Adnan Sarwar is nothing short of an all-rounder; earlier he was an internationally acclaimed auto car racer, and now he’s currently juggling his new jobs; an actor, writer and director.
After proving his mettle with biopic Shah, which traces the life of Pakistani Olympic boxer Hussain Shah, Sarwar has been out of sight after the release of his debut film. However, the actor was recently seen driving flashy BMWs in the north of Pakistan shooting for a campaign titled #100HoursOfJoy.
In a candid tête-à-tête with Images, the dynamic artist opens up about his latest venture and all things cinema.
Images: After the success of ‘Shah’, what have you been up to for the past one year?
AS: Shah was a challenge to create. Physically – to go through the rigours of training, and the dozens of fights, and then psychologically – to play that role and get broken in the process. Not many people know this, but I ended up in a hospital the day after the premiere. It takes time to recover from something so intense.
So after that I’ve just been doing adverts and writing new material, discussing ideas with some producers and basically trying to lineup a three to four year plan.
Adnan Sarwar played the titular role of boxer Syed Hussain Shah in biopic Shah.
Images: What sort of characters would you like to portray as an actor or narrate as a filmmaker?
AS: I’m a storyteller and I want to tell good, memorable stories. Also, being an actor I want to play characters that excite me. The kind of roles I’ve been offered to portray are not something I would want to do, they didn’t challenge me and hence, I declined a couple. Life is too short to be spent doing mediocre work. It is unfortunate how great characters for actors are not being written.
The stories that I believe should be on screen are not being told. So I have no choice but to do it all myself and focus on our independent films for now.
Images: What, according to you, is the definition of commercial cinema?
AS: To me, Shah was a commercial film. The definition of ‘commercialism’ to me is whether a film is able to generate enough money at the box office or not. If I say I’m making a non-commercial movie, then I’m saying I don’t care if it makes money or not. And that’s not true, I do care. Shah made money for everyone involved and it was a success story.
But not every film needs to go and break the box office record. I think there is a place for films like Shah. We have received unbelievable feedback for Shah. I still get emails and messages from the craziest of places telling me that they loved the film. Such cinema must be allowed to exist if our industry is to grow over the next five years.
Images: How do you think the kind of cinema that you tend to experiment with, will contribute to the revival of our film fraternity?
AS: I never sit and think what people would like to see, and let that dictate my artistic direction. I am not someone who sits in a boardroom and takes creative decisions based on what will appeals to the lowest common denominator. I am someone who comes from amongst the people. Until very recently, I was the guy hanging from a bus, or hailing rickshaw on a good day. I know the stories because I have lived the stories. I know what I like will eventually be liked by the general audience. Because I am the people.
The actor, director is also part of BMW Pakistan’s campaign #100HoursOfJoy to promote tourism in northern Pakistan.
Images: Tell us a bit about your campaign with BMW Pakistan and how your experience was working on it?
Adnan Sarwar: I have travelled the world looking for the best roads to drive on and to experience this kind of scenery in my own country, in the kind of cars that I was given to drive; I think somebody like me couldn’t have asked for anything more. I’ve only come till Naran and that too when I was a kid, so in this process I’ve gotten to discover the beauty of our country.
Images: What has been the purpose of this campaign?
AS: The campaign called #100HoursOfJoy is actually a campaign that’s been planned to celebrate 100 years of Dewan Group and BMW. It’s about showing the world how gorgeous and safe Pakistan is. People like us are travelling openly and freely, and hopefully through this campaign, we will be able to get some tourism into the country.
It’s also an initiative to let international car manufacturers know that they have a market here as well. With all the Chinese investment and the launch of CPEC, I think this is the right time for companies to come to Pakistan and recognize it as an investment hotspot that it actually is.
Adnan Sarwar poses next to a BMW as part of the campaign. Photo: Publicity
Images: Lastly, tell us what you think of art being pushed into the Indo-Pak conflict post Uri?
AS: First of all, art and artistic exchange should be above politics and war — that is my core belief, and it pains me to see what is going on, on both sides of the border. Artists should be a voice for peace and a bridge between our two countries.
Secondly, if this ban continues, we should all be ready to say goodbye to our nascent film industry. The cinemas will not be able to absorb current level of losses for very long and Pakistan is years, if not decades, away from producing quality films in enough numbers to sustain the local cinema houses.
These are indeed troubling times for those who make a living from the Pakistani film industry and want to see it flourish.
Courtesy : Dawn News