With the clock striking eight at night, the streets of major Pakistani cities wear a deserted look. Devotedly sitting in front of their TV sets, people wait for few of their all-time favourite plays to be aired on PTV — Shama, Unkahi, Afshan and Tanhaiyan, to name a few.

By Anila Batool (Staff Reporter)

Published: Tue 14 Jun 2005, 11:52 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:20 PM

These were the good old days of early the 80s few names guaranteed the success of a play. Jawed Sheikh was one such name.

The actor-turned-director, producer and distributor, has been gracing the Pakistani silver screen for a couple of decades. Jawed a frequent visitor to the UAE has selected Dubai for the premier of his upcoming release, Khulay Aasman Key Nichy (Underneath the open sky). He spoke to City Times about mainstream cinema in Pakistan and the great opportunities it offers for more Indo-Pakistan co-productions.

When did you begin your career as an actor?

I started with radio in early 70s, and did a few roles as an extra in TV plays and films. I did modelling and lot of theatre. Finally in 1974, I got a chance to play the lead role in film Dhamaka. It was written by the famous writer Ibne Safi and expected to do well but unfortunately it flopped and my career as a hero never took off.

I left the film industry and came back to theatre and TV plays. It was in the early 80s that I got an offer in the drama series Shama which later proved to be the most popular serial of its time. It was written by Fatima Suriya Bajia. Lady luck finally smiled on me and I got the breakthrough that I was looking for in my acting career. I started getting offers from everywhere. Then there were a series of good plays including Unkahi and Tanhaiyan.

You were in the forefront of the campaign to begin Indo-Pak co-productions. You seem to have apprehensions about the future of Pakistani cinema.

Nothing will happen to domestic cinema. Instead competition will bring corporates to invest in films as they are doing in India. Banks are ready to lend loans. Multiplexes will be built and the Pakistani film industry will flourish. Cinegoers will have the best of both the worlds. Similarly our movies screened in India will get a big market.

I am not afraid. From the concept and story to music and songs, everything is original. Those who do not know their work have to worry.

How can the Pakistan film industry be pulled out from its present slump?

Pakistan is an entertainment-starved society. People love to watch good films which provide healthy entertainment. There is a talented young breed of Pakistanis who are experimenting in different kinds of films. Luckily this government has taken very positive steps to help the industry. This is the first time entertainment tax has been lifted. The Government is also implementing Copy Right Act that will help curb the illegal business of piracy. They have allowed us import whatever equipment we required to make technically advanced films. It’s now our responsibility to produce good movies.

There’s hardly any representation of Pakistani films on any International festivals. Is it due to the bad quality of films being produced there?

Yes. The absence of movies from Pakistan on the international screen is being felt everywhere primarily due to the lack of good products. I am planning to take my new film to all International festivals.

How have things changed after the hugely successful Yeh dil aap ka hua?

The film was a smash hit, though I was not expecting it. The idea of the film was original, the music was done in India and playback singers were Alka Yagnik and Kavita Krishnamurty. This film has set new trends. I don’t believe in sensationalism. It has been proved that films like Kuch kuch hota, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Yeh Dil Aap Ka Hua were family-oriented and super hits while films like Jism, Girl friend and Murder flopped. It proves that majority of the people want clean and neat film.

UAE has become a prime location for shootings. What is it about this place that appeals to you?

UAE is the most happening place nowadays and undoubtedly the centre of attraction for the world. People here are fun loving and entertain quality plays and films.

The locations here are very attractive and sometimes, the story is based on expatriates living in the Gulf. I come here for so several reasons — shooting, planning, meeting and of course shopping.

How much work has been completed on your much talked-about project, Khule Asman Ke Nichey?

Almost 70 per cent of the film is complete. Bhipasha Basu is playing the female lead oppostite Humayun Saeed. Most of the shooting has been done in Dubai, Bulgairia and Hong Kong. It will be the first Pakistani movie to be released in the UAE

Is there any formula for a successful film?

There is no formula. I would say that one should have the guts to read the pulse of people. Because they are the one we intend to entertain. The key to success is what the public wants and how one should capitalised on that.

So you seem to have got the audience's pulse.

I feel I have. I hold public opinion very close to me. One should go to the people and ask them what they like. That opinion, criticism and appraisal will bring you success.

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