Mohib Mirza is back on our television screens after a hiatus of nearly four years – we’ve seen him in films like Arth and Bachaana but he hasn’t done a TV serial since 2014. He’s back with a bang in Amin Iqbal’s Deedan on A-Plus, paired once again with the inimitable Sanam Saeed. Although Pakistani film is experiencing an exciting renaissance, it’s unusual for an actor of Mohib’s calibre to stay away from television so completely. He’s eloquent about his reasons for staying away from TV for so long,
“So many of the men in television serials recently have been terrible people. Violent and amoral, they have affairs, beat their wives or are abusive in some way. Pakistani men are for the most part portrayed as dishonourable and to be honest I became tired of the constant negative portrayals. I’m not like that, my father is not like that, my friends are not like that – where are the portrayals of decent men? I understand that there must be villains and it’s wonderful that TV is airing society’s ills but where is the balance?”
He goes on to say that he became concerned that the constant negative portrayal of men on TV was giving both men and women the subliminal message that this is how men are, that its somehow okay if they behave that way behind closed doors. As a father, he became very conscious of the impact of his roles and passed on roles that were adding to this skewed vision of what men are and should be – even though doing so meant that he lost presence on-screen and the associated fame and income.
“An entire generation of television viewers are having their ideas about how men do and should behave warped by mainly seeing negative portrayals with the odd milky hero. For that matter, as an industry, why are we focused so much on domestic dramas? If we see a doctor or a businessman, it’s in the context of his personal relationships. Why can’t we be making television about detectives or spies or sportsmen like Jahangir Khan or scientists? Pakistan has its heroes and we should be seeing them.”
Asked about some of his favourite international series, he mentions ‘The Night Manager,’
“What an incredible story, packed into just 6 tight episodes. From the writing, to the direction, to the acting, it was brilliantly executed.”
Mohib believes that we should not underestimate the Pakistani audience and should try to create homegrown dramas that move beyond the realm of boy meets girl and family relations.
His latest serial, Deedan, offered the chance to tackle an interesting role – a modern-day Pashtun Majnu who sacrifices much for love.
“As well as being an interesting character, it was a role that allowed me to work once again with Sanam Saeed – who’s not only a brilliant actress but is also one of the few actresses that is tall enough to work well with my height,” he quips. “She’s 5′ 8″ to my 6′ 2″, which means our director doesn’t have to watch his angles as much as he does with shorter actresses!”
Shooting in Hunza and Pasu was also wonderful, as was the experience of working with seasoned actors like Huma Nawab and Rasheed Naaz,
“Huma is phenomenal as Gul Makay and it was a pleasure to work with her. She was also great fun to be around – once she turned up on set with brown lips and the director was horrified. It turned out she’d had walnut leaf which had stained them brown and it would take days to fade away!”
Deedan airs on Saturdays at 8pm on A-Plus. Mohib will also soon be appearing in Nadeem Baig’s next serial, Dushman, with Humayun Saeed.