With the thawing of the icy relations between India and Pakistan, there has been a gradual process towards peace and friendship between the nations. The mega Indo-Pak serial Ana (The Ego), for the very first time brings together the biggest actors from India and Pakistan. Humayun Saeed who besides playing a lead role in the serial is also producing it with Abdullah Kadwani under the banner of Seventh Sky.
Why Ana with Indian artistes?
Though I’m from Karachi, my dad is a Punjabi born in Indore. With the changed political climate, I thought I’d take my first step towards building peace and friendship with India and Pakistan. I have always believed that it is the politicians who have alienated both the countries though people from either side love one another. Making money wasn’t my motive when I set out to launch Ana.
In how many Pakistani films have you acted till date?
Just two. They are director Sameena Peerzada’s Inteha, a mega hit, and director Faizal Bukhari’s No Paisa No Problem.
Is it true that you’re hailed as the Shah Rukh Khan of Pakistan television?
Yes, because I’ve played the maximum number of romantic characters on television. Shaan is hailed as the Shah Rukh Khan of Pakistani films for the same ‘romantic’ reason.
Which is the first TV serial you acted in?
Director Tasneem Aslam’s Yeh Jahan way back in 1996 after I called it quits and joined the textile and garments business.
Who are the Indian actors that you have cast in Ana?
I have cast Nausheen Ali Sardar(of Kkusum fame), Aamna Sharif (of Kashish and Kahin To Hoga fame), Pariskhit Sahani, Sheela David and Kunika. It is directed by S. Suleman, the Subhash Ghai of Pakistan, who has produced more than fifty big Lollywood movies and directed major TV serials.
What is Ana’s budget?
Rupees 1.25 crores. This is much more than the budget for an average Pakistani multi-starring movie. We shot the serial in a non stop-shooting schedule of 35 days primarily in Dubai, Sharjah and Pakistan. It isn’t an Indo-Pak story but a family social based in Dubai.
What is your role in Ana?
I play the son of Talat Hussain, which dwells at length on the conflict that arises between the father and the son. Talatji’s character is patterned more on the character of Amitabh Bachchan in Mohabbatein, while mine is like the character played by Shah Rukh Khan in it.
What’s the message you are setting out to drive home through Ana?
The serial is about human ego and drives home the message that one should not let come between kith and kin because it only ego spells destruction of familial values.
Varun Badola co-ordinated the casting and dates of the artistes for your serial from India! Why have you cast only young Indian actresses and not any young actor like Varun himself?
Pakistan serials are predominantly women-oriented and hence we opted for Nausheen and Aamna who are very popular with the viewers who have been watching them on Star Plus.
Have you planned on launching any more serials with other Indian artistes?
Yes. We intend making Pehchan with Juhi Parmar playing the leading lady. Mehreen Jabbar will direct the serial, which will also star leading actors from Pakistan. It will be shot almost entirely in New York. Yet another TV serial, which is yet untitled, is also there in the pipeline with Sangeeta Ghosh and Divya Dutta in the lead.
Can you tell us the name of the channel in which Ana will be telecast?
Ana will be telecast within two months in both Pakistan as well as India. We are in the process of negotiating with both Sahara and Sony. In Pakistan PTV will telecast the serial, which comprises of 35 episodes, each of twenty minutes duration. It will be telecast twice a week.
Considering the fact that Nausheen and Aamna are busy working in daily soaps for Ekta Kapoor, weren’t you apprehensive about securing their dates for your serial?
To be frank, I was skeptical and apprehensive but both of them went out of the way to co-operate with me. I shot Aamna’s portions in 12 days while Nausheen’s portions were shot in 16 days.
How do you rate Indian TV serials?
I have seen serials like Kum Kum, Kahin To Hoga and Des Mein Nikla Hoga Chand. I like the grand production values which Indian serials boasts of. I like the quality of Indian serials, which are technologically ahead of serials in Pakistan.
What made you decide to cast Nausheen and Aamna in Ana?
Believe it or not, both Nausheen and Aamna are extremely popular in Pakistan. Nausheen has a large fan-following in Pakistan because of Kkusum and people identify Aamna because of her role in Kahin To Hoga.
Are you working in any film in Pakistan now?
I have always been choosy when it comes to signing films. Can you believe it? I signed my second film after a gap of two years after my first film was released. I am now working in the well-known actor-producer-directorJawed Shaikh’s next film Khule Aasman Ke Neechey. It will be my third film as an actor.
Is it true that Indian playback singers are going to record the songs for Khule Aasman Ke Neechey in Mumbai?
Yes. Jawed is the first producer from Pakistan to get Indian playback singers like Udit Narayan, Sonu Nigam, Alka Yagnik, Kavita Krishnamurthy and Kumar Sanu to record for Khule Aasmaan Ke Neechey. Amjad Boby, a popular music director of Pakistani films will record all the songs of his film in Mumbai.
It will be the costliest film ever produced in Pakistan in recent times and will cost around a million dollars. With this film, we hope that the Pakistani film industry will bounce back to its glorious days. For, of late, out of the fifty odd films being produced annually in Pakistan hardly a few are able to recover the money invested in them.
How open are you to acting in Indian films?
Completely open! The only criteria are that the script and the director ought to be good. In fact, Mahesh Bhattji has already offered me a film.