By Faz Zia
Last week I had the privilege to meet and interview a super star of Pakistan, Shaan. An excellent actor, film director and writer with various talents. With over 500 films in the period of two decades, Shaan started his career around 1990 in Javed Fazil’s film Bulandi opposite Reema. Shaan comes from a very talented family with his parents being one of the biggest names in industry, his father is Mr Riaz Shahid who started making films in 1952 and his Begum Neelo, a famous Pakistani actress who needs no introduction.
Shaan has won many awards in Pakistan including Pride, his list of performances is very long from National awards, to Nigar awards, Lux style award, ART awards and much more. Shaan has came to London to promote his upcoming movie Arth 2, this was y opportunity to find out more about the famous actor.
Q: You were born and brought up in the film industry, what do you think about Pakistan film industry now and then?
Shaan: I think the new generation is doing some good work but I think they need to own the past, they need to own the industry which was there whether good or bad is all part of life, I think whatever is happening nowadays it looks like we don’t want to be associated with our past years industry which is a bit painful.
Q: Our directors, without going to any school of acting or drama, produce beautiful films which still we remember, why do you think that that such qualified actors and directors coming out of big institutions nowadays can’t produce good films?
Shaan: The reason is the trend coming out from TV and they are applying the same skill set in films which is not bad but for that cinematic feel you need to be groomed in film field and they are lacking with that grooming, but it can be done by the time if they own and learn- without owning anything you can’t learn. First you have to think “do I know the field or work” if you say yes then you can’t learn, for me every film is a challenge, everyday is new, a new script which is a challenge and I give myself to the script rather dominate the script which I think is very important.
Q: Do you think films have lot of potential but does not get utilised?
Shaan: Yes it has not been utilised by people, it’s not been utilised by the government and definitely not by media houses, it is just used but not utilised.
Q: Is acting your hobby and profession or do you think it is your responsibility towards the film industry?
Shaan: I think since a younger age I am acting, either telling lies in a class because I have not done my homework or others, I think everyone can act provided if any opportunity is there, every person plays a character, whether it is a mother, brother, sister, wife etc these are all different characters which we play in our day to day lives. But in film you show 70 years of a life journey in two hours, so any professional actor lives all of his life in that two hours and my passion is acting and I never thought about not being an actor, so it is my constant feeling regardless of there being a camera in front of me or not.
Q: What do you think about crossover of actors and directors from TV to film? Do you think films are like telefilms?
Shaan: True, but I give them the benefit of doubt and think next year they can adapt but as I said before it hurts when they don’t own the original content and history of cinema and they always say that it is a Punjabi film, but what they are doing in the present new age cinema is that they are making Moola Jatt which was a classic hit then my request would be to pay tribute to Late Sultan Rahi and director Younas Malik .
Q: There was a charm and mystery of film actors in the older years, people were crazy to know who they are, why do you think that curiosity is not there anymore?
Shaan: Yes you are right that it is not there anymore, this is the reason I never work in dramas as our elders say that star always shine at night not in the morning and actors are like stars and I tried not to be seen in the morning. I just did one show on TV to introduce myself to people as I don’t come into media that much I am basically a shy person and keep my life a little private which I enjoy.
Q: Why do you think that when a Pakistani actor goes across the border to work in Bollywood their demand is so high and their attitude changes? Why do the Pakistani media give them hype?
Shaan: As I said they are new people without any training in films, they go there without any backup they don’t know about showbiz, when you have fame you need to be humble but they don’t know this. Media should play a very important role and a responsible role to create a star and give space and respect.
Q: Why have you never worked in Bollywood? Did you get any offers?
Shaan: Yes I received offers but I think it should be like a trade not that I just go there make money and contacts, I have everything, I don’t need any stamp, I only need Pakistan. I have always tried to make this an open trade. We should enhance our cultural colours and music of Pakistan.
Q: Why do you think that in one hand we are against Bollywood movies and music and on the other hand in morning shows or any wedding in dramas we dance on Indian songs. Don’t you think this is a bit hypocritical?
Shaan: Yes it is very sad that’s why you never see me in any morning shows or any award show, I tried my best to make them understand but they always misunderstood my opinion, I spoke with Ali Zafar and others as well but they are against me, all of these so called “stars” start a kind of protest against me because I speak against India and Bollywood but whatever I feel I say and I say only the truth. I don’t work with any of them, they have their group and I am alone but trust on my Allah and that is enough for me; I prove myself with my work, not like others without any film grooming, some of them were VJ, guitarist or so on and films demand more then that. I hope they understand and whatever Bollywood bubble they are in they come out of it. The media has a responsibility to make their stars so that the world can recognise and give them respect.
Q: Tell us about your new upcoming movie Arth 2?
Shaan: As I said before, I have never worked in Indian movie and I think that working alone there will never give you any respect until and unless you don’t go with a proper plan. I love working in my Pakistani industry and to make it grow and growth is only possible when we do a collaboration. I don’t want to work in any industry where I have not a main role but just a side role; as you can see all our so called stars working in Bollywood only has a side role not a main which is sad.
Arth 2 is not a remake of the classic India film Arth, we just used an essence of that movie but we changed everything according to our cultural requirements. I play a role of Raj Kiran not playing Mahesh Bhatts character which was in old Arth movie. There is new music, new characters, and a new story.
Q: In old movies where Smita Patel and Shabana Azmi played their role, do you think in this film the Pakistani actors make justice to those roles?
Shaan: Yes they did, but mind you this is not an Art movie, this a commercial movie and I tried to make it commercial in a parameter of Art film and that’s why I choose my character “Ali” because I think it was a bigger scope to tell a story.
Q: What are your future projects?
Shaan: My next film will be releasing on Eid “Zaraar” it is an action movie which has been shot in London and Turkey.