Instep Today

In conversation with Wajahat Rauf

Instep Today
By Ahmed Sarym
Tue, 01, 19

The director/producer talks about his next film, with Mehwish Hayat and Zara Noor Abbas and no, it’s not Karachi Se Lahore 3.

Hot on the heels of his first web series Enaaya, Wajahat Rauf is taking a U-turn back to movies. Contrary to what’s been going around on the grapevine, he’s breaking away from the road-trip franchise and is actually not making Karachi Se Lahore 3. Rauf is set to expand his horizon and he’s already started working on his next film, shooting its first spell in Karachi with one of the country’s most bankable actresses, Mehwish Hayat and budding starlet, Zara Noor Abbas in the lead.

Wajahat announced the movie with a first-look poster featuring Mehwish and Zara, who will be making her big screen debut with Asim Raza’s Parey Hut Love this Eid-ul-Azha. Whilst the yet-to-be-titled feature will mark Rauf’s third directorial and production under his own banner, Showcase Production, he had earlier announced the next installment of Karachi Se Lahore. Catching up with Instep, he explained what made him pursue a new idea instead.

“We tried giving it a shot; we had the script and the cast but I felt it was repetitive, something we’ve seen before. I didn’t want people to feel like they’re watching my last two films again, with the same characters, plot twists,” he began. “I felt like I needed more than that, so I had another story with me for over a year now and I wrote its dialogues immediately. Mehwish read it, and felt it was good stuff. My wife, Shazia read it and felt it was the right mix of comedy, emotion and had a message too. So with such positive feedback, I went ahead with it.”

Though he didn’t reveal much about what the film has to offer, we do know that there’s more to it than Wajahat’s usual dose of comedy. “It’s something I always wanted to do. Comedy is my signature of course, but I felt like more was needed, compared to what I’d already done before,” he reflected. “This one is a family, comedy-romance; it discusses relationships because family ties are such an institution in our country. And most of it will be said comically. I feel it also has novelty to it; it’s unique in its situations, which I’m saving for the trailer.”

Having shot the first leg of shoot, Wajahat was all praises for Mehwish, whom he recently worked with for what is touted as Pakistan’s first web-series, Enaaya, released under the umbrella of Indian platform, Eros Now, as well as Zara Noor, who had been cast alongside Ayesha Omar, Shahzad Sheikh and her husband, Asad Siddiqui in Karachi Se Lahore 3.

“Mehwish and I had just recently worked together on Enaaya and so we understood each other very clearly. Zara’s dramas have done really well; Qaid on Geo has considerable hype and I’d auditioned her for Karachi Se Lahore 3 so I knew what her caliber was,” he spoke about working with both of them. “I think they’re both brilliant performers, they add so much value to the script and I knew nobody could’ve done this script better than them; they were both my first choices. Communication is everything, we have our discussions and they go all way.”

As the director, Wajahat also feels that the film has allowed him to evolve as a filmmaker and deal with an array of subjects. “I hadn’t done romance before and even though I’m sure this one will be labeled as comedy as well, it does have that dramatic genre, so that was new for me as well,” he responded when questioned on how different the process has been, comparatively. “I think to be able to play with some really intense scenes, you need to widen your own range as well, but I’ve been blessed with Mehwish and Zara, they’re very committed. Even with Actor in Law, when Mehwish had to play a Parsi girl, she was very convincing.”

Apart from the two leading ladies, the film will also feature Wajahat’s son, Aashir in a pivotal role, whilst the rumor mills have been abuzz that Azfar Rehman and Asad Siddiqui, both of whom starred in Rauf’s web-series, will be cast as male leads in the movie. Wajahat neither denied nor confirmed the news.

The film promises meaningful roles for women, compared to the director’s previous features that met with criticism for objectifying its heroines Ayesha Omar and Saba Qamar in item songs ‘Tutti Fruiti’ and ‘Kalaabaz Dil’. Nonetheless, Wajahat has no qualms whatsoever and remains unruffled.

“I’ll own whatever I’ve done; I think everything is criticized. Not being pseudo or to say I won’t do an item number again, but I just felt I was working on one emotion only, which was humor and with a film’s canvas, there’s no approving authority, there’s so much freedom to create dreams, keep it realistic, to each its own,” he maintained. “Maybe my fourth film has an item-number; there are never any rules in my head. I believe in letting it flow organically. I agree it was forced in Karachi Se Lahore; it was my first film and we didn’t know how box office works, and Ayesha was also very keen on doing a dance number. Generally, I feel you simply learn from what’s worked and what hasn’t; even if it’s a scene that’s gone on for too long, you realize that after it’s released.”

Though Rauf was earlier aiming at an Eid-ul-Fitr release, he may decide not to battle it out with The Legend of Maula Jatt and release on a non-holiday date. Let’s see how this works out.