IN CONVERSATION WITH SOHAIL AHMED, WORKING ACROSS THE BORDER
It’s always a pleasure when we see actors from two nations (India and Pakistan) come together for the sake of love and entertainment, especially after a hiatus of a few years. We spoke to Sohail Ahmed regarding his latest Indian Punjabi movie ‘Babe Bhangra Paunde Ne’ with the biggest names of the Punjabi world; Diljit Dosanjh and Saugun Mehta. The movie is family-friendly, it’s funny and you’ll roll over the floor laughing yet no one knows about it in Pakistan due to almost no promotions in our country.
Dive right into the interview with Sohail Ahmed and find out what he had to say about his new movie, what makes Pakistan and India, the same and much more…
Landing into an Indian Punjabi Movie:
I’ve been contacted that there is a film. I used to get a lot of offers from across the border, but I wanted to do a film with Diljit only and I succeeded. My second idea which failed was that after the film, I wanted to live with them for the rest of my life (laughs). I really loved working there, a lot of ideas were born, and I’ve seen them perform as natural as they could, I really loved it.
First interaction with Diljit Dosanjh:
I saw him in a mask and black sunglasses, and I couldn’t recognise him as I’ve always seen him in movies, my manager told me that he was Diljit. I always wondered how he was as a person and I was happy that just like his work, he was a very good person inside and out.
His favourite country:
New Zealand is the most beautiful country in the world. I used to think Switzerland was the most beautiful but since I saw New Zealand, I changed my mind. What I loved there is that it is free from snakes, maybe they didn’t get any visa (laughs).
Politics and Mimicry:
There is a difference between making fun of something and making fun out of something, if you don’t cross that line, no one minds it. Obviously, in comedy, there is a mimicry of celebrities and in America, it starts with their president. So, take care of the line and no one minds it.
Diljit as an actor or a singer?
To be honest, I used to listen to his songs, and when I saw his work, it was difficult for me to take a decision if he was a better singer or an actor because he’s exceptional in both. The way he brought modernity to Punjabi music, is his biggest achievement. I respect them a lot for spreading my mother tongue to the whole world.
His views on Sargun Mehta:
Our heroines mostly say ‘mai ja rahe hon’, but Sargun never said anything like this. She spent a lot of time on set giving the director enough time to do his best.
Punjabi as a language barrier:
Punjabi is my mother tongue and it’s in my blood. I even speak Urdu in a Punjabi dialect, so it (film) wasn’t something strange to me with respect to language. People usually misunderstand that Punjabi is the language of violence but they’re wrong. It’s the language of old people and it's very pious. This language is beautifully portrayed along with comedy in this movie.
Working with Indian actors and producers:
During the making of the film, all the artists gave their best and worked with their hearts. Just like this, during production, Diljit also worked with his heart. Whenever the director needs any location, he helped him avail it and since we’re from a third world country, we couldn’t even think about going to the parliament, or governor's house for a shoot. Everything was availed according to the need of the director for the situation. Everyone tried to adopt their character and I couldn’t feel the difference if they were acting or just talking casually, their acting is this natural.
Script of BBPN:
The script is very well written. That’s the main difference between Diljit Dosanjh and other Punjabi filmmakers; he focuses on the story and brings new ideas and thoughts into the film and has always been successful. That’s the reason I said yes because I knew him and his handwork. If I didn’t have any restrictions, I would be doing each and every film of Diljit g.
India and Pakistan rivalry:
I am always in a mood to learn new things, fixing mistakes is life and I love those people with whom we realise our mistakes. You correct yourself while sitting with them. While performing, everything goes behind; when you get in a costume, you enjoy the feel, not think about Pakistan and India rivalry.
We always hear that we should do what the public like and wants. Actually, I am totally against it, as the public wants a lot of other things too which you can’t show on the screen. I like and respect that director who does what he likes and makes it that good that people love it. This formula will be seen in the movie ‘Babe bhangra Paunde ne’ as well. Making your work which can be seen by everyone in the family is the real thing. You should display your film like this so people love it.
Most favourite about BBPN:
Our film ‘babe bhangra paunde ne’ is based on the most current and important issue right now which is being discussed. A few years ago, everyone used to plan out everything till death. But now, everyone is opting for shortcuts. In this film, we are portraying that getting money and being rich from shortcuts is not the right thing. We should follow and cover every step to meet our destination. The movie is based on this and is also my advice. I am a father myself and I believe that this relationship is pure, and I tried to portray here too that we should love old people without expecting anything in return.
My character is based on a ‘baba’, and my only thing was to do ‘bhangra’, at every song, I used to do ‘bhangra’ even sleeping at night.
PHOTOS AND COORDINATION: SAHAR IQBAL