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Aliya Malik, not in a wonderland; Mansha Pasha reveals all things Laal Kabootar

The film releasing on 22nd March, shows Karachi's dark and grimy streets

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Recently I had to drive to the inner lanes of EBM causeway. It was completely new to me. With camels, cows, goats, dogs, and cats in abundance, there was little sign that this is one of the largest cities in the World. If ever there was a Pakistani version of Game of Thrones, it could be shot in that area. 5 minutes later, I was in the Korangi Industrial Area with hundreds of factories and fancy cars.

That is the irony and the beauty of Karachi. The essence of which Kamal Khan’s Laal Kabootar aims to capture. In a leading role is Mansha Pasha. To her the film could be defined as a crime thriller. She is playing Aliya Malik and the film is about her journey.

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“Aliya has gone through something. The film show her journey of dealing with this problems and those that come along. The struggles she goes through, to overcome the problem is the story,” providing an outline of story. The trailer revealed very little in a good way; the cast is following the same boundaries in their interviews.

Kamal Khan, the director threw her a curveball by asking her to do one of the most difficult scenes in the film, at her audition.

“Kamal called me, we had a proper audition. I was to perform one integral scene to perform. He told me what had happened with the character and I did it. It was a rather difficult scene. When we it for the film too, I had to isolate myself for a good hour. On set it was difficult because there are a bunch of people doing their jobs like lighting or some other work but as an actor that is your job. So, yes it was that one scene, which I did in my audition. Thankfully, I got it”. That was the start of journey as Aliya. Given that this is a dark and grim film, embodying this character was a challenge for the “Mera Naam Yousuf Hai” star.

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“We had discussions sometimes, I can’t reveal it right now. But yes, there were times were we looked at and understood how the director wants to do things. There were parts where this character was smoking. I had never done it before I didn’t see it as an issue. I don’t abuse in the film but Aliya is not someone who would abuse. On the other hand, she initially doesn’t smoke but when she goes through certain problems, she takes up smoking. The director knew where he wanted this character to go. Nothing was put in for shock value. If the character’s journey demanded something, then only it became part of the film.”

There was dialogue which stood out from the trailer “Mai Bhag Janay Walaon Mai Se Nahe Hon”. That is not a dialogue from a stereotypical bechari larki that we see in our plays and mostly in our films too. Did she ever thought that if she plays this rather different character, the audiences might not perceive her as the bechari larki in future?

“That thought never crossed my mind really. If you are a good actor, you get offered diverse roles. Also the thing is even in this stereotypical bichari larki, there has to be another layer to it or else it becomes boring. Like for example in Mera Name Yousuf, I played Madiha. She was a lot more than just a bechari larki. She was smart, empathic, and romantic. So, if the characters of just being bechari larki go away, I don’t mind.”

Or perhaps it would influence TV bigwigs to write better characters for women, one hopes.

And once all the Laal Kabootar talk was done, I had to ask her about that tweet. In the days of chest thumping and jingoism was it highest, Mansha tweeted that Indian and Pakistani artist should be messenger of peace, we are not warriors.

“I was criticized for that tweet. Apne aisey likha hai jaisey Pakistan mai b logon ne kuch aisa kaha hai. The thing is this was not a one off. These things keep repeating themselves for one reason or another. There was a lot things said from the Indian side, Pakistanis were responding in kind. There are artist in Pakistan, who criticize artist if they go and perform in India. I don’t need to justify what I had said to be honest. Let me just reiterate, that artist are supposed to promote peace. At the end of the day, our work prospers in peace time. Apart from propaganda films, there is no sort of art work happening in war time. Unless of course you want to make propaganda films like a certain incident happens and you go out to get patents for it. By the nature of our work, we are ambassadors of peace.”

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Like her tweet, her films stands out. Pakistani and Indians artist could do well to heed to her advice; try different work and be messengers of peace.

 

the authorAsjad Khan

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