The unconventional Romeo

January 28, 2018

The unconventional Romeo

Instep Interview

One of the most anticipated films of 2018, Cake has been catching our attention ever since the film was announced over a year back. While the cast that includes Aamina Sheikh, Adnan Malik and Sanam Saeed is one of the reasons we’re so interested, it is also true that Cake has offered a very warm and unique feel - from the first media meet-up to the impressive character posters as well as the teaser - it has everyone curious. Slated to release on March 30, the film has been directed by debutant Asim Abbasi who hails from London and has a very unique approach to filmmaking, compared to other Pakistani filmmakers.

"Asim comes from London; he did his schooling there and I feel that does make a difference," Adnan Malik shared with Instep in an exclusive interview. "There are good institutes here but I think when you have a different respect for time and your work ethic is different, which Pakistan is catching up with, the results are also desirable. We were told that the shoot will take 40 days and we shot in 40 days; this doesn’t happen generally. Everything was on schedule and well thought out."

Adnan plays the character of Romeo in Cake, which isn’t a traditional hero unlike his role in drama serial Dil Banjara. Speaking about it, he shared that he was allowed to develop his character that required him to not look very charming or hero type.

"I wondered how to change my look from a chocolate hero type image that I might have had so I did a moustache," he informed. "I also wore my father’s old pants from the 70s. So, the character became really interesting and I am glad Asim was open to accept all these things."

Reflecting on why he agreed to do the film in the first place, Adnan revealed, "It’s a beautiful script and I think that’s the most important thing. As Pakistanis we have kind of figured how to make things look glossy and interesting; our styling is on par, our direction is okay but storytelling is still very poor especially in cinema. In television, we have got a really strong history of storytelling and we have always had well written dramas since the PTV days. People across the border and all over the world watch our dramas. But that hasn’t translated into cinema yet. So, when I received the script of Cake, I was working on Dil Banjara which is kind of a project that I am not the proudest of because I still think it should have been well put together, though I learned a lot from it. In that process, while I was reading the script of Cake I found it incredible and as I read through, it made me emotional and brought tears to my eyes. That’s a rare achievement for a piece of writing. That was the thing that really hooked me. Plus, the casting is very interesting; both Sanam and Aamina are powerhouse actresses and I have worked with both of them before."

While expectations from the film are very high due to the aforementioned reasons, the technical team behind Cake is also very strong. Renowned cinematographer Mo Azmi has served as the Director of Photography whereas a mainstream Indian film editor, Aarti has been taken onboard for editing. She is known for her work in some of the biggest Bollywood films including Jab Harry Met Sejal. If we talk about the music of the film, it has been done by The Sketches and according to Adnan, the film has a "very beautiful and organic soundtrack".

"Cake is all about characters; they are very well constructed and well thought-out," he added. "There is no love story at the heart of it but it is a part of the film. After all, love is an important part of everyone’s life. The film is focused around families and familial love. It is about how that emotion is structured over time and how things build up. How secrets are kept and how we deal with our family because of a subconscious history that is not talked about in the current. Cake kind of addresses these issues of where family traumas come from for a lot of people. It is very interesting; it is not too alternative or too art. It’s commercially told. It’s like watching a TV drama done on the scale of a film; much like having the best of both worlds. I was very impressed with the finesse and the finishing. You have not seen anything like Cake in Pakistan before for sure."

Speaking of local films that have come out in the recent past, the actor-director noted, "All the films that have come out so far are good; they all have hit that humour. A lot of films are replicating the success model of Jawani Phir Nahi Ani but I think every film had its strength. Arth really looked good; it had nice, strong visual storytelling; Parchi had good energy."

Coming back to Cake, the strength of the film, in Adnan’s words, lies in "its story, its performances and its emotional honesty."

The multitalented artist reiterated that he was focusing on quality work rather than quantity, both in acting as well as direction. While he is busy with a few upcoming commercials, he is also writing his own film that he plans to release sometime around the end of next year. But for now, all eyes on Cake!­

The unconventional Romeo