Actor Shehraz is a man of few words. He is not your typical leading man, with conventional good looks. Instead, he is rugged and buff because of intense workouts. The System, a Lahore-based action thriller that released its teaser trailer last week, is bound to add to the growing hype surrounding the actor.
“I have always been interested in staying in shape, but for this film, I felt I had to transform myself,” says Shehraz. The trailer introduced the actor, who is making his debut.
Getting the perfect body has resulted in a rigorous diet and health regimen for Shehraz, who plays the lead role in the film, which is being directed by veteran Lollywood producer Ghafoor Butt’s son (and) Shehraz’s brother Shehzad Ghafoor. The film was first announced in the summer and began production in fall.
The trailer introduces Shehraz, a talented actor who, according to legendary actor Nadeem, along with other seniors connected to the film, grows in stature with every scene. Transforming his body meant developing a custom workout schedule, which began six months before the film’s shooting, and had Shehraz doing up to three workouts a day.
“My diet is very strict and I didn’t eat salts the last three months, so I would get quick and good results for my role.”
Set in Lahore, the film will explore how different forms of corruption at the local level permeate into everyday lives of middle-class families. The production team, which prides itself on being part of the revivalist cinema movement, looks to bring productions different from traditional Lahore-based ones that have been made in the past.
The film has been made with an approximate budget of Rs5 million and is shot with RED 2 cameras. Two songs have been shot in Norway and the film includes actors such as Shafqat Cheema, Nadeem Baig and Nayyer Ijaz. Three new female actors will be making their debut in the film.
This is not Shehraz’s first attempt at acting; he was previously seen in the film Khamosh Raho, which was produced by his father. The movie, unfortunately, was a cinematic failure — now known as the debut of Juggun Kazim in Lollywood. The film was directed by veteran director Altaf Hussain and featured Shehraz as the second lead behind Shaan.
“It was a learning process for me, which was important as I learnt a lot of things from that movie. I feel now, that as a newcomer, the role was maybe a wrong choice,” says Shehraz.
The experience has pushed him to work hard on his own acting skills and become more selective about the roles he chooses. “In the end, it gave me motivation to work much harder. I waited for a script that was different and suited my personality better,” says Shehraz.
“I am not really allowed to discuss my role, but it’s not a stereotypical or traditional role of a hero. The character is multi-dimensional and has to adapt to various situations in the film, which has made the character challenging to play.”
The film has finished its first cut and will be undergoing its final phase of production, including colour-grading, in India. The film’s associate director Awais Ahmed says the teaser trailer attempts to project a new feel when it comes to cinema from Lahore.
“We wanted to show that films can be made that are not dependent on one hero, so we have gone with new faces in the lead roles. Now, the question is whether the public will like it or not,” says Ahmed.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2013.