Reboots with Operation 021

Published: June 9, 2014
Although notorious for his anti-Bollywood statements, Shaan is more worried about the Karachi and Lahore industry divide. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY

Although notorious for his anti-Bollywood statements, Shaan is more worried about the Karachi and Lahore industry divide. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY


“I don’t do this anymore,” says Shaan Shahid as he wears his Ray-Bans and walks away from the camera in a scene from Waar (2013).  It is a significant one-liner, not only for the storyline of the highest-grossing Pakistani film, but also to Shaan’s personal narrative as an actor, who does not sport the ‘gujjar’ look anymore.

From playing the eponymous hero in Moosa Khan (2001) to Major Mujtaba in Waar, Shaan has stood the test of time and his fans have remained loyal to him. As he gears up for the release of his much-anticipated film Operation 021, the actor looks back in time only to look forward.

“You just have to believe in Almighty, your own soil and people,” says Shaan, not sounding any different from the many patriotic characters that he has played over time. “How much you believe in them is going to reflect on how much they believe in you and that’s where success lies.”

With a multitude of hits and misses under his belt, the 43 year old justifies that his film choices have been driven by what the industry has had to offer at a given time. But for him, the roaring success of Waar has been a game changer. He feels that it is because of Waar that upcoming films have better prospects, not only at the box office but also in terms of representing Pakistani cinema on the global stage.

This is why Shaan hopes to share the true Pakistani narrative with the rest of the world rather than the one that international cinema likes to project about Pakistan. “We don’t need someone to come and make a Zero Dark Thirty for us, especially when it’s our story to tell and when we have the capability of telling better stories,” he says. “Pakistan is the ‘Ricodic’ of powerful stories. Just imagine the kind of romance, suspense, horror and tragedy [films] that can be churned out of a country that has undergone 20 years of war and is still fighting one.”

Patriotism and Shaan go side by side and that was also one of the main reasons behind the success of Waar. And from the wardrobe and styling of Shan in Operation 021, it seems that the film will take a similar course.

If Waar was about fight sequences and ballistics, Operation 021 is about mind games and revolves around the idea that it’s important to strive to save what you love. “There is a thin line between the characters one chooses to play in an action film because at the end of the day, it’s all about the hero getting off the bike while maintaining the crease of his pants,” comments Shaan. That is the kind of cinema that Shaan likes and also the kind he believes people want to watch: suspension of disbelief at its best.

“At present, we need more people to watch a film than like it,” he quips. For Shaan, Operation 021 was an opportunity to see the extent to which Pakistani filmmakers aspire to be as good as those in Hollywood. He has been pleasantly surprised by the way Zeba Bakhtiar, Jaami, Azan Sami Khan and Summer Nicks have made a film that is at par with any good-quality Hollywood film.

“Hollywood is the way to go and so are China and Turkey, not because I have something against Bollywood, but just because the rest are better storytellers,” clarifies Shaan and explains that this is how Indians made Bollywood an internationally recognised industry.

“The Yash Chopras and other bigwigs of Bollywood sent generations of filmmakers to all these places to learn and educate themselves in storytelling,” says Shaan. He believes that this is how the new wave of Indian filmmakers has surfaced. “[These are] the ones who rely less on mythology and more on original content and that is the only way to create and support Pakistan’s new wave of talent.”

Although notorious for his anti-Bollywood statements, the actor with the most number of films in Pakistan is more worried about the Karachi and Lahore industry divide than that between India and Pakistan.

He believes that ‘gujjar’-centric films were never owned by media practitioners in Karachi and Lahori artistes always felt alienated from the growing drama industry of Karachi. These discrepancies gave artistes someone to blame their shortcomings on and more so, put them in a comfort zone that they needed to be taken out from.

“The requirement of the television industry is 286 dramas in a year, which is great and also a well-paying avenue for artistes who want to make more money by repeating the same thing,” a concerned Shaan comments.

“But someone has to think big, not only in terms of an audience, but also in terms of the big screen because if we all play it safe, then who is going to take risks? Industries are made by risk takers and game changers, not followers.”

Operation 021 is slated for an August 14 release and will be the first Pakistani film ever to release in 22 countries simultaneously including tje United Kingdom, the United States and the United Arab Emirates.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • Bushra Mustaf
    Jun 9, 2014 - 7:17AM

    Shaan is very smart trying to escape the gangster, vulgar **gajjur-eccentric** type films and takes no responsibility that he contributed to the sick culture with a sleazy corrupt generation of film makers. He might be the actor in Pakistan with the most films but quantity does not make an actor. His critique of Bollywood and every one else does not change the fact he has contributed nothing to help rebuild the Pakistani film media but is taking all the credit for the revival of it a typical Shaan quality that by pretending to be Pakistani patriotic he can pretend to stay above the fray.Recommend

    Jun 9, 2014 - 10:41AM

    I am hoping the upcoming film would be a good.


  • Lalit
    Jun 9, 2014 - 11:03AM

    Shaan is making a remake of a Hindi movie ”Arth” but still is shy about appreciating Indian Cinema.a classical case of a PATRIOT Pakistani in the league of Shahid Afridi who wants to play in IPL and rake in some moolah,simultaneously renegading on his Indian hosts.

    ”The Yash Chopras and other bigwigs of Bollywood sent generations of filmmakers to all these places to learn and educate themselves in storytelling,” says Shaan”…i really doubt Indians like Yash Chopra sent anyone to China or Turkey to learn the tricks of the trade.India has one of the oldest and largest Film Industry and its own unique style of Film fact it was Indian Cinema led by Raj Kapoor Dev Anand ,which made huge in roads into central Asia,China,Russia and in Africa.


