Reema takes centre stage

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Reema takes centre-stage

‘I am going to be nominated as a UN goodwill ambassador, making me the first Pakistani film heroine to be bestowed with the honour. Not bad for someone supposedly on her way to becoming a has-been,’ says Reema

Five minutes into the conversation and it is obvious that Reema is obsessed with her maiden directorial venture, Koi Tujh Sa Kahan. The decision of graduating from running around trees, teasing and titillating the masses with oomph appeal to taking on the very serious and responsible job of a director is much easier said than done. For apart from guts, the job requires loads of gumption — something which our filmi folk are not usually known for. And so we now have Reema doing what precious few Pakistani silver screen sirens have done before — donning the auteur’s cap.

“It’s no formula fare,” she says. Bold statement coming from an actress who has been associated with formula movies for the past so many years. How can Reema justify the claim of making a movie different from the ones she has starred in for so many years. “That’s because in those films I was an actress delivering what the director wanted. In Koi Tujh Sa Kahan I’m doing work that is close to my heart because I am both the director and producer.”

To the question as to why she decided to produce the film herself, Reema said: “After negotiations with a producer fell through, I decided to finance the film myself.” And as for the considerable risk factor involved considering the lack of scope for local big screen productions these days, she said: “I have worked hard on the project and have done my homework. There are no shortcuts to achieve creative excellence and that is why I have toiled hard on minute details. For two years, I only worked on the paperwork of Koi Tujh Sa Kahan — the script, story, dialogue, screenplay, etc. I announced the film in 2002 and we went on sets in 2004. Since then we have finished filming and gone into post-production.”

Reema took extraordinary pains to make sure that everything was as per the script and situation. “I laboured over make-up, styling, outfits, music, dances, cinematography — everything. I had long sessions with the make-up people, designers Amir Adnan, Asiya Siyal and Beegee. I also paid particular attention to the supporting female leads. I think Veena Malik has never looked more beautiful. If they all look good, Koi Tujh Sa Kahan will look good and consequently I as a director.”

There is pride in Reema’s voice as she says that she has invested all her personal earnings into the project. She is also grateful to her cast for their support, particularly veteran actor Nadeem. “While shooting behind schedule abroad, I had to bear expenses to the tune of Rs900,000 per day. Nadeem sahib reassured me and it’s moments such as these that make all the trouble and pain seem worthwhile,” she says.

While acknowledging that film-making is not a bed of roses, Reema says she would not trade the experience with anything in the world. “It is a terrific job, but an extremely demanding one. I have no regrets. Making Koi Tujh Sa Kahan has been an extremely gratifying experience.”

Critics have made allegations that Reema has entered direction because her popularity as an actress has taken a nosedive. She handles this salvo quite well. “My only answer to them is that if my popularity has gone down then why am I the only Pakistani actress in the country to be used twice by a soft-drink company for their ad campaigns. Internationally, they have used showbiz celebrities such as Beyonce and Shakira. I was also recently invited to perform with Indian superstar Shahrukh Khan at an awards ceremony, the only actress from Pakistan to have been extended the privilege. I want you to be the first person from the press to know that very soon I am going to be nominated as a UN goodwill ambassador, making me the first Pakistani film heroine to be bestowed with the honour. Not bad for someone supposedly on her way to becoming a has-been.”

Speaking of television, I accost her about the criticism regarding her acting on the small screen. “I think it’s for the people to decide about my performance in the serial. And judging from the feedback I got, I think my work was appreciated.”

So is she open to other offers from the small screen. “I have been approached by people such as Sahira Kazmi, Haider Imam Rizvi and Sultana Siddiqui. But right now I am concentrating on Koi Tujh Sa Kahan.”

With Pakistani stars now falling for the lure of Bollywood hook, line and sinker, is she thinking of following suit? “Of course I would like to work in Bollywood — it’s a big industry,” she admits. “But I’m waiting for the right time as I feel it’s still too early. I’ll decide once the present good vibes between the two countries and the policies become clearer. However, I will not do the kind of work that would damage my image as well as my country’s. If I do, I will work in Bollywood with dignity and honour.”

Posted 19 Jun 2005

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