Comedy is the trickiest genre for any actor; Oye Yeah Exclusive with Noor Hasan
As I sat down for my interview with the hero of Jackpot, Mr Noor Hasan, a gentleman from BBC (who I see often but don’t know, thanks social reluctance) asked if he can take a minute. I obviously said yes, which led to a wonderful little conversation about Pakistani film industry. So, like an opportunist (non-harmful one) I changed my 1st question to further that conversation.
What do you make of this revival of cinema in Pakistan?
“Well we are trying hard and immense credit to everyone for that. It’s a capitalistic world. So people have access to films and series from all over the world from industries, which are older than Pakistan as a country. The logistics are so vastly different, it is a massive factor. But the end user, doesn’t really care. He/she pays a fair amount of money to watch a film, and demands quality. But we are progressing, more rapidly than other industries. Credit to our film makers. In my film, Jackpot I initially wondered if it will meet the set benchmarks. Thankfully, it gives you the cinematic experience you deserve. It has that finesse. Jackpot is a good product in itself. I believe that to the audience we are selling a product which has value and we are not just banking on people coming out to support Pakistani cinema. It’s a paisa vasool film.”
He had started talking about the film, but there was one remaining question from that conservation in my head. Why are our scripts in dramas monotonous (largely)?
“People who hire us, they don’t want to challenge us! That is the sad part. I did Bekhudi, and it was very popular. After that, the next 10 scripts I got were of a similar plots. How long do you keep saying no? Drama producers and directors have this idea that drama has to be close to life. It’s not a hard and fast rule but that has become the norm for Pakistani drama. We want to elaborate our miseries. We are yet to evolve as a society, therefore our problems are of sas bahu, extra martial affairs etc. We are yet to make breakthrough in different fields. Therefore, in the larger scale of things, as our society evolves, so will our dramas and films. With films, it more about giving the audience different flavors. I think 021 was a fantastic movie. But you need to train people about such different topics. By making films which are not run of the mill, we will ensure that the audience starts to think. They try to understand meaning and motivations of the film maker. This will help us in the long run.”
By now, I had had my intellectual conservation too. It was engaging for someone like Noor, talk about the film industry so passionately.
Now we moved to the movie questions.
Noor Hasan, has been a prominent star on television. What made him agree to sign on for this film?
“The best thing about Shoaib Khan was his clarity, with the movie, with the content, the way he wanted to shoot the film and the kind of people he wanted on board. He could have gotten anyone, but from day 1 he wanted me for this part. Initially the communication process wasn’t smooth but he was adamant. We sat down and I listened to the script. It was hilarious, I couldn’t stop laughing. Thankfully, in execution there were no lapses. Today, I sit here a satisfied actor.”
What’s your character I asked?
“I am playing Lucky. He is a very relatable character. Someone from the lower strata of society but he has big dreams. To achieve those dreams, he goes through twists and turns of life. Lucky’s journey is the main plot of the film.
And I came to my almost default question for any Pakistani film. Inevitably, I have to ask every cast this same question. How was it working with the Javed Sheikh?
“Javed Sheikh, is the best person to work with. He is extremely supportive and nice individual. He makes you feel big and the set lightens up when he is there. For a man of his stature, he is so humble. In Pakistan. I mean it looks like no film can be made without him. He is everywhere.”
And how about her heroine/best friend Sanam Chaudhry?
Sanam Chaudhry and I are best of friends, so to play Romeo to her was difficult and weird. We did a few retakes but eventually thanks to the patience of our team, we got there. Apart from those scene, it was great working with her. We were comfortable around each other and it shows.
I got contrasting responses from the cast, when asked about film promotions. Some see it as part of the job and others are really into it. What’s Noor take on it?
“Since, I started watching films, I really did imagine this is how it is going to be. When you are growing up, you don’t see that graft of the shootings and traveling etc. The marketing bit is very much what you get to see. You are going to Universities, Colleges and malls, being amongst your fans. It’s fun experience for me. Perhaps it’s a bit like an election, you have to convince people to come and watch it. But with Jackpot, I think the product on its own is good enough to sell itself.
I asked another routine question about transition from TV to film but the response was a bit different and very interesting for me.
“In dramas we play these intense, serious characters. We don’t do a lot of comedy. So this character, Lucky was outside of my comfort zone. For comedy your body language, your tone has to be different. You have to be perfect with your comic timing. With this film, I have realized that making people laugh is way more difficult than making them cry. To make people laugh is the trickiest thing to do for an actor.”
Half of the film is shot in Thailand. Pakistani film makers have some liking for international shoots. Can’t we do complete films in Pakistan, I wondered?
“We shot 50% of the film in Thailand and the rest in Pakistan. Thailand, because they have been doing it for long enough, those guys are very resourceful. Then we came to Lahore, which is decent. You face hurdles but it’s quite manageable. We did shoot in Baluchistan too. It was one of the most beautiful places I have seen in my life. But the issue is of the management and logistics of shooting there. The security issues don’t make it easy, you have to get so many permission, and there aren’t a lot of hotels to serve you. Not just for films but for tourists as well. We need to work on that. We have all the potential in the world.”
Being an avid reader, the man wants to play the role of Augustus Waters from ‘The fault in our stars’. I asked him which book he is reading these days. He responded with a bleep ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.’
If the film had been as interesting as the hero, it would have done wonders. However, we are still a long way from reaching the destination. The revival phase has stretched long, but its not over yet. Utilizing full potential of actors like Noor Hassan, is still a job undone. Lets see, when and how we achieve, what we and the entire industry has set out for.