The men of Ghabrana Nahi Hai join MAG to talk about their star-packed debut movie

Ghabrana Nahi Hai, which stars Saba Qamar, ZahidAhmed, Syed Jibran, John Rambo, Nayyer Ejaz and Saleem Mairaj, is all set to play in theatres this Eid ul Fitr. The romantic comedy features plenty of thriller, romance and laughs. When you have a cast as stellar as this one anchoring your film, you know the adventure is going to be loaded with the elements the actors have brought to their audiences over the years. Essentially, Ghabrana Nahi Hai has it all, from uproarious comedy, a helping of drama and some thrilling action – all encased within a fantastical rom-com. During this interview with MAG, Zahid Ahmed and Syed Jibran talk about what’s the movie all about, how easy the cast chemistry was to find, trying to live truthfully in the script, and so much more. Give it a read:

First things first: What is Ghabrana Nahi Hai all about?

Zahid Ahmed: It’s a comedy crime caper with a solid plot and stays true to the plot unlike many Pakistani films which tend to waiver away from its structure.

Syed Jibran: Ghabrana Nahi Hai is about love, it’s about friendship, and it’s about woman empowerment and the importance of having daughters. It’s about a lot of things and most of all, it’s about how to sacrifice for the right cause and the right person.

Tell us about the experience and opportunities your characters had that were unique to each one of you.

ZA: Playing a cop comes with its usual tropes but in playing Sikander I tried to keep it as natural as possible and not assume a caricature of a policeman.

SJ: The experience for me was like one of a kind. I’ve been waiting for this time for so long, to be able to work in my first film and it finally happened in the form of Ghabrana Nahi Hai. And the character that I got to play was something which I’ve never done before on the small screen i.e. TV. So, for me it was one of the biggest challenges to do and for an actor, if he gets to play a character that challenges his craft, I think that is the biggest rush one can get and for me, it was playing the character in Ghabrana Nahi Hai, the character of Vicky. So, the experience was fantastic, the people around me were fantastic, the director helped me so much in exploring my character. So, it was grand, it was unique, it was lovable and I hope it strikes the right chords on the audience.

Since this is your (Syed Jibran and Zahid Ahmed) debut movie, what took you this long to say ‘yes’ to doing a Pakistani film? What about Ghabrana Nahi Hai spoke to you with such immediacy?

ZA: While choosing a film several key ingredients have to be considered which go beyond the usual script, cast and director choices. This includes the film having solid production and guaranteed distribution which in this case, all the pieces fit perfectly presenting a solid run and good slots on the screens.

SJ: It did take some time in saying yes to this film but once I read the script, I was blown away by it. My friend Hassan Zia, who is one of the producers for the film, asked me about the script and I said it was fantastic, and he asked me if I would want to do this film and I said yeah and I would want to do this character that I’m doing and he asked why would I want to do this one keeping in mind that the other character is more relatable to the kind of characters I’ve done in the past. So, I said yeah, that is why I want to do the other character because I want to do something that I haven’t done before. And because we don’t get to do a lot of movies that’s why I just had to take a lot in consideration before saying yes to a movie. You just have to make sure it’s the right movie with the right people.

By the looks of the trailer, there seems to be a love triangle. How would you describe the dynamics between you three? (Saba Qamar, Zahid Ahmed, and Syed Jibran)

SJ: The dynamics of our characters is the most interesting aspect of this film and there is indeed, a love triangle and it’s a very interesting one. It’s very pure, it has got a bit of a con element as well, it has got a little bit of deceit, a lot of purity and innocence as well. I can’t get into the details but I’m sure people are going to come out of the theatre very happy.

ZA: Trailers can sometimes be misleading intentionally, you’ll have to watch the film to understand the dynamics and my hope is you’ll be glad there’s nothing clichéd about this trio.

You all have pretty much solidified yourselves in the world of drama as a genre, so why do an action-comedy?

SJ: When it comes to a film, genre is not something that holds you back. I was lucky that I got this script. It’s a romantic action comedy. It’s more like a romantic comedy/thriller. But in a very subtle way, not an all-out thriller. So, genre wasn’t the reason to take up this film. For me, the drive and the motive was to do this character because people haven’t seen a character like Vicky before,

ZA: Because it’s for cinema! The audience comes to the cinema for escaping away from everything they’re used to seeing. We aim to give them a solid two hours of fun and you bet we are going to do just that!

Take us back to the sets. What was it like while shooting for the movie? Did you find that there was a lot of room to improvise? Was it take after take after take or did they just let the camera keep rolling?

ZA: Unfortunately, keeping the schedule is always a necessity so you do your best and move on but here I’d like to mention the brilliance of Saqib Khan, the director, who cultivated an atmosphere of allowing creativity yet adhering to a well thought out execution plan.

SJ: I had a ball working with Zahid and Saba and everyone else. Most of my work is with Saba, so working with someone who is an international star, I was so comfortable. She actually made sure in every scene we did that we get to complement each other and enhance our performances. Saqib, our director was fantastic. It’s his first film but the command he had on his craft didn’t make it seem like it’s his first film. Mohsin, our writer, was not on the sets but his script was there to make sure that we are working on something really good. Yeah, there were some takes and retakes which is obviously a part of the process of filmmaking but it was never cumbersome. The shoot went smoothly, we wrapped it up before the allotted days. The overall experience was great, a memorable one.

Keeping in mind that Ghabrana Nahi Hai has a huge cast, do you think that you all were able to hold your own against all of the actors on set and in the film?

SJ: Yes, we have a huge cast and I got to work with Sohail Ahmed sahib and John Rambo and Saleem Mairaj besides Saba and Zahid and so many other people. So, all I can say is that I never felt even for a moment that I’m out of place or intimidated by anyone. The environment was very friendly.

ZA: I think casting done right is half the movie done right. Whether we justified our characters or not only the audience will be able to tell.

Anything memorable from this film you will take back, something to remember 10 years from now?

ZA: Well, however way it goes, it will always be my first film and that is a special place to hold.

SJ: The most memorable thing would be that I broke my shoulder just before we had to shoot the climax of the movie and somehow, I went and shot the film with my broken shoulder.

What do you want audiences to take away from this movie?

SJ: I want the audience to take away good feelings from the movie. We are not working on any hardcore agenda, we are not preaching anything, we are just giving a good message which is wrapped around a beautiful mixture of romance, comedy, love, laughter and friendship, so the entire purpose is for people to come and have a good time and remember Vicky’s character and remember all of us and make sure such films keep happening.

ZA: I’d like them to take away big smiles, a great time had and them nodding at money spent well.