With her new film Dobara Phir Se, director Mehreen Jabbar introduces a new genre in her filmography -- romance. But the film will be no happily-ever-after fairytale.
In fact, DPS picks up from where a character's hopes for a happy ending went bust.
“It’s essentially a story about love – about finding love again," Mehreen tells Images.
Starring a bevy of Pakistan's young, hip stars -- from Hareem Farooq and Sanam Saeed to Adeel Hussain and Ali Kazmi, as well as Tooba Siddiqui who makes her film debut -- and set in New York and Karachi, DPS sets expectations of a romance that offers something different - not a Bollywood rehash nor a chockfull of TV tropes shot for the big screen.
"It’s not a teeny-bopper love story," promises Mehreen. "It’s got very fleshed out characters who come with their own issues and hang ups. It touches on important things but not in a very in-your-face kind of way."
We can trust Mehreen to pull this off. With Ramchand Pakistani, she told us a story of a family doomed by chance. Stories of her TV projects, like Jackson Heights, have been praised as nuanced and multi-layered.
"It’s a very modern love story, more like Before Sunset than Harry Met Sally. I guess I would describe it as a medium-light film," Mehreen adds.
Mehreen's decision to make a love story had more to do with the city where most of the film is shot than a desire to do something different.
""I wanted to something fun. After Ramchand I wanted to tackle a totally different subject. And the fact that part of the film is set in New York, which is where I live now, was very appealing. I always see so many film shoots in New York City so I wanted to do that too. I mean, I’ve shot quite a few serials like Malaal, Jackson Heights and other things in New York City, but shooting a film is so different," shares Mehreen.
Mehreen roped in Andreas Burgess, two-time Emmy Award-winning DOP from New York to shoot Dobara Phir Se. "The story lends itself to New York and Karachi. Both serve as major backdrops, and I got to film in such amazing places in NY, with permission and everything of course," adds Mehreen.
"The film has nothing to do with immigration issues like Jackson Heights did for example, but I think expats in America will like this movie because they’ll see familiar places."
Dobara Phir Se is a journey that follows Hareem Farooq and Adeel Hussain and their friends.
Ali Kazmi plays Vasay "an interesting guy", whom he describes as "someone closest to myself, so it was tough to capture but loads of fun!" He is Adeel's "chaddi buddy" from high school.
"The last few characters [I played] were indeed intense, but sometimes art imitates life and what made my transition smoother was playing Ayaz in Sehra Mein Safar, a very meek, low key and sweet math professor who is trying to find love. So Vasay was a pleasure to play and a great balance between the violent intense characters [like Sikander from Jackson Heights and The Beeba Boys] and the overly meek. It was refreshing to play a regular guy with regular everyday ups and downs like all of us."
Sanam Saeed, who plays the "fun-loving, energetic, positive and hyper" Samar, also seems to be revelling in the chance to play a lighter character after making it big with a series of serious characters on TV.
"It was at first a bit confusing to transition from the habit of serious toned down acting to more comedic light hearted acting. Also transitioning from TV to film is tricky. There is a big yet fine difference. But that's what I love about acting. The challenges and versatility that come with it," she tells us. Sanam plays
Mehreen is then justifiably complimentary about her cast:
"“Great energy good chemistry, very professional, no nakhras, that’s why they were cast," she says of her actors.
Dobara Phir Se releases on Eid 2016.