Meesha Shafi makes it to Hollywood

Published: July 8, 2011
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Meesha Shafi is reportedly cast in Mira Nair’s upcoming film The Reluctant Fundamentalist. PHOTOS: FILE

Meesha Shafi is reportedly cast in Mira Nair’s upcoming film The Reluctant Fundamentalist. PHOTOS: FILE

KARACHI: 

While we still don’t know the mystery man playing the male lead in Mira Nair’s upcoming film, based on Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid’s second book, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, it has been announced that Meesha Shafi has been cast in the film. “One singer Meesha Shafi has been cast in Mira Nair’s next film The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” reported Rediff News. When contacted by The Express Tribune, Shafi’s representative refused to comment, saying she has been refrained to give details to the press at the moment.

The female character has been introduced in the film adaptation and was not a part of the original plot. “The film and the book will be different,” Hamid told Hindustan Times. But that doesn’t perturb the Moth Smoke writer, who is confident about Nair’s cinematic vision. “I trust Mira’s integrity and aesthetics. I am excited to see what her film becomes,” he said.

What interested Nair in Hamid’s novel was the fact that it was written from a South Asian’s perspective post 9/11. The book revolves around a radical Pakistani man, Changez, who narrates his story to an American stranger during their conversation at a cafe in Lahore. Written in retrospective narrative, the plot is about Changez’s love-affair with an American woman during his stay in the US and how he eventually leaves the country.

Known for her films like Vanity Fair, Monsoon Wedding and The Namesake, Nair earlier was more focused on Indian and Bangladeshi actors, writers and locations. However, the director is set to make her latest project as ‘Pakistani’ as possible. Though most of the film will be shot in Delhi, due to the security threats in Pakistan, some of the scenes will be shot in Lahore, where shooting will continue for 10 days, India FM quoted Nair as saying. The director is also inclined to have a Pakistani actor as the film’s male lead.

After taking a two-hour audition from Ranbir Kapoor, Nair told NDTV about “three extremely strong contenders in Pakistan” giving tough competition to Kapoor. Despite a strong inclination to cast Kapoor, the deal could not be worked out because of his prior commitments and the director later confirmed that “it’s going to be a Pakistani actor”. But it wasn’t just Ranbir Kapoor who auditioned for the film, Bollywood heartthrob Imran Khan also tried his luck but failed to impress the US-based Indian film-maker.

Nair, who visited Lahore last year, has shortlisted three out of 300 Pakistani candidates auditioning for the project. “One is a Pakistani rock star; the other is a very famous film and television actor.” Among the candidates was also Ali Zafar. But much to our surprise, the singer-cum-actor could not make it as Nair confirmed: “The Pakistani rock star is not Ali Zafar. I’m also looking at a British-trained Pakistani actor.”

However, it is not just Pakistani writers and actors who have sparked Nair’s interest. Junoon’s Salman Ahmad recently met the filmmaker in New York to discuss music for the project. The Times of India also quoted Lahore’s Mian Yousuf Salahuddin saying that Nair has also asked Farida Khannum to sing for the film.

Daughter of veteran TV actor Saba Hameed, Shafi has already marked her presence in the world of fashion and music, and a Hollywood project like The Reluctant Fundamentalist will give a strong boost to her acting career. That said, we must not forget that Nair has a history of unpredictable cast changes. For her last film The Namesake, Bollywood actor Tabu replaced Rani Mukherjee after much ado in the news about the latter. We have our fingers crossed and are waiting for Meesha to confirm the finalisation of her deal for the Hollywood venture.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • tribune reader
    Jul 8, 2011 - 11:25PM

    it would be amazing if she is in it, cant say much how she will do but its great news!

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  • Hira
    Jul 8, 2011 - 11:45PM

    The book is a great piece of work. I hope the movie does justice to it.

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  • Dodo
    Jul 9, 2011 - 1:30AM

    Swweeet! can hardly wait for this to hit the theaters!

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  • fahim
    Jul 9, 2011 - 4:20AM

    What is there to be proud of? It seems she is getting a chance because of the strength of bollywood and weightage of India behind this event. I dont see anything for us pakistanis to be happy about. She succeed because of India not pakistan.

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  • Fatima Khan
    Jul 9, 2011 - 5:26AM

    @fahim – With your despondent negativity your right… What is there to be proud of? I always wonder why negative people roam this earth to find the dark side of every situation.
    Are these people obsessed with negative feelings? do they crawl out of bed and dream of negative thoughts? I think whatever we get from Nair is a great blessing the fact that she is even considering to have Pakistan – where daily killings have become a way of life – show that in spite of dire conditions some people still see hope… @fahim maybe you can take a cue from this?Recommend

  • Austin
    Jul 9, 2011 - 1:02PM

    @Fahim,

    Does it actually matter if she is an Indian or of any nationality, a day will come even a Pakistani will cast Indian actors, There are, and will be talented directors in Pakistan. What is important there should be a healthy competition among everyone, to get the best out

    What matters is the authenticity of the actors in the film. And a Pakistani will give more justice to the roles because the background and characters in the book are in Pakistan.

    @Fatima, I wholeheartedly agree with you. As a species all humans are same. It is by adding external identities of ethnicity, religion, nationalism, we make ourselves different. To preserve these externally acquired identities, we like to push the other down. Politicians, army and religious leaders take advantage of this and use if for power and money. The deeper the divide the better for them. So unsecured we all are. Fahim is a good example of that.

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  • Sam
    Jul 9, 2011 - 6:30PM

    Who could the three shortlisted Pakistani actors be???? I’m betting my money on Fawad Khan of, EP and Khuda Ke Liye’s lead guy,as the “Pakistani rock-star” who has been shortlisted.

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  • Fatima Khan
    Jul 9, 2011 - 10:56PM

    @Sam I agree with you my bets are on Fawad Khan I think he is a great actor whose talent is underused. We get the same tired old hacks like Shan and Momy Rana…Pakistani cinema need some fresh new blood….that will jump start the enthusiasm that is lacking. My first choice was Ali Zafar but he is probably so busy with his lead role in Chashm-e-Buddoor and rumours is that Angelina Jolie is considering him for a mega part in a Hollywood blockbuster!Recommend

  • sara g Couture
    Jul 10, 2011 - 6:44AM

    Most exciting would be Salman Ahmad in Reluctant Fundamentalist!! His performance was beyond amazing tonight in London!!!

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  • A Fundamentalist
    Jul 10, 2011 - 4:58PM

    there was no fundamentalism in the “Reluctant Fundamentalist” it was a bad read and would make a worse movie no matter who the cast is

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  • Ali S
    Jul 11, 2011 - 4:41PM

    Is it just or me does anyone else see “Khuda Ke Liye” written all over this?

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  • Sofia Bano
    Jul 11, 2011 - 10:15PM

    @Ali S – Read the book no its not a KKL for sure, question what role will Meesha play in the film any one knows?

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