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Wanted: a casting coup!

Are you tired of seeing your favourite stars in the same roles, over and over again? Instep takes a look at several who have been typecast to the limit of monotony

Wanted: a casting coup!

Mahira Khan
Stereotyped as: Pretty young girl next door, often social victim
We’d like to see her as…the  villain, the vixen, anything but the victim

There’s a reason why Mahira Khan is the nation’s sweetheart and is fast gaining a huge fan base across the border in India as well; not only is she effortlessly beautiful and stylish, she’s got the acting chops to boot. It’s a mark of Mahira’s talent that she could take a character like Humsafar’s Khirad – the quintessential desi ‘good girl’ – and inject it with a certain degree of spunk, so that even though her martyr act would leave viewers dizzy with exasperation at times, they couldn’t help but fall in love with her. The downside – Humsafar’s unprecedented and enormous success lead to Mahira being typecast as the virginal, selfless beauty – we saw shades of that in her subsequent drama serials Shehr-e-Zaat and Sadqay Tumharay.

Even her first cinematic venture, Bol, in 2011 had her playing a similarly self-sacrificing character. With Bin Roye set to release next weekend, the actress has promised that her Saba will have more shades of grey than the previous roles she’s taken on but the promos that we’ve seen so far don’t point to Mahira breaking out of her comfort zone of playing the eternal nice girl.

While we admit that no one does angelic as well and as realistically as her, we would love to see her embody a role that is a complete departure from what she’s done so far. What wouldn’t we give to see her in a negative role or in that of a sexy siren – given her innate sense of sophistication, we have no doubt she’d make one hell of a vixen.

Stereotyped as: The angry young (maybe not so young anymore) man
We’d like to see him as…a romantic or comic hero, who isn’t always on a trip to tear half the world down.

One has to hand it to Shaan – the star stuck it out with Lollywood through its most dismal days and didn’t give up on the local film industry even when actors not half as talented as him were hopping across the border in search of lucrative offers. His tenacity paid off, for as Lollywood goes through a period of rebirth, he’s redeemed himself as a credible actor with superhit films like Waar to his credit.Shaan-1

But while Shaan may have traded his gandaasa for a gun, his choice of roles hasn’t really gone through a radical change. Where he was avenging his lost love ten years ago in a village in Punjab, he’s now doing it dressed in leather on the rooftop of a high-rise in Islamabad. From playing ex-army officer Major Mujtaba Rizvi in Waar to the slick spy Kashif Siddiqui in Operation O21 to the lead in Shamoon Abbasi’s upcoming Gidh, Shaan has perfected the action hero, who must battle his personal demons (usually let loose after his beautiful young family is killed off) while fighting the bad guys.

Don’t get us wrong – we enjoy a good-looking guy showing off his superhero strength as much as the next cinema buff, especially if he’s dressed dapper too, as Shaan invariably is. There can, however, be too much of a good thing and Shaan’s angry young man avatar is headed in that direction. Can we please have him take on a role that doesn’t involve terrorism and revenge? Good cinema doesn’t have to involve intricate special effects and huge budgets; whatever happened to a good old romance? It would be a treat to see him playing a light-hearted Romeo-esque role ala Waheed Murad or Shah Rukh Khan.

Ayesha Omar
Stereotyped as: the bubbly cute girl
We’d like to see her as…a tragic heroine

Ayesha Omar is a bundle of infectious energy and her most notable onscreen persona, that of Khoobusrat in the sitcom Bulbalay, does justice to her real-life bubbly personality. The sitcom is hugely popular amongst the masses, and Ayesha has won over millions of hearts playing the lovable, hapless Khoobsurat. It’s hard to look beyond all that cuteness, and we’re not surprised that television producers continue to offer the talented singer/musician roles in a similar vein.Ayesha-Omar

News of the actress turning her girl-next-door image completely on its head and attempting an item song in her upcoming debut film Karachi Se Lahore nearly broke the internet a few moths ago. And while the revealing ghagra choli worn by Ayesha raised many a sanctimonious eyebrow, there is unfortunately nothing too scandalous about the video. If anything, the lyrics – “Bari tutti frutti hoon mein, bari cutie beauty hoon mein” – other than not doing Ayesha’s musical career any favours, only reinforce the stereotype.

