For Wajahat Rauf, the journey from an almost-MBA to filmmaker has been no less of a road trip itself. And it is with his soon-to-be-released feature film Karachi Se Lahore that the director would finally be completing a journey that has been in the making for a long time.
Tracing tracks to the starting point, Rauf opens up about his own beginning as a 16-year-old assistant to Saqib Malik, while working as a copywriter in an ad-agency. “I would constantly ask Saqib [Malik] to give me pointers and filmmaking tips every now and then,” Rauf tells The Express Tribune.
He then went to the United States to acquire a graduate degree in Business Administration and switched his majors to Mass Communication, without informing anyone — including his parents. “They didn’t even know that I had changed my majors until the time of my graduation”.
This pattern of taking risks — and following his heart — set a precedent that was to continue in his life and most importantly during his turn as director.
Treading into completely new territory with a road film like Karachi Se Lahore that too in a revamped and rebooted film industry, is a risk not many filmmakers would have taken.
“A lot of us have seen Hollywood and Bollywood road movies but never a local one,” shares Rauf
“The concept for the movie had always been there and while working on the final draft, I asked Yasir Hussain to come on board and help me with the dialogues as he has a great sense of humour.”
Ayesha Omar during the shoot of her item number in the film
Shot at some of the most scenic locations in the country Rauf himself had to put in the extra miles to ensure that he was able to capture the beauty of scenery. “Before we started filming our Director of Photography (DoP) Rana Kamran and I went on a road trip ourselves to scout for filming locations.”
The movie has been shot in areas like Kund Malir (in Balochistan), interior Sindh and Lahore and these locations would only serve to enhance the audience experience. “These locations are like a character on their own. None of the shots that you see in the movie will feel out of place or unnecessary.”
However, he still believes that the real beauty of the film lay in the performance of the cast and singled out Shehzad Sheikh’s performance as something special. “He absolutely nailed it. The character he is performing in the film was just tailor made for him. Unlike some of the other actors, I have noticed that he has this energy inside him — and a point to prove.”
Rounding off the rest of the cast are Javed Sheikh, Ayesha Omar, Yasir Hussain and Ahmed Ali. Surprisingly, it didn’t take Rauf long to assemble his cast. “[Javed] Sheikh sahab was sold on the idea from the time I narrated the script to him whereas Ayesha Omar got to know about the film from someone else and told me she was on board for the project.”
Managing such a huge cast and crew was no easy task especially on the road and such a long trip was bound to yield at least, few memorable experiences. One moment that has become etched into Rauf’s memory is when the cast narrowly escaped a ‘shark attack’.
“We were filming in Kund Malir in the morning. One day I woke up and found everyone from the cast and crew swimming in the ocean. I kept shouting out to them to come back, as we were wasting light, but it was to no avail. All of a sudden all of them came running back towards the shore. Apparently they had seen a few sharks.”
With highlights from his trip set to be viewed in the cinemas on July 31, Rauf wants to wait and see the audience response before he sets out on his next adventure. “For now there are a few TV serials in the pipelines. About the next film we’ll have to wait and see how this one does. If it does well — We’ll definitely begin work on our next by the coming year.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2015.