Friday 25 April 2014

From Sunehray Din to a new beginning

02:29 By Lollywood Online No comments

Saleem Sheikh talks about the comeback to cinema and his journey of making a mark on the silver screen. PHOTOS: FILE
It’s always fascinating to discuss the conditions of cinema with veterans who made their debuts in the early 90s. Saleem Sheikh, like Shaan, Baber Ali, and then Moammar Rana, came during a window of history that was described as a dark era. 
Many of these actors believed that it was their work that somehow improved the conditions of the industry. Out of this mentality came a last attempt to revive Pakistan’s film industry with movies such as Chief Saheb, Sargam and later, Choorian.
This year has not been particularly fruitful when it comes to film production. However, change is definitely on the horizon with Pakistan’s new breed of filmmakers. Veteran leading man Saleem Sheikh is all about trying to maintain a consistent effort with his upcoming romantic comedy for which shooting will begin in October.
His approach and understanding of the entertainment industry has changed in an attempt to come back with a bang and there are no overambitious expectations, he insists. “I want to focus on making a film with a strong story, embrace the new trends of cinema and tackle issues with commercial appeal,” Sheikh tells The Express Tribune.
With fresh faces like Hamza Ali Abbasi and Goher Rasheed taking over the big screen, there will be a lot of pressure on Sheikh to prove himself again. “The pressure has been on us for quite some time, as there is a lot of new talent that is making inroads into the industry. Another change is that emphasis is now on characters, you don’t have to be a hero, or be visible in every scene, you can do a smaller role with which you can improvise and make a strong impact,” says Sheikh.
Looking back at his earlier days of Lollywood, he remembers how he and his contemporaries were trying to sustain the industry with an array of different films but that experiment ended up with more bad films and less good ones.
“It’s funny when I was starting doing films, as it was just about the beginning of the end for cinema, but we didn’t see it coming,” recalls Sheikh
“I remember we used to follow these weird trends. For instance, Evernew developed a concept where films could be dubbed for two markets, both Urdu and Punjabi. They did this only for the money, and, as a result, the quality of our cinema declined,” adds Sheikh.
Sheikh is one of those film actors who began their careers with the small screen, and that too as a child star in the mid-1970s. But it was under the direction of Shoaib Mansoor thatSunehrey Din became an instant hit and people started recognising Saleem Shiekh.
“It was an interesting period and that play took about 1.5-2 years to make. I kept waiting for it come on air and right after that I had become a star in my own right because people had formally recognised who Saleem Sheikh was,” says Sheikh.
The ongoing debate about the influx of foreign content has infuriated Sheikh but like most of the new contributors to the cinema industry he welcomes healthy competition. He believes that insecurities surrounding Indian cinema or foreign content, had dominated the film ranks for the longest time. Now, Pakistani filmmakers have an opportunity to compete and show their mettle. Not only have foreign films brought in a bigger audience, but that audience is more understanding and aware of cinema.
“In television, we found that even though there is competition, be it Turkish or Indian, Pakistani content  has to survive. The same is true for Pakistan cinema, we can really challenge and change things now,” says Sheikh.
Saleem Sheikh’s previous films
Mohabat ke saudagar (1992)
Duniya Dus Numberi (1993)
Qassam (1993)
Chief Saab (1996)
Yes Boss (1997)
Kaheen Pyar Na Hojaye (1997)
Aik Aur Love Story (1999)
Yeh Dil Apka Howa (2002)
Khulay Aasman Kay Neechay (2008)


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