Shahzad Gul is a shrewd producer. Having been into the film business for the last about 25 years, and still going on, he ought to be one.

By Usman Ghafoor (CONTRIBUTOR)

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Published: Thu 3 Jun 2004, 5:54 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:47 AM

Add to it his glorious film pedigree - his father, late Agha G.A.Gul was one of the strongest pillars of Lollywood and the founder-proprietor of the country's largest film studio, Evernew Studios - and you know why Gul junior enjoys the kind of clout he does. Besides, his brother, Sajjad, is into event management and television productions. Together the siblings hold the fort most efficiently. No wonder when Shahzad announces a film, it becomes fodder for all tabloids and film journos. This time around, he is on his way to making a little history by being the only producer in Lollywood who is taking as long as two years solely on the script of his film. No pun intended, but Lollywoodwallas don't have a record of giving so much time and importance to their scripts.

In an exclusive meeting with City Times, Shahzad declared that for his next film, titled Imaan, he had employed a number of writers and that "The script of the film has been with me for the past over two years now - I am writing and re-writing it all the time."

Shahzad has mostly been like that. He makes films at his own pace - one film at a time, maximum. But, whereas lady luck has generally been kind to him, his last movie, Chalo Ishq Larraen (2002) delivered a turkey at the box office, earning him brickbats and criticism from all quarters of the media and even the film industry.

Chalo... is an embarrassment Shahzad is still reeling from. Interestingly, it is also an experience Shahzad admits to have learnt the most from, "I know it was a bad script, I've learnt my lesson."

It is with this newly acquired sensitivity of his that Shahzad set out to re-write Imaan's script for, hold your breath, "the seventh time!"

"Actually, it began as an anti-India concept," he went on to explain, "But, as the relations between the two countries became better, our script needed to be written all over again. Today, we are close to making the first Lollywood film that actually preaches Indo-Pak friendship."

"For instance, there was a scene in which our heroine (named Imaan) slapped an Indian army man because he tried to get fresh with her. We thought we could change that to her shaking off his hand. Why make it seem so loud."

When asked whether he was risking the essential Islamic content of Imaan by making drastic changes, Shahzad immediately said, "No way. No change whatsoever is going to affect the theme of our film, which is essentially religious. Hence, its title, Imaan (meaning 'Faith')."

"There are no vulgar or double-meaning jokes and dialogues in the film. Even our dances will not be indecent or suggestive by any standard. I am making Imaan as a clean and family film."

One can trust him there, since Shahzad has usually avoided obscenity and vulgarity in his films, "You see, when we were shooting the songs of Ghar Kab Aao Ge with Saroj Khan in Manila, she suggested certain shots that I personally thought would not go down well with our audience. So, I told her to change them."

However, Shahzad looks forward to working with the top-league choreographer of Bollywood yet again in Imaan, "I intend to shoot two songs of my film in India, for which I hope to work with Sarojji again. Otherwise, I have an option. I am thinking of requesting Mahesh Bhatt to arrange some assistant director from his team who can shoot these songs for us."

Part of Shahzad's strategy is goaded by the fact that his "prospective heroine", Meera is already in India, shooting with the Mahesh Bhatt crew.

"I haven't finalised her yet, and my fear is that Meera might look a little aged. Otherwise I think she suits us the best."

As for the leading man of his film, Shahzad said, "No one else but Shan. I am very fond of him. I think he is a very intense actor."

Discussing his shoot in India, he said, "Actually, I am very fascinated with the grandeur of Rajasthan, its havelis, the turbans and qulas of its people. I don't think I can recreate that magic here in the studios."

It may be mentioned here that his music director, Amjad Bobby is presently in India, where he is recording the songs of Imaan.

Shahzad is all gearing up for "Selective release in India." In order to ensure his film's commercial viability across the border, he hinted at the possibility of creating two versions of Imaan: "One for the Pakistani audience, and the other for the Indian."

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