Fahad & Mehwish - Fully Loaded

After entertaining movie lovers with their outstanding chemistry in Actor In Law, Fahad Mustafa and Mehwish Hayat are ready to set the big screen on fire with their latest venture, Load Wedding. In a candid interview with MAG, the two superstars share how they’ve transformed as successful actors, how hopeful they are about playing their respective roles in flourishing Pakistan’s cinema, their possible return to TV and much more.

Let’s start talking about Load Wedding (LW). What the film is all about?

Fahad Mustafa: Well, it’s about a wedding and what comes along with it. To me, the film is a simple, old school love story, nothing but genuine love that one can feel. The movie has very cute moments, the chemistry between the lead characters is very fresh and pure, and people are going to enjoy it.

Mehwish Hayat: The movie talks about the load that comes with a wedding. Fahad and I are not the only people in the movie; in fact, there’s Samina Ahmed, Faiza Hasan and numerous interesting characters that you generally don’t get to see. Every character has its own dynamics and they’re all interwoven.

It is the second time you both have been paired as an on-screen couple. How has the experience been of working together yet again?

FM: Mehwish has evolved a lot, as an actor and as a person also, because when we did Actor In Law (AIL), we did not have as much interaction as characters. But when we worked in this film together, there was a lot more conviction, maturity and calmness in our body of work. Now we understand the characters that we play much better than we used to, so I enjoy a lot working with Mehiwsh now. There is a different sense of enjoyment working with her. She is indeed the number one actress in the country.

MH: It’s been amazing. Albeit a thorough professional, Fahad is a very fun person to work with. We both are the kind of actors who do not think about being selfish with their work; instead, we cooperate with the team and work by building each other up. Therefore, people will get to see the understanding and chemistry between us.

Was it pre-decided for you to do another film with Nabeel Qureshi and Fizza Ali Meerza or did you take it up after reading the script?

FM: I don’t read the script, Nabeel narrates it to me in a visually appealing way. He knows how to woo me into a project, we somehow understand each other better and end up working together. So as long as he visualises me in his characters and as long as I connect with them, we’ll keep going on.

MH: It’s a delight working with Nabeel and Fizza. They are thorough professionals and know their work. They also encourage me to work harder, which is one of the reasons why I love working with them.

What are your expectations from the movie?

FM: We hope it gets a good response. This is one film that has a gripping story and genuine characters, so people will really like it. I believe that this movie will get Pakistan the respect it deserves from the world over. People will know that Pakistanis can make such a film, where intellect, brains and soul is utilised in the best possible way.

MH: People who have already seen our work would know what they’re in for. They know that we have not disappointed them in the past. We have a certain reputation among the audience. They know it’s going to be a paisa vasool film. Also, both Fahad and I have played Punjabi characters for the first time, so that’s an exciting factor. The movie is for every Pakistani and we have conveyed a very important social issue in a very subtle way. Especially, to address the issues that we have otherwise accepted as a norm.

Do you think people will get bored of you being paired together consecutively?

FM: Maybe, why not! But I don’t see it as a problem because a lot of actors have done numerous films together. Directors and producers understand that there are a few people who can pull the crowd to the cinema. When you’re paying someone, and they don’t add value to the work then there’s no point of making a project. So they know how and who to work with.

MH: The audience never gets bored looking at actors abroad, why would they get bored looking at us together in a film. We’ve hardly done any movies in the past few years. I do just one movie in a year; plus, my fans always wait for my projects. If I do one film in a year that guarantees entertainment and is received well, then I don’t think that people should get bored.

You started your work with TV but after doing films, we hardly get to see you doing drama serials. Would you take up a project if it’s really good or not?

FM: I’ve done my bit on TV and I’m still on television as we speak, so somehow I’m connected. But film is a big canvas; in case they [films] don’t work then we will automatically move to TV again. I’ll keep working in films for as long as they are popular among the audience.

MH: I did go back to television with Dillagi in 2016. I miss doing TV. I haven’t yet received a good television script so far. Just because the artist in me wants to explore different mediums, I do the work whether it’s TV, films or theatre.

