Sheheryar Munawar, who made his big screen debut in Asim Raza’s Ho Mann Jahan (2015) has experienced a trying spell that many credit to Project Ghazi which was pulled back from a theatrical release at its premiere-night last year in Karachi. But he is back and working on the multi-starrer 7 Din Mohabbat In, which is set to release this Eid-ul-Fitr and reunites him with his HMJ co-star Mahira Khan.
Sheheryar is also expanding his skill set beyond acting. Having co-produced Ho Mann Jahaan with Asim Raza, what’s kept him busy is the spearheading of Asim’s The Vision Factory Films. He is also turning executive producer for the banner’s second offering, a film called Paray Hat Love, which will be helmed by Raza and has been penned by Imran Aslam. Sheheryar will also star in the film and will once again be joined by Mahira Khan as well as budding actress Zara Noor Abbas and Ahmad Ali Butt.
In this interview with Instep, Sheheryar Munawar opens up on matters of production, why acting has taken a backseat for him and much more…
Instep: What moved you to join Asim Raza’s The Vision Factory Films and delve into production?
Sheheryar Munawar (SM): Vision Factory Films is aiming at producing content for television or films and this is the line of work I fancy. To be able to be behind the camera really excites me. But producing is different because as an actor, you wait for the scripts to come and then sometimes, due to budgetary constraints or vision differences, things don’t shape out the way you would’ve wanted them to. When you’re able to do your own project, you’re involved in every aspect of it. That’s the kind of control I enjoy.
Instep: Ho Mann Jahaan opened to a mixed critical response. What do you think you’ve taken from your experience?
SM: Obviously, like any project you do, you take something from it. As a producer, I was very content with Ho Mann Jahaan. People really liked it, but there were a few things we learnt from it. There are so many experiences you undergo that shape you for the better. We took our time to sort of take a deep breath from it, in terms of structuring of the entire project – whether it’s at the scripting stage or the production process. We’ve tried to do it right this time as ideas need to keep improving, and we’ve tried to apply those learnings on Paray Hat Love.
Instep: How do you think you’re able to juggle production and acting, particularly when you’re on the sets?
SM: Being a producer is very tough. It does get to you when you’re producing; it’s constantly having the entire set in mind and not just your scene. What helps me is that I have an amazing team. For Ho Mann Jahaan, I would be allowed to, at certain points, take off and focus on my acting alone. I guess we’ll do that when we get into Paray Hat Love as well.
Instep: Do you think production takes you away from the camera as a leading man?
SM: If there are good acting assignments that come my way, I will take them up. What are the good films that have come out lately? Punjab Nahi Jaungi is Humayun (Saeed)’s production and he works for himself. Nabeel Qureshi’s stuck to Fahad (Mustafa). So apart from that, there’s nothing groundbreaking being made, it’s not that I’ve given up something remarkable that I was offered. Even for television, honestly, I haven’t gotten a script that’s appealed to me in ages. I’m just not getting interesting things to do (laughs). I’m not stupid, but I’ve become more careful after Project Ghazi and I feel when one does come on-screen, it needs to be worthwhile.
Instep: What makes you agree to a project as an actor?
SM: What excites me is to be able to do different characters. I don’t want to look like Sheheryar Munawar doing a certain character. In 7 Din Mohabbat In, Tipu, my character, is very peculiar-looking and you won’t see us (Mahira and I) in it, you’ll see our characters and that’s something we were very mindful of.
Paray Hat Love, we want to release on Eid-ul-Adha next year. It’s primarily a romantic-comedy; you can call it a romantic-drama as well. It’s a young, urban, contemporary story. You can expect it to be entertaining for sure, yet ‘clean’ that you can watch with your family. It has a modern aspect to it as it’s set in today’s world and the commitment issues that youngsters face. I feel the commitment-phobia has become quite a problem for my generation; we’re always switching jobs and hobbies, and don’t stick by our principles either. So it’s about a guy who doesn’t want to commit, but how he transforms into a ‘man’ and sort of comes of age.