Monday 12 May 2014

“There is now a class system in the industry”

11:05 By Lollywood Online No comments

“There is now a class system in the industry”

What made you decide to return to the silver screen after an absence of eight years?
I started my career in cinema in 1995 and stayed active for more than a decade. During the period I made more than seventy-five films, several of which went diamond, platinum, gold and silver jubilee. Jeeva, Love 95 and Chor Machaye Shor were wildly successful and broke several records at the box office. As an actor, I came to be recognized not just from my looks and glamour but also for my acting and intelligence. But all the success notwithstanding, I started getting bored in the film industry after about spending ten years in cinema. I started feeling that I had accomplished what one could have in Pakistani cinema at the time and wanted to explore new avenues. So I returned to television and modeling, and slowly moved away from cinema.
But there was an item number you did for the film Chup.
Yes, there was. Shan is a veteran of the film industry and a good friend of mine. Chupwas his film and I wanted to be a part of the project. Doing an item number, as you call it, was a good way to work in Chup and have some fun. Shaan did an excellent job with the sets, lighting, music and costumes for my song. It was something new for me and I enjoyed doing it.
Swaarangi is one of the most visually appealing films ever made in Pakistan
Coming back to your return to cinema…
Yes. I had been looking for a challenging role. I could not do more films of the kind I had already done and needed to work in one that was different, off-beat and daring.Swaarangi was that film.
Did you find the film industry to have changed much during your absence?
The industry has seen a lot of change in the last decade, particularly in the last couple of years. Most of the change has been for the good. Technology is behind a lot of it. New Digital SLRs, the RED series, the Panavision Genesis and other digital cameras have made it possible to make high quality films without using film. The cameras cost less to acquire and operate. A lot of functions such as editing and creating special effects is infinitely easier in the digital world. We no longer have to worry about wasting film by doing multiple retakes.
There have been other changes as well. Producers and directors have now moved out of their studios and are shooting in actual homes and on location. Poorly crafted sets no longer bring the quality of films down. My film Swaarangi has been shot on location in its entirety and the results are stunning. I think it is one of the most visually appealing films ever made in Pakistan.
Photo by Ammar Shareef
Photo by Ammar Shareef
One positive change – the one that actually got me to return to film – has been an increase in the number of subjects explored in our films. We are no longer limited to making love stories with songs and dances. Khuda Ke Liye, Bol, Lamha, Zinda Bhaag,Waar, and Chambeli broke new ground in Pakistani cinema. Films like these were not made in Pakistan in the past.
A lot of ‘new’ people have entered the film industry. Quite a few are very well-educated and have a lot of exposure to good cinema and the arts. The current set of filmmakers come from a variety of social, educational, cultural and financial backgrounds and have their own inqie talent, skill and persuasion. The diversity has led to the intellectual growth of Pakistani cinema.
Have there been any negative changes?
Yes. A class system has been introduced in the industry. People with better education, with more money and social standing, tend to look down upon veterans of the industry. They believe that they belong to a ‘superior’ class of filmmakers. This is wrong. One has to value and respect seniority and experience.  Our seniors, perhaps a little less educated, kept the industry alive through the years. And it was not always easy.
What is Swaarangi about?
Swaarangi is an art movie about the role of a woman in our patriarchal society. It shows the burden and responsibility a Pakistani woman carries on her shoulders and how she deals with adversity, unfairness and misfortune. The film celebrates the strength, integrity and resilience of the Pakistani woman.
I play Salma, a beleaguered woman whose husband is a drug addict and dependent on his wife in more ways than one. The wife believes in standing by her man’s side, and is in love with him, inexplicably, but struggles with the problems caused by his addiction. They are surrounded by people who do not want to see the husband kick his habit. The movie documents the tragic actions taken by the husband to support his habit and the catastrophic effect they have on Salma’s life. It is a sad but meaningful story.
Resham, Ally Adnan & Sharoot Adnan
Resham, Ally Adnan & Sharoot Adnan
How was the experience of working for an off-beat film and with a team relatively new to feature films?
It was a very fulfilling experience. This was the kind of film I had been wanting to do for a long time; the more I understood Salma’s character, the more I enjoyed it. I do not think people all over the world realize the weight that a Pakistani woman carries on her shoulders. I am grateful that I have been able to play a part in a film that honours her strength.
