With the forthcoming film ‘Rangreza’ set to release on 21st December, BizAsiaLive.com caught up with Gohar Rasheed, Bilal Ashraf, and Urwa Hocane to talk about the film, the director Amir Mohiuddin and more.
Welcome to London, despite the cold how are you liking the city?
Gohar: Even the cold I’m loving it. We’re loving it. I really love this weather.
Urwa: Yes We’re loving it. We’re really enjoying it. It’s so beautiful right now.
Bilal: We’re loving it. It’s so nice.
The story of ‘Rangreza’ is, of course, a love triangle, and from the trailers, it looks like an extremely intense film where all your characters seem to have shades of grey. From this what can you tell us about your characters?
Bilal: Yes, 100 shades of grey (laughs). Yes so ‘Rangreza’, my character’s name is Ali Zain, who’s a pop/rockstar in the film, and he is extremely, intricately connected with both the characters Waseen Walley, Reshmi and a lot of other characters. It’s like a building block, I think each and every character, big or small, is important in ‘Rangreza’. If you literally pull out one character then the whole building’s going to collapse. So you will see that. Every character has a lot of layers, my character has a lot of layers. There’s romance, action, drama, comedy, and to top it all, great music.
Urwa: So my character is Reshmi, and she’s a beautiful girl at heart. She really understands music very differently, and that is what connects us all in the film. I say she’s got these really strong family values which she holds on to, no matter what she has to deal with in life. It’s a lovely character and has a lot of layers like he (pointing to Bilal) said earlier, which obviously reveal in the film. And the film has some maxing music, some amazing chemistry for everybody to look forward to, and some great acting. So…
Gohar: It’s a good combination.
Urwa: It’s a good combination, yes.
Gohar: My character’s name is Waseem Walley and he’s a percussionist in the film. To be precise he’s a dholak player in a Qawwal band. Just like every one of us, we go through our emotions and we have our own way of dealing with our emotion, he has a different way of dealing with his emotions (everybody laughs). You might agree or disagree, but he has a little bit of an edge which we will get to see on 21st December.
The film is based around music and all your characters have their own musical personalities. What kind of training did you have to do to get into the crux of that part of your characters?
Urwa: I think we all learned together, throughout the process, through the journey I think learning from each other as well and, yes we did get to know music a lot more through this journey obviously. This is probably the first musical film for all of us that we’re doing, that we are so closely connected to music and we’re talking and understanding music in the film as well. So yes we did go through a lot of learning. I mean you can’t specifically name things, but it was the entire process that kind of enriched us overall. Our director had this vision of the entire thing, so we’re just paying the character’s that he and our writer had in mind. So we’re just those characters that we have become.
Gohar: Yes, but like adding on to this I would say since my character; Waseem Walley, he’s not a singer he’s a percussionist like I said, he’s a dholak player. So that’s his trait, that’s his characteristic. So for that, I had to go through certain training on knowing what the instrument is. Otherwise you now I really can’t make a connection with him (laughs). So for a good 3 months Akthar Qayyum who’s the writer of the film and Amir Mohiuddin (director), we went… because for a percussionist you don’t have that much of preferences, so for that, we actually went to the Qawwal Gali which is a Qawwal street in Karachi. So we went there, went through the training, met a couple of percussionists over there and dholak players, and learned for a good one month the basics of it, and then applied it with the character of the film. So, yes, there was a lot of training of how to play dholak and learning a certain dialect of how to do it.
So now if anyone asks, you can say you know how to play it like a professional?
Gohar: (Laughs) Like the basics I can play, like very very basic (laughs).
What was it like working with director Amir Mohiuddin?
Bilal: The director Amir, I think a very talented new addition to our Pakistan film industry and one to watch out for. The best thing about Amir is that he lets you grow and gives you space, and listens to you.
Urwa: He’s open to suggestions and ideas.
Bilal: There are some directors who are very rigid in their mind and they just want their work or their shot in a particular way, but with Amir he would take his shot in a certain way, but if you know Urwa, Gohaar, or I or anyone else wanted to change the scenes or add things, he was very open which is very phenomenal. And that really shows a lot of team-work, and it makes anything to make the product better. So having a director like that is a blessing and he’s extremely talented and it’s gelled with Usman Milkani who’s the DOP. He was fantastic because obviously, they both go hand in hand, you know one has the ideas and the other has the eyes. So it’s a great team.
It seems as though you all had a blast working on this film. Going back to your roles, how could you or could you not relate to your characters that the audiences may pick up on?
Urwa: I didn’t feel there was anything in the entire script that people can not relate to. I think there is some beautiful portrayal of emotions and you get to know emotions a lot more in the film. And obviously everybody can connect with those basic human emotions, but as far as the characters are concerned, yes they are all of these different people that you’ll get to know on screen and we also got to know them and then played them. You know we got to know the characters and enjoyed playing them as well, but I didn’t find anything as such that we did not agree to, or anybody wouldn’t agree to, or maybe in anybody else’s character that I wouldn’t agree to.
Bilal: And I think the beauty of ‘Rangreza’ is that it’s not just a film on Pakistan. It’s for everyone, it’s for the South East Asian community, it’s for Indians, Bangladeshis, foreigners because the characters are really relatable. And the content is very strong, the language is love and music which is universal.
Keeping with the music, it seems that’s a whole other character in itself, and the soundtrack is wonderful. Do you have a favorite song?
Urwa: Mine is ‘Phool Khil Jaayein’ the one Abidaji (Parveen) and Asrar saab have sung.
Gohar: Well I would say ‘Phool Khil Jaayein’ and ‘Bulleya’, these are the two songs that we understood that are on the top for number one. So (turns to Urwa) uske illava? (other than those? In dono ke illava tum kaum sa favorite hai? (Apart from those two which is your favorite)
Urwa: In dono ka illava? (apart from those two?)
Gohar: ‘Bulleya’ aur ‘Phool Khil Jaayein’ ka illava. You know yeh sab ka favourite hai. (Apart from ‘Bulleya’ and ‘Phool Khil Jaayein’. You know they’re everyone’s favourite.)
Urwa: Acha mein batati hoon. Mere favourite gana jisme Gohar hai….(Everybody laughs)
Gohar: Nahi (Everyone laughs).
Bilal: My favourite is a slow version of ‘Rangreza’. It’s an acoustic version, a slow version which you’ll only find in the film, that is now my favourite, apart from the obvious ones.
Urwa: I mean they’re all really nice.
Gohar & Bilal: Yes, that’s true.
Urwa: You can’t really decide which one’s your favourite.
Bilal: The best part is that we’re not sick of it. Imagine we must have heard it more than anyone else in the world, and still we still listen to it.
Gohar: Yeh that’s true. In one day we get to hear these songs minimum, minimum 10-12 times and we don’t get sick of it.
Urwa: And we enjoy it every time. Because Asrar has been there with us on this promotion. We get t hear it live.
Gohar: He’s been brilliant.
Bilal: Yeh it’s all different, there’s rock, pop, Sufi.
Urwa: I’d just like to add, that all the songs are not just there for the sake of songs. They tell you a lot about the characters, a lot about the story, and then they bring the story forward, so they have a lot of meaning to them.
Finally, what message would you like to give to your audiences about the ‘Rangreza’?
Gohar: With all the humbleness and gratitude I would like to say, after the trailer launch we have received a lot of love, a lot of appreciation so, first of all, thank you so much for that. Then on the 21st December, I personally think that you will be surprised pleasantly Inshallah, and on the 21st December you’ll get to see a different side, a bright, positive, culturally rich side of Pakistan with ‘Rangreza’, so do go and watch this film.