Match Ali Rehman Khan & Hareem Farooq Made in Cinema

  • 17 Aug - 23 Aug, 2019
  • Attiya Abbass
  • Interview

It is not often that you find two strong actors gel so impeccably together onscreen, in a manner that makes the other incomplete if one is absent. Ali Rehman Khan and Hareem Farooq’s pairing makes for that perfect equation, stuff full of campus dreams. What’s so special about their pairing that metaphorically has sparks flying between the two? Their romance and friendship which spools and unspools with an on-point cinematic timing, has already been savoured by fans in Diyar-e-Dil, Parchi and the new release, Heer Maan Jaa, is nothing short of it.

The starlets make for the fun and quirky Rachel and Ross of our times, as they spill the beans on their latest release.

How would you define yourself as individuals?

Ali Rehman Khan: I am a very positive person, who always focuses on the brighter side of things. I can be gullible when it comes to my relationship with people, because if someone is nice to me or treats me nicely, I tend to take them at face value. I try to see the best in them, which doesn't leave me sceptical about most relationships in my life. To some people I may come off as a snob, particularly girls. I don't really know why, perhaps it has got to do with my looks. Most people do find me intimidating and believe that I think too much of myself. Oh well, what do I tell them! One needs to talk to me to understand that I am a fun person, who likes to crack jokes to salvage awkward situations and break the ice.

Hareem Farooq: Hareem is very laidback and loves pranking her friends. I am the mischievous one, yes. I don’t take myself too seriously, because life is too short to be sombre most of the time. I like to have fun, but when it comes to work, my family and friends, they have all my attention and priority.

At what point in your life, did you realise that you were destined to be actors?

Ali: I always dreamt of being an actor and the fact that I grew up being very shy and introverted, didn't help my case. I was that uncomfortable and awkward kid at school, who did as he was told without raising any alarms. I tried to be social and mingle with other kids, but just didn't know how to do it. But I do think that being an introvert really paved the way for me as an actor. I have spent too much time on my own, watching countless movies and mimicking actors and feel if I was an extroverted, social guy, it would have really taken away the time I spent fantasising about being an actor. When I returned to Pakistan from Dubai, I sustained a big culture-shock, because Dubai was more conservative than Pakistan at that time.

It took an inter-school play to finalise this part of my destiny. I played Musharraf and I still remember the day when I stepped on stage in front of a big audience. The judge’s panel included Laila Zuberi. It went really well and the sort of response I got for my performance, really fuelled my ambition. I was then offered a role in another school play which was judged by Shah Sharahbeel who singled me out and offered me an audition for one of his projects. Ecstatic but nervous beyond measure, I auditioned for the part and secured it. One role led to another and I haven't looked back since as I became part of the theatre fraternity. Theatre was where I found my ground and acting was where I felt alive.

Hareem: I was perusing law after my A-Levels when OB [Osman Khalid Butt] called me and asked if I wanted to audition for a small role. I later got selected. I was blown away by how much I enjoyed acting. The first step I took on the stage is still so vivid to this day. I had a voice resonating in my head and then came a click, ‘this is it!’ - something I can do tirelessly for the rest of my life. I went to my parents and told them I wanted to quit law and try my luck at acting. They were super supportive, but requested me to go abroad to an acting school if this was what I really wanted to do, which I dismissed and later regretted. They were still adamant that I complete my education. So, once I got my degree in Bachelors of Journalism, I was like cool, ab mein ja rahi hun acting karnay!

When and how did you first meet each other – as actors, friends or strangers – which later embarked on the dynamic pairing of you two?

Ali: We knew each other socially for a while, with Islamabad being so close-knit and small. We hung out in the same groups, and were introduced by mutual friends.

What is that one, or say several, qualities which gel you both together as an onscreen couple? How is this chemistry packaged, sold and works for your fans?

Ali: It owes to the fact that we have known each other for so long. We are extremely comfortable in each other's presence which makes for a good working chemistry. When paired together for the first time in Diyar-e-Dil, we realised working together was such a breeze. We bonded as a team, because a) Hareem is a great actress and I am saying this because I actually learnt a lot from her. And b) we contribute and compliment each other's performance. I admit that my character in Diyar-e-Dil would not have been the same if it weren’t for Hareem's pairing. It is important that you trust your co-star and also that they give you space onscreen and guide you when you aren’t on the same level as them. It is our friendship, trust in each other that shines through and woos fans.

Hareem: To be very honest… I still don’t know [laughs] how Ali has answered this question, he has stolen my lines! Yes, it is truly the comfort of our friendship that shines through. I admit that I am far better friends with OB, but even I have noticed that people seem to savour Ali’s and mine rapport more. We have even gotten unsolicited suggestions to get married! We share good off-screen chemistry and a bond that balances the professional-meets-personal arc.

You two have been together for several projects now, beginning from Janaan, Diyar–e–Dil, Parchi and now Heer Maan Jaa. Do you envision a day, when your fans would get tired of your onscreen pairing? What would that be like?

Hareem: I predicted that response for Heer Maan Jaa, but it didn't happen. Eventually, audiences do get tired or used to a certain pairing which leads to a point where certain couple don’t work anymore. But not to make big claims or so, if you take a gander at Bollywood films, there are certain couples you will always want to see, even after ten years and more. Their chemistry doesn’t get old – you will still see sparks fly between them whenever spotted together. Shahrukh and Kajol, Fawad and Mahira, Rachel and Ross are evergreen examples. I feel lucky that being in this industry, we have become a couple which is loved. But having said that, we will be exploring other dimensions. And after Heer Maan Jaa, you can definitely expect a break from us.

Coming to Heer Maan Jaa, tell us something about the movie we don’t already know from the trailer?

We actually thought that the trailer would be very revealing, but thank God it wasn’t as opposed to the trailers of other upcoming releases [laughs]. A lot of people have different interpretations from the trailer. I am not asserting that it’s an Oscar-winning film, but I promise it to be a fun, entertaining watch, packed with complete Pakistani masala, romance, drama – it has bits of everything which doesn’t strictly restrict the film to one genre. You will get your roller-coaster of emotions - it will give you a share of happy, sad, and jubilant moments and also, the unexpected.

Give us some insight into Heer and Kabeer? Do these roles which you are enacting bear any similarity with your personalities?

Ali: Kabeer is a very nice guy who has gotten where he is through restless, sheer hard work. He has already made a good career, but wants to achieve more. But it so happens that he tends to forget his loved ones, relationships and friendships because he is too focused on what he aspires to achieve. Don’t get Kabeer wrong, he’s a good guy at heart and wishes to do more for him, but his efforts get side-lined because of his work. He gets caught up too often in his own ambitions. He is en-route to becoming the top architect in Pakistan. Interestingly, he is the bearer of bad luck, running into troublesome situations courtesy of his own doings or otherwise. He is found having these uninterrupted conversations with God, which go around the lines of "what is it that you want from me?" “Merey sath hee kyun hota hai yeh?” He's a very loving guy, but his works takes more precedence over anything else.

Hareem: Heer is absolutely loveable. And together they are even more loveable and adorable. It is not intense romance, but the sort of spice and chemistry that would make you go, “aww!” In spite of her sweet-nature and naivety, she’s someone who doesn’t go do down without a fight. Something surfaced in her life, which brought her to the point that got her to fight. Heer and I are alike in a way that we are extremely naughty and headstrong. Her relationship with her father is based on my personal rapport with my own dad. One difference would be that Heer finally falls in love, can’t say that about Hareem!