Veteran actor Om Puri is all praises for his co-stars in Pakistani film Actor In Law

Puri's first Pakistani film stars Fahad Mustafa and Mehwish Hayat. The cast talks to us about their experiences and camaraderie.
Fahad Mustafa, left, and Mehwish Hayat. Anna Nielsen for The National
Fahad Mustafa, left, and Mehwish Hayat. Anna Nielsen for The National

After receiving much critical acclaim for his May 2016 release Mah e Mir, Pakistani actor Fahad Mustafa has a new challenge on his hands: proving his mettle on screen opposite internationally acclaimed Indian thespian Om Puri, in the Pakistani romantic comedy Actor In Law, directed by Nabeel Qureshi, and co-written and produced by Fizza Ali Meerza.

Mustafa, a mere two films old, plays the lead role of Shan Mirza, an over-the-top lawyer who harbours aspirations to become an actor – something his father diapproves of. Then Mirza is given a case that threatens his country and career, and he has to use all his tricks to get justice while ensuring the safety of his family. Puri, a Padma Shri Award-winning actor with more than 40 years of experience in theatre, Bollywood and Hollywood, plays Mirza’s father. Puri is all praises for Mustafa’s acting skills.

“I am impressed with his work,” says Puri. “I have seen his first film and I have seen his performance in this film, and I have seen him grow. He brings a real depth to his acting. He can play serious roles just as well as he can comic roles. If this film was released in India, then our three Khans [Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir], who have been reigning in the industry for the last 25 years, would have something to worry about.”

The veteran performer is also full of praise for lead actress Mehwish Hayat’s performance.

“Mehwish will surprise you. She has had to play a very difficult character – that of a Parsi girl – and she has done it so well. I have friends in India who have asked me if she actually is Parsi ... that is how immaculate her accent is in the film.”

As his first Pakistani film, Puri found the experience extremely enjoyable.

“When I went for the film promotions this time, it was my sixth visit to Pakistan. Every single time, it has been a very pleasant experience,” says Puri. “When it comes to talent, Pakistan lacks nothing. I am impressed with the three Paskitani films I’ve seen so far: Khuda Ke Liye, Bol and Na Maloom Afrad, which had much of the same group as Actor In Law: Nabeel as the director, Fizza as the producer and Fahad acting in it.

Actor In Law is a film that combines the best of all those films. It moves you, touches you, questions you, and questions the whole system. That’s what a mature and meaningful movie should do. The way the tone of the film is, this is delivered in a very light manner. “

Speaking about his character in the film, Mustafa says it is a far departure from his roles in Na Maloom Afrad and Mah e Mir.

“This is why we became actors,” he says. “Not to play the same or similar characters, but to experiment. I have never played a lawyer or an actor before. In Actor In Law, You will not see Fahad Mustafa, or even a shadow of my characters from Na Maloom Afrad and Mah e Mir.”

Hayat, too, says she thoroughly enjoyed essaying her character of a strong-headed Parsi girl, too.

“I represent a minority, so that was very challenging. A lot of responsibility was on my shoulders because this is a character who moves the story along,” says Hayat. “I had never done a role before that required me to put on a new accent, so that was quite challenging, too: to get it just right, and not overdo it.”

She refers to her experience of working with Puri as the highlight of the project.

“I have worked with Fahad before, and since he is fun and easy-going, my comfort level with him is amazing. But Om Puri ji was a complete surprise package,” she says. “When I found out that he is also in the movie, I was a bit nervous as to how he would behave, what with him being such a big international star and all. I was surprised by how warm and down-to-earth he was. He represents the culture of India and the Indian industry in such a nice way. He is extremely loving and we in exchange love him immensely.”

Actor In Law releases in theatres across the UAE on September 8

artslife@thenational.ae

Published: September 7, 2016 04:00 AM

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