The actor opens up about his upcoming Syed Noor film, how he handles negative feedback and his equation with his wife
Veteran filmmaker Syed Noor's upcoming film Chain Aye Na came under heavy criticism since its trailer released last month; unfortunately, the film's lead actors are bearing the brunt of it all.
Actor Shahroz Sabzwari and Miss Pakistan USA Sarish Khan will be making their big screen debut with the upcoming film and while Sarish stands by the film and told us, "I support everything related to Chain Aye Na," Images got in touch with Shahroz to learn his side of the story.
Images: What made you sign your role in Chain Aye Na?
Shahroz Sabzwari: When you're a fan of someone’s work (Syed Noor) and you dream of becoming a film actor and that director approaches you and narrates a story, it’s not even a decision. I felt blessed to be approached for such a film and such a role.
Images: You already gave a robust (some would say negative) response to the criticism that was thrown at the trailer. Do you have anything else to add?
SS: My response to all the criticism was whatever I said, I stand by that. I feel criticism is always healthy, we take it, we accept it. All I was trying to get at was that you can say a certain trailer is “bad” or ”ugly looking” or whatever but you can’t say “don’t go and watch the film“, that’s not healthy journalism and I stand by that.
Also, I would like to remind everyone that trailers are just a one-minute thing compared to a three-hour film, so let’s see how the film is. When we watched the movie, time just flew by. The movies that had good trailers didn't exactly turn out to be good movies so let's not be disheartened. I watched Balu Mahi's trailer and I was blown away, I thought it looked like a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film which is great for our industry but then I saw the movie and I thought they could've told the story in a better manner. I have complete faith in Chain Aye Na.
I get that people have high expectations from me but I promise I won't just do an aiwein film. I own what I've made. Those people who are waiting for a Syed Noor film and Shahroz Sabzwari film, it’s going to be a treat for them Insha Allah.
Images: What is the tone of the film? Is it supposed to be a throwback love story/90s film of Lollywood or is it a modern day romance?
SS: It's set in 2017, the tone of the movie is new, it's very much a modern day love story. I understand the trailer has people perplexed but honestly, it didn't do justice to the movie we've made. We realized that, we reworked and lifted the trailer a bit and it has more than 500,000 views on YouTube now. It's a fresh, romantic film and you won't know what's going to happen till the very end, it's going to keep you hooked.
Images: That being said, there is a sharp demarcation between old "Lollywood" and the emerging new Pakistani film industry. You seem to have fallen into the gap in between or do you think you can bridge the divide?
SS: Obviously, it’s my first film but his (Syed Noor's) 56th film as a director and 300th film as a writer, so yes, together we can bridge this gap between the new age cinema and the old cinema, it is doable .
He (Syed Noor) has mastered a certain technique of storytelling. A movie is a director's medium, not ours. If I was working with a newbie, I think I'd offer more input but with him, I just accepted whatever direction he gave me, we were like his babies. I’ve seen the whole film and I am very pleased with it and my parents watched it also and we all love it.
In fact, we had a screening for the Censor Board recently and nearly 60 people were there, we got a standing ovation and thunderous applause. Film critic Omair Alavi told us the trailer had him scared but after having watched the movie, he felt like he's seen a real film after a while. We had people crying in the audience, it was just a great response.
Insha Allah, Insha Allah with Allah’s grace it’s going to be a good one.
Images: In the trailer there are two love interests, there's you and Adil Murad. Can you tell us more about the love triangle?
SS: It's obviously a love triangle, you can deduce that from the trailer. Most story threads for romantic movies are more or less the same but it's the execution that's different.
What makes this movie different is that we have no black and white characters, we all have shades of grey. And there's no clearly defined hero or anti-hero, we all take on different roles as our characters grows.
Images: You have a good body of work to back you up before this film debut. Your characters in Tanhaiyan Naye Silsilay, Manna Ka Gharana and especially Nanhi left a strong mark. What's the secret to your acting?
SS: To be honest, I am a director’s actor. I see what a certain director wants out of me, for example with Haseeb Hassan in Nanhi, the role was of a boy, a through and through Karachite living in Burns Road. That was a complete personality change for me, which I really enjoyed to be honest.
