BY ANUJ RADIA
Smart, suave and sincere – these are the three qualities for a great and actor it seems like debutant Shayan Khan possesses these three aspects, thus, it seems like he has everything to become successful.
Brought up in America, Shayan is the producer and actor in the vibrant comedy ‘Na Band Baraati’, a film which ran successfully during Eid.
As the film releases today worldwide, we caught up with the actor to discuss his experience on the movie!
Shayan, firstly, a huge congratulations on the success of the film. You must be thrilled about this?
It feels very good and now I’m very excited about the international release now.
What has it been like being the new kid on the block in the Pakistani film industry?
I’ve been treated by people and the audience have been very loving towards me. I think there’s a lot of support for new artists in Pakistan.
What were your expectations like prior to becoming an actor? Have these changed post your debut?
I’ve done some stage shows when I was in school, then I did theatre. I was also filming for a show on NTM when I was 11-years-old, so I’ve been on the camera when I was young.
I’ve found that it is a lot more than what people expect – everyone thinks you’ll just come in front of the camera as if it’s a phone, a video will be made and there’s the film. But what people don’t realise is that it can take two days to shoot one scene.
Filming is difficult, the technical things – you’ve got to be professional. Lots of people think you can just come in and break into the industry. I think the biggest thing that helps you break into the industry is professionalism. Not everyone is cut-out for this!
Patience is absolutely necessary. We had first-timers that came on set and had to wait for 6 hours. I’d say that actors get pretty much paid to wait. Newer people come in and start getting impatient about “when’s it going to happen?” and that’s the thing directors don’t like.
You’ve mentioned that your character Zahid is quite close to your heart. What aspect of your personality matches your role?
At this point, because I’m more serious and sober now, this character resonates with my teenage-self. I was kind of mischievous like I would ride my bike around the city and cause problems. For instance, if I didn’t want my friends to come to school, I would puncture their parents’ car.
You must have quite a lot masti and mazaak behind-the-scenes. What types of jokes and pranks (if any) were played to maintain the jovial atmosphere on set?
There’s a guy named Guru (in the film) and he’s the guy who arranges a wedding scene. He’s a very funny character and his line “Koi Bhaag Ke Nikaah Karne Ka Mauka Ho, Toh Zaroor Bata Na” was very funny so everyone kept repeating that line.
There was a lot of youngsters in this film including Mikaal Zulfiqar, Ali Kazmi, Komal Farooqi and myself (to name a few) we’re all young with lots of energy. We all chilled out together, there was a lot of good chemistry going on in the film.
Is there anyone in particular whom you gelled well with?
I think me, Mikaal and Ali particularly gelled well together. With me and Mikaal, we play brothers in the film and now we actually feel like brothers. We almost talk every day other than the film. Ali Kazmi too has become a good friend of mine.
I, Mikaal and Ali are like the three musketeers, we roast each other and the most hilarious thing for us is shout-outs. Every channel we go to or designer we shop with, they always ask us for a shout-out, so we roasted each other on this because someone is making it in the low-angle or someone might be in bed and giving the shout-out (laughs).
Besides the fun and family aspects does the film actually focus on the challenges that Pakistani people face in Canada?
I think the film is more of a comedy. There are no messages really there – it’s more of a romantic comedy where you just have a good laugh. Having said that, you will see the disparities between the parents and children. It’s Canada, the lifestyle is Canadian, but there’s nothing that serious.
Na Band Na Baraati also comprises of talented artists from the USA, Canada, India, Pakistan and Iran. Do you feel films like this will make way for more international collaborations happening in Pakistani cinema?
Yes, because I feel the world’s getting smaller with the influence of the Internet. Aside from the countries you mentioned, we also have Britain, because Mikaal is born there and he’s done Bollywood. Ali Kazmi has also done some Bollywood.
I would say that our goal is to make a small family of all the countries and promote worldwide culture, not just South-Asian culture. I got friends of various races and cultures, we are so close. We don’t look at religion or colour.
The goal of our production house is to make international films and our movie (Na Band Na Baraati) has almost every race. I like to call it our melting pot.
Our film is the first Pakistani venture to be filmed 100% overseas, we’ve got 70% outdoor location and the entire crew is Canadian, some of whom have worked in Canadian movies. In fact, our steady cam guy worked on Harold and Kumar. We’ve been lucky to be with very good people.
Who are you particularly interested in working in the future from Pakistani cinema?
You know, Pakistan doesn’t have that many big directors, but I’d like to say Nadeem Baig is very good, Fiza and Nabeel Qureshi are doing well, even Yasir Nawaz who made Wrong Number.
I actually always wanted to work with Mikaal Zulfiqar it’s a good thing that we got to work together. Next, I want to work with Salman Khan (smiles).
Is there anyone you would particularly like to work in Bollywood?
If we talk about action, I really like Salman Khan a lot. If we did comedy, then it would be Akshay Kumar and if there’s a message-based film, Aamir Khan.
What advice would you convey to all budding actors out there to survive in this cut-throat industry?
Go out there and work as hard as you can. Respect your audiences and fans. Each time you go in front of masses, you will be taking a lot of negativity – you must have a strong shield and not let it break you.
Here’s wishing Shayan Khan all the very best for the future. Na Band Na Baraati has released in cinemas worldwide.