IN CONVERSATION WITH THE CAST AND CREW OF BADSHAH BEGUM
We sat down with the cast and crew of Badshah Begum to discuss their roles and the story of this much awaited drama and how it came to fruition. The cast consists of a star-studded line up that is filled to the brim with talent. Combined with the amazing script and crew, this drama is going to be sensational. Read on…
What was your creative process while working on this drama?
A very long time ago when this project was stuck in limbo I went the extra mile by getting character sketches designed, storyboard done for the look and feel for the artists. Using real locations situated in rural Larkana that includes my ancestral ‘haveli’ and ‘dargah’ at Shahabad (Pir Jo Goth) and Larkana, Khan Bahadur Sardar Muhammad Nawaz Sheikh's (Land Lord Drigh Lake) Shaikh Jo Tak in Kambar Ali Khan and Raja Saadi Abdullah Mahesar's ancestral home at Kot Lal Baksh Mahesar for the feel and essence of characters, and their belongingness to the story arc mattered a lot in the creative process. Discussing the script before going on shoot with Momina Duraid bhabhi, accepting her guidance, vision and her experienced notion on getting the script right. I would like to mention I had a fight sequence, 'Dangal', especially crafted for the drama, which wasn't in it before. It was executed with a fight coordinator on advice of the director Khizer Idrees, which required heavy fight choreography.
What was it like working with the likes of Momina Duraid?
I idolize Momina Duraid bhabhi. She has given me my biggest break to date. She has trusted me with her projects, which include managing digital marketing and PR for her films Parwaaz Hai Junoon and Superstar. I look up to her immensely. She is a thorough professional who believes in giving young minds a chance to showcase their talent and experience. I had left the country and started a job in Canada towards TV and films thinking I would never come back. Due to covid-19 I had no choice but to return. She has given me another life with this project – I'm forever thankful to her. It's been six years I've been hanging on to Badshah Begum. I feel proud to be associated with Momina Duraid bhabhi and HUM Network.
What was the creative process for both of you working together and how do you think this collaboration affected the production process?
The creative process involved her going through the script, and sensing missing ingredients that could be added, and were added to mass audience acceptability. She provided me with a team of people from MD Productions that include our production team, their head of productions' Mahesh Waswani and a plethora of young energetic people who were there through out our shoot on this wonder joint collaboration. I'm thankful to God for everything, and hope and pray that this effort gets viewed and appreciated by the viewers.
This story is very different from the usual saas-bahu drama so why did you want to work on this script? What was it like working with Rafay Rashdi?
It has always been about the story; yes there is no saas-bahu, which also is part of the narrative generally exhibited on television. However every story has it's unique arc and like that Badshah Begum has it's own plot line. As a producer and under my supervision the ingredients required for commercial viability exist.
Generally speaking it is to be known that masses don't usually digest anything other than mainstream stories and that it would not gather TRP's, and that I believe is a thin line, which can be taken upon as a challenge.
I had read the script and advised Rafay of the right sort of pointers that were necessary to give the content the flavour to be relatable in modern times and our television audience. We are evolving at a fast pace and meeting those viewing requirements for any project attempted are essential key points.
The creative process from my end is of the story first. Does it fit, will it appeal to viewers, does it have interesting characters and choosing the right kind of director, actors and performances to enhance the screen. These are necessary elements. Rafay has managed the production with our team at MD Productions on board as joint collaboration. The experience has been professional.
It is said that a director is the backbone of a drama so, how do you believe that you have contributed to the story and its filmmaking process?
When I first read the script, I had a discussion with the writer and producers on how this should be executed and how can we make it better. We agreed that script needs few changes so it could connect better with the audience.
Since Badshah Begum is a fantastical story, we wanted to create a different world for it. Translating this kind of script onto screen, we have to carefully place the characters into the unique setting. While filming we tried to capture and present an unusual setting.
As a director how do you think everybody including the producers and actors contributed to showcasing the story for what it is?
As Badshah Begum is a different story, the one you never saw in any Pakistani drama, everyone tried hard to make it believable and relevant. From the producers who provided each and every ingredient, to the actors who brilliantly put in the flavour to make it stand out.
What was the most captivating part of this role that made you want do it?
