Pakistani actor Ali Zafar and ‘Vicky Donor’ actress Yami Gautam spoke about their upcoming release, ‘Total Sipyappa’, which is a funny take on Indo-Pakistan relations, at the Screen Preview.
‘Total Siyappa’ directed by E. Nivas, who had earlier directed films like ‘Shool’ and ‘My Name is Anthony Gonsalves’ was initially titled ‘Aman Ki Asha’. Produced by Neeraj Pandey, director of ‘A Wednesday’ and ‘Special 26’, the film tells the tale of an Indian girl in love with a Pakistani boy.
Post her first film, ‘Vicky Donor’, Yami Gautam took her time to sign up for her next project. On being asked about how ‘Total Siyappa’ came to be, the actress says, “Neeraj was the first person I met. I loved ‘A Wednesday’ and was really excited. I read the script on a flight in one go and absolutely loved it.”
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“It should have come across as a serious film, but the story is more about the day that Asha takes Aman home to meet her parents,” says Ali Zafar who plays the male lead.
Ali said that both he and Yami had infact watched ‘Total Siyappa’ the night before. “We just watched the movie last night for the first time. And it’s a different take on Indo-Pak relations. It takes you to a different place, you forget everything and you’re just with those characters. You forget all boundaries and in the end you realize that we’re all the same,” said the actor.
Talking about her preparation to play Asha, Yami said it was very different from ‘Vicky Donor’. “In ‘Vicky Donor’, I wasn’t a part of the humour. But here in ‘Total Siyappa’, I’m very much a part of the madness and the chaos.”
Though Ali has mostly worked in comic roles, the actor doesn’t accept that comedy is his forte. “’Kill Dill’ is very different. It is more action oriented. And I don’t want to keep doing only comedy. I want to expand and become a versatile actor. But for comedy I do tend to have a natural flair. I don’t have to try too hard to be funny,” he said.
When asked whether he faces any stereotypical prejudices being a Pakistani in India, Ali says, “People gather their thoughts from what they see and hear. There’s television, press and now there’s social media, but there is no direct source of communication between people from the two countries.”
Questioned on whether Yami has changed any kind of misconception that she had about Pakistanis after working with Ali, the actress replied, “I think the women there are very beautiful.” To which a laughing Ali was quick to respond, “After meeting me you thought the women of Pakistan are very beautiful?” “No no…Even the men,” she said laughingly.
But on a more serious note, “I met some of Ali’s friends in London. And even in Bangkok, there were so many fans. And I asked them, ‘where are you from? And they said Pakistan. I would never have guessed but I did not see any differences,” said Yami.
When asked about people taking offense to the jokes in the film, Yami replied, “I think you can’t make everyone happy. You may upset people. I’m a Brahmin and so many people say you’re snooty and head-high like Brahmins. But I think I’m pretty cool…I take it in good spirit,” she said.
Like any Indo-Pak conversation, the topic of cricket soon came up. “Yami said she had a crush on Shahid Afridi,” said Ali. “Yes, I was very young then and I used to love to watch him bowl. His hair would fly…and I remember the colour as well…it was brown,” blushed Yami.
The duo also crooned a number from their film together, ‘Palat Meri Jaan’. On being complemented for her voice and when asked why she hasn’t sang in the film, Yami said, “The good singing is a result of having co-starred with two singers. But I’m not really a singer or anywhere close to Ali’s level. I like to sing for myself.”
Ali on the other hand says he doesn’t have any immediate plans of launching a music album. “There isn’t much scope for independent singers and albums because of the commercial aspect of songs in films. So there isn’t much exposure for anything independent unless you pump crores of rupees into it, which is said considering the talent. But as soon as I see a space for something independent, I will release an album.”
Veteran actor Anupam Kher and his wife Kirron Kher will be playing Asha’s parents. This is the first time that the veteran actor couple will be seen onscreen together.
‘Total Siyappa’ will hit screens on March 7.