Juggling between acting and production for the last few years, Hareem Farooq stands out being one of the few female actors turned producers that Pakistani cinema has ever had; we remember Reema and Sangeeta ji as two prominent names. With a considerable theatre and TV experience in acting, Hareem has been associated as a producer and/or actor with films like Siyaah, Janaan, Dobara Phir Se, and Parchi while she is gearing up for the release of her next, Heer Maan Ja that is releasing on Eid ul Azha this year.
Instep recently caught up with Hareem in Karachi, during the promotion of the upcoming film, before she left for the nationwide promotional tour.
Featured as Heer (opposite Ali Rehman Khan), a character that is in sharp contrast to her persona in Parchi (Emaan), the actress shares that it was a challenge to make Heer as convincing as Emaan.
"I was excited about Heer but was nervous at the same time," she began. "In Parchi people really believed Emaan and that this is probably how I was, so I had to break that mould that people had given me at that time. It is a good thing that the character was believable enough but it was challenging to make this (Heer) believable as well. That’s how it works."
When asked which of the two characters is closer to Hareem in real life, she responded, "I think I share similarities with both but according to my friends, specifically Imran Raza Kazmi, Heer is more like me."
The trailer of Heer Maan Ja released last month and promises to offer a bit of everything - romance, comedy and action. Though Hareem and Ali have shared the screen multiple times, the two claim that viewers haven’t seen them romancing each other the way they will be seen in the upcoming film.
"The reason we decided to come together onscreen was because of the feedback we received for the couple after the trailer launch," Hareem asserted, adding that though she is up for pairing with someone else, fans really want to see her and Ali together. "When people really like the chemistry and want to see us together in a very fun and a more romantic manner then why not? There is a huge following for #Alreem, let’s give them that. And this is exactly what we aimed to do with the film and with the coupling.
Directed by Azfar Jafri and produced by IRK Films and Arif Lakhani Films in association with Geo Films, Heer Maan Ja releases on Eid ul Azha with Asim Raza’s Parey Hut Love and Mohammad Ehteshamuddin’s Superstar.
Speaking of what makes Heer Maan Ja a must watch among other options, Hareem noted that it’s a "paisa-wasool" film.
"It’s a family entertainer; I think a film’s success largely depends on whether you can watch it with your families or not," she confidently added. "It was a very conscious effort to make Heer Maan Ja a family entertainer; it is a commercial masala film but something that you can totally watch with your families. The songs will be a huge pulling factor for the film because the soundtrack is diverse and will cater to a wide audience. What we aim to do with this film is to spread positivity; we have made it with the intention of making people laugh. People will come out of cinema smiling."
Heer Maan Ja has an ensemble cast including Hareem, Ali, Faizan Sheikh, Shamayl Khattak and Mojiz Khan while it features Ali Kazmi, Aamina Sheikh, Ahmed Ali Akbar and others in special appearances. The film also marks actor and model Zara Sheikh’s return to the big screen; she performs alongside Ali Rehman in ‘Addi Maar’ from the OST.
Reflecting on casting fresh faces in films while bringing back senior artists who have gone off the radar, Hareem maintained, "We want to celebrate our legends as well. We actually want to bring back the ones who aren’t seen anywhere now. We have Zara Sheikh, Abid Ali sir and others in Heer Maan Ja; these are the people who should be celebrated at this point. Given their contribution to the industry, we need to bring them back. New-age cinema doesn’t mean we only focus on newcomers, we need our seniors too to go forward."
Last year, Hareem starred in drama serial, Main Khayal Hun Kisi Aur Ka, produced under the banner of IRK, while earlier this year, the actor-producer represented Pakistan at L’Oreal’s 110th Anniversary in Paris.
Speaking of future projects, Hareem revealed on a parting note that while they plan to make one film every year, they will be venturing into the digital world as well as television. "We don’t want to be restricted to one medium. We will be making one film every year because we feel that this industry needs consistency while we also plan to expand," she concluded.