Cinemas in Pakistan have played a huge role each Eid in becoming the centerpoint of entertainment for the throngs of masses, and that culture has only grown in the past decade with a plethora of Pakistani films releasing each year. In 2022 as well, filmmakers and audiences are both ready to return to the silver screen, with Eid-ul-Fitr becoming the battleground of the titans. Amidst these five major releases, one that remains the most anticipated is Wajahat Rauf’s dramedy Parde Mein Rehne Do.
Starring an ensemble cast with names like Ali Rehman Khan and Hania Aamir attached to the roster, the film that explores the concept of impotency with its own unique social dynamics is touted to have more than a typical ‘leave-your-brains-at-home’ trope.
What all does the film bring for the audiences and what expectations to the director, producer and actors of the film have from Parde Mein Rehne Do? Diva reveals it all in this exclusive chat…
Parde Mein Rehne Do is a 180-degree turn from usual masala romances. What made you want to go towards making this?
Wajahat Rauf: I’ve retained the comedy bit, which is my signature. I always want to create entertaining films. The only thing different is there is a social issue being discussed this time, but, in a softer manner. Rather than giving a sermon or a lecture about what’s right or wrong, we tried to create a situation that says it all but in light-hearted way. I was initially making another film, but this fell into my lap. When I read the script that was brought to me, I stopped the project I was working on and instead, chose to direct and produce this.
Do you feel our audiences are willing to talk and discuss such topics such as impotency?
I think we have to create audiences, always. People always clamour about how there isn’t a market here for sci-fi films. But, how will we know unless we try it? So, there are always good and bad films, and the former, will always be appreciated. There have been many examples in Hollywood or Bollywood, where people said the film won’t work, but they did. Here too, there have been off-beat films such as Laal Kabootar and Cake, and they’ve done wonderfully. So, if they can work, this can too, since this is not even parallel, it’s more mainstream – but with an issue at the middle of it.
Do you feel audiences are willing to return to cinemas or is there still a slump after COVID-19?
Unfortunately, films haven’t worked like they used to in the cinemas after COVID-19. We saw two to three releases and they didn’t do well. But, I feel it was also more because they weren’t launched with a plan. There’s always a strategy to bring audiences back to cinemas, but it wasn’t done. We, on the other hand, have taken unconventional marketing strategies so that there’s interest about Parde Mein Rehne Do.
How do you take cinema owners’ role in this because many times international releases are also scheduled on the same dates?
This time as well, there’s Doctor Strange releasing during the same time as our film releases. I am sure the cinema owners won’t delay or hold it back. Obviously, they are here to make money like everybody in the business. If there is a potentially high-grossing film available, then of course, the cinema owners will put it on display. I don’t think we should blame them, but instead make better films. On record, Pakistani films have done better box officer than at least Hollywood films in Pakistan. People do want to watch their own stars on the silver screen, and that’s why they have done profits of up to 50-60 crores. Good moves always attract people, and bad films leaves a bad taste in our mouth.
What are the 5 reasons why people should watch it?
The first reason is the pairing of Hania Aamir and Ali Rehman! Second, it’s an unconventional comedy. Third, definitely has to be the music. Fourth, the issue that it is based on is quite relative, and fifth, it’s a shorter-length film which ends in 90 minutes!
Managing production remains a gargantuan task when it comes to films. How did you ensure everything goes smoothly with Parde Mein Rehne Do?
I started off with dramas and they have a different management strategy. Films, on the other hand, are larger than life. I have to make sure everything is under control, and obviously to avoid losses, everything has to be meticulously pre-planned. I ensure I always have everything done beforehand. I do not believe on winging it on set. From Whatsapp groups to keeping everything in check, we are always prepared for what’s to come. We have a great team with us, and we have done a number of films now, so they also are prepared. I would say it is a tiring job, but I love doing it!
Ali Rehman Khan & Hania Aamir
Both of you return after a two to three year hiatus on cinema screens. How does it feel?
Ali Rehman Khan: Usually premieres are the first time when you’re seeing yourself on screen, but fortunately we’ve seen a screener so I feel a little less nervous. I actually really enjoyed the film, and we could see the hard work we’ve all put into it. We as actors and as audiences watching it the first time before the premiere, we feel it has come out wonderfully.
Hania Aamir: I am just really excited to return to the cinemas and getting that feeling again. I believe Ali has summed it up really well.
Ali, we’ve seen you get type casted into certain archetypes over the year. Is this going to be similar?
In every Pakistani commercial film, there is a blend that is already created. There’s a little bit of humour, social message, romance, and drama, which makes the film work. That’s what we’ve grown up on, and they are the elements that really connects us to what they’re showing on the screen. So, there’s always a typical typecast that is present, but I feel this one has more to it. He’s not your typical hero, fighting off thugs or rescuing the damsel in distress and all. The story goes beyond it, and showcases the story when the hero already has the girl and they are already in love – it’s what happens in between relative to the ‘taboo’ topic we’ve chosen.
Even for an actor, playing a role where the larger topic is taboo can be daunting and runs the risk of being stereotyped. Ali, What made you choose it?
I don’t care, honestly if I am put into a certain box. I enjoyed doing this character and what he represented. I believe in the subject and the message we’re conveying. It’s okay if people are uncomfortable with it, but even if it helps a certain segment of society, I’d like it.
Hania, in the trailer, we see that your character hasn’t been revealed too much. What sort of character is Nazo and what does she stand for or solve situations in the film?
If I answer that, you’d find out exactly what’s happening the film (laughs). But, Nazo is resilient, she’s emotionally-mature. She’s fun as well, but she has a side to her which shows she comes to resolve. She’s someone who understands what to do in situations that come towards her.
Your roles have largely been touted as ‘bubbly’ characters, Hania – do you feel people think all your roles end up being the same?
I try to play my characters naturally, as much as I can. I do feel not every character of mine has been the same. If you look at Dani from Anaa or Rumi, for instance, they were both head-strong women, but they weren’t the same characters. I try to act natural. I don’t want to do those big pauses and guffaws. This character is different from what I have done before.
What expectations do both of you have from this? Will it bring the audiences to the cinemas?
Ali Rehman Khan: I believe the things that we’ve done even in promotions have piqued people’s interest and they do want to know more. I believe people are coming to the cinema, and we really hope they watch our film. There are five films releasing, and what remains the most important, that they come to the cinemas and support all these films slated for an Eid release. We want to turn it back into a social culture, like it used to be, where people made cinema a part of their lifestyle.
Hania Aamir: We’ve done everything to get people to come out of their houses and return to the cinemas. We understand that is has become an effort, but we want to show them that is going to be a fun experience and they would enjoy watching these films.
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