Neelam Muneer’s first feature film, Chupan Chupai,is set of release at the end of the years. A veteran of the world of television and modeling, the good-looking, young actor is excited – and a little anxious – about the reception her film will receive. In exclusive interview for Page 3, she talks to Ally Adnan about Chupan Chupai and many other things.
Your first feature film, Chupan Chupai, will hit the screens soon. How does that feel?
It feels very good. There is a lot of excitement. And there is the occasional pang of fear and anxiety.The film has turned out very well. It is engaging and entertaining. It is funny. The pace is very good. I love the bright and colorful look of the film. The songs are great. Moreover, Ahsan and I look good together. I think Chupan Chupai will do very well at the box office.
Why, then, the fear and anxiety?
That is human nature. Whenever something big is about to happen, one gets a bit nervous. I think fear and anxiety add to the excitement. There is nothing wrong with it.
I must also mention something that many people do not know about me. I am a person of faith and believe in the kindness, fairness and largesse of God. A lot of people, including me, worked very hard on Chupan Chupai with the utmost sincerity, devotion and honesty. The results look good on the screen. I have faith that God will reward everyone’s honest, hard work.
What is Chupan Chupai about?
Chupan Chupai is a light-hearted, romantic comedy. There is some action in the film but the heart of Chupan Chupaiis unabashedly romantic. It takes theserious topic of kidnapping for ransom and deals with humor, cheek and wit.
You have been in show business for a while and took quite some timeto do your first film. What did you select Chupan Chupai to make your debut in cinema?
Chupan Chupaiappealed to me for many reasons.
The film had a great story. It was cheerful and funny. Its mood was very different from the somber plays I had done for television. I wanted the change of mood. Chupan Chupai was also introducing a number of new actors, mostly from the esteemed National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA). They brought a lot of positive energy and enthusiasm to the film. The director of the film, Mohsin Ali, came from the premiere batch of NAPA. I found him to be immensely talented. The entire team, to be honest, was stellar. It had a lot of passion and vigor that was truly infectious. I was sold on Chupan Chupai the minute I met the team. And then, more than anything else, was the opportunity of working with my dear friend and confidante, Ahsan Khan, in the film. I could not pass up on the opportunity.
Did you enjoy working with Ahsan Khan?
Oh yes, I did.A whole hell of a lot. Ahsan is, in my opinion, the finest actor of his generation. He looks good on screen. He acts well. And, he enjoys performing. The camera absolutely loves Ahsan. I enjoyed working with Ahsan on both a personal and professional level.
As a friend, he made work fun and enjoyable. He is a funny person who has a very positive presence. He made everyone on the set very comfortable. We joked around a lot. Sang songs together. Discussed our lives and careers with each other. It was wonderful.
This was my first film. Ahsan has done several in the past. He also coached me on performing for the big screen. Acting for the big screen is very different than performing on television. Ahsan helped me understand the fine differences. He and I also rehearsed together a lot. This helped our performance. We have great chemistry together and look good with each other. The chemistry between me and Ahsan gives our on-screen romance authenticity and edge. It is a veritable asset of Chupan Chupai.
Do you have an interest in politics and cricket?
No, just in Imran Khan.
Now that I have acknowledged your innuendo, let me answer the question seriously. I do not understand politics very well. However, I do know that corruption, nepotism and a lack of meritocracy are killing our nation. Everyone is a party to the evil but the politicians have done more harm than anyone else. This bothers me. I love Pakistan and get upset when I see people doing things that hurt my country. Our political system needs a complete overhaul. Dynastic politics needs to stop. Corruption, dishonesty and favoritism needs to be rooted out. This is necessary for the continued and happy existence of my country.
Three Urdu films – Rangreza, Arth-the Destination, and Parchi – in addition to Chupan Chupai, will all be released towards the end of the year. Are you concerned about the competition that Chupan Chupai will face?
No, not at all. I am happy that the Pakistani film industry is productive and prolific. Rangreza, Arth- the Destination, and Parchi are all good films, from what I hear. The four films are very different from each other. People have the time to see more than one film during the winter holidays. I think several, if not all, of the films will do well.
What are your plans for 2018?
At this time, I am only thinking of Chupan Chupai. That is all that I have on my mind. I will probably take a break after the film’s release. I will be working in a few television serials in the coming years. I also plan to do a film. Let us see how the year pans out for me. I am hoping for the best.
Ally Adnan lives in Dallas and writes about culture, history and the arts. He tweets @allyadnan and can be reached at email@example.com