MALICK TALKS ABOUT HER NEW FILM AND MEANINGFUL CINEMA

by ASJAD NAZIR

BOLLYWOOD is known to remake plenty of films, both officially and without permission.

It is very rare for an official remake of an Indian movie to be done outside the country, especially in Pakistan, but that is exactly what has happened with soon to be released romantic drama Arth: The Destination.  

The official remake of Mahesh Bhatt’s 1982 classic Arth has been cleverly adapted for contemporary audiences by writer, director and lead star Shaan. The interesting cast includes in-demand Pakistani actress Humaima Malick, who takes on the role originally portrayed by late great Bollywood legend Smita Patil.

The e leading lady was clearly feeling very confident when Eastern Eye caught up with her to talk about her path-breaking project Arth: The Destination, working with Shaan, fashion, her future plans and more.

You are an award-winning actress, but why don’t you do more projects?

I will only pick projects, Asjad, where I feel there is need for me to be in them. I can’t be in projects that have no meaning for me. I believe I am an actor who should be doing more meaningful stuff.

 I have always gone for very out-of-the-box projects in that regard, which started with Bol where I played the daughter of a priest. Then I was the lead in the remake of Shabana Azmi’s underworld drama Godmother with Sanjay Dutt, and then I played a bar dancer opposite Emraan Hashmi. Now I am in the remake of famous film Arth, where I reprise Smita Patil’s character. Next year it’s different again with the remake of Pakistani classic Maula Jatt.

Is finding these varied projects one of your biggest challenges?

(Smiles) I don’t find projects, they find me. I don’t want to do films without sensitivity. Some thought needs to be put in it. I won’t do formula-driven stories and that is why I have stayed away from TV dramas, which are very popular in my country.

Waiting for the right roles to come along is a challenge because there is a gap between the films. It’s also a challenge because some people have the wrong notion that heroines have a short shelf life. I want to be a hero in my projects for many years to come and believe I can be.

What was the experience of shooting Arth: The Destination in London?

I had shot a film there before made by the same producer Hammad Chaudhry. London has always been like home for me. I have family in the city and am there every year for a month or so. London has also been so kind to me. I got a prestigious award in the city for Bol and we met there for the first time, Asjad. Recently I got another award there, so London has been really great to me.

This time for Arth, I was there for a longer time. We all rented an apartment block where we stayed on different floors. It was nice and good fun.

What would you say you most enjoy doing in London?

(Laughs) I like shopping and eating. I did more eating because I love food and London has the best variety, I would say. It has some amazing restaurants and we went to the best ones.

Shaan is a big movie star in Pakistan, but what is he like as a director?

I have never felt so much love for a director before, and I am very vocal about it. I told this to his wife also. Shaan has all my love. He is like a mother, father, hero and mentor to me. From moving the camera to feeding the artists from his own hands to writing, directing and acting, he was fully involved and inspired the entire team each step of the way.

What was the biggest lesson you learned from him?

To be kind, humble and still be what you are, which I was already, but he makes you realise it more. He also teaches you to do everything yourself and not to depend on others. For this film he didn’t depend on anyone and did it all himself. It was great to see how much he did.

He is also a very family orientated guy. Some may have the wrong impression that he is controlling, promotes himself and cuts you out, but he isn’t like that. We have finished the film, but I miss him and his kindness on set. I wish every actor and director could be like him. I feel like I had wings, but he taught me how to fly.

Did you watch the original before taking on your character in Arth: The Destination?

I watched the original Arth of course, and liked all aspects of the movie including the songs, but the graph of my character is very different to the one played by Smita Patil in that. I have also tried to do something new with the character because that is what my director asked me to do.

It seems as if you all have adapted it and told a brand new story?

Yes, it has its own shades, twists and turns but I can’t talk too much about it. I am really looking forward to audiences seeing what Shaan has done with it. It is about the destination of the four characters in the film.

You must be happy that Pakistani cinema is doing so well globally?

It’s amazing and something I predicted the last time we spoke. Pakistani cinema will continue to grow much bigger in the coming years, inshallah. I always had belief that it would grow. It now gives us artists our own place to work. We don’t need to go to other countries looking for work. We had work in our country before, but not a strong movie industry. But now directors, producers, cinema owners and everyone is putting in money for good movie projects. That’s a good thing.

Can you see yourself working in the west?

I definitely look up to Priyanka Chopra and all her international achievements. As you know from the beginning, Asjad, just Pakistan was never the focus for me. I want to be known globally. The aim is to have my name going so high in different countries like China, Japan, the UK, Europe and especially in the US, why not? As well as movies, I would like to work on a TV series abroad.

You have become a style icon in your country. Is fashion something you would work in?

That is all happening on one side. I have been an ambassador for various fashion events and brands. I have been affiliated with so many fashion houses and magazines, so why not? But that needs more time and attention. You need the right team behind you to launch a fashion label. If I am giving it my name, the team needs to be credible enough to make it right. Anushka Sharma has come up with a line and so has Sonam Kapoor, so why not?

What is the secret to getting the perfect red carpet look, because you clearly know?

Make it your princess moment. Wear what you like and be comfortable. Don’t try to do something you are not comfortable with. I am a cocktail gown sort of a girl, but I love saris also.

I have great stylists too. I have helped to popularise that trend of having a stylist. I tell them what I want and they help create that look by sourcing everything. We have not had that in our country for a long time. Now girls are doing styling including for airport looks, red carpet looks and everything else. Everyone is now competitive and putting time into their looks, which is great.

You are also a symbol of girl power, but how much is the cause of woman empowerment important to you?

It’s massively important and I became an ambassador for a women’s protection bill in Pakistan. Now there is a law preventing honour killings. Of course it is difficult promoting it in such a society, but I have always been very vocal about women’s rights and very fearless. I want to do more for women empowerment. I want to do more for this nation including getting education for all women and girls. Nothing can be better than education in this society. That will help women understand their rights.

Today what inspires you?

I think my inspiration is my own journey. I have worked really hard. I started working when I was 14 and today I am 28. I am just working harder. My mother also greatly inspires me because she worked so hard to raise my siblings and I. We are doing well with God’s grace, but it’s thanks to her. My niece inspires me because she is three-years old and so fearless. So inspiration can come from anything and everything, every day. The journey of any girl who is doing well in today’s society inspires me. Every day there is a new inspiration for a person to get that motivation they need.

Finally, why should we watch Arth: The Destination?

Everyone should watch the film because everyone will be able to relate to specific characters and their journey in some way. The story, situations and characters are so relatable. It’s about issues everyone has experienced in some form, including in marriage and life. It’s an amazing, intense movie and a beautiful musical drama. It is very realistic and has the best music. It is beautiful, it is you, it is me, it is us, it is Arth.