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    Saturday, 9 March 2013

    Siyaah - a project backed by theatre artists

    Theatre actors stick to theatre and movie stars tend to stick to movies but such isn’t the case with horror flick Siyaah, which has witnessed the journey of local theatre actors shifting to the sets of a feature film. Set to release nationwide on March 15, Siyaah revolves around the existence of exorcism, black magic and superstitious minds in our society.

    Produced by Imran Raza Kazmi, the film includes actors from the local circuit in Islamabad such as Hareem Farooq, Qazi Jabbar and Ahmed Ali Akbar amongst several others. The screenplay has been written by Osman Khalid Butt, owner of Living Picture Productions.

    Siyaah will be the actors’ first feature film.
    In the actors’ shoes

    “I have predominantly done comedy roles and for me, it’s always been more natural,” says Hareem Farooq, who is playing a serious role for the first time — a wife who cannot bear a child. “When I met Imran, I was sure that this film would be worthwhile — it’s because he had a plan, which is very important.” Farooq is a known name in theatre and has been acting for nearly five years. Her recent plays include Act 144 and Aangan Terrha.

    Farooq admits the popularity she gained through her work in theatre and Siyaah have opened more doors for her, as well as for her co-stars. “Being an actor, it’s important for me to do character roles. It gives me space to play with and this has been the case in theatre as well,” she says. She has received TV show offers but will only jump into that stream of entertainment if the production quality is good.

    When comparing theatre with cinema, Farooq feels that stage performances are much more exaggerated than those in films — acting in a film was more natural for her as it didn’t focus too much on body movements.
    Another actor starring in the film is Qazi Jabbar whose first major play was in 2009; he has been involved in theatre since he was in school and reveals he featured in a couple of music videos as well.

    “Everyone in this project is a newcomer but I know that each person has put in a lot of hard work,” says Jabbar, who plays the role of Farooq’s loving husband who is an architect by profession. “It was a collaborative effort — we all had to contribute whatever acting experience we had to ensure that the characters came out right.”

    Jabbar explains the film plays on emotions; it shows a struggling couple who adopt a child and then eerie things begin to happen. “The Pakistani public is very emotional — the movie shows how relationships get strained by black magic and possessions by spirits,” he continues. “So there are different elements in the film.”

    Ahmed Ali Akbar, who has worked closely with the play’s screenwriter Butt on a number on instances, has been doing theatre for some time now; he also appeared in the Urdu adaptation of Taming of the Shrew.

    “If you look historically, a thriller has the longest shelf life when it comes to films,” says Akbar, adding that people normally pick up horror flicks at DVD stores. He plays the role of a young journalist who goes on X-Files like investigations and interviews Farooq, who has adopted a young girl.

    “For a theatre actor, it’s always a little difficult to do films because you go in and out of characters so fast,” he adds.

    Akbar feels the film’s biggest achievement is that it is releasing nationwide. “The problem is that we don’t have producers — people who can take films to the cinema,” he admits, adding that at least 15 to 20 films are currently under production in the country which shows that there isn’t a shortage of actors. “We are just short on producers.”

    Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2013.



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