Who‘s the diva among the two of you?

FH: Nobody is a diva on our sets. We don’t cast people who throw tantrums or those who create problems because it’s a very tricky industry, so we need people who can accommodate, cooperate and work with the team.

MH: Nobody! We are already pampered so much that we don’t need to act like divas. We work like good kids. We realise that throwing tantrums won’t help us in the long run. We acknowledge and value the fact that we are blessed.

Your characters in LW look realistic and genuine. How easy or difficult was it to portray them on-screen?

FM: It was easy for me. I have the kind of personality that meets my character’s demands. I would still want to be born in the 60s and 70s. The way this character dresses up is very real. In the movie, I had to wear joggers, so I bought a new pair for the shoot. When we were shooting in the village, I saw an electrician dressed up exactly the way my character dresses up in the film, and he had the same pair of shoes, so I exchanged his used ones with mine, for they had a lot more character and life to them.

MH: As an actor, it wasn’t as difficult to play the role but the process was very interesting. To get into Meerub’s character, I especially got my nose pierced and bore the pain throughout the healing process. So it was all very interesting.

How have you progressed as an actor in all these years?

FM: I have evolved a lot because I’ve worked with the right people. I’m a director’s actor. If a director is not communicating with me, I will not be able to deliver. So whether it is Nabeel, Nadeem or any other directors that I’ve worked with, they are people that I enjoy being with. Also, I listen to people and progression only continues when you do so, the day you stop listening to people is the day you stop progressing.

MH: I grow everyday as an artist. I’ve always been a very keen observer, because I’m not very talkative. I’ve learnt a lot from my co-workers and never thing that I know everything.

What is the most important aspect of an actor’s life?

FM: Film is the ultimate goal of an actor’s life. If we are doing films and they are successful, then that’s the most amazing thing. I was in Baqai and wanted to be a dentist but I went to pharmacy department instead. But whenever I’d cross the dentistry department, I’d feel bad for still being there and not doing what I loved. On the other hand, becoming an actor was fate. So I would want to stay in this profession in a way that people refer to me as an important member of the industry.

MH: The fact that it’s a lot of hard work. It’s a very difficult life. Sometimes, we work for hours and days without a break, so it’s not easy at all. It is very exhausting – mentally, physically and emotionally. Even if you’re having a bad day, you have to smile and look good, so it somehow drains you. But once the hard work pays off, all the pain vanishes.

Our cinema is very reliant on social media marketing and promotion these days. What are your thoughts about it?

FM: It is a myth. These are our self created bubbles. People are intelligent nowadays and know what a genuine hit is. The myth of social media’s importance is created by people from the industry. However, it does help promote a bad product at times, but a good one does not necessarily need its support.

MH: Social media is good and very dangerous too. But despite all of the promotions and marketing that people do using social media, the success of any project depends on the intellect of our people, who know very well what is right and wrong. You can’t fool them. So you cannot package something bad and tell them it’s good.

Which character do you yearn to perform?

FM: It’s not one particular character but there are a lot of stories that I want to tell, so I don’t know what character it would be. To me the character is the story, and how the story shapes up the character and how I portray it. When we pick a story we decide everything around it, so there are stories that I want to be a part of, which I believe we’re still warming up to as an industry.

MH: Every character is very special but one character that I really wanted to do is in the works – the one where I’ll be playing Benazir Bhutto. I’m really looking forward to it and it was indeed a dream role for me. Despite rumours about it not happening, let me tell you the that project is, in fact, in the works. With such a magnitude, it takes a couple of years for a project like that to shape up. I’m doing my bit of research and work that can help me portray the strong character.

Mehwish, since the your movie is about a wedding, should we expect to hear any wedding bells ringing for you anytime soon?

Mehwish: No, not anytime soon. I’m focused on my work and very busy; there is so much to achieve that I cannot be thinking about settling down anytime soon. I might when the time is right.

• Designer: Nomi Ansari
• Hair & Make-up: N-Pro
• Coordination: Umer Mushtaq
• Photography: Umair Bin Nisar
• Models: Mehwish Hayat & Fahad Mustafa