  • Zee Ali
    Jun 9, 2014 - 1:03PM

    @Lalit what happened to the Indian Cinema in the mid 80’s and early 90’s..The cinema was only revived when DDLJ was released and the younger lot of indian filmmakers took over with western clothing styles taken from Armani, Dr Martins, Nike, Speedo etc. Almost every young director got educated from USA which clearly reflected in the production of movies seen in the past decade or so from bollywood. Which is good no one denies the fact but give credit where it is due. On the cricketing side the recent comments from Sanjay Patel has clearly showed how BCCI hijacked or became martial law administrator at the ICC. BCCI and Srinivasan must be reminded of the famous quote: “The moment you are sure you cannot lose what you own, is exactly the moment when you start losing it.”


  • Tani
    Jun 9, 2014 - 2:05PM

    @zee ali how did you jump from Bollywood to cricket? Btw “martial law” “hijack”? When a country generates 68 to 75 percent of world cricket income and only get 3-4% returns while rest country takes india produced money share that’s completely unfair. It was right to demand more share because we generate most of the money. Common logic why would india want to stay in such body and get peanuts for giving so much, when it can get out of it play domestic cricket in the country and earn full 75% world cricket income? If you were in our case you would have done the same thing. You would have wanted to remain your money within the country.
    About Bollywood not all directors are USA born or studied. Secondly Bollywood is only single segment of indian cinema that is Hindi film industry, we have Tamil,Bengali,Malayalam and other regional language film industry that gain maximum national awards in india for its excellence not Bollywood. So shaan is completely wrong, infact even in Bollywood he seems to have only watched commercial films of recent and formed an opinion instead watching “shahid” “ship of Theseus” that came out of same Bollywood but is different and serious cinema.


  • True Karachiwala
    Jun 9, 2014 - 4:15PM

    I salute Karachi film industry for giving life to an otherwise a “corpse’. It’s the spirit of being “Karachiite” to take up challenges and do not wait for the help to come. Special congratulations to Ms.zeba Bakhtia, her son Azan, Shaan and all the team.


  • Chachoo
    Jun 9, 2014 - 4:40PM

    @True Karachiwala: Congratulations on Bringing Regionalism even in this discussion. As far as i remember Zeba was the class fellow of my Aunt in Kinnaird College Lahore and she was born in Quetta. It is better to call her a Pakistani rather than owning her the way you are doing.


  • Arsalan
    Jun 9, 2014 - 4:54PM

    @Bushra Mustaf:
    In case you don’t know, he has himself directed 5 films and none of them was ‘gujjar film’. Hence, it’s unfair to say that he has contributed nothing to our film industry. As far as ‘gujjar films’ are concerned, no one (directors, actors) claimed that they liked making such films. They had no option but to make such films. Before advent of multiplexes, 90% of the cinema goers were in either rural areas or lower-middle class people. They LOVED such movies. So, the only way to have a profitable film was to make gujjar film. If you read Shaan’s interviews of those days, he stated many times that such movies are made only for a particular segment of society and never expected educated people to like them. We can’t deny that different segments of society have different tastes. Films like Waar or Khuda kay Liye can never be a hit for a particular segment of society who likes gujjar movies.


  • True Karachiwala
    Jun 9, 2014 - 4:59PM

    What’s wrong with my being happy over great creative activities going on in my city like Shermin Obaid Chinoy, movie Lamhay , and as Shaan himself said big tv drama industry, serious theatre Karachi Literature Fest (which set the stone rolling here in Pakistan )etc.ect. Well regionalism ? you answered it for yourself. Ms.Zeba born in Quetta, studied in Lahore, and now living and making movies in Karachi, still I saluted her. Is it still wrong ?


  • Chachoo
    Jun 9, 2014 - 6:35PM

    @True Karachiwala: i have met many Karachi walas but sorry to say they think they are extra intelligent while outpointing others in terms of Sarcasm. So I will not disturb you from your dreams of Galore and self confessed amour-propre, but kindly do understand that nobody is stupid enough to reckon what you are alluring to.


  • Anonymous
    Jun 11, 2014 - 10:40AM

    I suppose Thats why every Bolllywood movie is a stolen from Hollywood classics. I dont think any of us need to count their number because they are many :P lolx bollywood


  • Jun 11, 2014 - 2:48PM

    @Bushra Mustaf:
    are you out of mind 25 years he worked for Pakistan he makes films as director producer and writer despite he had many bollywood offers what you talking you have aa] typical thinking you will say shah rukh is best etc you have no idea about Pakistani film industry and like you people only like others and criticizetheir on people hate you a lot


  • Jun 11, 2014 - 2:50PM

    @Bushra Mustaf:love pakistan plz


  • Hopeless
    Jun 12, 2014 - 12:54PM

    Seriously guys, stop fighting all the time. Karachi versus rest of the country, India versus Pakistan…you guys are hopelessRecommend

  • Hassan Wazir
    Jul 18, 2014 - 10:03PM

    The most powerful, stylish, ans wonderful actor and star of Pakistani cinema…Proud of you…You are always the best.


  • Aug 27, 2014 - 5:31PM

    I’m very impressed from for war Shan is doing for Pakistani industry. Proud of u!!


  • Oct 4, 2014 - 10:53PM

    As we see the last Movie Waar Earn a lot of money and fame as well and one of the biggest success of the Pakistan Film Industry who is also created/launched by Shaan.By seeing the trailer of this movie I hope it again win the hearts of people of either Pakistan as well as foreign people and increase the fame of Super start Shaan


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