I came to the interview with a prepared list of questions. You know, the typical ones. Tell us a little about the film. Share some funny moments with us. How is this film different, if at all? When I reached the venue where I was meeting the cast of Dobara Phir Se, I had to wait a bit. Actually, I had to wait an hour, and in that one hour, I saw the cast go through the same routine. Reporters walking in, asking questions, taking pictures against the same backdrop. It was 5 pm and I couldn’t help but think that every possible question on the planet must have been asked by now. What was left to discuss?
Slowly and gradually, everyone – that would be Sanam, Hareem, Ali, Tooba and Adeel – returned to the interview room from their smoke break and settled in their seats. I gave them the good news: I wouldn’t be asking about the film at all. I’d wait to see it. What I was interested in knowing was what the actors go through during film promotions. “We go through hell,” said Hareem rather ominously. To which the gang suddenly started stirring in their seats. “First of all, mujhe barri khushi hui yeh sun ke. Yeh pehli bar kisi ne poocha hai, but please go ahead,” said a very happy looking Ali Kazmi.
I asked them how many interviews they had done in the day? 6? Maybe 8. And another 8 the day before. Since these interviews spanned over a course of two days, which required them to sit from 12 pm till 6/7pm in an office, meeting blogger after blogger, journalist after journalist, I couldn’t imagine how they were still sitting upright in their seats.
What not to ask anymore
Here are some questions that had annoyed them, with replies that we assume they would have loved to respond with. Not that they did!
Q: What is the film about? A: Go watch the trailer man! It’s a standard question but why would anyone give away the story?
Q: Share some funny moments from the shoot. A: We’ve shared the same three moments with over 17 people!
Q: What genre does the film fall in? A: Do your homework!
What are people most curious about?
“I think people want to know more about us, our personal lives and the chemistry between us,” Tooba offered and we have to agree.
“People don’t even want to see pictures of us on the set. I get more likes on photos at cafes or with my friends,” said Ali, who also felt that when there are ensemble casts in a film, the curiosity increases further. He continued, “It doesn’t happen very often so people want to know how well we get along, I mean we’re of similar ages…” He was cut off by Hareem, who objected to being thrown in the same age bracket as everyone else. I don’t know who’s the youngest but Adeel, at almost 39, is probably the oldest.
Do the female actors reveal their age?
Of course this is a natural query for me because being a woman myself, I feel no need in hiding my age and have difficulty understanding those who do. “Contemporary artists don’t do that anymore,” said Ali while Sanam said that she is always open about her age, even though people ask her why.
“I got away with playing a college student in Ho Mann Jahaan and I’m almost 39 years old!” Adeel offered truthfully. Ladies and gentlemen, yes, Adeel is almost 39 years old.
“It’s different for men,” explained Sanam. “You still see Shah Rukh Khan starring opposite girls 20 years younger than him but for women, there is a shelf life, and if you go around parading your age, directors will think ‘hmm, let’s get someone younger.”
The promotional juggernaut
Everyone will agree that the promotional tour for each film release actually has a huge role to play in its success. There are interviews, sessions, morning shows, radio shows, school and college tours and more.
“I’ll tell you the number of morning shows per movie,” said Hareem, as her film Janaan only recently concluded it’s promotional extravaganza. “Roughly 20 – 25 shows, out of which 10 or 11 are morning shows. The other locations in this list are schools, colleges, malls and cinema visits, speaking at conferences, photo shoots and magazine shoots. When I’m done from all the promotions, I don’t even want to look at my face. I don’t even want to take a selfie!”
Speaking of which, how many selfies do the artists have to take per event? 200 – 300 pictures a day? Everyone unanimously agreed on this number.
“You can’t win with the selfie. If this was a good idea then some painter would have painted himself from this angle. But it’s replacing the autograph now,” said Adeel, who is perhaps the most philosophical person in the group. Normal people only take so many pictures on their wedding day and that process is actually physically exhausting. Don’t these guys get tired of smiling for so many hours and looking their best?
“If you notice, I don’t smile in my selfies,” said Adeel.
I asked them if that was why they weren’t smiling in their film’s promotional poster, jokingly of course, and then I asked why Ali was the only smiling in this. “So was I! We had people write to us saying, matlab what’s going on with Ali,” Ali tried clarifying the confusion around this picture. “There were other pictures too but I guess this is the one they chose,” concluded Tooba.
The conversation didn’t end there but this story does. Keep following this space to read more fun anecdotes because eventually, the cast did share some personal details of their life with us.