• 08 Sep - 14 Sep, 2018
  • Omair Alavi
  • Interview

His Name Is Rambo Rambo, Jan Rambo!

My Name Is Mangu, Mangu… Jan Mangu. This line may be new to the current generation of cinegoers but for those who grew up in the 90s, it reminds them of a bloke called Jan Rambo. He wasn’t the original ‘Rambo’ but way back in 1991 when Guest House premiered, he became ‘our very own’ Rambo. He resembled Sylvester Stallone so much that the makers lamented not meeting him before Guest House. That guy – Afzal Khan – then went on to do films and became a comedy sensation that was a mixture of both Rangeela and Munawwar Zarif, and could dance better than the leading men of the era. Now he makes a return to films after nearly seven years with Donkey King playing the titular character. MAG met the iconic comedian from the 90s and asked him about his glorious past, his present projects and above all, his return to the silver screen.

Why don’t we see Jan Rambo in films considering you were one of the main reasons for film revival back in the 90s?

People don’t approach me for roles in films and maybe that’s why I am content doing TV dramas, sitcoms and appearing on TV shows. My last film was Reema’s Love Main Gumm that released in 2011 and since then, I have been offered nothing significant. The makers of Donkey King approached me two years back and I loved the character and with the hopes to make a triumphant return to films through this venture.

How difficult was it to dub for an animated character?

I would say that it was both easy and difficult for me; I had the experience of dubbing for films but here, we had to imagine the character at first and do things as I wanted to. When I saw the rushes, the animator had done exactly as I had envisioned and that made me more than just happy because in my mind, I had seen all that before.

What was the reaction of your family when you told them about Donkey King?

They were the ones who asked me to do it, without even thinking twice. My wife Sahiba and my mother-in-law, veteran actress Nisho, are as anxious as my kids about the venture, as it is entertainment for all. It was fun playing the lead even if only by using my vocals, but I was very happy to know that my body movements during the recording session were also incorporated in the film.

How does it feel when you see films that don’t have songs with repeat value; considering most of the songs filmed on you including Babia, Munda Bigri Jaye and Billo Dey Ghar are still popular?

It pains me to see that we don’t work on the soundtrack, when in fact, it should be the most important aspect of the film. On a recent trip to Shogran, my wife and I shot a song on a mobile phone and without colour grading and high-quality cameras, it looked better than most of the songs shot today. If the filmmakers of today work hard on songs as they do in other departments, our films will be back to where we were during the Golden Era.

Aziz Jindani – The Brain behind Donkey King!

For those who know about the animation industry of Pakistan, Aziz Jindani is a mentor; as he started the trend of animation 15 years back when no one was willing to enter the arena. He created Commander Safeguard, which is the most popular animated series of Pakistan. He has now changed gears to come up with an animated flick that he has co-written with Kamran Khimani. MAG got hold of this visionary and asked him about the project and his expectations from the box office.

Why did you take so many years to come up with a feature film; you could have released a Commander Safeguard film a decade back?

After doing Commander Safeguard for two years and coming up with five episodes, I went to Asif Iqbal at Post Amazers with an idea of a feature film way back in 2006 and worked on the feasibility of a full-length flick. However, since the company I used to work with didn’t find it feasible, it couldn’t materialise but after working abroad for some time, when I returned to Pakistan, I decided to go ahead with a new idea that was Donkey King. I reunited with my partner-in-animation Zeeshan Karimi and that’s how we started the project that took two years to complete with both voice over and animation.

Was Jan Rambo the original choice for the title role or were there others in the reckoning as well?

There was only one choice for the role of Mangu and we are glad that Jan Rambo gave us the go ahead when we approached him. In fact, the character of Mangu wears the bandana just like his character in Guest House and we wanted to tap the inner Mangu in him and successfully managed to do that.

How confident were you of the line ‘My Name Is Mangu, Mangu’ becoming a rage, considering today’s kids have no idea about its iconic status?

We decided to go with the line after a lot of research; we knew that since it clicked with the kids of the 90s, it will click with the current generation as well and so far, it is becoming popular through the film’s trailers and teasers.

Any specific reason for choosing a Saturday – 13th October 2018 – to release your film when usually films around the world are released on Fridays?

In our opinion, Saturday is the strongest day when it comes to family entertainment and amusement parks are usually full on Saturday, while Sunday is the weakest day of the week. We are playing to win instead of playing not to lose; word of mouth through school-going kids will benefit us and we are aiming to have a long run like Teefa In Trouble that released on July 20, and is still doing well in cinemas.