Dubai is the best venue for Pakistan International Screen Awards: Javed Sheikh
Legendary actor is part of the jury; PISA will be held at the Coca-Cola Arena on February 7.
Award-winning Pakistani actor, director and producer Javed Sheikh, who has starred in over 100 films and TV serials including the cult classic Ankahee (1982), Na Maloom Afraad (2014), Bin Roye (2015), Teefa in Trouble (2018), Namastey London (2007), Om Shanti Om (2007) and Happy Bhag Jayegi (2016), will soon be heading to Dubai to be part of the jury for the Pakistan International Screen Awards, which will be held at the Coca-Cola Arena on Friday, February 7.
In a telephonic chat with City Times, Sheikh, who kicked off his career with the 1974 film Dhamaka and has worked steadily in the film and television industry since, expressed his delight at being part of the jury for the highly anticipated event. "I'm very proud and very happy to be part of the Pakistan International Screen Awards. I'm sure these awards will create history. I'm looking forward to attending the event in Dubai and being part of the jury," he said.
'I can't name a favourite'
Among those nominated at the awards are films Sheikh has appeared in recently, including the Mahira Khan starrer Superstar and romantic comedy Wrong No.2. When asked if he had any favourites amongst the nominees as far as actors, TV serials or films were concerned, he responded diplomatically, "Plenty of them. They are all my friends and colleagues, so I can't name a favourite. I've been working with them for so many years - they are all very good."
When the conversation turned to Dubai being the venue for PISA, Sheikh was animated in his praise of the city.
"I think Dubai is the right place, the best venue, for PISA. Dubai has always been welcoming to people from all over the world, for award functions, musical shows and premieres. PISA is the biggest award ceremony of its kind happening. Everyone is excited and happy when they hear it is taking place in Dubai - and they're like 'oh, let's go to Dubai!' Dubai is a very popular place - with everyone."
First Dubai visit in 1980
He went on to speak of his favourite places in Dubai, a city he has been visiting for four decades now.
"I love JBR, DIFC. I love to be in Downtown Dubai, that is my favourite area. There are so many places to choose from! I have so many friends in Dubai, I love going everywhere. I've been coming to Dubai for years. When I came for the first time, in 1980, there was practically nothing on Sheikh Zayed Road, except for the World Trade Centre, the Hilton hotel, and another building or two. The best part of Dubai is whenever you come back to it, you see a new building, or a new road! It is amazing.
An iconic star
Sheikh, whose upcoming films include Delhi Gate and Chaa Ja Re, spoke at length on the changes that have taken place in the Pakistani film industry since his debut over four decades ago.
"The film industry till the beginning of the 1990s was doing very well. But from then onwards, till the early 2000s, we had a dark period - we were struggling, there were very few productions because studio owners and people who were involved in production were upgrading their systems. I directed a film called Yeh Dil Aap Ka Huwa (which released in 2002), which was Pakistan's first Dolby Digital film - it was shot in Switzerland and Spain. It was the most expensive film of that time. The film ran for one year - this was the first Pakistani film to be premiered in London at Leicester Square. That heralded the revival of Pakistani cinema.
"Now, the industry is flourishing. We have plenty of new directors, writers and actors who are making very good films which are releasing internationally as well."
At this point would he choose a critically acclaimed film or a popular film to star in?
"While I would like to star in a critically acclaimed film, basically I'm an actor who wants to do commercial films. I've been doing commercial films all this while, so that's my preference," he said.
Next stop, Hollywood?
Over the years, a host of actors from the subcontinent - Amitabh Bachchan, Adnan Siddiqui, and Priyanka Chopra, among many others, have made a foray into Hollywood. Sheikh - who has starred in popular films in both Lollywood and Bollywood (one of our favourites is his role as a upright diplomat in the comic caper Happy Bhag Jayegi) - revealed that he hopes to try his luck in the West too.
"My desire is to do a film internationally, maybe in Hollywood. Inshallah, I will get an offer from there in the near future."
Fame as a legendary actor brings with it some ups and downs but Sheikh admitted you have to take the bad with the good.
"The best thing about fame is that you're popular, everyone recognizes you, they want to take selfies, they invite you for dinners. The fans all love you; it's very good. The worst thing is that we lose our privacy. When they see us people don't want to judge whether we are in a good or bad mood, they just want to have a selfie! But we do it, we can't refuse anyone!"