In conversation with Nomaan Khan

April 21, 2024

The man behind Hum Tum Aur Woo and the commercially successful Sherdil (2019),speaks about his latest film and steps that will help the film industry at large.

In conversation with Nomaan Khan


aving produced Sherdil, a star-studded film with the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) as its overarching theme in 2019, Nomaan Khan is back with a new film: Hum Tum Aur Woo (HTAW), which he wrote, produced, and directed.

Prior to the film’s release, Nomaan Khan shared what compelled him to make this particular film. He also spoke about strategies that would ensure profitability for filmmakers, particularly producers.

According to Khan, with Sherdil, his mission was to make a film of international standard, which is why he enlisted a top cinematographer from outside Pakistan.

“After writing a patriotic film, I felt that we needed to show the audience that Pakistanis can also write comedy,” he remarked.

“We mostly attempt romantic comedies in Pakistan. Hum Tum Aur Woo is a situational comedy. There is a situation and there is a reaction to it. That reaction is comedic, and as the audience views the film, they too, will understand what I mean by situational comedy. Even a sentence, within the context of the situation, has comedic value.”

Explaining his casting choices for Hum Tum Aur Woo, Khan emphasized that Junaid Khan, according to him, is a versatile actor.

“After Khuda Aur Mohabbat, I realized that Junaid Khan is a very versatile actor. I thought he was the perfect person to play the role of the character: Fawad of Islamabad.”

Khan ensured authenticity by anchoring each major character to a specific city and refining their dialects to match the locale. Pronunciation, said Khan, played a significant part in any character’s credibility.

For the writer, producer, and director, the importance of reading sessions held significant value. For Hum Tum Aur Woo, he conducted reading sessions for over a year before commencing filming. Khan also explained that the right casting could make or break any film.

“We need to show good-looking people on the big screen,” he said. Acting prowess and appearance, Khan noted, complement each other.

As to why he decided to cast Amna Ilyas, Khan noted the actor offered a complete package, something that was needed for this film.

“I think Amna Ilyas is a very beautiful girl, and I believe that no one has shown her as a beautiful girl in any production so far. We made sure that we projected her as a heroine, and not only as a strong actor. I wanted to make sure that in every scene she looked different and attractive.”

Transitioning from HTAW to the subject of cinema, Khan reflected on the industry’s evolution over the past decade. Despite an influx of new filmmakers and producers, Khan agreed that several factors have contributed to cinema’s decline.

Fluctuating ban on Bollywood films, the rise of streaming platforms, and Pakistan’s economic woes have played a role.

“Anyone who goes about producing a film in this era deserves to be applauded because it means investing without knowing if that investment will come back or not,” he explained.

The filmmaker acknowledged the pivotal role of Hindi cinema, in fostering a theatre-going culture. However, he lamented the dearth of globally competitive Pakistani films.

“Since the boom in cinema in the last decade, we have not been able to produce films of high caliber; they cannot compete in a global film market. There have been only one or two exceptions.”

“The cost of tickets for watching a film have also become a financial burden,” Khan said.

He urged exhibitors, actors, the censor board, and distributors to adopt fairer practices that could enable producers to invest in multiple projects without fear of financial ruin.

“I feel that we need to support producers. If an exhibitor asks for 58 percent share of the earnings of a film and a distributor charges 15 percent, how does a producer recover the cost of a film and make a profit?

“We don’t have enough screens. This percentage share between a producer, an exhibitor, and a distributor can work in the Indian film market because they have hundreds of screens dedicated to one film. We have 50 screens across the country. An exhibitor can even charge 60 percent because he knows that a film producer has no other option.”

Khan highlighted additional concerns as well.

“Major producers have not made a film this year. So, I think if you save the producer, people will have options to see all kinds of films. Producers will create both good and bad films and explore various genres. But when everyone involved in the process of a film, from actors (who can charge an exorbitant amount) to distributors and exhibitors, are solely focused on maximizing profits, it is the producer who ultimately suffers. And as we’ve seen this year, producers are stepping away from making films unlike the last decade when they were willing to make a film and take a chance.”

When questioned about government subsidies and tax exemptions for films, Khan advocated for industry stakeholders to prioritize sustainable practices over reliance on governmental assistance.

“It is not on the government but on exhibitors, actors, censor board, and distributors to realize that when you let a producer thrive, it will allow future producers to invest in a film without worrying about financial ruin. It is also important to understand that on any film set, the producer’s word should be held in higher esteem than a director’s word. If all of this is taken into account, we will see a resurgence in the production of good local films that will attract audiences.”

In conversation with Nomaan Khan