After several screenings of Mudhouse and the Golden Doll, film-maker and actor Hamza Ali Abbasi recently announced his next film venture: a comedy film, tentatively titled Kambakht, starring Ahsan Khan and Shafqat Cheema. In an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune, Abbasi discusses juggling the roles of acting and filmmaking and the need for more entertainment based films in the industry.
“I was primarily interested in working behind the camera when I entered the industry,” says Abbasi. “Even when I went to meet the team of Waar, as an assistant director, they offered me a role and made me act.” He has a prominent role in Bilal Lashari’s directorial debut, Waar and is eagerly awaiting its release.
As an actor, Abbasi has shown immense potential due to his theatre experience and willingness to adapt to specific characters. “I started to get commercials and other offers; I was doing a lot of work in front of the camera,” Abbasi shares. “Then I realised, I am not catering to the first love of my life.”
“The thing is that some of our senior directors are stuck-up, which is very shameful,” says Abbasi. “The good thing about Bilal is that he is a new and very well-groomed director. He is actually more of a friend and has taught me a lot about film-making.”
Although Abbasi is deeply excited about his performance in Waar and its potential as a new-age, action-packed film for Pakistani cinema, his passion remains film-making. He shares that he is only going to focus on being behind the lens, and not allow his priorities to be blurred, at least till January next year.
His current project Kambakht will be a medium budget film that is written by Abbasi himself. He is adamant that Pakistan’s film industry does not need art films or movies based on social issues; rather the need is for entertainment-based films that can connect with a wider audience.
“With time, you tend to know what you’re good at, and I realised my forte is comedy films,” says Abbasi. “That’s what I feel comfortable doing. I wouldn’t mind something intense and dramatic but what film-makers need to do is make it entertaining. It should be for the masses.”
Abbasi’s up-coming film, Kambakht is about two people from different backgrounds, who accidentally become friends. Abbasi emphasises that the film will be about the collision of two worlds; one character (played by Shafqat Cheema) belongs to a socially regressive area and the other is an Islamabad city boy, played by Ahsan Khan.
“It’s sad that brilliant actors like Shafqat Cheema, Shaan or even Mustafa Qureshi are used in such a bad way through Lollywood,” explains Abbasi. “People make fun of them. It’s time they are given an opportunity to act to their utmost potential.”
Talking about the budget of his new film, Kambakht, Abbasi says that it is much higher than that of Mudhouse and the Golden Doll — which was only Rs25,000 — which makes Abbasi proud for making one of the cheapest films to ever come out of this country.
“It’s a much larger budget made for a larger audience; this film has a market,” describes Abbasi. “Not only do I want you and I to enjoy the movie, but taxi or rickshaw-walas should watch the film and enjoy it as well.”
Writing the script was a tricky process for Abbasi, he explains. He emphasises that the key point was to keep the desi element intact.
“While writing the script, you have to keep duration in mind,” Abbasi shares. “It’s a pretty tricky job, and one thing you have to keep in mind is that there is an element for each person.” Abbasi continues, “For instance, we have Lollywood style and desi characters in the film, but also characteristics that would cater to the niche audience.”
Abbasi said his film Mudhouse and the Golden Doll following its tour would be released online very soon, via a platform like Vimeo.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2012.