Images: You come from a strong artistic background: Behroz Sabzwari is your father and one of Pakistan’s few international stars, Javed Sheikh is your uncle. Has it helped or hindered you to be "a star son"?
SS: I've always taken it as a compliment but I have never taken it to my head. Yes, it was never a hindrance in my career, honestly it's helped me a lot. Initially, when I was starting my career, I had all the right people to kick off with because I met them at my house at dinners and parties.
I think it was easier but after the initial start, it's always what you are made of.
Images: Have you studied the craft of acting or is it something that comes organically to you?
SS: It comes organically; it's in my genes from my mother’s side and my dad’s side so its genetic, purely genetic. Just to polish it a bit, I went to the London Academy of Film and Media but that was for a very short time and even while I was there, I realized that either you are an actor or you aren't. Yes, you can learn acting but you need to have something inside you.
Images: You and Syra Shehroz are a power couple, both of you are very talented and very much in the public eye . How do you balance that equation?
SS: Thank you for calling us a power couple! Actually, when we're both working, we only meet early morning or at night. Then we also have to play with our daughter so we don’t spend our time talking about our work.
Other than that, whenever she needs me or I need her for advice, we're always there for each other; obviously, when you're married, you're there for each other through thick and thin. Syra is my biggest critic and I enjoy that so I don’t need to go out looking for answers as to how I did that or how I did this, one answer is enough. If I started reading all the comments I got on a picture or a video, that would make it very difficult for me or anyone for that matter to survive.
Images: You were offered a Bollywood role sometime back. Any news on that front?
SS: I was offered a very good role about three years ago in a Bollywood flick with a very good director. It was a thriller and my role was of a mentally challenged boy.
I got the film on merit, they loved my audition. However, something happened with the funding of the project so the entire thing was halted but jo Allah karta hai behtri kay liye karta hai.
Images: What do you want the public to know about your role in Chain Aye Na?
SS: My role in Chain Aye Na is a very relatable role. I did not treat it as "okay, It’s my first film and I need to look good and I need to be a certain way”. It’s a very normal character and people will relate to how they would fall in love, how they would fall out of love and what they would do to make the other person fall in love with them with the simplest of gestures.
I think for film acting, the simpler you are the better because the screen is doing all the work for you, its huge! You just have to be simple and low-key.
Images: What was it like working with Sarish Khan?
SS: Sarish is a friend, a very good friend of mine. I knew her before Chain Aye Na so we were very comfortable working with each other. We were both also very nervous because of Syed Noor saheb; such a veteran would make anyone nervous. But we supported each other throughout. She is a good dancer, she is a good actor and I like her energy and positivity .
Images: Tell us what it was like working with Syed Noor?
SS: Every day, with Syed Noor saheb was a teaching master class.
Images: If you weren't an actor what would you do?
SS: I would be a mixed martial arts fighter or I would be a jockey, the kind that race horses.
Images: What is your dream project?
SS: Chain Aye Na; your first project is always your dream project.
Images: Which film is your favorite film?
SS: I have a lot of favorite films but any Francis Ford Coppola film, especially Marlon Brando movies. Off the top of my head, I would say Apocalypse Now.
Images: Which drama is your favorite drama?
SS: My favourite drama is my father’s drama, the original Tanhaiyan.
Images: If you had magic powers what would you change about the industry today?
SS: I would make a movie theaters (single screen or multiplexes) at every corner because we need that in Pakistan and it's what the industry needs right now.
Images: What are your hopes for Chain Aye Na?
SS: Chain Aye Na is going to be a good watch, smooth and saaf suthri. People will be full of praise for Noor saheb and the way he tells a story when they leave the cinema Insha Allah.
Images: What do your future projects look like?
SS: My future projects include a drama (Teri Raza) at the moment which is already on air but I'm still shooting some episodes with Sanam Baloch.
I'm also working on something very interesting, another film. However, I can’t say much about it till the producer and director make the announcement but that will be starting in another 15 days.
Images: If you were a superhero, who would you be? Or do you think super villains have more fun?
SS: I would be the “Punisher”; he is one my favourites.
Images: The release date for Chain Aye Na has been pushed forward, why?
SS: The director Syed Noor saheb has only just returned from Bangkok, where he was finishing up the technical work of the film, which didn’t leave us with enough time for promoting it properly. We have started promotions now so the new release date should work out.