The Making of Jinnah (1998) – Gup Shup with Najaf Bilgrami
During the film production of arguably one of the most important films in Pakistani film history ‘Jinnah’, young Najaf Bilgrami served as the Assistant Director. In this interview, Najaf recalls the behind the scenes tension between the filmmaker and the Pakistani government and also his experience working alongside the director of the film Jamil Dehlavi and the legendary actor Sir Christopher Lee.
In the highly acclaimed PTV longplay Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! (1995), the then child actress Naveen Anwar played the role of young Nida, the onscreen daughter of Rahat Kazmi’s character Sikandar. I had the chance to have a quick interaction with her for the review on Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka!, only on mrkhansreviews.com. Link to the full review at the end of the interview :
1) Thank you Miss Naveen Anwar for allowing me to conduct this interview with you. My first question would be; How did the producers approached you and your family for this role? Was there an audition process? How was your and your family’s reaction when they found out that you would be working alongside a Pakistani Television legend like Rahat Kazmi?
Most welcome, Mr Khan. The Kazmi’s are our family friends since my older sister Sabeen and their daughter Nida were classmates. There was no audition process as I was an acclaimed child artist at that time. My parents were spoken to and they happily agreed. As a child, I was unaware of how famous “Rahat” uncle was and his humble nature made working with him very easy.
2) Being a child actor at the time, how did you prepare yourself for playing the role of Nida? Did you have training/ advice from your co-stars? What was the process behind your performance?
I was explained the role by Sahira (aunty) and she spoke to me in a clear and candid manner. Her expectations were that my actual personality flows into the role, as the character was not far from my real self. Having their son Ali share the screen with me in most of the scenes made the environment friendly.
3) How was your relationship with the director Sahira Kazmi? Was she helpful in leading you through the script and bringing out the performance in front of the camera?
This was a small role and my existing relationship with Sahira (aunty) helped very much. Her direction is second to none. I remember her being strict with her instructions yet lenient with the number of takes it would take to perfect the scene.
4) There is a scene later on in the longplay where you interact solely with a young Ali Kazmi (playing the role of Suhail) who is the real life son of Rahat Kazmi. In the scene, you both discuss the marital problems that your parents have. How did you two stage and rehearse the scene together?
The seriousness of the scene was explained to us and I was told Ali would deliver most of the dialogues while I had to focus on my reactions. The scene was so natural, more like a conversation. I do remember the name of my character being changed to Nida as Ali would constantly call me Nida during the shoot (his real life sister’s name).
5) Are there any interesting behind the scenes stories that you could share with the readers?
Not much support staff was available at the time and I remember being lost having to iron my clothes for a shot. Guess who volunteered? Rahat uncle. This incident is an example of humble talented artists.
6) How was your reaction after watching the long play on PTV? Was it as good as you could’ve expected?
I was ecstatic. The play was an instant hit! People would refer to me as Nida in restaurants and shopping malls. I felt like a star!
7) After the success of the longplay, did you want to pursue your acting career further? And if the right opportunity arrives, would you ever want to dip your toes back into the world of Pakistani television?
I was often encouraged and told I would be the Reema of Pakistani television but my mother’s vision of this being a hobby was very clear. At turning 10 years old, all this came to an end.
You can read the full review of Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! (1995) here: