In cast's own words: How ‘Money Back Guarantee' grew into a star-studded offering

In a world full of rom-coms and Shaan Shahid's patriotic films, penning satire is no less than playing in murky waters

Rida Lodhi April 12, 2023

In a world full of rom-coms and Shaan Shahid-helmed patriotic films, penning a satire is no less than playing in murky waters. But for Faisal Qureshi (The Oranchoo Man genius), leaning towards satire almost seems natural, given his exceptional history of directing socially relevant spoofs and sketches. What didn’t come naturally to him, however, was roping in several actors for his first feature film.

Qureshi who also goes by FQ was joined by the ensemble cast - well, half of it - at Karachi's posh hotel to talk about their Eid release. Fawad Khan, Kiran Malik, Mikaal Zulfiqar, Mani, Gohar Rasheed, Ayesha Omar and Marhoom Bilal alongside their producer, Shayan Khan sat down to discuss their upcoming project.

"Honestly speaking, I had no clue as to how much the budget would be, how many people should be aiming for," FQ told The Express Tribune. "Thankfully, I narrated the script to several actors and all of them were thrilled to be a part of the project."

Fawad Khan was the first person he reached out to. "Fawad didn't get back to me for days after I sent him the script. I thought maybe he didn't like the story. So, I never really circled back. I don't like to force anyone." Turns out, the Humsafar star wanted to be a part of the film but not as the protagonist.

"I told him it was a small role but Fawad was adamant. So we added more it and the role he's playing now wasn't as big as you'd see onscreen." FQ revealed. Needless to say that the character of Baksh piqued Fawad’s interest immediately.

"I found this to be an interesting character," the Khoobsurat actor commented. "It'd be something different. You see, I haven't really played a comedic character with a negative undertone." Revealing the reasons he said yes to the script, Fawad added that it was nothing like what he had done before. "I think my opinion was that the script qualified on its merit. I found it funny, I thought it'd be interesting to do a film like this which had not been made in Pakistan before. It just made sense."

On the other hand, Mikaal Zulfiqar and FQ go back a long way. "I am most pleased about the fact that Faisal has finally stepped into the world of cinema," the Sherdil star remarked. "We've been thinking about making a film for years but we just never really got around it. But now, we are finally working on our dream project."

It was also Mikaal who introduced FQ to Shayan Khan, whose company is bankrolling the film. "Shayan and I had worked on a project before which sadly didn't do well at the box office," Mikaal shared. "So, I had promised him that I will help him land a film that we are sure will work. Faisal was also looking for a producer for Money Back Guarantee. So, Shayan was my gift to him and Faisal was my gift to Shayan."

The producer, who is also starring in Money Back Guarantee, has vowed to take the film to the international market. "Before meeting Faisal, I had probably met 20 to 30 directors, and heard many scripts but when I met Faisal, he had me hooked on this script 15 minutes into the narration. I immediately agreed to produce this film," he told the publication.

"When I came onboard, the cast wasn't finalised. Fawad and Wasim weren't even part of it. It was evident that Faisal had worked on this script for two to three years. He's very passionate about it. I came in at the right time. He was initially eyeing someone else as a producer but that person was not committing fully. And not to blow my own trumpet, but one thing about me is I am true to my word. So, here we are." Shayan also shared that his production company is set to release the film on over 800 screens globally.

A risk worth taking

Money Back Guarantee is based in a fictitious land with fictitious currency, fictitious politicians, and a fictitious population. However, the film deals with some very real issues. "I was quite sure that people will like the film," the director said. "People in our country are obsessed with politics. But we decided to make it fun. Whenever we watch the news these days, we're left dejected. So, what I thought was, why not make our audiences smile with the same idea? It's not in someone's favour or against someone."

Mikaal shared similar thoughts. "More so than political satire, I'd say it's a social satire," he said. “That’s the beauty of comedy. You get your message across and you don't hurt too many sentiments at the same time. We kept this film fun and games. I believe many of us will relate to the film.”

Speaking about the same, Fawad commented, "You know I have taken such risks before, where I have worked on projects which were risky. Let's hope this one pays off as well."

Working in a star-studded production

Apart from the shooting being a party on the set, the actors shared they always went home smiling. "I love comedy films because of this!" Kiran Malik commented. Gohar added Kiran eventually became part of the clan. "I felt bad for her, honestly!" the Ishqiya star shared. "She was stuck with us men, but then she slowly came out of her shell and we all just gelled well together. It was hella fun!"

Fawad went on to share that he learned the most fro his costars Ali Safina and Asdaq. "These guys are terrific performers. They're amazing! I'd like to see more of them," he said. "I had an amazing time and the chemistry was off the roof! You know how sometimes you just blank out, these guys would pull you right back in. I've worked with Shafaat, Rambo, Wasim and Shaniera. But these guys - brilliant."

To new things!

Kiran could not be more pleased with how 2022 and this year are turning out to be for her. "I'm so excited!" she said with a smile. "I always wanted to do comedy and MBG was just the perfect opportunity." Having done glamourous roles in Pinky Memsaab and Zarrar, Kiran welcomed Sanam Baloch (her character in MBG) with open arms. "When Faisal asked me, I shared I had to work on it. I was very excited to let people see another side of Kiran Malik," she said. "People think all I do is dress pretty and post four pictures on Instagram but that is not the case. I had specifically asked FQ to not make me look glamorous at all."

Like Kiran, Fawad and Gohar were also determined to move on from their previous offering, The Legend of Maula Jatt. "See, this was all about making another character. And MBG happened a year and a half or so after TLOMJ. So, I think I had enough time to take off from Maula Jatt," Fawad shared.

Gohar shared he carries both of his characters close to his heart. He credits the transition to his directors. "FQ and Bilal both made it very easy to get into the skin of Nawaz Sindhi and Maakha Natt. Both the characters were completely different. More than anything, the process in itself was so fun. And since both characters are so close to your heart, you're also worried for them and you want both of them to do well. I hope I've done justice."

Multiple releases

Shayan shared he had announced MBG's release date back in September. "I wasn't going to change the date now," the producer shared. "My message to other producers is when we are all part of the same fraternity, we should work together. Our idea was to release MBG on Eid of 2020. But at the time, Bilal Lashari and Ammara Hikmat were setting up the stage for The Legend of Maula Jatt. So, I told them that you guys can go ahead and release it first and I'll wait for the next slot. That was important for the industry. If I wanted to hurt the other makers, I would announce my film with some other film."

For Mikaal, this Eid is rather important. His two offerings are set to release in cinemas. And his knee-jerk reaction was worry. "When I was informed that Huay Tum Ajnabi would be releasing on Eid as well, as a producer of MBG, I was sentimental." The actor went on to add, "I mean I know these are different films with different roles. I told Kamran to move HTA to Eidul Azha. Long story short, it didn't work out. But now that I look back at it, it's a bit flattering. Two of my offerings are releasing this Eid, which is very rare. I hope my fans would watch both of them."

Fawad said the decision to release several films simultaneously isn't a smart one. "I don't know why we do it but we do it all the time," the actor said. "I'll put it like this. Imagine there's a pie. You cut in four pieces, you get one piece; you serve it whole, you get the entire damn thing."

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