Nauman Ijaz during the shoot of serial 'Jackson Heights'. Photo: Asim Farooki
Nauman Ijaz during the shoot of serial 'Jackson Heights'. Photo: Asim Farooki

Nauman Ijaz is all geared up to return to the silver screen after almost a decade with his upcoming film Maidaan.

The actor's name has been closely knit with the Pakistani television industry since the 90’s and after having had a successful run in the business last year with ongoing serials Sang-e- Mar Mar and Dumpukht, Ijaz has continued to prove his acting prowess with every project he takes up.

And he's starting this year on a high note as he signs his first film since Mehreen Jabbar's 2008 release Ramchand Pakistani. The upcoming film titled Maidaan is under the banner of Shuffler Films, co-founded by Waqas Rizvi and actor Gohar Rasheed. Ijaz will be seen essaying the character of a coach to 12 street children who come together for the ‘Street Child World Cup’ that took place in Brazil three years ago.

“What tempted me to do Maidaan was quite honestly, the subject. It is our genre. It is a film being made out of a reason. It offers something substantial,” Ijaz tells Images as we sit down to speak about his much awaited return to films.

“It’s an honest effort and I see great potential in the vision of its makers. All you need is a new approach and a veteran actor, the product of which is always positive [laughs]. I yet have to go through the final draft, but I have said yes to the project for now.”

Nauman Ijaz during the shoot of serial 'Jackson Heights'. Photo: Asim Farooki
Nauman Ijaz during the shoot of serial 'Jackson Heights'. Photo: Asim Farooki

Maidaan, which will also star co-producer Gohar Rasheed and Besharam-fame actress Ghana Ali in lead roles, is based on true events and Ijaz plans on taking it in his stride. “People will be able to relate to it,” he says confidently. “Sultan Rahi’s films worked because the audience at that time was able to relate to the aggression, and that is something that is ought to happen when you present real-life stories on the reel.”

When asked to share his views on the current state of local cinema, Nauman is vocal about his views and believes that it might take more than a decade to establish a viable film industry in Pakistan.

“Films are not being made in Pakistan right now. We are just seeing television dramas releasing on the big screen,” he observes. “We are only running after everything that India does, hence, I was only being offered rom-coms. We need to understand that we have a different genre. Shah, to me has been one of the best films Pakistan has produced in recent times.”

He continues by pointing out the directors who are venturing into filmmaking. “The directors we have now are either the ones who only have experience with TVCs or the ones who have worked on television.

"Films require a different thought-process; they demand experimentation and new ideas," he explains. “The industry needs new people, and probably a lot more focus since we’re only churning out films out of plain desperation.”

Maidaan might not be your usual run-off- the-mill extravaganza that offers romance or comedy, and despite having an ensemble cast, Ijaz says that screen-space or box-office numbers have never bothered him and he remains clear about his priorities as an artist.

“I’m not bothered about whether the film does well at the box office or not,” the Nijaat actor expresses. “I’m not a hero; I’m a character actor, hence, screen-space is never a concern as long as my character has some sort of a turning point in the script. To me, personal satisfaction in a project is what matters the most.”

Ijaz, who had been on a hiatus for almost three years and decided to comeback with a number of projects, last year, blames his extremely successful political/celebrity talk-show, Mazaaq Raat for being missing from the acting scene.

Mazaaq Raat was easy money. I worked only for 12 days a month and it did wonders for me. But I guess it was about time I resumed acting and I am very glad that I did; I am very content with the work that I’ve been doing on television lately and I am looking forward to starting Maidaan,” he says.

Maidaan is currently in the pre-production phase and is slated to go on floors early summer.

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