The reason for me to do this project was mainly script of course. The character I am playing in this drama is something I have never done before which is exactly why I enjoyed doing it. I felt it’s time that I as an actor should explore other dimensions too and I can safely say I thoroughly enjoyed and you will see this in my choices of script in the future.
In this drama you are playing a very different role compared to your normal roles that you are known for such as ‘Arsal’ in Suno Chanda or more recently ‘Hamza’ in Mere Humsafar, so what about this role was the hardest to act out or what aspect took you a lot of time to perfect?
I had a great time working with the entire team specially loved Khizer’s vision as a director.
What was the most interesting part about playing the role of the ‘Bakhtiar’?
The idea of true love and emotional intimacy in its purest form. He doesn’t expect anything in return and loves unconditionally. Reminds me of Shams and Rumi and the spiritual connection they share.
When you read the script what was the most fascinating part of it that made you choose the script?
The diversity of characters and how each character, no matter how small, is crucially connected to the story line, and without which the progression of the story can’t move ahead. It’s beautifully woven and on its own an epic piece.
At first glance you are playing a seemingly normal role but what are the underlying intricacies of the role and the story?
Actually I think I am still figuring out what ‘Jahan Ara’ is. She isn’t the Girl Next Door. She has a very dark space to her interior where only she goes to find clues and bits of fairness and judgment. She believes in justice but also believes in larger decisions that undermine small mistakes. In all honesty - I am in love with who ‘Jahan Ara’ is and I am honoured to be playing her and thank Allah for giving me this opportunity.
Why do you think this drama or this story is required in our industry and society as a whole?
This drama is a fantastical story of the Land of Peerapur. Has a story that has been surfing throughout our ancestors but is to be told now. I think the society is ready to hear it.
Khizer is a visionary. He is someone who has amazing sense of framing and content. What made me connect with him was the idea of execution that I saw him abiding by during the course of our shooting. I felt like he and I were on the same creative wavelength, which made us create layers within ‘Jahan Ara’s’ character that I would not have been able to do alone. The entire credit of my work goes to Khizer and my team. For making me think different and then perform it with conviction. Sometimes there were scenes that I thought I wouldn’t look good doing - but Khizer was always adamant on me doing them with the entirety in me. I remember him saying that it’s okay to create my niche. And even if someone doesn’t like it, it’s okay. Because then when a grey character comes into being again, they will remember me for that niche and not for the mass normal girl next door. He asked me to take that risk while he said he was taking one too. And that’s what got me going. I would also like to thank my makeup artist Shaheen for standing by my side in all sides of ‘Jahan Ara’, Badshah Begum and Zara Noor Abbas.
What was the toughest part about playing such an eccentric role and what aspect was the hardest to act out?
The toughest part was basically whenever you play a character you have to believe in the same things they believe in and when it's a negative character very much like the one I played. All the things he did and believed in I also had to believe in them and all the wrongs he committed I had to ignore because that was a part of the character and what he believed in. So it's almost like a war between yourself and the character and if you are not able to feel what your character feels then it won't be portrayed well on screen. The screen catches lies very easily so that was the toughest thing that I had to deal with.
What made you choose this role and this drama?
The thing is Rafay Rashdi offered this drama to me six years ago but at that time it could not go ahead due to circumstances. Now that it was possible for it to be produced, I was offered the role once again and I couldn't say no because it is beautifully written by Saji Gul and I am also a really big fan of director Khizer Idrees’ work. Frankly, I have never said no to Rafay so these were the reasons that pushed me into doing this role.
INTERVIEW: UMAMAH ASIF BURNEYPHOTO ASSISTANT: AHSAN JAMALIPHOTOSHOP: SM BILALMEN’S STYLING: SAAD SAROSHMUA (YASIR): QASIM GHAURIMUA (MOMINA): IRUM KHANMUA & GROOMING (RAFAY, KHIZER, FARHAN, ALI & ZARA): SHAHEEN HUSSEINLOCATION: RAFAY RASHIDI HOUSE, KARACHIOUTFIT (ZARA): AMNA ARSHADOUTFIT (YASIR): MOHTARAMOUTFIT (KHIZER): ISMAIL FARIDOUTFIT (RAFAY): ABDUL SAMADOUTFIT (ALI): MUNIB NAWAZSHOES (FARHAN, ALI, & KHIZER): Tsm&CoJEWELLERY: GEMME GEMS