Interview with Sheheryar Munawar

Today, I’m bringing you a fun little interview with Sheheryar Munawar, star of the Pakistani film 7 Din Mohabbat In. 7 Din Mohabbat In is a hilarious romantic tale about a young man’s quest to find his true love in a crowded Karachi neighborhood, and the obstacles, both spiritual and physical, that he must overcome in order to achieve his goals. It released worldwide on Friday and I thought it was a really fun family film. I was lucky enough to be able to interview the main star ahead of the film’s release.

How different was it for you working on Ho Mann Jahaan and now on 7 Din Mohabbat In?

It was very different altogether because the genres, characters and roles are completely different. The methods that the director has used is also completely different. For Ho Mann Jahaan, Asim is the sort of director who believes in a lot of homework so there were a lot of dance rehearsals, acting coaches, acting classes, voice training that all of us went through. For a month, we were locked in one house and we were interacting with each other so whether we liked it or not, we knew everything about each other. With 7 Din Mohabbat In, it was more conventional as we had individual rehearsals and we got to see each other on set. The best part was that Mahira and I are friends so we were in touch off screen as well so that’s how we used to interact beforehand and decide and think of ideas to bounce off each other. Comparing the two films would be very difficult because they are polar opposites even in terms of genres.

Do you believe that the comedy genre is underappreciated? 

No, I think comedy is a genre that does well internationally. I think it’s the most appreciated genre and for good reason because it’s also a very difficult genre to get right.

Why do you think Pakistani cinema isn’t as popular as television? How can you change that? 

It’s because television as a medium has been out there for years now so everybody working on television has understood how to do their job over trial and error through years and years of trying. Pakistani cinema is something that is an infant as an industry. We’re still trying to find our balance as we go along and if you compare things that have come out in the past to what is coming out now, technically we have improved so much. There has been a drastic improvement in the craft and in the response that we are getting from the audience. So I feel like right now, it will be difficult to compare the two because it will be unfair to cinema as an industry but I think in the near future, you will see it sort of picking up, like it has in the past. All I can do for cinema is keep my professionalism and my work ethic because I think those are two things that will make sure that Pakistani cinema goes a long way.

How does it feel for you to interact with fans? 

I find it very overwhelming. I’m a bit of an introvert as a person, generally so it’s usually very overwhelming for me. I’ve been very lucky, I’ve gotten a lot of love from people so when I meet fans, I’m generally very overwhelmed so I feel just as overwhelmed as the fans are meeting me so I think it’s a similar situation for us both.

When you agreed to do this film, what about it piqued your interest? Did you have any worries or concerns when you agreed to it? 

For me, the script is very interesting. Initially, the first time when I was doing the reading, what I found interesting was the fact that both Tipu and Neeli’s characters have a thread of reality to them in terms of their problems that I feel like a lot of Pakistani boys face Tipu’s problems and Neeli’s problems are what every Pakistani girl faces in the masses. Using that thread of reality, it was layered with comedy and obviously a little bit of fantasy. It’s a little larger than life but the thread of reality never leaves. So that’s what really excited me, that this is something that I’m sure a lot of people will relate to. They will relate to the core of the story. What really excited me also was that it was also a sort of coming of age of my character rather than just being a mindless comedy. His values and morals get tested and he becomes more of a man towards the end once he realises what’s right and wrong. So I felt like it was very layered at multiple levels so I felt like people who just wanted to come in and get an entertainer, they will get an entertainer and some people who want to take back a message, will take back a message and that’s what excited me. The only concern I had going into a genre like this was would the humour be cringeworthy and I think after reading the script for the first time, I was relaxted because there wasn’t any such moment which I would find cringeworthy in terms of the comedy. There’s no below the belt humour.

Do you have plans to go back to TV any time soon? 

Yes, absolutely. I haven’t written it off as a medium, I would love to do something on television. I think that it’s a very successful and important medium that we’ve been recognised for. It’s just that I’m waiting for the right script and the right project. I would want to do something  on television right after my next project.

What are your thoughts on the success of Cake and how that will affect Pakistani cinema?

Cake has done wonderfully well with critics. Both the director and the film have won awards internationally but unfortunately, it hasn’t done too well at the box office. I think that is  concern that has been there constantly with films like Cake and even before that a film like Moor which got mixed reviews from critics but yet again, it didn’t do anything at the box office. I think that is something we do need to tackle, maybe we need to come up with a more cost effective way of doing films like that because these are the kind of films that also get us praise as well, internationally and locally and get people excited about cinema again but maybe we need to work out a better kind of feasibility for films like this so that film makers like Asim Abbassi from Cake get encouraged to make such films. As an actor, when I saw the film, I was excited  about the fact that maybe the actors got a lot to play with on a film like that. It will affect the industry in a way because actors will be more open to scripts like that. I just hope that producers are more open to scripts like that.

Be sure to check out 7 Din Mohabbat In in cinema whilst you still can!

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