Ahmed Sarym
"The actors reflect on signing a popular upcoming sequel and individual endeavours in this interview with Instep."

Fahad Mustafa and Syra Shahroz, in separate projects released this year, have done well for themselves. While Shahraz starred in the beautifully shot and somewhat experimental Chalay Thay Saath, Fahad Mustafa managed back-to-back hits this year with feature-length projects like Actor in Law and Na Maloom Afraad 2.

Though Shahroz’s Project Ghazi had a controversial turn due to technical difficulties and its release date had to be shifted months ahead, the actor is looking forward to other projects. In fact, what Mustafa and Shahroz share in common is that both actors have been added to the sequel of Jawani Phir Nah Ani.

In this interview with Instep, Mustafa and Shahroz Syra discuss individual projects, JPNA 2 and other stuff…

Instep: The JPNA sequel is one of the most anticipated movies of the coming year. How were you approached?

Syra Shahroz (SS): I was actually approached a while back. They first spoke to me when the Punjab Nahi Jaungi (PNJ) trailer had come out, and they were still shooting the film at that time. I had already worked with Nadeem on a telefilm once back in the day and I’ve obviously seen his recent stuff, so I was very excited to work with him and his team. JPNA2 was something very different and interesting for me; they had told me that they’d take it further once PNJ releases and so they got in touch with me again recently and here we are.

Fahad Mustafa (FM): Honestly, I knew about it when the first film was being shot and they had called me up for a guest appearance. So I guess they wanted to play it safer this time, adding on value of the star that I’ve become, getting on somebody who is popular. It was simply a win-win situation because I know the kind of marketing the producers do, they make a mediocre project a huge hit, and I know that promotion plays a vital role now.
I saw JPNA, and I loved every bit of it. Now that I’ve read the sequel, I feel yeh uss se bhi zyada mazaydar hai (it’s a lot more fun). And you know Humayun (Saeed) and I are also the kind of people who don’t get insecure of one another, and maybe that’s why we’ve been blessed with so much respect.

Instep: Fahad, you supposedly replace Hamza Ali Abbasi in the film. Do you think there’s more pressure considering how well the film did with its original quartet?

FM: Firstly, I play a different character, but it’s Hamza Ali Abbasi, not Shah Rukh Khan and I know what I’m doing. I’m not one of those actors who change his mindset after a film has concluded. I recently sat down with Ahmad (Ali Butt), Vasay Chaudhry and Humayun Saeed with the script and we connected on a completely different level and had an absolute blast.

I feel Hamza should’ve done (the sequel); we don’t create cinema for an Iranian audience. I want to enjoy what I’m doing. I am not a political person neither do I like to speak about it. But I know I am an entertainer. At the end of the day, people will like a film if it is good and to make it one, I know I’ll have to work-hard.

Instep: The first installment of JPNA had very little substance for the female leads. Did you have any reservations while signing the film?

SS: Movies like JPNA are male-oriented (like Hangover) and I understand that they’re mainly about men and their issues. But even then, I didn’t want my character to just evaporate in the air, so this time the creators of the film have made sure that everybody is equally dealt with. Though I can’t speak about it yet, but my character is a lot of fun.

Ahmed Ali Butt, Vasay Chaudhry, Humayun Saeed and Fahad Mustafa

I’m still in the process of reading it but I trust the producers. I know I can speak to them if I have any predicament about the script. At the end of the day, I know this is a movie that’s about having fun. It is supposed to be thoroughly entertaining, and it’s a genre I haven’t tried before. I don’t want to limit myself to any one genre. I like challenging myself.

Instep: You’ve had a very successful run on the box office with Nabeel Qureshi and Fizza Ali Meerza. What are you expecting with JPNA2, collaborating with a new team?

FM: I feel that out of all my films till date, JPNA2 will generate the most business. It’s a masala film that people want to watch, it’s a full-on entertaining comedy and the package it offers is very interesting. They’ve taken it further. The JPNA franchise is like Dhoom; you add different characters who take ownership of it.

I won’t say it’s very different because (I feel) all stories are similar; it’s about how you narrate them and obviously, every director has his own vision. We’re also shooting abroad in Turkey and Dubai so it’ll be a complete paisa vasool film. I don’t think I should give out any more information, but you’ll know better as soon as the first promo comes out.

Instep: Syra, Chalay Thay Saath didn’t fare as well as one had expected and Project Ghazi got delayed after its premiere night. Comments?

SS: I did my job as an actor. If I’m going to be offered something that sounds great on paper and the team looks good too, I will definitely take it up. As far as box office is concerned, there’s nothing one can do about it. It doesn’t depress me in any way, or puts me in any situation where I don’t want to sign any more films. I don’t take success or the failure of something too seriously. I still believe in supporting new people and going with my gut feeling.

Because of its technical flaws, Project Ghazi probably put-off a lot of people and didn’t live up to expectations, but since it still hasn’t released, I want people to pass judgments on it once it has released in cinemas. I can’t call CTS or PG mistakes either because I know how hard both the teams worked. We also need to understand that a lot of filmmakers are first-timers; it will naturally take time for them to comprehend how to tell a story and execute it properly.

Instep: Lastly, how ecstatic are you to be joining the troupe and working opposite one another?

SS: Well I’m very excited to be working with the entire crew. Sometimes you know you just want to work with a certain team and when the story was narrated to me, I really liked it. Fahad, I feel is great at what he does. He is truly a modern-day superstar. We haven’t really spoken about the film. Both of us have been caught up with our own stuff but I’m supposed to meet Nadeem once I’ve thoroughly read the script so all in due time.

FM: In fact, Syra and I haven’t met properly for a long time. I’ve vaguely known her from long ago, but we don’t know each other well, so I think our chemistry on-screen will be different. There’s a very interesting combination coming your way.

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