The teams was wonderful. The director, Fida Hussain, and producer, Mazhar Abbas, are new to the film industry. Absolutely wonderful people. Watching the earnestness and sincerity with which they worked on the film brought tears of happiness to my eyes. My two principal co-stars – Naveed Akbar and Waseem Mazoor – are new to films as well but very talented. They are also a lot of fun.  We had a great time during the shooting of the film. I hope to work with the team again.
You have been in show business for more than twenty years now. Have you enjoyed being in the limelight?
I guess you can say that I have. My career in show business has afforded me many benefits – money, social status, certain entitlements and cultural awareness; but I have had my share of adversity as well. The ups and downs one inevitably sees in the film industry are a great teacher. They certainly were for me. I learnt the value of money, success and celebrity in this industry. I learnt how to recognize true friends from amongst the many people who surround a successful star. I learnt how to deal with the capricious behavior of people, and the fickle nature of their friendships, when I was down. Most importantly, I learnt a lot about myself. My experience helped me understand who I was as a person, what really mattered to me, what made me happy, what caused sadness and what I looked for in friendships.
Resham and Babra Sharif
Resham and Babra Sharif
Friendship with Babra Sharif adds a lot of happiness to my life
Do you have meaningful friendships?
Yes, I do. I have very good friends both in the film and fashion industry as well as out of it. One of my closest friends is the very glamorous film actor of yesteryears, Babra Sharif. She is an intelligent, warm and wise person; her friendship adds a lot of happiness to my life.
What was your first experience in the film industry?
My first experience may well have been my best one. Syed Noor sahib cast me in his film Sangam after seeing me model. He is a seasoned director who has introduced many new people to the film industry. He worked diligently with me as I learnt the craft, and made sure that my debut in cinema was perfect. I put my heart and my soul into Sangam and the result, thankfully, was very good. It was a film I won the national award for. I think my performances in Sangam and in Sameena Peerzada’s Inteha are two of my best ones.
Was it easy for you to get into the film industry?
Yes, it was. I was lucky in that regard. I had been modeling and working on television for a while before Syed Noor sahib spotted me. He wanted someone who understood acting but was new to cinema. I fit the bill. Unlike a lot of others, I did not have to struggle to secure my first starring role in a feature film.
Do you attribute your success in the film world to your looks or to your talent?
I certainly hope that it is more talent than looks, but in an industry such as cinema, looks do matter and help. They certainly did in my case.
Doing an item number was a good way to have some fun
How did you learn to act?
Television played a great role in teaching me how to act. I believe that I was always an artist on the inside but my experience in television made me a complete actor. Reading the script, understanding character, delivering dialogue, facing the camera, managing continuity, reacting to other actors’ performances,  being relaxed on set – these, and many other things, need to be learned. Television helped me in this area. I developed my proficiency and skills in acting by working in television plays. Pakistan Television is a venerable institution, a university, if you will, one that has trained and groomed some of the finest actors of Pakistan. We must never forget that.
You have worked as a model, in feature films, on television and on stage. What is it that you have enjoyed the most?
I enjoy television the most, followed by film. Modeling is fun but not as fulfilling as acting.
What do you enjoy doing when not performing?
I enjoy reading books. It is my first love. I read both prose and poetry. I am also a lover of music. I enjoy good music and always have something on when alone.
I have not been romantically involved with anyone since
Is there a man in your life today?
No, not today. There was one up until three years ago but I have not been romantically involved with anyone since. I am enjoying being single.
Do you plan to get married and raise a family?
Yes, yes, yes!  I am planning on getting married and hoping to find, very soon, the right person to spend the rest of my life with. And, yes, I want to raise a family.
Do you have any regrets about the life that you have led?
No, I do not. I have been fortunate to have had success both in my personal and my professional life. I have mostly made the right decisions and learnt from the ones that were wrong. Some not-so-good things have happened in my life but, I believe, that everything happens for a reason. We may not always understand them but there are benefits associated with adversity. I am happy with the life I have led thus far. Very happy.
What keeps Resham going?
It is my passion for doing well in my field. I want to always continue to improve and evolve as an actor; my ambition and desire to do more, and to do better, keeps me going.
What does the future hold for Resham?
It is difficult to predict the future but I know that I will always be an actor and that I will marry and raise a family. I think the two are not mutually exclusive. I do not subscribe to the misogynistic view that a woman has to choose between family and career. She does not. Absolutely not. A woman can do well in both. There is no limit to what a woman can accomplish.


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