We’d love to see Ayesha play a more serious, grown-up character and if Yalghaar ever sees the light of day, our wish just might come true. The war drama, directed by Waar’s Hassan Waqas Rana, has the bubbly actress taking on the challenging role of a victim of terrorism and should hopefully allow her to shed the ‘cute’ label once and for all.

Javed Sheikh
Stereotyped as: sab ka baap
We’d like to see him as…anything but the dad

Javed Sheikh is in the enviable position of having played father to some of the hottest stars of the current generation, whether it was Shah Rukh Khan in Om Shanti Om, Fawad Khan in Zindagi Gulzar Hai or Ranbir Kapoor in the upcoming Tamasha. He’s undoubtedly got the benevolent paternal manner down pat and does a convincing job but we can’t help but wonder if dad roles are all that are left in the repertoire of this talented and experienced actor from PTV’s golden era.JS-2

Surely not, for the man who once played the epitome of a romantic hero as Faraz in the classic Ankahi reminded us recently that he can do quirky comedy just as well. His bumbling Shakeel in the hit movie Na Maloom Afraad was hilarious and endearing at the same time and he displayed a certain class even while doing slapstick that only an actor of his stature can be in possession of.

Mr. Sheikh, you might not be young enough to land a lead anymore but there are plenty of meaty roles that you can sink your teeth into without delving into dad territory. You’d make a badass mafia don, for one!

Iman Ali
Stereotyped as: the gorgeous chandramukhi
We’d like to see her as…anything but the courtesan

Iman Ali is stunning, there’s no doubt about that. As a model in the 2000s, she ruled the fashion industry with her gorgeous looks and her ability to smoulder on the ramp and in front of the camera. No other model could bring the kind of covert sensuousness to a shoot or a campaign that Iman could muster up in the blink of an eye. It is little wonder then that in the course of her acting career, producers continue to cast her in the role of the courtesan – the gorgeous seductress that men can’t resist.Iman-Ali

As Anarkali in Shoaib Mansoor’s grand musical extravaganza Ishq Mohabbat Apna Pan back in 2003, she played the doomed lover to Rizwan Haider’s Prince Saleem perfectly. In Bol, Mansoor cast her once again in the role of a courtesan and while this one lived in the grimy reality of present-day Lahore instead of the grandeur of the Mughal court, the model-turned-actress managed to pull off a credible performance. In the upcoming period romance Mah-e-Meer, Iman will be seen in the guise of Mahtab, the muse to Fahad Mustafa’s Mir Taqi Mir.

Granted, Iman’s is the kind of classic eastern beauty that looks great decked out in jewels and peshwaazes and OTT make-up, but we’ve had enough of seeing her in the role of a temptress. We know she can pull off versatile characters too (remember her Mariam in Khuda Kay Liye? Other than the jarring accent, Iman played the complex role quite well in our opinion), so here’s hoping the future holds more light-hearted, every day girl roles for this beautiful actress and not ones that play on her inherent sex appeal.

Samiya Khan Mumtaz
Stereotyped as: ‘mum’ is the word
We’d like to see her as…anything but the tormented mom

With a solid background in theatre behind her, Samiya Khan Mumtaz is one of the most gifted actresses of the current generation and you can count on any drama or film featuring her to be hard-hitting and intense.Samiya-Mumtaz

The actress recently won international acclaim for her portrayal of the courageous mother in Dukhtar, who flees the confines of a conservative household with her ten-year-old daughter. Jami’s upcoming Moor will cast her in the role of a mother who deals with hardships once again, this time in Balochistan’s Zhob Valley in 1984. We also saw Samiya playing the evil mother to Mahira’s Shanno in Sadkay Tumhari and it is a tribute to her stellar performance that the actress garnered more hate from audiences for that portrayal than any other negative character on TV in recent times.

Her serious and intense portrayals have made us cry with her or given us a reason to hate her; what we want from Samiya now is a performance where she doesn’t have to play the tormented mother. Acting, after all, is all about breaking out of your comfort zone so can
we please implore you to be a little frivolous and fun for a change?

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