Taking a few body blows for ‘Shah’

Published: June 13, 2015
Apart from the film, Sarwar is also associated with the pop rock band Club Caramel. PHOTO: FILE

Apart from the film, Sarwar is also associated with the pop rock band Club Caramel. PHOTO: FILE


Over the years, several actors have gone the extra mile to show their commitment to the celluloid cause. While some such as Daniel Day-Lewis and Heath Ledger try to get in to their on-screen characters by undergoing rigorous training, the likes of Christian Bale push the envelope.

The Academy Award-winning actor lost 63 lbs for his role in The Fighter only to bulk up again for his final outing as the caped crusader, Batman, in Dark Knight Rises. Pakistani actor Adnan Sarwar seems to have taken to the Bale school of acting in his upcoming film – Shah, where he plays the role of Hussain Shah, the forgotten boxer, who won a bronze medal at the Seoul Olympics in 1988

Rather than gaining mass, Sarwar has gone the other way and lost a lot of weight. In this physical attainment, he reduced his daily calorie intake that resulted in a dramatic loss of 10 kilos. But, he had to ensure that he would maintain it for the next eight months.

Apart from the physical challenge, Sarwar also had to go old-school to learn boxing tactics of that era. Having been trained by the same coaches as Shah in Lyari, he had to pay particular attention to Shah’s core competencies. “I lived and breathed boxing. I had to go through functional resistance training and running in the morning and boxing drills in the evening with very little intake of food. It was tough,” he said.

With a spate of boxing films already being released internationally for years, Shah would be Pakistan’s first film to be based on an Olympian. To bring the real-life feel on the big screen, Sarwar spent several hours interacting with the local boxers of Lyari in order to gain an insight on the local boxing culture. He said, “The character of Shah draws inspiration from quite a few boxers and their mannerisms.”

It’s worth remembering that Shah spent most of his youth being homeless and worked as a labourer while he was boxing for Pakistan and his diet mostly consisted of whatever he could get his hands on.

“Any talented Pakistani who despite achieving some amazing feats is now living in complete obscurity and abject poverty can relate to the story of Shah,” said Sarwar.

Keeping in mind the actor’s efforts, Shah himself complimented Sarwar by calling him a younger version of himself. This may prove to be a morale booster as Shah is headed to compete with its rival, Bollywood’s Brothers, among many others on the Independence Day.

Sarwar, who has also served as the director of the film, wasn’t shying away from tough competition at the box office, hoping that his “tiny team of little known outsiders” may be able to spring in a surprise or two. “I think it’s very exciting that three local films are being released on the same day. This has never happened before. Such a healthy competition is good for the industry and says a lot about how far we have come in the last three years.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2015.

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