Exclusive: Meet the Cast of 'Rangreza'
With good-looking Bilal Ashraf as the movie’s rock star hero; Urwa Hocane as the sweet, innocent lead; model Alyzeh Gabol and actress Ghana Ali as additional female interests; and last but not least, the talented Gohar Rasheed as the evil villian — the film promises to perambulate between action, drama and romance with pizzaz. It also showcases a wellknown ensemble cast including Seemi Pasha, Imran Peerzada, Akbar Subhani and Saleem Mairaj. Settle in for some trivia from the lead cast as they share their thoughts and experiences from the set.
Tell us a little about your role in your upcoming movie Rangreza. What inspired you to take up this role?
The name of the character is Waseem and he addresses himself as Waseem Wallay, a dholak player in a qawwal band. He comes from a classical music background and character has many shades to it just like any of us. I was petrified when the film’s writer Akhtar Qayyum narrated this story to me,
and especially the character of Waseem. I almost rejected the role for being too demanding. The writer and director showed a lot of trust and faith in me and assured me that I could pull it off. When someone shows that kind of trust, one feels a certain responsibility which one must fulfill. A couple of workshops with the writer and the director helped to shape up my character.
How was your experience working with the cast and crew of Rangreza?
I am choosy when it comes to collaborating with other actors. I want the right energy. I am very demanding that’s why I like to work with like-minded people, with positive energy and who understand their craft or at least are willing to understand it. I really can’t work with people who come with the ‘we know it all’ baggage! You have to be willing to learn something new. I think I was so lucky in a way that I got to collaborate with rich creative people like Bilal Ashraf, Saleem Mairaj, Shahid Naqvi, Tanveer Jamal, Saba Faisal, Ghana Ali, Alyzeh Gabol, Akbar Subhani who is a veteran actor, and Urwa Hocane. Trust me they have helped me so much with my character, and all of them were really positive and very helpful. By the end of the film the whole crew became like family and reason we all became so close was because of the producer of the film. I am very emotionally connected to this film and it’s very close to my heart.
In a very small period of time you have become one of the finest and versatile actors we have right now. How does it feel?
I am overwhelmed, utterly grateful and humbled.
You have worked in theatre, drama and films. What has been your favourite medium?
Any day, theatre.
Which has so far been the most challenging character for you?
So far, Waseem has been the most challenging character of my career — I had to step out of my comfort zone and train vigorously as a dholak player; I had to gain weight, grow my hair to a certain length, keep a mustache to look the part, and practice a certain dialect, none of which was easy.
You are also stepping into the field of production with your next project. What is the experience like so far?
I’ll cross that bridge once I come to it.
Which actor/actress would you love to work with from the industry whom you have not yet shared screen space with?
Is there any character you think you could have done better or would have loved to do?
Fahad Mustafa in Actor in-Law.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t worry too much, it’s only going to get harder.
Are you currently following any TV shows? Tell us your favourite ones?
I have just got my hands on American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson and I am hooked.
What’s your style statement like? Who do you think is the best dressed man in our industry?
Edgy. I am confident enough to try it all. I personally think our industry needs to stop playing safe, so I don’t look up to anyone.
How would you describe yourself in one word?
What is your role in the movie Rangreza?
It is a guest appearance and I can’t reveal much but I am sure the audience will love the twist, so you must go and watch the film.
Who was your favourite co-worker to work with and why?
The whole team is amazing but I loved how Seemi Pasha helped me throughout and gave me some amazing tips. Also Ehtishamuddin sahib who is playing my father’s role has been a great support.
Tell us your about your favourite moment while filming this movie?
On set fun for sure, especially the all nighters.
What were the challenges you faced while filming the movie?
Being a model, acting in front of such senior and talented artists was a challenge.
Where do see yourself five years from now?
On your cinema screens! (winks)
Describe Alyzeh Gabol in three words?
Humble, tolerant and a hopeless romantic.
Who brought you to Rangreza?
Urwa Hocane encouraged me to join the project and really pushed me to go through with it.
Did you meet some of your cast mates the first time on this project?
Yes, at least, all the senior artists I met for the first time on set, and was duly amazed at how humble they were and how they welcomed me with open arms.
What are some beauty essentials that you brought to the set?
My makeup bag for sure!
Describe your experience while shooting Rangreza in five words? How was it compared to other films you have worked on in the past?
It was exciting, amazing, thrilling, refreshing. I don’t think five words would be fair or enough to explain my journey. I think it’s a beautiful journey and I have learnt so much and made such good friends during the making of this film. Rangreza is very different compared to other films I have done in the past because I play the role of a musician. In Janaan, I was playing a one-dimensional character, the role of a Pathan boy who had never left Swat. In Yalgaar, I was a Commando and there was a lot of physical activity. Rangreza is performance-based; concerts, singing, recording in a studio. I also had to carry a certain kind of persona, which I worked very hard on with my director and tried to portray in the best possible way. There’s a lot of hard work that went into this film — I don’t think I have ever worked this hard, so I hope everyone likes it.
Does music have a large influence in your day-today life and work?
Music definitely influences my life. In fact, I wake up and sleep to music. I think music is avery important part of all of our lives. Consciously and subconsciously, it is always around us,whether we’re in the car or in a restaurant, or even the gym.
Describe your acting style?
