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Multitalented trendsetter Yasir Akhtar on his new film Rung Dorangi

Household name Yasir Akhtar, an iconic filmmaker, actor, producer and singer, is all set to star in his forthcoming romantic-comedy movie Rung Dorangi scheduled to release this month on LTN Family. Following the success of his film Azaad last year, Yasir brings us his new passion project that will surely entertain the audience.
Revisit his past achievements and uncover his vision as a storyteller in an exclusive interview with Haider Rifaat of The Truth International.

Yasir, your new project film Rung Dorangi is slated for a release this month. Tell us more about the project.

Rung Dorangi is an amalgamation of humor and emotions. The light moments will suddenly take you to a tragic scene with a lot of twists and turns. It is not a “saas bahu” story. You will experience a fresh environment with attractive characters. We have filmed Rung Dorangi on a beautiful farmhouse, surrounding areas of Malir and even the posh areas of Karachi. Some scenes will give you glimpses of my earlier works – Jayen Kahan Armaan, Sard Aag, Tapal Cinema, Mera Ghar Aik Whirpool and my songs like Milan, Chandni, My Love, Aey Sanam and recent musical work – Sansani and Saiyaan.

I mostly work on concepts that involve human emotions. Rung Dorangi will take you back to a time when things were simple yet equally modern and satisfying for your soul. Hamza (my character) and Omer (Shees Sajjad Gul) are living in a farmhouse away from the city. Hamza is a single parent whose wife passed away in an accident. The plot takes an interesting turn when Ayesha (Namra Shahid) flees her wedding because her mother Sakina (Humera Bano) forces her to marry the son of her landlord’s brother (Faizan Shaikh). Ayesha escapes on the day of her marriage. Her best friend Sadia (Palwasha Yahya) takes her to the farmhouse where Hamza and Omer live. A series of incidents occur when Ayesha starts living in the farmhouse with Hamza, Omer and their helper Makkhan (Irfan Motiwala). The film then brings surprising elements when the characters of Safdar (Hasham Khan) and Jibran (Tabrez Ali) enter.

Give our readers a few reasons why they should watch Rung Dorangi.

Rung Dorangi will surely take you to a different, simpler world. It is a very gripping script shot in beautiful locations. Wonderful acting by each and every actor! One can easily watch and enjoy the film with all the age groups. My new OST for Rung Dorangi is simple yet deep.

What other aspects of Rang Dorangi would grab our attention?

Rung Dorangi is close to life with great production value and colors of joy. Above all, it is packed with human feelings.

Tell us about the script of Rung Dorangi. What themes have you grappled in the film?

I discussed the initial plot with Dureen Anwer in London. We developed the basic screenplay. I was looking for a writer to pen down a script with a basic screenplay. Veteran actress Parveen Akbar introduced me to the extremely talented actor and writer Saqib Sameer. We both sat down for more than a month for hours to work on the script. Saqib has vast experience in film, television and stage. I was lucky to have him on board as a writer. While explaining the screenplay to Saqib, he added many stronger situations. Rung Dorangi has humor, romance, tragedy, adventure and even mystery. The characters have a bonding with one another. The roles are very strong and everyone has acted brilliantly.

Why did you decide to go ahead with a rom-com film venture as opposed to a more serious, dramatic genre?

Since my last film Azaad was a serious drama, I wanted to select a subject that had humor and some light moments. Rung Dorangi has many ingredients. It is fun-filled with many serious scenes. I try to balance my stories with both rom-com and drama. The actress Namra Shahid in Rung Dorangi has a totally different character as compared to that of Momal Sheikh’s in Azaad. I like a variety of characters. Besides, there is so much seriousness in the world right now. We all need to relax and go back to the basics. Also, after travelling the world and living in the UK for so long, I have realized that people love to watch rom-coms.

How would you contrast your experience filming Azaad in the UK with Rung Dorangi in Pakistan?

For me, producing something in the UK is as easy as working in Pakistan. I did so many productions, concerts and events in England that I feel the same vibe there as I do here in my home country. Azaad was a challenging project. We had to cover many locations of London. It had new talent with many experienced actors. After Rung Dorangi, my next gig will be Mujh Ko Pata Hai based in London.

Moving on, as a director and a producer, you have launched many trendsetting productions in Pakistan; Music Channel Charts, Tapal Cinema, French Toast, Mera Ghar Aik Whirpool, Jayen Kahan Armaan, Sard Aag and Azaad among others. Would you like to pull off a sequel to your earlier works?

I would love to do a sequel of my drama serial Sard Aag, which I did for HUM Television in 2006. It was filmed in Manchester with some new actors. I auditioned talent from acting schools in Birmingham, Manchester and London. Brilliant actors like Nauman Ijaz and the late Abid Ali were invited from Pakistan. It had 24 episodes in total. Sard Aag is the first British-Pakistani drama serial. Those who watched were impressed with its script and quality of production. The drama was way ahead of its time.

What is your vision as a director?

To bring positivity and hope through my productions and songs. Also, subjects that the audience can relate to. I understand a script, the situations and improvise through my personal experiences. Travelling to so many countries has made me quite balanced. Big or small, I believe every character is important in a story.

I observe people, their mannerisms and choose artists according to these requirements. For me, it is not essential to cast big stars in a production. One should cast an actor who is suitable for the charac- ter. There must be realism in the story and acting. The locations in any of the productions are just like the characters.

I have been in the entertainment industry since childhood and got to learn a lot from my uncle Javed Jabbar, who was a pioneer of a modern advertising agency in Pakistan. Mehreen Jabbar is my first cousin and we have spent our childhood together. I have worked with numerous veterans of the PTV family including Shehzad Khalil, Sahira Kazmi, Shahid Iqbal Pasha, Sultana Siddiqui, Kazim Pasha, Haroon Rind and more. I learnt a lot from them while working with them.

Which celebrities received their big breaks as artists through your productions?

There is a long list of artists who got big breaks and launched their careers through my productions; Shehzad Roy, Najam Sheraz, Humayun Saeed, Fakhar-e-Alam, Shamoon Abbasi, Armeena Khan, Zara Shaikh, Nadeem Jafri, Komal Rizvi, Tooba Siddiqui, Javeria Abbasi, Nida Yasir, Najaf Bilgrami, Azfar Ali and many others.

Finally, how would you compare your singing of earlier songs like Kabhi to Hoga Mera Milan, Chandni, My Love, Aey Sanam Teray Naal to your recent ones, Sansani, Take it Easy and Saiyaan from the film Azaad?

I have progressed. My vocals and sense of composition are better now. I definitely know what kind of sound I need for a song. After producing so many songs here in Pakistan and in the UK, I am comfortable working with other genres of music that can easily gel in with artists from other backgrounds.

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