‘People go to the cinema to escape’
Pakistani actor Ali Rehman Khan on why his new film Parchi - ‘a comedy of errors’ - will appeal to a wide fanbase
“YOUNG PEOPLE IN Pakistan are increasingly dreaming of stardom,” the charming Rishtay Kuch Adhooray Se actor Ali Rehman Khan told us while on a recent visit to Khaleej Times to promote his new film Parchi, an action-comedy to be released on January 5, 2018. There’s a shift in mindsets in the country as far as careers are concerned, he admitted to City Times. “One thing I’ve noticed about Pakistan recently is that the youth really want to be something, and that something is entertainers! Not doctors or engineers or anything conventional! They don’t want to go abroad and find a job – they want to come into the entertainment industry because everyone has some talent, be it singing, acting, or comedy. The field has gotten popular not just with children, but also with parents – at first they were wary of their kids entering the entertainment industry – they were like, you shouldn’t get in there, it’s not a good industry, but now there is a certain pride about being in the industry.”
Parchi is like Delhi Belly
The eloquent Khan, who expressed soft-spoken yet insightful views on the Pakistani entertainment industry, revealed that Parchi is “a situational comedy” somewhat along the lines of Bollywood comedies Delhi Belly, Hera
Pheri and Andaz Apna Apna, which Khan described as “a cult classic, and one of my favourite films of all time”.
“Parchi is basically a comedy of errors. Its superfunny script was written by the very talented Shafqat Khan,” he said, adding, “I’m not at liberty to say too much about the film but what I can tell you is that it’s about this conman who somehow cons the mob and goes on the run; he gets his friends involved, and together they encounter some very interesting characters. I guess it’s not so much the script as the situations he lands himself and his friends in – that’s where the comedy is.”
Khan, who plays ‘Bash’ in Parchi, was all praise for the rest of the cast, which includes Hareem Farooq, Usman Mukhtar and Ahmad Ali. “One of the great and unique things about Parchi is that there are so many talented actors in the film. Some are actors that haven’t been discovered yet. They’re all from theatre backgrounds. Everyone brings their own flavour to the film. When you watch it you’re definitely going to have a favourite!
“Considering how Pakistani cinema is still in its infancy and growing, we need the huge amount of talent that we have (in other fields of entertainment) to come into fims. What I love about
Parchi is that there’s all these different characters showcasing different talent – there will be a character that’s just silent throughout the film, but you won’t stop looking at him!”
Not your typical romcom
While Parchi is not a romcom like Khan’s last film, Janaan,
Our film industry is now in its revival stage, it’s coming back up.” Ali Rehman Khan
he said there will be an element of romance in it, though not perhaps what you might be expecting.
“I don’t think a film like this has been done yet. I’m not saying it’s the first of its kind, but it’s a very different film. It’s a commercial film but it doesn’t come under the traditional wedding/ romance/romcom category. There is some romance in this comedy but it’s not your typical story. It’s a very… (laughs) I feel like if I keep on talking about it, I’ll reveal too much and the producers will kill me!”
Considering the film comes across as a bit offbeat, is he worried about audience response?
“No, I’m not worried, I think comedy has a huge place in the hearts of audiences in Pakistan. People go to the cinema to escape. We’ve had numerous comedies come out before that have done super well, like Na Maloom Afrad 1 & 2, Actor in Law, etc. Anywhere in the world, I believe, people just enjoy having a laugh and when you can spend two hours in a cinema and come out with a smile, I think it’s worth the price of your ticket!”
In search of a new audience
Khan believes Pakistan needs to show the world that it has good cinema.
“The most exciting thing about the film scene in Pakistan is that there is so much yet to do – so many scripts to be written, and so many movies to be made. It’s an industry that hasn’t done a lot yet so there’s room for so much more. In Pakistan we have a huge television drama industry – it’s phenomenal, we even have big stars from across the border in Bollywood, who love watching our dramas.
“But unfortunately our film industry is now in its revival stage, it’s coming back up. There’s not much going on because we lack the facilities, the technical know how, and I think those will come with time. Also there’s not so much money that goes into the industry right now, we don’t have enough multiplexes, and we have to build an audience.”
He feels Pakistani cinema should target a growing audience. “We need to have an international audience, just like Bollywood does. Another thing is that we still don’t have our own identity, because we have been following Bollywood for so long, that it sometimes tends to overshadow some of the work we do. So some of our commercial cinema tends to go that way. But the exciting part is that in the process, we’re also finding ourselves. Just like Iranian cinema has found itself – it’s one of the best cinemas in the world, it has such an amazing plethora of content.
“Four years ago, you could literally count the number of films that were being made in Pakistan. And now, you are constantly surprised by the films that you haven’t heard about. Yesterday I was told that there is a Pakistani film being shot in Dubai. And I’m like ‘really’? So it’s very encouraging, this trend.”
Comedy has a huge place in the hearts of audiences in Pakistan.” Ali Rehman Khan
Action comedy Parchi stars Ali Rehman Khan as ‘Bash’, a conman who goes on the run after crossing the mob