Having been in the entertainment industry for about two decades now, Mohib Mirza says he's “exhausted” with the monotonous television offerings and hopes that other genres are experimented with.
Mirza and his better half, Aamina Sheikh are known to have worked their way up through substantial characters and meaningful projects. Their movies Lamha and Josh (2013) boosted parallel cinema in Pakistan and though Mohib’s more commercial ventures, namely Bachaana and Shaan Shahid’s Arth from last year haven’t been as successful, he’s back to what he does best - television.
Raw and intense, the first looks of Mirza’s comeback vehicle on the small screen, Deedan are impressive. Co-starring Sanam Saeed, the romance drama released this weekend on A-Plus. Discussing his latest offering, looking back at his cinematic endeavours and revealing what’s next in store, Images caught up with Mirza.
Excerpts from our conversation follow:
Images: Tell us a little about how you signed onto Deedan after you took a sabbatical from TV?
Mohib Mirza: I’d done a serial with Amin Iqbal (director), Anokhi a couple of years ago and there have been other things that we were planning so we were already under talks and he understood my take. He’s somebody who had his planning done; he knew how he wanted to project us with the shoots, so I knew it was the right project to come back with. I was somewhat exhausted with the kind of roles men were being portrayed on television, who’s essentially the bura admi [bad guy].
This time around, the character offered me much more; it’s about how much he can sacrifice for love so he’s like a modern-day Majnu. Also the locations we shot at contributed [to me taking it up], went beyond the drawing room, where the temperament of an actor is truly affected. And lastly, the specific Pashtun accent I was required to pick up was a first for me and that again was something I wanted to do.
Images: What can you tell us about the serial, and how was experience shooting for it across the northern region?
Mohib: Deedan is a layered story where we’re talking about love and conflicts that occur in a person’s life, the obstacles one has to undergo in terms of our traditions, regardless of where we are today. And it might not be as much in metropolitan cities but it basically narrates the story of two souls in love.
Shooting across Hunza and Pasu helped us, since it gave the story [an authentic] backdrop. Every time you see your own shot, you believe it, so the visuals looked good as well.
Images: You star alongside Sanam Saeed, whom you shared space with, in Bachaana. How was the dynamic different with Deedan, considering the diverging genres of the two?
Mohib: Bachaana was completely different. She played an Indian girl from Delhi and I played a taxi driver from Pakistan, so it was contextually poles apart. Here, the two of us are Pashtuns from the same village. But I think the camaraderie between the two of us remains the same.
We calmly work with one another, like friends and I never have the height issue either in wide shots (laughs), so we complement each other visually. Considering it’s my third consecutive project with it, she’s a thorough professional.
Images: What do you make of the current trend of experimentation and social commentaries on the small screen, as taboo subjects are dealt with?
Mohib: To be very honest, I’ve obviously been hearing a lot, but I’ve also lately been exhausted watching TV. Of course, there should be conversation around cultural and social taboos, but there’s also a lot of repetition, especially after a few episodes down, it becomes very difficult to digest all of it.
I’m not claiming that I’ve done a lot by doing Deedan, but I’m trying my best to make whatever difference I can in whatever capacity I’m given. However, I think it’s also high-time we start talking about different subjects as well. Let’s talk about sports and scientists, and there’re so many other stories that need to be told. As a viewer, I hope the quantity of counter-content increases as well.
Images: Your last film, the star-studded Arth didn’t leave a lasting impression. What do you think might have gone wrong?
Mohib: For me, Arth was an opportunity to work with somebody who’s done around 600 films – Shaan Shahid sahab – at least 10 out of which must’ve been good films, considering how Lollywood was back in the day, so he was all the motivation cinema had. So it was basically great learning on the job, seeing how he directs and acts; I took it as my own training and growth.
As for the response, there are a number of factors that affect the final product - from editing to how it was marketed, to whether it was promoted at the right place and at the right time. None of that has my involvement, so as an actor, I did what Shaan sahab asked me to, and I did that most sincerely.
Images: Lastly, what’s next for you?
Mohib: After Deedan, I’ve signed my next serial with Humayun Saeed and Nadeem Baig, under Six Sigma Plus. There’s also a film that after all my experiences I’ll be starting this fall, details for which will come out shortly.