Reality byte: Lollywood Idol

A BRIGHTLY LIT stage, three judges and a bevy of hopefuls competing for their shot at fame, sounds familiar doesn’t it?

By David Light

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Published: Tue 21 Jul 2009, 10:09 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:32 PM

Well if you’re an avid viewer of TV in Lahore or Karachi it won’t be. Hero Banay Ke Tarang is the first reality talent show to air in Pakistan, yet refreshingly doesn’t depict the journey of the next wannabe Madonna or Bon Jovi. Instead of hopefuls displaying just their singing talents, Hero focuses on male actors trying to make it into the film industry and become Lollywood’s equivalent to Shah Rukh Khan or Hrithik Roshan.

Throughout their time on the show, the amateur thespians not only try to win over the public vote but have to impress the panel of three judges: film actor Rambo, director Syed Noor and legendary actress Resham, for a chance to take home the most elusive of prizes in show business; a film contract.

Resham is an actress of almost 20 years standing. Her spots in TV dramas led to her first starring role in 1995’s Jeeva. Since then Resham has appeared in just under 30 films but maintains her ties with television in both dramatic roles and now as a judge on Hero. Resham’s success in the Pakistani film industry is unparalleled in recent years, which is one of the reasons she was chosen as an authoritative voice to judge aspiring talent.

We spoke to Resham about the show taking the airwaves by storm and life in the film industry.

How does it feel being the only female judge on Pakistan’s biggest reality TV show? Please tell us how you got involved?

Firstly, I liked the idea of this reality show and I am glad to be associated with it as the only heroine who is going to select the next hero for our industry. Our film industry is known for its glamorous heroines but when we look at our heroes there is not much to bank on. Secondly, it’s an honour for me to be sitting next to Syed Noor as one of the judges as he introduced me into the industry. All in all I feel this is something really big and unique happening and God willing, with everyone’s hard work and dedication, we should be able to find our next hero.

When we asked the producers of this show as to why you were selected they told us that: ‘In Resham we have the perfect blend of poetry and intelligence.’ What do you have to say about this?

It’s true that poetry is my passion and a habit now. In fact I am quite impressed that the Kontent Head (production company) people knew so much about me before they spoke to me regarding my role in the show. I have always been an ardent fan of Parveen Shakir, which eventually helped me develop a certain style of speaking that includes poetry at times. Being from Faisalabad I had a problem in delivering eloquent speech as far as Urdu is concerned. Poetry helped me improve my delivery in Urdu and shape my overall personality.

As far as this reality show is concerned I am a judge who is looking for a hero from a heroine’s point of view, which is romantic. This requires a certain level of intelligence and natural flair to analyse. It’s a big responsibility and I am happy to know that the producers thought of me that way.

What are you looking for in a hero?

If you are asking for an image of a hero then I am looking for Waheed Murad. In my opinion Pakistan has never seen a following as big as that of Waheed. He was and is the complete hero. The first hero whose hairstyles, clothes and everything were keenly copied by the general public. In fact I have heard that in those days cinemas started doing morning shows for college girls because there was a big demand to go watch Waheed Murad. He truly was our ‘chocolate hero.’

Sadly in our time, while we have good actors, I don’t see them being followed as hysterically as Waheed was. But having said that I also feel that a hero has to have a complete package which means that when he does romantic scenes the audience feels the love, when he fights the audience gets charged up, when he does comedy the audience break into laughter and when he cries the public also cries with him. To me that is what a hero is all about.

How would you rate the heroes who are currently in the industry?

Today I rate Shaan as the number one man, Moammar (Rana) second and Babar Ali as number three, but sadly none of these boys had the opportunities that were available in the time of Waheed. So while they are very good actors, somehow there is no visible following out there for them as compared to Waheed, Mohd Ali and Nadeem. In my opinion they are not to be blamed because it is the fault of our filmmakers who chose to make a wave of violent and semi-explicit films hence limiting actors’ potential. But on the other hand, when one thinks of it, we had the choice of not doing these films but we still did them. Even I did them and I accept the blame too. A film has to be for the whole family and sadly we did not get such projects in our time, which is why our images and art suffered.

You are known for your chic style and glamour. Should the viewers expect to see you this way when on Hero?

You will be surprised to know that these days I’m devoid of glamour because of my television projects. All the serials that are on air or I am doing have me playing realistic characters, none of which are glamorous or dolled up. Therefore in this reality show, which is giving me an opportunity to be a film heroine, I am delighted to return back to my glamorous role. I have a complete team working to stylise me. The audience will see me wearing different designers and makeup according to the requirements of the show. To be honest, I want to be seen as glamorous and followed by my audience; to be appreciated by them for my style.

A vast majority of the younger generation of Pakistani filmgoers do not look up to Pakistani heroes. It is fair to say Bollywood inspires them. Isn’t this the biggest challenge you face today?

There is a perfectly valid reason for this. There is no match with India as far as cinema is concerned. It’s because they improved their industry as a whole. Sadly we took a reverse gear in spite of having a golden era and today we are paying the price with the industry being virtually erased from the minds of our current generation. While we have good actors like Shaan, we do not have an industry that is progressive and growing like India or an industry that would make as big an impact as Bollywood.

Having said that we must not get disheartened. There is no dearth of talent in Pakistan and you will see from the show that people from all walks of life still have a desire to be part of the film industry here. I have great hopes from this reality show because it has united us under one platform with the cause of finding a new hero for our film industry and God willing we will find one.

Usually in television these shows are slightly fixed or manipulated to ensure a certain level of performance and tension. Do you agree?

I not only have complete faith in the production team but I salute Kontent Head Productions for thinking about the Pakistan Film Industry at a time when it is nonexistent or at a time when they could have easily done any other format like dance and singing. When they explained this format to me, which is all about giving people a real chance to compete on an even level, I was also of the opinion that it should be real because a hero is born and if he is out there then this show is the platform for him to participate. We must not select a person who is not an actor or someone who is a planted professional actor. You can’t fool people as the truth will come out. Not all reality shows succeed with viewers. Therefore I am all for reality and honesty is the way forward.

What is your message to the contestants of this show?

As it is there is hardly any cinema happening in our country and one of the reason for that is our industry is devoid of new blood. When I started my career I was an extra for only Rs300 (around Dhs30). But I did not think for a second that I came here to become a heroine as for me it was enough to get whatever opportunity which was available out there. Thank God it got me noticed and I slowly graduated into smaller roles and got a chance to become a model. So my story itself is that of someone who climbed the ladder step by step and this is my message to the contestants. Please take this show as an opportunity of a lifetime because you are getting what we didn’t get.

(Inputs by Asim Qureshi)

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