Having made his mark in theatre, Yasir is once again on a sharp learning curve, and exploring the medium of films. This is his first script for a film, although he has already done a few for television and theatre. Yasir’s praise for Wajahat Rauf, its producer and director, is fulsome. He has taken a risk in making Pakistan’s first road movie, as outdoor shooting is both difficult and expensive, especially as Wajahat has also bankrolled it. It was an expression of confidence in Yasir’s script that he took the risk. However, the outdoor shooting had given actors a chance to bond, and he looks at me enquiringly for affirmation as he adds, that it must have been apparent in the movie. I readily agree, citing the chemistry between the three friends, Ahmed Ali, Yasser and the lead in the movie, Shehzad Sheikh. I probe his experience in switching from theater to movies, and he explains that while it took 46 days to film the movie, theater with Dawar, the moving spirit behind Kopykats productions, was long and exhausting: very long rehearsals, followed by hundreds of performances spread over many cities, is very demanding. He quickly adds that all theater is not like that, at least in Pakistan, and Dawar’s style of direction was an exception.
He is appreciative of the quality of acting of the whole team, but Ali Ahmed and the director’s young son, Aashir Wajahat, come in for special praise. Yasir opines that Shehzad Sheikh gave the best performance of his career, and Ayesha Omar used facial expressions that he had not seen other female actors use, maybe because they are not so flattering to the actor. He mentions how he had gone out of his way to persuade the veteran Pushtun actor Rashid Naz to act in the film, as he had been impressed by his performance in Shoaib Mansoor’s Khuda Ke Liye.
He is optimistic about the future of Pakistani films and expects them to give good competition to Bollywood in about five to seven years, but declares, “we are fifty years behind them in production”. When I opine that Bollywood is beginning to get a bit stale, he doesn’t agree, and counters that they have discovered the importance of good scripts. I ask about his plans for the future: he is writing scripts of two rom coms and one animation film, and designing the set for another one of Anwar Maqsood’s plays written for Kopykats on Siachen. When Anwar Maqsood’s name comes up, he is generous in acknowledging his debt to him as a mentor, and says that he has learnt to craft a “pucca jumla” ( a perfectly timed sentence) from him.
Yasir Hussain is representative of the explosion of talent in Pakistan. Not yet thirty, he is already a force majeure in the theatre and film world.
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