â€œWhy do people have a problem with us being patriotic?â€Â – Shaan talks aboutÂ the upcoming war film, Yalghaar that is scheduled to release later this year.Â
The first teaser of upcoming war film, Yalghaar, is out and despite the obvious militancy and action it looks slick and well shot. Simply put, it looks like a film made for the large screen â€“ unlike the many smaller films that are defining the new age of cinema in Pakistan â€“ but the question is: is the story-telling just as good? Will Yalghaar entertain or will it be two-and-a-half-hours of cinema that aims to violently provoke nationalism in a sleeping nation?
â€œWe are a nation at war; we are a people who are suffering at the hands of this war,â€ Shaan Shahid, protagonist of Yalghaar, spoke to Instep in an exclusive conversation. â€œWe feel happy when we see ourselves winning and thatâ€™s why yes, Yalghaar does make you happy. Our heroes need to be celebrated. We should not categorize happiness as just song and dance. This is a different sort of happiness; itâ€™s therapy. Why do people have a problem with us being patriotic?â€
Yalghaar will come as Pakistanâ€™s third war film in three consecutive years. Waar (2013) was the first and it was a super hit, both commercially and critically. 021 or Operation 21, also featuring Shaan, came in 2014 but failed to impress due to a weak storyline and grim execution. Yalghaar, the third war film, is bound to release in the last quarter of this year, most probably in October. Other than the nationâ€™s favourite war hero it features Humayun Saeed (in a negative role), Ayub Khosu, Adnan Siddiqui, Ayesha Omar and Umair Jaswal and Sana Bucha in their big screen debuts. Jaswal will be seen in the role of Captain Umar whereas Bucha will be playing a reporter.
Itâ€™s a good-looking cast and from the looks of it, the big budget movie has been shot in extremely slick angles too. But when it comes to Shaan, does he feel that he is being stereotyped as war hero?
â€œPeople who felt that all I did was Punjabi films get to see me in a different light now,â€ says the actor who, with almost 500 films to his credit, is undoubtedly Pakistanâ€™s biggest film star. â€œIâ€™m doing one film a year now. I try to be part of the film industry in whichever way possible.â€
How is Yalghaar different from Waar?
â€œWaar was based on personal revenge; it was a story of personal vendetta more than anything else,â€ Shaan explains without giving the plot away. â€œYalghaar is about the call of duty. The teaser is already creating huge waves of interest.
â€œHassan Raza has done an amazing job with the film,â€ he continues. â€œWe have to give Waar credit for creating a revolution in Pakistanâ€™s film industry. I donâ€™t agree with new and old cinema but there is cinema before and after Waar. It opened up avenues for filmmakers across Pakistan. Khuda Kay Liye was a beautiful film,â€ he responds to a reminder that KKL perhaps brought the revolution before Waar, â€œbut there was too big a gap after that. It was a beautiful film but it couldnâ€™t draw the numbers and thatâ€™s what Waar managed to do.â€
Shaan explains how important numbers are and why films need to be improved but never by sidelining what masses of people across the country wish to see. Films need to rake in numbers before they can be termed a success, he explains. While that is a discussion for another day, one wonders how sensible or sensitive it is to make and release a film like Yalghaar at a time when one is enjoying the peace promotion that Bollywood is exporting via films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
â€œSecularism is part of the Indian identity,â€ Shaan explains. â€œThere are more Muslims in India than in Pakistan which is why the Khans rule and it doesnâ€™t hurt them to make a film on peace and harmony because one nation is what theyâ€™re about. We, as Pakistanis, believe in the two nation theory so the whole â€˜India-Pakistan are oneâ€™ does not work here.
â€œYou have to understand that Yalghaar is not anti-India,â€ he continues passionately. â€œItâ€™s anti-whatever issues we are facing as a nation. Yes Bajrangi Bhaijaan is all about peace and harmony but letâ€™s not forget Agent Vinod, Ek Tha Tiger and all those films that were anti Pakistan and came before it. How can we conveniently forget whatâ€™s happening in our country? Aman is great and peace is fine but it has to be done on equal terms. This dream of equality that BB sells is not all true. Why doesnâ€™t someone in India make a film on Gujrat?
â€œIâ€™m not anti-India but I am pro-Pakistan,â€ he concludes. â€œI feel respect on both ends is very important. I wish people would try to understand what Iâ€™m saying instead of taking everything I say the wrong way.â€