If you have never heard of film-maker Shahzad Rafique, watch Mohabbatan Sachiyan and Salakhain; you’ll realise soon enough that he has a knack for thinking out of the box. For his upcoming film, Ishq Khuda, he has put yet another experiment to the test; instead of casting your regular Lollywood beauty, he has introduced a fresh face to an industry that desperately needs some love.
His experiment is the glamourous Wiam Ammar Dahmani, a Moroccan artist who lives in Dubai and can act, sing and dance up a storm. A graduate of the New York Film Institute in Dubai, Dahmani will now be making her Lollywood debut with Rafique’s latest directorial venture, which is scheduled for global release this Eid.
“A life without risk is no life at all,” a cheerful Dahmani tells The Express Tribune, when asked what prompted her to foray into this field. “Think about it; I am working with the Shahrukh Khan of Pakistan (Shaan) and this film will be distributed around the world.”
Multitalented is the order of the day
Dahmani may be just 24, but she has a sense of exuberance that is essential for any artist. Not only has she carved a niche for herself as a pop singer, Dahmani has also worked as a TV host for the show “100 % Bollywood” on Zee Aflam, where she got a chance to interview and connect with leading Bollywood stars.
“Acting is a lot easier than, say, singing; where the voice is the only way of performing,” says Dahmani, who has a mature and professional air about her. “In acting, I can use expressions and get the message across,” she adds. Dahmani’s first breakthrough as a singer came with the single “Ahlan Wa Sahlan”, a huge hit in the UAE. As far as her singing career is concerned, Dahmani is currently working on a yet-untitled, 14-track album, which will include collaborations with singers in Pakistan and India
Sneak peek into the sets
By replacing actor Zara Sheikh, Dahamani will be playing the lead role in Ishq Khuda. Her character is caught in the middle of a love triangle, where she plays a girl in love with actor Ahsan Khan as Shaan chases after her. Meera, on the other hand, will be playing her good friend in the film.
“I learned a lot from Meera and Shaan,” says Dhamani, when asked how her experience with these Lollywood bigwigs has been. “I learned it was important to be on time and be prepared for the shoot. Contrary to popular perceptions, people in this industry are actually very professional. Everything about Pakistan is completely different from what the media portrays.”
But the picture wasn’t all rosy for Dahmani, who also had to combat the language barrier. “To play a Punjabi character wasn’t easy. Punjabi is definitely beautiful, but it’s an exceptionally complex and confusing language,” she said. She recalls that Rafique and the cast used to meet before the scenes to help her understand how to deliver lines.
“Once you learn the meaning of some of the words, it becomes a little easier and from there on, you can understand how to deliver the lines.”
One can only hope that this Rafique-Dahmani experiment is successful; who knows, it may be what the local film industry needs to come back to life.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2012.