From the moment he first hit the small screens, I had seen that X Factor in him. Tall, charming, good looking and what not, it wasn’t surprising to have him rise to fame like that. Perhaps a ‘hero’ we desperately needed or he was just incredibly hard to resist. His first film, Kambakht started a century back it seemed but never made its ways to the cinema, perhaps this young lad’s mann was somewhere bigger and better! In a conversation with the heartthrob, Sheheryar Munawar Siddqiui, I exclusively speak to him about debuting with Ho Mann Jahan, working behind the camera, what went wrong with Kambakht and much more!
PakiUM: So how did Ho Mann Jahan happen, when did you meet Asim and did you know it was the right option for your debut?
Shehreyar Munawar:Asim Raza is one of the best filmmakers in Pakistan if not ‘the’ best. And even if Fawad or Shaan were offered to debut with Ho Mann Jahan, they wouldn’t have disagreed, so I didn’t have to think twice. I was working on commercials as a producer with Asim, and everyone I knew wanted a film to be made by him and this story was there for the longest of time and I went up to him with the idea of executing it. I was initially supposed to co-produce it and we worked on it’s pre-production for one and a half year, when suddenly Asim came up to me and offered me this role. I feel blessed, Asim is like a teacher and mentor to me, I learned a lot from him and nothing could’ve been better than being able to debut with a father figure. The team was also the same with which I used to work on commercials, so I got a very homely vibe while working on it!
PakiUM: Kambakht was initially supposed to be your debut film, tell us about what went wrong and would the film ever make its way to the cinemas?
Shehreyar Munawar: I am not gonna let it come now! It had a nice script but the production value is out dated now, we started it three years ago and Hamza got busy with his political career and acting as well, so we just lost that time and I would really be unhappy with Hamza if it releases now, it would be unfair to me as an artist. There are lots of things that you learn with heartbreaks, I learnt the production values at that time and also what not to do as an actor, all those things just added to my experiences and better exposure!
PakiUM: Tell us about your experience with Ho Mann Jahan and what sort of character you’ve played. How do your relate yourself to the character you play?
Shehreyar Munawar:The character I play is nothing like me at all, Arhaan is from a lower middle class family. He’s very emotional, ambitious and has his morals confused. He’s always in a hurry, takes shortcuts in life and he’s sort of badtameez as well. But there is one thing we have in common; the eagerness to make it big and the ambition, that I also share. I think working hard non stop is what many people in our generation could relate to.
My experience was very tricky. I did my homework when it came to acting, we had rehearsals for months, I learned how to play a guitar and ride a bike but as a producer you have to do multiple tasks at a time. You’re like a CEO of a company but you know what they say, what kills you makes you stronger!
PakiUM: You recently turned filmmaker with directing the latest Sprite commercial and of course you’re co-producing Ho Mann Jahan; tell us about your plans of continuing filmmaking and do you intend to make a film of your own?
Shehreyar Munawar: Well I want to continue ad filmmaking and also work on acting assignments for films now. We’ll start working on the production for our second film next year and I want to learn as much as I can but of course eventually I’d love to direct my own film in a couple of years!
PakiUM: After the release of Ho Mann Jahan, what are the projects you’ll be looking into next year? Have you signed any new films?
Shehreyar Munawar: I’ve been reading a couple of scripts and hopefully I’ll pick the right one, I want to do one thing at a time, I’m in no rush and at least want to have a couple of good months for preparation before I start shooting. But of course hero banana hai yaar (Laughs). I want to experiment and try something different from what I’ve done already, a character which is totally opposite to Ho Mann Jahan’s and probably something exciting.
PakiUM: Do you think Asmanon Pay Likha gave you that much needed breakthrough or you always had the passion for acting?
Shehreyar Munawar: I always wanted to be behind the camera, that will and always be my true passion. I didn’t do much work on acting to be very honest, but through acting I got a chance to learn my real passion. God has been kind for all the love and specially after Asmanon Pay Likha, I finished that two and a half years back and the response was truly overwhelming.
PakiUM: Tell us a bit about what you do off work, how do you relax yourself. We see you travel, how do you manage work with all of this?
Shehreyar Munawar: Work for us is crazy! Advertising, production and acting is a 24 hour job. My team is incredibly hardworking as well, so the only thing we keep in mind is work more and excessively! I usually take a few days off and have my due vacation. In the last two years I had no vaccination, so I took two weeks off and went to London to visit my family. It’s tough, shattering for me and makes me quite upset as well, but now my focus would be to spend some quality time with my parents. I’ve been neglecting them and I’m really feeling guilty for that.
PakiUM: On the ending note, what would be your message to the PakiUM readers?
Shehreyar Munawar: My message to all the readers would be that do what your heart tells you to do, with love, passion, dedication and honesty and nothing can stop you from achieving it. And you’re happy where you heart tells you to be!
Interview conducted by Ahmed Sarym