KARACHI: November 17 marks the release date of one of the most anticipated Pakistani films in 2017, Verna. Along with it having Mahira Khan’s star power, Verna also marks the return of the showman Shoaib Mansoor in the director’s chair after six years. With so many expectations from the film, The Express Tribune sat down with its two leads, singer-actor debutant Haroon Shahid and Mahira.
Interestingly, Mahira shared she has always been nervous, whether it’s before a shot, or when her film’s poster and trailer are released. “I always find something wrong and think it could’ve been better. I think this film particularly has a lot of expectations because of me,” she said. “They are not calling it just a Shoaib Mansoor film, they’re calling it a Mahira Khan film too. And after the first poster and teaser, I freaked out. I will be disappointed if people are a bit lukewarm about Verna.”
While we wait to see how the film fares, it’s important to consider how the local film industry has evolved since Mansoor last made a film. Nowadays, film-makers and the audience alike incline toward social messages wrapped in an entertainment package. Verna, for many, would be a full-blown intense thriller.
Mahira believes whatever the genre or the mood, good content wins. “There have been films which have great content and didn’t work on the box office, but only because the audience wasn’t ready for them. Yet, they later on become cult classics. And then there are expensive films with mediocre content and they have flopped too. So, I believe Verna is still a relatively commercial film, and people are definitely ready for it.”
In Verna, Khan joins two new actors Shahid, and Naimal Khawar. As a debutant, Shahid praised Mahira for the energy she brought to the set. “You, as an actor, always bring an energy with you on set. And there was a set without Mahira and there was a set with Mahira. And with Mahira, I felt there was somebody for me to get feedback from. For now, I learned it was all about being in the moment in acting.”
The Symt frontman also compared acting to being in a band. “Acting is like being in a band, you know. Every time you’re on the set, you’re with your band and you have to be comfortable and be able to talk to that other person so that you can create something. And I am lucky that I get along with Mahira and everyone and can talk to them about anything.”
When asked as to why he thought Mansoor cast him instead of going for a trained actor, he said, “I have learned that Shoaib Mansoor feels if a person is good to talk to, he can act well too because he wants to keep it natural. Basically, he picks up personalities, he doesn’t choose actors.”
Adding on the point, Khan said, “Shoaib sahab likes musicians and he very strongly believed that the character Aami looked just like Haroon. Secondly, he likes people very rarely and I think he likes Haroon. I also like to believe he likes me too.”
Mansoor’s previous films, Khuda Ke Liye and Bol, were a major catalyst in giving birth to the modern Pakistani cinema. Asked how she would complete the sentence ‘Khuda Ke Liye Bol Verna…”, Mahira said, “Khuda Ke Liye Bol Verna… Shoaib sahab ajayenge. I think this would be the title of his next film ‘Shoaib sahab ajayenge’, because you know, he’s like Mr India. He’s good at disguise. You never know where he is.”
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