• 28 Jul - 03 Aug, 2018
  • Mohammad Kamran Jawaid
  • Happenings

Even before I stepped into Studio 146, where a new addition to Jawani Phir Nahi Aani 2’s soundtrack was being shot, I knew what I was going to find; a dose of camaraderie both, intense and familiar. For a film produced by Humayun Saeed, this, at least, was expected.

Saeed’s all-inviting aura has been a prevalent part of his filmography. Main Hoon Shahid Afridi was overstuffed with cameos. In fact, at times it almost looked like a party, where well-known actors entered and exited the frame in the blink of the eyes. Everyone was invited. Some, just popping by to say ‘hello’.

In JPNA, another ensemble piece with its expected bulk of flaws, Saeed and screenwriter Vasay Chaudhry made sure that his cast were integral to the story. By Punjab Nahi Jaungi, Saeed’s aptitude as a film producer had matured. Instead of writing in actors, the screenplay chose to develop characters.

Now with JPNA 2, things continue to look up. Almost the same ensemble (with exception to Hamza Ali Abbasi, who is headlining two other films) is present.

Gone with Abbasi are the last part’s heroines – Mehwish Hayat and Sohai Ali Abro, which begs the question: is this a follow-up of the last film, or an entirely different film, set in another reality based on the same characters?

“This is very much a continuation of the same film,” Saeed tells me when we sit down. He had just finished one section of a song, and was on break until the next set was being lit.

“I can’t tell you much about what and how incidents take place, but this is very much the next part of the series. It’s a direct sequel,” he says.

“(Because it is a sequel) it might be that you will see revelations about characters in the beginning, or even the middle of the film,” Saeed teases.

As we continue to talk about the narrative and character development of the movie, I ask him about the maturity of his character. In the last film, Saeed’s character, Sherry, a romance-prone philanderer who knew nothing of responsibility, had learned the error of his ways. By the very end, he even matured to a degree.

Is there even room for character growth at this point? I ask

Saeed thinks so. “Since Sherry has already learned the folly of his ways, it is time for the new character, played by Fahad Mustafa, to learn the same lesson,” he clarifies.

In part 2, Sherry has to outsmart the anti-hero (Rahat played by Fahad), and fight off a thorn in his way (Omar Shahzad), so there definitely is development, Saeed shares.

“(Irrespective of being) a continuation, it has its new flavours. One can expect a continuous charm,” actress Sarwat Gilani tells me.

Is that charm enough to navigate the film through an audience who is tougher these days? I ask.

“You see the audience is already charmed by our characters,” she states.

Her character Gul, hot-headed, single-minded wife to Sheikh (Vasay), has a slightly more glamorous look this time around. Nonetheless, Gilani tells me that stepping back into her character was very hard – especially because it had been two years since she last played it.

Another actor who shares Gilani’s sense of challenge is model-turned-actor Omar Shahzad.

“Honestly speaking, it was very challenging. The first part had a huge cast, as does this film. So it was quite challenging for me to make him stand apart,” he reveals. Shahzad plays Nawab Sher Ali Khan, who is part of the romantic triangle between Saeed and one of the lead actresses Kubra Khan.

Speaking to Kubra, she tells me that her character, Celina, is very similar to her real self. The only difference is that “our roots are different”.

“She’s sort of a happy-go-lucky, tomboy-ish girl who is very ambitious. Like Saeed’s character, she continues to develop. The more you see her, the more you understand her,” she speaks of her role.

As the hours went by, I waited for the other actors to complete their shooting spell.

Next on the list was a very tired, yet somehow still energetic Mawra Hocane. Another familiar face headlining the film, Hocane tells me that everything about her character is different, starting with her name: XOE – a weird spelling of Zoey.

“She’s very very rich, and very very fashionable. She may look that way, but she’s a very simple girl at heart. You know how girls are, very emotional, and a diva. She’s also a very different person when it comes to the person she loves.”

Xoe’s romantic pair is Rahat.

How do they fall in love? I ask. “Because they’re both good-looking people,” Hocane replies in a flash.

That’s a pretty superficial reason, I tell the actress, who elaborates that the pair do come to a point where they realise that there is more to them than good looks.

Contradictory to everyone on set, Fahad has a curious outlook.

“I won’t say that my character is that different. It’s very interesting, because I am not going to define the character,” Mustafa tells me.

Judging by the trailer, I tell Mustafa that his good-guy-bad-guy persona may appear perplexing to people.

“It’s good if people are confused. If people expect one thing, and then the character comes out as someone else, then that’s a good thing,” he replies coyly. “As long as people are liking what they see on screen, I am happy.

“It’s a fun film. The hero [of this film] is Humayun Saeed, and everyone else is a supporting character. Keeping me and Humayun aside, I think you’ll be surprised when supporting characters like Sarwat, Sohail Ahmed and Ahmed Ali Butt steal the film from us.

“For all the right reasons, to be a part of such a prestigious product, I guess, is a big thing by itself,” Mustafa continues.

By 10:30 pm – about seven hours since I came on set – one thing was for sure. Everyone there wanted the other to succeed, irrespective of their role.