Project Ghazi is all set to create history
When was the last time we saw a female scientist who encounters a cocky soldier and then puts him in his place? In real life, probably never, but we’re about to see this on the big screen fairly soon. Project Ghazi, Pakistan’s first superhero film, is all set to create waves in the industry with its progressive themes.
Syra Shahroz has gotten the chance to play a role that every serious Pakistani actress would have loved to do, Humayun Saeed is comfortable sharing equal screen space with a newer, junior artist and Sheheryar Munawar had to undergo intense physical training to look like a superhero. Big things are happening.
Instep met the team of Project Ghazi, which included Munawar, Shahroz and the producer of the film, Ali Raza, last week to discuss the film and the very first thing Sheheryar Munawar asked us was whether we had ever done anything illegal. The stars had met several journalists before us and apparently, one of them had left Munawar with this thought. Eventually, we concluded that Shahroz and Munawar had never done anything illegal and moved on to the discussion of the hour. Project Ghazi.
“When I heard about the role, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn’t just like ‘oh we need a girl so we’re just placing her as a prop or eye candy,’” shared Shahroz and she managed to capture our sentiments quite accurately as well. “I liked the script also. The story seemed very different from what we’ve been doing,” she continued.
Munawar went on to explain his motivation behind acting. “Rahat Kazmi sahab once said that sometimes I wake up and I need to remind myself who I am on that day. That really excited me because as an actor you get to be someone different every day. Even with my roles, I don’t generally like the typical roles. When I was offered Project Ghazi, I was extremely excited at the chance to play something like this. I also love doing my homework before doing any role,” he added, which made us wonder what kind of homework Shahroz and Munawar had to do in order to get ready for their roles.
“We were given references of course, I watched a lot of films and did a lot of practice myself with my actions and expressions,” explained Shahroz. She also added that she’s a big superhero film fan and that worked in her favour in regards to Project Ghazi.
This brought us to something that we had been wondering ourselves. Does Project Ghazi look ‘superhero’ enough? The director, Nadir Shah earlier revealed to Instep that the film will have a semi-realistic feel. Is that because of the technical limitations in Pakistan? After all, this is the first time anyone is attempting to make a superhero film. “We knew that we will be heavily criticized if we even attempted to try a superhero film. Superman can wear a cape, Batman can come from a cave, but no matter what our superhero does, we won’t hear the end of it. Those narratives are 80 years old,” shared Raza before Munawar joined in. “Those characters have literature behind them. They started off with comic books and went on to films. They have a legacy. We don’t have that. And whenever anyone does anything for the first time, there is a lot of pressure and expectations. This film has very smartly tackled all that.”
“With that being said,” said Shahroz, “if you look at Batman and the fight sequences in the film, they are very real. I felt more Batman in the film than anything else.”
“I felt more Jason Bourne in the film. It’s very close to the entire concept as well. As in, Bourne’s a normal person with extra speed, precognition,” added Munawar but Raza was quick to point out the subtle difference between an extraordinary individual and a superhero. “Bourne is part of a rogue program. This is more Captain America because you’re clearly on the side of good.”
We wondered whether Raza had heard how Adnan Jaffar’s antagonist character, Qataan, was being called out for looking too similar to The Dark Knight Rises’ iconic villain, Bane? “He will look similar. You see, Bane isn’t the only one who wears a mask. We’re forgetting Cobra Commander. Darth Vader. The problem is that we’re very quick to judge. The reason why he wears a mask is because he has disowned his face. There is an entire scene that explains it. Basically, this isn’t a propaganda film. The fight is against another country or community, but with ourselves. It’s against intolerance and hate.”
Of course, the bigger question that arises in an ISPR funded film is exactly this. How much control did the ISPR have over the film’s script? Surprisingly, not a lot.
“ISPR has never once intervened in the creative aspects of the film. The only request they made was that we show clean shaven soldiers as well as those with mustaches. The idea was that they wanted to show that army men have different looks other than the typical bearded look that has now become synonymous with army men.” Raza explained that they sought the help of ISPR for factual information, such as whether or not a 28, 29 year old soldier could become a Major. “They can,” he revealed.
The film is all set to hit the theatres on July 14th and the team seems anxious and excited to reveal what they’ve created. We are too!