We’re on the set of Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2’s promotional song and there are stars everywhere. Sohail Javed, who’s directing the video, is focused on the space he’s created for the track but he’s got quite an ensemble in the house. One sees Fahad Mustafa speaking to the media while Mawra Hocane gives her shot, Ahmad Ali Butt can be seen speaking to his son and casually rapping on Facetime, Humayun Saeed can be spotted in makeup while Kubra Khan poses for the cameras; I see Uzma Khan from afar. There are makeup artists, stylists, spot boys, tea boys, cameramen, journalists, bloggers…it’s quite a fascinating scene.
I meet Omer Shahzad in the makeup room and we talk about his JPNA2 experience. From the trailer it seems that the model-turned-actor has the role of Kubra Khan’s Indian fiancé and from the trailer it also seems that his abs are what make the central impression. We talk about women being trivialized as eye candy but I wonder how Omer feels being objectified, as a man.
“I love it!” Omer replies, laughing. But then, on a serious note, he elaborates. “I got a call from Nadeem bhai, who said he had a role for me. I met him and Humayun bhai to discuss the details of the character. They said they had seen my work and thought I was perfect for the role, which had margin as an actor and they wanted to utilize my experience as a model. He told me I’d have to take my shirt off for some action. I didn’t have a problem with it.”
Obviously, no one with a six-pack as defined as Omer’s would; he’s posed shirtless for countless fashion shoots and his abs do make an appearance in the JPNA2 trailer, in case you’re wondering.
This should be Omer’s breakthrough; not as a fashion model but as an actor because though he has appeared in a film and a couple of drama serials, he hasn’t managed to achieve the impact one would hope for. JPNA2 has the potential to change that for him.
How challenging was it to act alongside an ensemble of experienced actors, I ask him.
“I really have worked so hard in this movie,” Omer says as we steer the conversation to his experience. “Only yesterday I was sitting next to Fahad bhai and I asked him whether I could ever be an actor. ‘You’ve already become an actor’ he said encouragingly about my work in the film. I asked him how and he told me that he had seen my scenes in dubbing and I had not done such work on TV. I keep asking the director, producer, Humayun bhai and they’ve all been very encouraging.”
Omer has also danced in the film and since we know that not many of the JPNA stars can dance (we were witness to the ‘Fair & Lovely ka Jalwa’ in JPNA), I asked him whether he was comfortable on the dance floor.
“Yes, I can dance,” he smiled.
He plays an Indian in the film and not many people would know that Omer had a cameo in Azaadi, in which he also played an Indian character.
“I had a cameo in Azaadi and played a character called Raj,” he said, to which Mawra, sitting next to us chimed in: ‘Naam toh suna ho ga’, quoting Shah Rukh Khan’s famous line. “Actually Humayun bhai was supposed to do that character but he was having trouble with dates so I was asked to do it instead. We were all filming in Dubai when I came back to do it.”
Omer already has offers to do more films and he’s in talks with Six Sigma, Humayun Saeed’s production house that is aiming now to produce 5-6 films a year.
“The future of films looks good,” Omer says, adding that there is a lot of opportunity for actors like him.
“So yes, I have done a shirtless scene in the film, but I have also invested time and energy in my acting. JPNA2 has been a very different experience; there was comedy, action, song and dance and even shooting this promotional dance has been interesting.”
Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 releases on Eid ul Azha alongside Nabeel Qureshi’s Load Wedding and Haseeb Hassan’s Parwaaz Hai Junoon, which is a tribute to the Pakistan Air Force. All three films are potential hits and one hopes that they help Pakistan’s film industry grow to further strength.