Inside the Music Gallery in Lahore, dressed in a fitted black t-shirt and pants, actor and director Shaan Shahid cuts an impressive figure.
After making a career through countless Lollywood films, Shaan is still keen to develop his resume, but, unlike many others, he is not aiming to do so by going abroad or venturing into Bollywood. Instead, this star plans to work with the younger lot of film-makers.
Currently, Shahid, 40, is filming up-and-coming director Bilal Lashari’s action flick Waar. The film, whose details and release dates have been kept under-wraps, seems to encapsulate how the actor wants to shape his future career.
“Right now, the future of film belongs to this form of cinema that will be brought by Pakistan’s young directors,” smiles Shahid, who announced his retirement from the local mainstream film industry in Pakistan three months ago. “It’s taken me five years, but now I have the infrastructure to invite young film-makers and provide a platform for them to make films. It is about creating a work of art, and if they need me to act, then I will act as well.”
When asked what the reason behind this decision was, Shaan explains that 50 to 60 years ago, what is termed as ‘parallel cinema’ was a part of mainstream cinema. However, because Pakistan has faced so many ups and down over the years with dictators ruling the country and political instability being rampant, this was never sustained. Shahid has praise for one politician though, “Thanks to Musharraf, the youth have learnt the value of freedom of expression and creative openness, it is my goal to now take film to their doorstep.”
Another venture which Shaan is trying to work on is to bring forth shorter films, which, are different from the typical long Lollywood length. His newest project for which filming will start in December is an untitled romantic-comedy. It is expected to be only 90-minutes-long and will include many of Pakistan’s famous faces. The film is set in mainly Pakistan but five to seven days of shooting will be done in London, England.
The reason behind this is, “When the concept of three-hour-long films was developed, people had a lot more time on their hands, now life is much more fast paces and people cannot take time out for such long movies,” says Shahid. The actor adds that he has not undertaken this project for money, as 30 days of filming on this venture will only earn him what he would normally earn in two days. Instead Shaan hopes that by pushing for such incentives, he can revitalise and strengthen Pakistan’s film scene.
Despite being a star in the country Shahid has faced his share of problems and says that a film which he had been working on for three years was stalled after the sponsor pulled out at the last second as they wanted to take the plot in another direction. The film’s plot was based on a love story between a young boy and girl who met at the Lux Style Awards. “It’s really high time that sponsors realise that branding in films is essential and an important way to help finance films,” emphasises Shahid.
When asked why he has not gone to Bollywood, Shaan says, unlike many Pakistani stars, he remains hesitant of working in the Indian market as he feels that each Pakistani has a patriotic duty and wants to ensure that no film he works in misrepresents Pakistan. This is something that seems to be critical in understanding Shaan — he states that he values being Pakistani more than anything.
“Aamir Khan asked me to take on the role of the villain in Gajini but my response was simple; why choose a Pakistani to play a negative role when there are 10,000 other actors in India who could do the job?” states the actor.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2011.
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