How Teefa set a new benchmark for Pakistani films

Ali Zafar’s ground-breaking action stunts in Ahsan Rahim directorial were no easy feat

Amber Liaqat August 02, 2018

LAHORE: Acting isn’t all glitz and glamour. In fact, it can be downright dirty and painful. Ali Zafar’s latest movie, Teefa in Trouble, proves just that. It sees him in the most different avatar to date. While his intense action stunts are a visual treat in the film, audiences often overlook the hard work, blood and sweat that go into shooting such characters.

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The Channo singer underwent a major transformation to get into his role as Teefa, which not only demanded a strict fitness regime but a specific diet plan too. While most action sequences are performed by stuntmen, Zafar performed his own stunts as Teefa; even jumping off a 10-storey building while shooting in Poland. During filming in Lahore, he encountered a life-threatening injury when one of the film’s villains accidentally hit him in the pelvic area.

Ahsan Rahim, the director of the film, concurred with the fact that Zafar’s role was no easy feat. “As a director one of the highlights of working with Ali was his desire to challenge himself by doing the action scenes himself. One needs to be physically fit in order to master all the stunts required for a film. It can’t be done if an actor does not have the level of stamina that Zafar has built over time,” Rahim told The Express Tribune. “When Ali first started training for his role, he fractured his wrist. But, he didn’t give up.” Actor Maya Ali sang praises for her co-star too. “I don’t think of any us could ever match up to Ali’s performance. A few of the scenes had to be shot underwater. Ali had a hard time getting that right but he never asked for a body-double at any point,” she said.

One of Zafar’s trainers, Tanya Ellahi shared she was extremely impressed by his dedication. “Ali was extremely professional. He showed up at the gym every single day without ceasing. When he first came his wrist was shrunken since he was recovering from a bad injury. He was warming up and I asked him to give me some pushups,” she revealed. “I realised this guy won’t be able to do it because he had absolutely no strength because of the fracture. But he proved me wrong and did it. It’s not just about getting ripped abs but it’s about being able to jump off walls and crashing into windows and fighting the bad guys. These are the things that he actually had to do and one by one he got all of them done.” For his role, Zafar learnt martial arts, sprinting, parkour, jumping off buildings and high-speed driving. His martial arts trainer Asad Ali Khan said, “I’ll be honest; when we first started I did have my doubts, but 10 to 15 days in, I was very shocked with his incredible progress. In three weeks, Ali was unstoppable, kicking way higher than what is normal.”

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However, Zafar would have found the film to be even tougher, had it not been for the support of his family and friends. His wife and the film’s executive producer, Ayesha Fazli added, “Ali watched a lot of the great Muhammad Ali’s fights which really inspired him. I think he was training for four to five hours a day at stretch.” Another one of Zafar’s colleagues Faisal Qureshi stated, “He is a perfectionist. He knows what he wants to do and he achieves precisely that. He fights against all odds just to make sure that the final product is outstanding.”

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