Instep Today

"I’ve had utter respect for women, all my life"

Instep Today
By Ahmed Sarym
Fri, 12, 18

Humayun Saeed talks to Instep about his upcoming film, TV projects and how he handles his position as an influential figure in these sensitive times.

Humayun Saeed is officially Pakistan’s most successful film actor and producer; over the past couple of years he’s been breaking his own records, with Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 crossing the 60-crore benchmark at the global box office.

“It feels great, achieving this incredible honor. Nadeem and I, and our entire team, is truly humbled. But then again, we cannot let this get to our heads,” Humayun spoke to Instep. “We’re never over-confident because I feel like I’m back to zero now; I feel a greater responsibility on my shoulders. We’re focused on improving and providing quality films and so we haven’t taken a break. Right after the serial, we’ll start our next film out of the two scripts that are ready, hoping to come out on Eid-ul-Azha, next year.”

Humayun has now begun shooting for his return to the television screens with Nadeem Baig’s directorial, Mere Pass Tum Ho, marking the fifth consecutive project that the actor-director duo has worked on over the past three-years. Penned by seasoned writer, Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar of Punjab Nahi Jaungi-fame, the serial also happens to be Humayun’s first on-screen collaboration with Ayeza Khan.

“I’ve had the script for Mere Pass Tum Ho with me for about three years now and somehow or the other we never got a chance to work on it,” Humayun revealed. “Nadeem and I really liked it and so now that we had this window as our films’ scripts had to be tweaked and reworked a little, we decided to go ahead with it. It’s not the story that really appealed to me, there’s nothing out of the box there, but it’s the way that it’s been written by Khalil Sahab. If I may say so myself, it might as well be his finest work.”

Speaking of how Ayeza was cast for the part, Saeed was all praise for the Pyaray Afzal-starlet and lauded her for her work-ethic.

“We liked Ayeza, as an actress, and wanted to cast her for this role, so when we approached her, she immediately said yes. I’m sure the team itself must’ve contributed to her decision,” he shared. “She plays my wife and it’s a slightly controversial role for her, though there’s not much I can say at the moment, she works with all her heart and is very professional; punctual and hard-working.”

Revolving around the struggles of a middle-class couple and their child, Saeed found the simplicity most endearing and finds playing a commoner a new challenge. “With my own character, what I liked about it was the fact that it wasn’t glamorous at all, it was about an average couple and I haven’t ever done something like this,” he maintained. “It has been slightly difficult for me though. It’s been a while since I was last required to shoot eight scenes a day, so it gets very tiring at times, but like I said, I’ve just had a lot of faith in the script. In times where everything is in-your-face, this leaves a lot of things unsaid and under-the-line.”

As Mere Pass Tum Ho has entered its shooting spells, scripts for Humayun and Nadeem’s next movie(s) are also being worked upon. The two films that are in the pipeline happen to be Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar’s Loafer, set in the Walled City of Lahore and a yet-to-be-titled feature written by Vasay Chaudhry. Nonetheless, as the silver screen is debated to be a superior and more acclaimed medium for filmmakers and actors, one wonders what makes Humayun return to the small screen after having taken the cinemas by storm.

“I pay no mind what people have to say. I remember when I wanted to do films back in the day as well, they questioned my TV background and how I wouldn’t fit in well. And the opposite happened to me when I did Dillagi after JPNA had become a huge success,” Humayun recalled. “A lot of people didn’t want me to do it, but when it aired, all those questions just went away. So I for one don’t believe in any of this; for me, it’s the script that matters first and foremost. Also I started my career with drama serials and I’m really attached to the medium.”

Humayun certainly is an influential figure but in times where there’s increasing awareness of harassment and abuse of power, in Pakistan as well, one wonders how he responds to movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, to make sure the women in the industry are heard and made to feel secure.

“I know of people who take people for a ride, and get taken for a ride as well and I know such men and women, both. And it must be condemned on a bigger scale - whoever takes advantage of anyone must be held accountable,” assured Humayun of eradicating unsafe and exploitative working environments. “It’s not only showbiz, it exists in every profession and I know that in some way or the other, they do pay for their actions. We’re not one of these people; I’ve never harassed anyone in my entire life, and I don’t believe in the casting-couch.”

Furthering his thoughts, Saeed spoke of how he’s repeatedly worked with headstrong women over a career spanning more than two decades, “I started my career with women like Mehreen Jabbar, Marina Khan, Rubina Ashraf and Samina Peerzada, who were strong and professional. I’ve seen how they’ve worked and I’m glad I’ve only worked with women who’ve taken that (spirit) forward. So for me, I’ve always had great friendships, but most importantly, I’ve had utmost respect for women, all my life.”