While attending a press conference in Dubai for the film Creature 3D starring Pakistani actor Imran Abbas and the sultry Bipasha Basu, I couldn’t help but feel proud at being a Pakistani. I was actually witnessing a home-grown actor who could sit next to an established Bollywood star and hold his own.
The press conference began two hours behind schedule and had its fair share of star-struck fans wishing to take selfies with the duo. The conference featured a short promo and comments from Bipasha Basu, Bhushan Kumar (music and film producer) and Imran Abbas on their experiences of being part in a 3D horror movie of which the Hum Network is the Pakistani media partner.
Replying to a query on why she was taking up horror films which still don’t have a sizable audience in our part of the world, Basu responded, “Well, supernatural and horror is a genre that is a multi-million dollar industry worldwide, particularly in Hollywood. Admittedly, in India it is a relatively new genre but for that very reason it is also very exciting, because it means you are doing something different, and if it is lucrative, then why not? Also, I felt this genre could be explored in many ways. It offers a lot of scope to actors, so it’s a win-win situation for me.”
Bipasha Basu and Imran Abbas claim to share great chemistry both on and off screen while shooting for Creature 3D
I wondered how Imran Abbas would respond when asked if he felt he was directly competing with Pakistani television super-hero Fawad Khan rather than with Bollywood heroes since both their debut films were being launched practically simultaneously. He calmly replied that the genre of his movie is completely different from that of Fawad’s — as his is experimental while Fawad’s is basically a rom-com — so there is no question of competing with each other. In fact, he did not feel he was competing against any of the umpteen established Bollywood heroes either as very few had taken on such a role. “This is something so new for me that I am just excited about it without worrying about anybody else,” he added.
We have frequently heard Indian celebrities visiting Pakistan speak of our warmth and hospitality, and how much they were made to feel at home here, so it was refreshing to hear Abbas speak about a similar experience in India. “I was made to feel quite comfortable both on and off set, especially by my co-star. From day one I felt like I was in my hometown. We enjoyed great chemistry both on-and off-set and she made me feel like a friend.”
Speaking about her satisfaction level with regard to where her career has taken her in the last 14 years, and whether these are the kind of movies she wants to do, Basu stated, “I am extremely happy with my progress and the fact that in spite of having being around for well over a decade, my audiences still like to see me is highly gratifying. I had never had a plan in place, but also never wanted to be part of a stale system of work that people keep doing. That is not to say that I haven’t ever done those kinds of films, but the excitement level has to be there for me. I have found that whenever I have done work that is removed from the norm, it has always worked for me. So, yes, I love the way my career has shaped up.”
“The challenging thing was that the creature was never there before us on the set — we always had to imagine it, and keep our eye line at a level that would make the viewer feel we were staring at it.” — Imran Abbas
Notorious for her heavy workout sessions Bipasha Basu admits she has had to work out a lot more for this film, because of the demands of the role. “I used to get up at 5am every day to work out for two hours and keep hoping that Abbas would join me but no luck! Also, because the movie is action-packed and the role a highly energetic one, there was a lot of running, falling, cutting and bruising on a daily basis. It was freezing and drizzling all the time; we would have to do the same shot over and over again so we would have to be very patient and focused and just follow Vikram’s instructions as everything was in his head, and we had to just trust him.”
When asked if he had ever imagined that he would launch his film career with a bombshell like Basu, Abbas said, “No! I had been expecting someone new to star with me, not someone so established like Bipasha who is loved around the globe. When I found out she would be my co-star, I was really excited, and still am!”
Basu chipped in, “He is really sweet. I must tell you, the first time we met was on Skype, he mentioned our chemistry. Well, let me tell you we used to be like kids, playing Ludo and everything. Vikram used to insist I was winning at Ludo by cheating, which was not true.”
When I ask her if she would be interested in acting in Pakistani movies, and if she had seen any, Basu said, “I watched a lot of Pakistani serials when I was growing up but I have to admit that all the information I have about Pakistan is thanks to Imran. He told us how deeply we are loved there. And he found out that I love mithai, so he would keep sending them to me to putao me. I would love to come to Pakistan and work there if there is an opportunity, but my only point of contact at this point in time is Imran Abbas.”
Responding to my query of how she feels when acting in horror flicks (considering her reputation of watching scary films with her eyes shut pretty much throughout) she said, “I get sleepless nights and feel scared in my own house. Every time I take on a role in a horror flick I think it will help me overcome my fears like the character I portray, but it never happens.”
“The challenging thing about this movie was that the creature was never there before us on the set — we always had to imagine it, and keep our eye line at a level that would make the viewer feel we were actually staring at it,” added Imran.
The conference organised by Dream Advertising and Ministry of Events ended with Imran Abbas’ live performance of a song from Creature 3D. A proud moment for Pakistanis, indeed.
Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, September 21st, 2014