Pakistani actor Sarwat Gilani, who plays one of the lead roles in ZEE5’s critically-acclaimed show Churails, said she had once received an offer for a film with Irrfan Khan but the project did not materialise due to the political tension between India and Pakistan.
Gilani said Irrfan, who died in April this year, is much loved in Pakistan. “Irrfan Khan’s team was looking to cast someone from Pakistan. They had seen my work in Mata-e-Jaan Hai Tu and they had liked it. I think it was a for a film. They got in touch with Mehreen Jabbar, who is the director of our show, and got my contact through her. She told me that somebody from India had called and they were looking to cast somebody opposite Irrfan Khan. The exchange was happening and unfortunately the political drama happened and things didn’t materialise,” Gilani told PTI in an interview over phone from Karachi.
Gilani said she was heart broken when the barriers were put between two countries. “I could only imagine how amazing it would have been to just see Irrfan Khan and how he acts, he is so amazing. Sadly he isn’t with us. My mother cried so much on his death. He is much loved in Pakistan and people look up to his work here,” Gilani said, adding, The Lunchbox, Piku, were some of her favourite films of the late actor.
In the aftermath of Uri attack in 2016, Pakistani artistes have been barred from working in Indian film and music industry though there is no official ban.
Gilani believes people are not against each other but politics prevents the exchange of art and music between the two neighbours.
“We are always starving for Indian films to come and take on our cinema, our entire community is into Bollywood. When it comes to music, I feel Pakistani artistes have contributed to Indian market, we have amazing artiste like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Shafaqat Amanat Ali, Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar, etc.”
Gilani is thrilled about the release of her path-breaking web-series “Churails”, which premiered on newly re-launched Zindagi on the streamer ZEE5. The series directed by Cake helmer Asim Abbasi, narrates the story of four self-proclaimed ‘churails’, who unite to open a covert detective agency to expose cheating husbands amongst the city’s elite.
The actor said both in real and reel life the myth around women who goes out is considered to be outspoken and the one who takes care of the house is good, is unreal and Abbasi is trying to break this steroetype.
Citing example of popular Pakistani shows like “Bandh Darwajo Ke Pichche”, “Saat Kahaniya” Gilani said due to the censor board one couldn’t portray a realistic image of a woman and it had to be sugarcoated.
“The stories are fictional. There is not much reality attached to it, although we see same stories in news everyday. Like a guy spilling acid on a woman because she refused to marry him. But we don’t want to talk about it in the entertainment sector, we want to sugarcoat the story. Asim wants to break this thing. In Churails we didn’t need a man to rescue a woman, we wanted to show that a woman can stand for herself and uplift other women going through problems.”
Gilani said to play the character of Sara, a former lawyer whose seemingly perfect life – a handsome and wealthy spouse and three children, comes undone one day, leading her to a different path.
Gilani said she took inspiration from Meryl Streep’s 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada to play the character.
“In TV and films, you have to emote a lot for the audience to feel the pain or happiness but in web it had to be altered to zero. I had to unlearn and start new. In The Devil Wears Prada, Streep doesn’t say much but her aura is so powerful. I even got inspired by Angelina’s film Mr and Mrs Smith, I wanted to take that subtleness. Basically, I adapted the subtleness of these strong personalities in my character.”