Over the years I have known Shaan as one passionate prodigy who has slowly (but steadily) continued the journey of being the performer he is; being the artist he is; being the person he is.
One thing that has always dominated all that he does or takes up, is that though he acknowledges the commercial side of the cinema, he has never compromised on his principles.
And the most outstanding of them is #BleedGreen; translating as being Pakistani and putting Pakistan First; In all circumstance; At all levels; At all times.
“Patriotism is in my blood. It’s simply in my genes. No justifications; no arguments; no explanations. I am Pakistani and I am proud to be a patriot. That’s no cliché. That’s simply it!”
Shaan categorically states.
In his long cinematic career, spanning more than 25 years now, Shaan Shahid has been one name that persistently guaranteed box office hits, surfacing as a hero (and a commendable performer) that struck chords with almost all social strata, bemusing and entertaining a vast and varied audience.
For the last few years he has been away from the tinsel limelight.
The reason being his latest upcoming flick, called “Zarrar” (the rise of the invisible).
Zarrar is an action(super)packed thriller, which according to Shaan, is based on factual events regarding conspiracies/threats inside Pakistan and across the globe. Shaan is not only the writer/screen playwright, director but he also plays the main protagonist along with Nadeem Baig, Kiran Malik, Shafqat Cheema, Adnan Butt (who is also the executive producer along with Ejaz Shahid) and other renowned Pakistani and international actors.
Talking about the project, here’s what Shaan shared:
“I took up Zarrar when Pakistan was going through a lot of turmoil as far as threats (from inside and outside) were concerned. That’s why I thought it was very important to target all those areas and bring into perspective the true picture of what is actually going on. So it was a kind of national duty also. Plus the script was very good; the story is so real and strong. The script is based on a lot of actual facts, true events. When you see the movie you’ll definitely understand and connect automatically.
Then the cast is amazing; there are a lot of ‘goras’ along with a lot of Pakistani actors. Kiran Malik, (Pinky Maem Sab famed) the female lead playing a UK based journalist, is a very fine actor. There’s a neatly wrapped love story in it also.
The music score is really good; and with names like Yaser and Umair Jaswal, Abida Perveen, Rahet Fateh Ali make the sound track truly fabulous.
So yeah, it’s a complete package.”
The initial glimpses from the first official released trailer of the film do suggest that everything from the theme to the story to the action is Bold (with a capital B). One cannot help but wonder if there were any roadblocks while filming?
“Well, we didn’t face any real difficulties because firstly my producer Awais Raof, from University of Lahore was very supportive. He is very passionate about the film industry. We both share a vision and passion vis-a-vis the areas we should target and develop.
He loved the idea of Zarrar and thereon worked tirelessly with me to materialize it as we had envisioned it.
So I think overall it went smooth except maybe a few hiccups regarding the Turkish shoot. That was a very heavy action sequence and it was a bit difficult shooting in Turkey, but nothing big really. The whole team was very professional and competent, coming all the way from London. Tim Wood the lead camera man, especially has done a superb job. There were no real issues with visas or security wise. Everyone from different concerned departments was very supportive.”
Produced under the banner of 5th Dimension Films, UK and Jehan Films, Pakistan, the film was scheduled to be released in 2020, however, it has been duly affected by circumstances in the wake of covid-19, and awaits to hit the cinemas still.
However, as mentioned earlier, it is indeed a bold film tackling serious issues and hence the question, whether the Pakistani audience today are ready to grasp this kind of matter in its true essence? Are they ready?
“Of course, they are ready!”
Shaan seems absolutely certain about this.
“I think Pakistani audience is as ready as can be. They’re watching all sorts of programs on TV; Netflix is there; a lot of English movies are coming in, a lot of good films are coming in. So I do believe that the Pakistani audience, the kind that goes to cinema to watch a movie for a PKR600 ticket is, yeah, ready.”
Do you plan to release the film globally?
“Yes, that’s the plan. Zarrar would be releasing globally, all over the world, inshaAllah, at the same time.
With Zarrar, we are hoping to bring forth the Pakistani narrative which seems to have been missing from the Pakistani cinema so far, as compared to the Hollywood, Bollywood cinemas. They all have not only successfully and strongly presented their respective national narratives but also have managed to keep the patriotic streak intact, in one way or the other, in smaller or bigger films.
Zarrar brings into perspective truth as it stands and is based on all the factual events which do actually exist. A specific part of international and Indian media have always been putting allegations on Pakistan. So I think it ll clear a lot of air, showing the true, Pakistani side, and what Pakistan and the Pakistanis are fighting with and for.”
Shaan also reveals that we will definitely be seeing more of Zarrar, even after the initial film.
“Zarrar is an ongoing script, not just a single flick. As long as there are threats and conspiracies surrounding Pakistan the stories will never end. It’s an ongoing war and we hope to capture that, put it in a film and show it to the people, show our narrative to the world and how we are fighting it.”
It is more than evident that Zarrar is not just a film; for Shaan, it is much more than that. And that’s how he sums this up in his closing remarks.
“It’s part of the soil; it’s part of our sweat and blood; we have really given our best to it. When I was writing the film, the screenplay and directing the film, I really loved every bit of it.
Pakistan is a true gift of God for all us Pakistanis to cherish and take care of. Why look to certain departments and institutions to look after this precious blessing. Each and every one of us is responsible to do our bit for its protection and development from wherever platform we hail from.
I have always been proud to call myself patriotic, though there are some who view patriotism as synonymous to ‘fundo’ or hate speech’. Zarrar is (partly) performing my duty as a patriotic Pakistani. And I would continue to do so till the very end.”
I have known Shaan to be a genuine guy over the years.
There is, and always has been, an unpretentious feel of passion and sincerity in his words; and actions.
I do hope people of Pakistan acknowledge, and what’s more important, share this passion and earnestness for their country.
Going to the cinemas to watch Zarrar would just be the preliminary step.
Do go watch it, people!