- <strong>1) Casting Om Puri took some doing</strong>
- <strong>2) Om Puri isn't the only cast surprise</strong>
- <strong>3) Will Om Puri do an item number?! Okay, no, that was a joke.</strong>
- <strong>4) He's not concerned about a backlash about working in Pakistan</strong>
- <strong>5) Om Puri thinks Nabeel's a tough boss</strong>
- <strong>6) He's loving it here in Pakistan</strong>
This article was originally published in January 2016.
Nabeel Qureshi and Fiza Ali Meerza, the team behind one of Pakistani cinema's greatest hits Na Maloom Afraad, are set to tickle our funny bone once again.
But they won't tell us how.
At the launch of their second film titled Actor In Law, both director Nabeel and producer Fiza kept mum about the subject matter of their next film, but luckily their cast members let slip a few hints.
Lead actor Mehwish Hayat called Actor In Law "a social comedy" and said, "it has emotions, love and plenty of surprises." And Bollywood veteran Om Puri pointed out that the film's title is a give-away: the film explores the idea that actors have some things in common with lawyers.
The cast is stoked to be a part of the film.
Fahad Mustafa, who plays the lead with Mehwish Hayat, said, "Na Maloom Afraad was the icebreaker and now this movie is going to be a hit again in Pakistani cinema. It’s a very important film for my career."
When Mehwish was asked if she would emerge as a sherni (lioness) after having played the billi (cat) in Na Maloom Afraad, she said, "All I can say is that I'm playing a very challenging role, different from all the characters I have previously played. I'm very grateful to the team for casting me in such a unique role."
One of the main attractions of the film is that Om Puri, who is making his debut in Pakistani cinema with Actor In Law.
Here are six things to know about his participation:
1) Casting Om Puri took some doing
Casting Om Puri took some determination on producer Fiza's part. When she first reached out to him, her manager had bad news: Om Puri had damaged his spine and wasn't open to acting offers. He was also away on vacation, and "nobody could convince him" for a role at the time. She was told to "take this thought [of casting him] back."
But Fiza was undeterred. She got hold of his personal number and had the script hand-delivered to his home. The extra effort worked. "I didn't need to call Puri Sahib after that," Fiza shared, "He called me to accept the offer to act in our film."
2) Om Puri isn't the only cast surprise
Fiza Ali Meerza disclosed that the film has an ensemble cast, which also includes Rehan Sheikh, Saifee and Rashid Khawaja. She said that many more actors will feature in the film for "just one scene or just one dialogue" and that she was very grateful that they agreed to these brief appearances.
"This shows that people now have faith in film. They understand that one scene can give an actor a lot of push."
3) Will Om Puri do an item number?! Okay, no, that was a joke.
The Shani Arshad duo is making a four-song soundtrack for Actor In Law, and one of those songs is an item number!
But Nabeel Qureshi insisted on keeping its details a surprise. He did joke, however, that it's Om Puri who's performing the item song.
"That's what he liked about the script!" quipped Nabeel ."We called him over from India just for that. He hasn't had the opportunity to perform an item song in his 22 years in Bollywood."
4) He's not concerned about a backlash about working in Pakistan
Saying that he's previously staged a play in Lahore, Om Puri added, "I'm an apolitical person. I say what I feel like. No one has responded 'Why are you in Pakistan?' If they do, I will give them a befitting reply."
5) Om Puri thinks Nabeel's a tough boss
"Nabeel troubles me a lot, but does great work," he shared. "He tries to get the maximum out of everything, which is a great quality. He neither eats nor lets others do so. That's my only complaint."
He complimented the cinematographer on his expertise and efficiency and said that the art directors have blown him away.
"We've been shooting in a court and church and when I arrived, I amazed to discover that the location was, in fact, a constructed set.
6) He's loving it here in Pakistan
"I really like working in Pakistan, because I'm pampered a lot here. I keep responding to people's salaams from morning to night. So many people want to throw me a dinner party at their house. And everyone wants a selfie."
He also said that he's not surprised by the hospitality he has received:
"I've known Pakistanis abroad for about 20 years. I have always received love from them, so much so that it's hard to believe that there are conflicts between our two countries. I pray that we find our way to peace and both countries work towards progress, friendship and trade."
Actor In Law is being shot entirely in Pakistan. The film has wrapped up its first spell of shooting and will release on Eid-ul-Adha.