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The Talented Mr. Munawar

Catching up with Sheheryar Munawar Siddique

The Talented Mr. Munawar

There’s a funny anecdote about Sheheryar Munawar being approached by a talent management agency before he got into modeling and acting. Apparently makeup artist Omayr Waqar, who back in the day used to work with the said agency, saw Munawar’s photos randomly on Facebook and approached him for modeling via an inbox message. The abrupt message was ignored by Munawar as spam and it wasn’t until much later, when he had finally embraced his inner thespian, that Munawar bumped into Waqar at the very same agency and the two had a laugh over it.

With a background in finance from IBA, Munawar isn’t your typical star-boy who always dreamed of being a famous actor. If anything, the stardom pursued him while he courted production work. Munawar claims that he was always attracted towards production even when he was studying in university.

“We had to make ads in IBA for our degree in finance and that always spoke to me. I wasn’t interested in being in front of the camera, actually to be honest it wasn’t something I had considered seriously, but being behind the camera was a very creatively rewarding experience,” he explains.

Whether he had his heart set on it or not, the silver screen definitely loved Munawar and since his TV debut there’s been no looking back for the debonair actor. But a single interaction is enough to convince you that he hasn’t let his celebrity status get to his head and perhaps his most charming quality remains his earnestness and humility.

Having recently announced another project in the pipeline, Munawar seems to have a lot going on these days. We catch up with the dreamy eyed actor for an overdue post – Ho Mann Jahan tete-a-tete.

Having finished shooting for his second feature film, Project Ghazi last year, Munawar is currently awaiting for the post-production process to finish. A star-studded production, the film includes Saira Shehroz, Humayun Saeed, Adnan Jaffer (as the movie’s antagonist) and veteran actor Talat Hussain and is touted to be the country’s first superhero flick.

“It’s not your run of the mill army film. It’s a bit of a thriller; if I had to draw a parallel with another film to explain the genre, I’d say it’s akin to the Bourne Identity series. But the film requires extensive post production work so I’m not entirely sure when it will be out but I’m hoping that it sees the light of day towards the end of the year.

“See, productions have their own way of working and as an actor you don’t always end up with all the answers once the shooting finishes. When I was working with Asim on Ho Mann Jahan, I was also producing the film with him so I knew the schedule and deadlines, and we had the whole thing shot and released within the year.

Obviously this is a very different film with very different requirements with its own production schedule so I guess it isn’t fair to compare the amount of time being taken before release,” he explains.

The conversation moves on to his upcoming project, an as yet untitled film with Meenu and Farjad of Zinda Bhaag fame. “The simplest way to explain what the film is about would be to call it a rom-com but it’s certainly more than that. It’s got quite a quirky, off beat story with more depth and nuance than what you’d find in a commercial film of the same genre. We go on the floor in June hopefully and it’s shot entirely in Karachi.

I guess that’s also expected because Meenu and Farjad are intelligent film-makers who always want to tell a story through their projects,” Munawar elaborates.

He’s starring again with Mahira Khan and the two share great on-screen chemistry. Is it only limited to celluloid though or do they genuinely like each other and enjoy working together? “Mahira and I are friends and we have great rapport. Working with her is always fun and our characters this time around are quite different from the ones we embodied in our first film so you’ll get to see a new side of both of us with this venture. It’s not your typical hero-heroine story so I’m quite excited about it,” Munawar answers.

Talking about his inclination towards direction and his wish to work behind the scenes, Munawar explains that he finds both aspects of the job equally rewarding. “Honestly if I look at it altogether, whether you’re an actor, a director or a producer, you’re a story. The difference is the perspective you approach the project with. And I’ve always been drawn to being able to tell a story well.

I’ve directed for a while in terms of spearheading TVCs but I do obviously look towards directing my very own feature film one day, in a couple of years down the line. Maybe ten, actually no, five hopefully ten is too long!” he adds with a chuckle.

He is currently also working on a script with Asim Raza for their production house, The Vision Factory, that produced HMJ and Munawar hopes to see the script shape up over the course of the year so they can start working on it by the end of 2017.

Whether you’re looking at it from an acting or production perspective, Munawar definitely has his hands quite full at the moment and we can expect to see a lot more of the handsome actor on screen in the coming years. With talent such as Munawar taking up the baton of cinema revival, things are definitely looking good (literally and figuratively) for the movie industry in the country.

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