You may have seen her on TV playing unconventional characters but with Laal Kabootar,Mansha Pasha raised the bar very high. The film revolved around her character’s resolve to solve her husband’s murder and punish the culprit, by hook or by crook. Not only did she come out as a solid performer, people loved the way she portrayed a modern Pakistani woman who doesn’t want to stay behind because of belonging to the fairer sex. It was one of those roles that many actresses in Pakistan wouldn’t have accepted in the first place, however, Mansha did and came out with flying colors. We got in touch with the actress regarding Laal Kabootar,why she chose such an unconventional role, how she prepared for it and above all, how content she is after the film’s release. Excerpts:
The News Tribe: After your first film Chalay Thay Saath where your performance was appreciated, you took a break from films and now after two years, made a comeback to the big screen. Any specific reason for choosing Laal Kabootar over the other films?
Mansha Pasha: Everyone was asking me why I didn’t do films after Chalay Thay Saath and that was because I was interested in quality work, not quantity. Many films that were released after that were offered to me but my heart wasn’t in it. Since committing to Laal Kabootar last year, I didn’t accept any more offers as I knew that it was going to be a different film. As to why I said yes to the offer, well it was because of the director Kamal Khan who had impressed me with his music videos, even before approaching me for the movie. In fact, when I saw his couple of music videos that were nominated for Lux Style Awards as well, I had told myself that whenever this guy would make a film, I would want in and that’s exactly what happened. I went for his offer because of his expertise and not his experience because to me, how he handles the narrative mattered the most. And after the film’s release, people are talking about him since he is very serious about his work and challenges the actors in his own good way.
The News Tribe: Is it true that you were asked for an audition before being cast in the film by the director? In your line of work, that’s considered a step-down, no?
Mansha Pasha: Not at all. Yes, I have my own body of work but we should take auditions as a learning process for both the actors and the directors. It shouldn’t be seen as judging an actor but his or her suitability to the character. It even provides the director a chance to judge whether the person would be fit for the role or not and that should make sense to all actors.
The News Tribe: What was so special about Laal Kabootar that you went for it over other offers? Did it have something to do with the peculiar name?
Mansha Pasha: When I was offered Laal Kabootar, it had a different working title so no, the title had nothing to do with my agreeing to work in the film. The role wasn’t out of this world either but the treatment, the experience of working with a thinking director was. Kamal Khan worked in a completely different way than the other directors I have worked with. The character of Aalia was relatable to all but it was the treatment that made it appear as even better because it was well executed.
The News Tribe: The film was shot in unknown areas of Karachi that neither you nor you co-star Ahmed Ali Akbar had ever been to; how did it add to your performance?
Mansha Pasha: Shooting Laal Kabootar was a very tough experience, unlike any I have had so far in my career. There were so many places that we hadn’t been to and while we were shooting there in the open, I realized that life in Karachi is such a different thing when you try to go into the older areas. The life over the bridge has no similarity with that under the bridge, that’s Karachi for you in a nutshell. As for the spectators in different parts of the city, trust me they have become quite experienced. The crowd wasn’t only impressive but accommodating and knew when to be part of the shot and when to act as if nothing important is happening around them.
The News Tribe: There were quite a number of scenes in the film where you had to change gears from being subtle to being overboard. How did you manage that?
Mansha Pasha: You can say overboard because you weren’t the one getting up injured (laughs). It was physically very exhausting especially the action scenes including the one at the climax. Kamal used to tell me about the injuries sustained by the other actors and how they took it, just to pump me up and it worked. After the shooting was done, I ended up in bed with a high fever for three days as I was unable to make the transition back to normal life from literally giving the shooting my sweat!
The News Tribe: Now that the film has ended its run and is being hailed as a cult classic, do you feel relaxed and happy?
Mansha Pasha: Not just relaxed, but overwhelmed by the response of the audience. They praised my work a lot and it has made me more humble than before. My character in the film was difficult and different to both Ahmed Ali Akbar’s and Rashid Farooqi’s because they had dialogues and action scenes to show their acting prowess while my task was to portray a character that didn’t have a lot to say on the screen. Aalia wasn’t supposed to have too many dialogues or wasn’t supposed to speak a lot and was more of a silent kind. To be able to establish what the character was feeling with expressions was a task I am glad that came my way and I was able to convey the emotions to the audience.