Shaan Shahid is undoubtedly one of the country’s biggest stars. Despite the sorry state of affairs in the film industry, the actor has managed to keep up a constant stream of work through the years. A series of ad campaigns – particularly for Mobilink – helped Shaan’s profile tremendously.
The actor/filmmaker is passionate about issues, and complained strongly about the state of national institutions. He was in Karachi last week to work with Pampers, for which he is a brand ambassador for their campaign with Unicef.
He feels as strongly about films, which he tells The Express Tribune “is a great medium and requires a lot of vision to make it grow. This requires a lot of hard work. People who want to make a change visualise it.”
He is working on three new films, but these projects have been in the making for a considerable period of time. One of them is titled Chup and Shaan blames Lux for the delay with making the film. “It got delayed because of Lux. They were supposed to sponsor it. But it got changed. People who cash on stars lack the vision to support them. You need to make a film of international standard but the budget is low. Anything that doesn’t add up doesn’t count.”
“I am being taken for a ride,” he says. “So what’s wrong if I make Punjabi films?”
Shaan says he is now funding his own films.
The other film Shaan is making is a comedy about djinns, while the third is also a light-hearted project.
Shaan compares the state of the film industry with the country.
“It’s the same as Pakistan. Apart from the media everything is going down. Every industry in Pakistan is suffering. One day I hear news about Pakistan Steel Mill, the next day it’s the Railways and then Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and so forth. I believe everything needs to be in harmony, like the universe. If it wouldn’t be it would collapse.”
“PIA, Pakistan Steel Mill is as much yours as it is mine. We have had the same politicians for the past 60 years. Now is the time to address community issues. I am a Pakistani first and then an actor.”
He also feels that it is important to introduce new people. “Let’s churn out more celebrities,” he told The Express Tribune. “Other faces need to go and give way to other people.”
Like many of his contemporaries, Shaan also has a strong opinion about Indian films being screened in Pakistan. “It’s wrong; we should even import politicians from India. Free trade should be exercised between the two countries like we do it in the form of potatoes, onions and goats.”
However, he says, “If Karachi starts making films, things will be different. Rs80 million is spent on ads easily, but it isn’t given for films. Why?”
When asked about the imposition of 65 per cent tax on cinemas in Punjab showing foreign films, Shaan says this move was also “wrong”.
“The consumer had to pay for entertainment. Look at how the Indian film industry progressed when the Indian businessmen like Tata and the Ambanis invested in the industry. It was only then that foreign investors came in.”
Shaan is content with his personal life.
“It is great, it’s beautiful. I have four daughters. I am a very lucky man. I believe daughters never leave, they stay forever, and it’s only sons who leave.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2010.