
You have a Masters degree in Mass Communication. Has that helped you in your field?
Not really. I began my career as a host and eventually got into acting. However, my education did make me more confident. I always say itâ€™s crucial to get a degree before pursuing a career.
Did you always want to be an actress?
Not at all. I could have never imagined I would end up where I am today. When I started out, I had no family support, especially from my fatherâ€™s side. My journey started as an intern for a newspaper, after which offers snowballed for hosting. Up until that point, the idea of becoming an actor was unthinkable. Haissam Hussain took a chance on me with â€œDurr-e-Shahwar,â€ my first drama serial. After shooting the first scene, I realised I was born to act.
Despite all your professional accomplishments, do you feel youâ€™re still struggling as an actor?
Obviously â€” the process of learning never ends. When people call me a star, I always correct them saying Iâ€™m only an actor.
In a recent interview of yours, you spoke at length about your relationship with your father. How has his absence impacted you?
Iâ€™m no longer the same Maya who was carefree and uninhibited. Iâ€™ve definitely become a more mature person after his passing. Iâ€™m more aware of my responsibilities now.
Tell us about the plot and your character in â€œParey Hut Love.â€
â€œParey Hut Loveâ€ is a classic romantic movie. I play Saniya, a strong-willed, confident, young woman who knows exactly what she wants from life. The best part about this project is that the characters are realistic and relatable. Youâ€™ll get to see many weddings in the film, from Parsi, Kashmiri, desi to destination.
What was the most enjoyable part about shooting the film?
The whole journey was a blast. From the first day till the last, we enjoyed the shoot as a family, especially in Bahawalpur. There were no tantrums or disagreements. The vibe on set was always very positive because of Asim Raza, the father of our little family.
What was it like working with Sheheryar Munawar?
I havenâ€™t met anyone like him. He performed brilliantly, both as an actor and a producer. No matter how bad his day might have been, Sheheryar would always come on set with a smile. Being humble and patient are a few things Iâ€™ve learnt from him.
How did you prepare for your character in the movie?
After Asim explained my character to me, I worked hard to embody her. During rehearsals, Iâ€™d sit and talk like her. I became soÂ absorbed by her that once the camera started rolling, it all came naturally.
Whatâ€™s next for you?
I havenâ€™t signed on to anything yet but there are a couple of scripts Iâ€™m considering.
Actors usually progress from television to film, however, thereâ€™s a new trend ofÂ moving in the opposite direction. Why do you think that is?
In our industry, television is a bigger medium than film. I ventured into films because of my performances in drama serials. We produce four to five movies a year. If Iâ€™m not in any one of them, what else would I be doing? I, for one, can never leave television behind.
Do you still get nervous before going on camera?
In my first scene for â€œParey Hut Love,â€ I told Asim Raza that my heart was racing. He reminded me that itâ€™s a good thing, as itâ€™ll help me perform better. For me, every scene is like my first time.
Have you ever felt pressured to live up to peopleâ€™s expectations?
Yes. Iâ€™m constantly worrying about what people will think if I let them down. But, sometimes we need to do things for ourselves.
Growing up, who did you idolise?
My mother, as sheâ€™s a very strong individual. Whenever I feel weak, I envision my mother and how sheâ€™d deal with the situation. What advice would you give to your younger self?
I had many dreams growing up, but had to give them up due to lack of support. My passion forÂ sports was one of them. If I could, Iâ€™d tell my younger self to have more faith in her dreams.
How do you want people to remember you?
In good words. I try my best to make others feel happy.
Whatâ€™s something that most people donâ€™t know about you?
I learnt swimming late. I remember I was six or seven years old when I was about to drown, but my elder brother saved me. Within a month, I taught myself how to swim. Thatâ€™s a random story, I know. I donâ€™t know why I thought of it but it was the first thing that came to my mind when you asked me that question. That must be very undisclosed!
From production to acting, you seem to juggle both duties really well. Does it ever become hectic for you?
Iâ€™m a stubborn person. If I want something, Iâ€™ll do everything in my capacity to achieve it. I enjoy high stress situations and for some reason, I perform better under pressure.
Give people a reason why they should watch your film â€œParey Hut Love.â€
There are many reasons. Itâ€™s a wholesome family film with multiple layers. Youâ€™d want to watch it more than once because it has so many intricacies, visually and story wise. More so, itâ€™s a star cast of fourteen members and consists of director Asim Raza, Hina Dilpazeer and Ahmad Ali Butt. These are huge names. Musically, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Jimmy Khan are associated with this project. Each department had a big name working on this film. Itâ€™s a rare phenomenon when prestigious names come under one roof and produce something stellar.
How has Asim Razaâ€™s creative vision impacted this project?
Asimâ€™s creative process includes involving all the performers. Even a supporting character has a backstory under Asimâ€™s supervision.
Describe Maya Ali in one word.
The chemistry between you and Maya central to the film. How did you both kindle that spark on screen?
Weâ€™re both very competitive individuals. We became good friends during rehearsals and built a comfort level with each other. Iâ€™m surprised we never got the chance to work before.
Do you think the industry is emphasising more on comedies and compromising on effective storytelling?
Letâ€™s first separate commercial and alternative cinemas. For commercial cinema, one has to factor in the interests of the audience; what their pulse is and what they respond best to. People frequently ask us why we only produce rom-com films. Sadly, thatâ€™s what you want to watch. Do you think that we as artists are hesitant to make films on important subjects? Of course not, but an investor is not going to greenlight any such projects.
You put television on hold and worked behind the camera for a while. Were there any personal reasons behind your decision?
When my elder brother passed away, my family and I went through a terrible experience. I decided to put television on hold and started to work behind the camera with Asim. It was a tricky year. There was a lot happening emotionally and professionally. My nerves were tested during that time in my life.
What rules do you live your life by?
I live my life based on that philosophy that life is short and every moment counts. My parents often get upset with me when I push myself too much, but I tell them that you only live once and what you do in this lifetime, echoes through eternity.
How do you unwind?
I donâ€™t really get time to do so these days. The past year has been tough, but my family is amazing. When Iâ€™m not working, I like to travel. I enjoy outdoorsy activities such as trekking and cycling. I also love reading.
What does a day in your life look like?
Iâ€™m a very restless person. I canâ€™t stay in one place, so Iâ€™m always on the go. You wonâ€™t find me at home doing nothing.
What attracts you in other people?
Confidence grabs my attention.