Hamza Firdous is an interesting person – not only is he the elder son of veteran TV and film actor Firdous Jamal but he is also one of the few Pakistani actors who have performed abroad – both for TV and theatre. Currently, the talented actor is busy working for TV dramas in Pakistan but not many know that he has helmed a project as a director and has produced a short film that has been shortlisted for screening at Cannes. Impressive, isn’t it? In a recent conversation Hamza Firdous spoke about everything from following his father’s footsteps to working towards the growth of our film industry. Read on:
It is a tradition in Pakistan that actors dream of going abroad, while you are the first one to come back from abroad. Why so?
Well, I was lucky enough to have gone to Ireland for studies when young and after spending 10 years abroad, where I got to work for both, TV and theatre, I decided to return and use my experience as a filmmaker and do something worthwhile here. Like Pakistan, people in Ireland are passionate about films and willing to go the extra mile, just to get things done. I believe that if we follow this method and take cuts, we might be able to make good quality films in less budget – something I will be experimenting soon.
Acting is the bread and butter of actors here; don’t you think that making them take cuts will be a disadvantage to them?
I don’t think so because nearly all the film actors here are working on TV and doing well too. They must use their TV income to run their home and take cuts in films because it’s a risky business. In Pakistan, if a film flops, the producers incur loss but the actors, technicians and even the director gets paid. It shouldn’t be like that as the film’s success or failure has to do with the entire team and if they don’t own the film, how can they suggest ideas for the better. The films that are being released are ‘big budget’ for no reason and I believe that with proper planning, we can make small-scale quality movies in less time.
What’s the plan ahead then, will you be making a feature film soon?
That’s the idea and we have started working on it too. My friend Nicolas Courdouan who has directed short films for our company is working on a story I conceived. We will then add some Pakistani touch to the screenplay and film it in Pakistan, Ireland and a couple of other places like Turkey and Cyprus. Let’s see how it shapes up because with Nicholas directing it, the film might seem different to the audience who want zara hat kay flicks.
Tell us something about the film that will be screened in Cannes later this year?
Radha is an 18-minute short film that I have co-produced in Ireland with Anna Harris it’s a supernatural horror film shot in Irish locations and the plot revolves around a young woman with a mysterious past, on the run. Cannes is not the first festival it was nominated in; it was appreciated by the film festivals all over the world including BELIFF, Hong Kong Arthouse Film Festival and Auckland International Film Festival to name a few.
How difficult it is to be Firdous Jamal’s son in the Pakistani showbiz fraternity?
At first, I thought it would be difficult considering all the actors I work with these days are also working with him or have worked with him in the past. Being the son of someone who has set the bar high, makes me nervous because co-stars expect the same kind of enthusiasm and hard work from me as they have experienced from my father. On the first day of Mujhe Thaam Lay, I was sort of edgy ahead of my scene with my father’s contemporary Waseem Abbas sahib but the shot went well and I felt relaxed.
Has he helped you in acquiring work in the field or he is the kind of a father who wants you to do things on your own?
He is the kind of the father who supports you in every possible way, yet when it comes to recommending your name, advices you to avoid that path, considering he hadn’t taken that road himself. I believe he is right because once you get a role easily, you don’t give your 100 per cent which is something even I am against. The best part of my return is that now I am getting to know my father both as a person and as an actor, something I had missed during the last 10 years, while living in Ireland – first as a student and later as an actor. People don’t know me as his son yet because he hasn’t promoted me that way but trust me, I plan to take his legacy forward and make him proud.
How was the experience of directing your father in one of your upcoming plays?
It was a wonderful experience, considering he listened to whatever I had to say to him or to other directors like veterans Naseem Vicky and my brother Bilawal, who is more into modelling than acting. The play is titled Yeh Kia Tamasha Hai and it is more on the lines of old-school comedy plays of PTV than the sitcoms being produced currently. We have also tried to tackle social issues with this play and I am hopeful that the audience will love it when it gets aired soon.
Married actors don’t get the kind of appreciation unmarried ones get in Pakistan; do you agree with that or not?
I don’t agree with that because nowadays, social media has made the audience aware of an actor’s personal life. Furthermore, most of the leading men these days including Humayun Saeed, Fahad Mustafa, Ahsan Khan, Nauman Masood and others are happily married. My wife Dua aka Dace is a Latvian national and has helped me a lot during my struggling days for which I immensely love her.
What does the future hold for
I am quite hopeful about the future, as currently I am working in Mujhe Thaam Lay while another drama is under production. The film I am planning will be the first venture of Firdous Jamal Films that we have set up recently and plan to shoot 80 per cent of the movie in Ireland while the rest in Pakistan and other places. I will hopefully be going to Cannes this year for Radha and will be doing theatre in Ireland this November. A lot of serials are being made in Pakistan but I want to be remembered as someone who brought something different to the table rather than playing a similar kind of role in every other play. •
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