After numerous delays caused by casting and copyright issues, Shaan’s Arth 2 hit the floors in Lahore earlier this month. The first press conference for the film was held Tuesday with the cast and crew sharing snippets about the project. Their energy was evident as the cast, which includes both veteran and newbie actors, talked about their synergy on the sets.
The film features Shaan Shahid, with over 550 films to his name, and Uzma Hassan, who is set to make her cinematic debut. Also starring in the movie are Humaima Malick, who was last seen in Dekh Magar Pyaar Say, and Mohib Mirza of Seedlings and Dukhtar fame.
Arth 2, which is the remake of Mahesh Bhatt’s 1982-film Arth, is one the Bollywood filmmaker holds close to his heart. “When I told Mahesh sahib I want to make the film, he told me people have asked him for rights of other films but never Arth,” Shaan shared. “I offered him money to buy the rights but he said he doesn’t want it.” According to Shan, Bhatt said to him, “If you’ve felt the pain I felt, go ahead with it. Just give me credit and make it a symbol of Indo-Pak friendship.”
Known to have made contentious comments about the Indian film industry in the past, it was surprising for many that Shan chose to remake a Bollywood cult classic. “This is a Pakistani film and the proper way to be a part of Indian cinema is to make a film like this and make them believe we can do this kind of work,” he said. “I’m not anti-India, I’m pro-Pakistan.”
Mahesh had prerecorded a video endorsement for Arth 2. “Salam, Pakistan … Little did I know that, so many years later, someone in Pakistan would find what I did worthy of being put onscreen. I am certain that your passion and new interpretation of this melody will take it to greater heights,” he said. Shaan shared the film displays a streak of pain that runs through all four characters and how they cross each other’s path. He described the film as “one with the essence of an art movie that is being presented in a commercial way.”
When Shaan had disclosed the cast of Arth 2 earlier last year, it featured Humayun Saeed opposite Humaima, but he was later replaced with Mohib. Shaan shared how this change was a creative choice. “I had to focus on the characters because they are pivotal and Humayun wasn’t suiting the character. Mohib was always my first choice.”
Shaan remains positive about cinema in Pakistan and holds that a good film can’t be measured by the business it generates. “What carries you through the film and what do you bring back from it? That’s what’s important.” Explaining how everything that makes money isn’t necessarily good, he cited most films being an extension of television as one of the reasons behind their mediocrity.
The distribution channels Shaan is working with were facing trouble releasing the film in India but after Indian premier Modi’s visit to Pakistan, they are more positive. The music, helmed by Sahir Ali Bagga, will play a pivotal role in developing the story as Shaan plays a rock musician in the movie. “I was worried because everyone remembers the music from the original film, but Shaan told me to make something that people will now remember the movie by,” said Sahir.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2015.