“Every Pakistani actor wants to work in India,” said veteran actor Javed Sheikh to The Hindu in a recent interview.
Sheikh is in India for the shoot of Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha — in which he plays father to an errant Ranbir Kapoor — and gave a brief interview about his views on the two neighbouring film industries.
About whether he preferred to work in Lollywood or Bollywood, the veteran actor said, “I prefer working in films with good subjects. For me, there is no difference [between the two industries], but if you want me to say Bollywood, I will say yes [because] it is a very big industry, more advanced, more professional, having more opportunities, big thinking and of course big money. I enjoy working here.”
Although Sheikh has worked in around 10 Bollywood films, including Om Shanti Om, Namaste London and Kajraare, he has yet to break through in a big way. He says, ” I am not getting big roles as I would have loved to do or (like) what I do in Pakistan, and the simple reason behind this is that it is a new place for me and it will take some time.”
“For example, Amitabh Bachchan got a small role in the Hollywood film The Great Gatsby and Anil Kapoor in Mission Impossible. But now things have started changing a bit with the audience accepting me. In Tamasha, I have a good role while it is the same in my next film with Muzaffar Ali,” he added.
When asked if he’d consider a role on Indian television, if the right role comes along, he is asked. “I have been doing television shows in Pakistan for nearly four decades,” Sheikh responds, “I have been getting offers from Indian channels also, which I have refused [because] they are very lengthy, they go on and on for years and I do not have that much time. One show Meri Jaan Hai Tu is now being shown in India on Zindagi TV. I am playing the father of the male lead.”
Sheikh also talked about his contribution to the revival of cinema in Pakistan, citing the example of his successful film, Yeh Dil Aapka Hua.
“A new industry has come up in Karachi with new directors, new writers, new actors and new thoughts and as a result of which we have started making good films,” said Sheikh. ”
“Actually it all started with my film Yeh Dil Aapka Hua… after the film was completed there were no takers for it as it was a very costly film. So I opened my own distribution office. At that time the then president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf, in order to give a boost to the industry, abolished the tax on the sale of the tickets, which was about 35 per cent of the Rs.50 ticket. Being a costly film it was released in Dolby digital theatres. Moreover, there was not a single multiplex in Pakistan at that time. Our film was released in 17 theatres and I decided to charge one hundred rupees for the ticket. The film was a hit and went on to become a trendsetter. In those days making a film would cost about a crore of rupees but ours cost five crore and we did a business of twelve and a half crore rupees in about a year’s time,” he said.