Raza Murad is not one to talk about his heritage. Hailing from an illustrious film family, Raza is the son of famed actor Murad. Combined, they have appeared in over a 100 films in a variety of Indian languages. In Lahore for only a couple of days, after being invited by the Cultural Journalist Association of Pakistan, he is a strong advocate of friendship between the countries.
“I think there is nothing bigger than love and friendship, and love always conquers, so I hope that the relationship between our countries continues to grow and become stronger and the exchange of people visiting increases,” says Raza.
“I was in Islamabad, I saw the Pakistan-China friendship centre, and I want there to be an Indo-Pak friendship centre near the border, and the coming and going of people to become easier. It’s funny how things have improved, because there was a time when going to the moon was easier than travelling to Pakistan from India, or vice versa,” adds Raza.
Raza is set to visit both Karachi and Islamabad during his stay in Pakistan. His own career has had an emphasis on character acting, and he has seen a rapid growth into one of the more versatile actors to hail from Indian cinema. He is well-known for his seven nominations in the Best Villain category, and his character roles as a father-figure.
In the 1973 film Namaak Haraam, it was Raza’s role as a drunken poet in the Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan-starring classic that launched his career. Of late, Murad has been all about giving back and enjoying life. His most recent role was in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Ram-Leela, and showcased his ability to provide depth to his character, which is a rather rare quality in a Bollywood actor. The current landscape of Indian cinema has increasingly become a space for certain forms of commercial endeavours, and is something that Raza says people have to accept.
“Commercial cinema requires a lot of capital so the stakes are higher. Producer emphasis, as a result, is to make sure everyone makes a safe investment. So you see there are many things added into films for the sake of entertainment, such as item songs. This is reality, if someone is putting this much money into a project, it’s not for the sake of art, it’s just business,” says Raza.
His view on the Pakistan industry is interesting. He says he was a great fan of films such as Bol, Khuda Ke Liye and Ramchand Pakistani, and is intent on a future of collaborations between the two countries. More importantly, he says that the Pakistani film industry is a more nascent stage as compared to India, whose scale in terms of market size and distribution is much larger.
“This new generation that has come about, has new ideas and vision, they are educated and aware. There was a time when Pakistani films would copy Indian films, but that time has passed,” says Raza. He has been involved in training inspiring actors and film-makers at his alma mater, the famed Film and Television Institute of India. He says his experience at the institute was valuable in providing a technical basis for his character roles. He wants to share his knowledge with local actors, and help breed a new generation of actors in Pakistan.
“I am a trained method actor who studied acting. The same facilities should be offered to Pakistanis, where directors and actors could get training. Maybe the government over here can develop its own film institute similar to the one we have,” says Raza.
“I have always believed that whatever I have been blessed with, I want to give back to society as much as I can.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 22nd, 2014.
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