I’m not too sure about my acting style, however,I believe a lot of depends on the director who can literally make or break you. I try to get into the character’s mind and my acting style is more like method acting; you become that person, you wear what they would wear, eat what they eat. It’s not just about coming on set and playing a role, but you become that person for the time you are shooting and I have learnt this while working on Rangreza. I have seen a lot of good actors do so — Gohar Rasheed is a prime example, I think he is still living the character of Waseem.
Have you made any extreme changes to your appearance or personality e.g. hair, bodyweight etc. for any projects you’ve worked on? If not, is it something you would be open to do?
I pay very close attention to my characters, I was personally involved in the wardrobe for my character in Janaan. In Yalgaar, I brought myself
down to nine per cent body fat. It was a never-ending and lengthy project where it was tough to maintain that appearance. My aim is to always
look different in every project and I always carry a separate look — you will find that Rangreza visits a variety of looks.
In your opinion, is there something the film industry should work on more or less?
The film industry needs to support each other. Instead of pulling each other’s leg and being overly critical, channels and big producers need to come together. The world is a massive place with a lot of potential to explore and Pakistan can definitely stand on its own in world cinema. However, it is very important for the producers to be aligned and not compete. Competition is healthy, but when you have a well-developed industry; like my producer Munir Hussain said in his speech at the Rangreza trailer launch: “All films target Eid, films should not be Eid-centric they should have good content. That is what filmmakers and producers need to focus on, so a film can stand its ground on any date. A good film will do that regardless, Eid or no Eid.’
Do you have any favourite cast members or characters from the film Rangreza?
Most definitely. One of my favourite characters from Rangreza is Akbar Subhani, he is a legend; Saleem Mairaj is brilliant, a great actor; of course my dear friend Gohar Rasheed has portrayed the character of Waseem very well. In fact, the script is written from Waseem’s perspective and a lot of people don’t know that!
Tell us about two things you’ve learnt from your experience in working on Rangreza?
I learnt from my director, my DOP especially, and the producer Munir Hussain. These three taught me to not give up and keep attempting to be better. Ever so often, the DOP would ask to retake a shot, say we should do it again and shoot from a different angle — nine times out of ten, that angle would be the best so far. This experience has been all about learning together, growing together and not giving up.
In which area would you like to improve as an actor?
I would like to grow in all facets. I don’t want to limit myself to one particular aspect — acting is a field where you are always learn and try different approaches, for example, emotional or angry scenes require a certain discipline and can have multiple approaches. As an actor I would like to grow since there is always room for improvement.
If you could create the next character you play, what and who would it be like?
I would love to play the character of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, a role done fabulously by Christian Bale.
What kind of acting role/character would you never like to play?
Any role that goes against my country or shows it in a negative light, is something I would never do.
What inspired you to be a part of Rangreza and why?
The script of Rangreza written by Akhtar Qayyum; the director, the DOP and their passion; the co-actors, especially acting alongside Gohar Rasheed, who is a very dear friend of mine. Working with friends is always fun and we’ve all been a great team together.
Television or film: which is your favourite medium and why?
It’s really difficult for me to choose one. Television is close to my heart as I started my journey with it and it will always be special to me but after Rangreza, which is my debut movie, I do feel I’m ready to take the next step and move towards cinema. I am open to discussing and potentially accepting roles that gives me the challenge I’m looking for and the characters that gives me the room to perform to the best on my ability.
One of the most important things you learnt while shooting Rangreza?
Since Rangreza is your debut film, how is the experience different from shooting for TV series?
The experience of working in a movie is massively different to shooting for a TV series. There is a lot more detail involved, it’s a much bigger team and because of that, things becomes trickier. It also takes longer to shoot and complete the project due to the different commitments of the other cast. Overall I did enjoy every bit of working for Rangreza.
How was it working with such an impressive star-studded cast on this project?
Really good. Bilal, Gohar and Urwa all are very nice and it was great working with them and I learnt a great deal. I was pleasantly surprised to see how down-to earth Gohar and Bilal are. They all have tried their best to make me feel comfortable and welcome.
Tell us if there is any other work you do, besides acting?
Acting is a full-time job. I live and breathe acting. I have adopted acting as a conscious career choice and I don’t think I can would ever even think about doing anything else.
Describe Rangreza in three words?
Family, patience and hardwork!
What inspired you to choose Rangreza as a project? Was it the script, the story or the cast?
The decision was solely based on the script. It was also a brilliant chance for me to test the waters ofworking on the big-screen. I absolutely loved the experience and I am now open to working for films provided my character is challenging and gives me margin to perform.
Who did you enjoy working with the most and why?
I enjoyed working with everyone. Would be unfair to say it was someone in particular as everyone was great in their own way.
What, in your opinion, makes you stand apart all other professionals in this industry?
Everyone is different. We are all unique in our own ways. It would be unfair of me to say I’m different from the rest of them. We are all passionate about what we do that is why we are here in this industry. All I know is, I could not survive as an actress if acting wasn’t my passion. I live to act!
What other projects are you working on other than Rangreza?
There are a few things in the pipeline. I guess you’ll have to wait until everything is confirmed and I am ready to talk about it.
Interviews: H! Pakistan
Photography: The Rohail
Hair, makeup & grooming: Saba Ansari at Sabs
Styling: Tehmina Khaled, Take II PR
Coordination: Umer Mushtaq
Wardrobe: Hassan Shehryar Yasin (HSY)