Lollywood is in revival mode and we might have some Pakistani film actors to thank for that. Our actors have proven over the years how they put a lot of thought into selecting films. Because of this very fact we can see improved scripts and plots for an increasing number of movies.
Over a little more than a decade ago, the film industry was dormant. It saw a turn for the better when Shoaib Mansoor’s Khuda Kay Liye released and later the industry’s productions got better with films such as Waar and Jawani Phir Nahi Ani. Films are the biggest medium of the entertainment industry with actors trying their best to bag top projects for their filmography. It takes courage to refuse mega projects but a true artist learns not to comprise and instead say no to work they feel is not satisfying for their craft.
Here is a list of Pakistani film actors who dared to refuse major Lollywood feature films:
Ali Zafar (Khuda Kay Liye)
This Pakistani heartthrob, riding high on the stupendous success of his Lollywood debut and home-production, Teefa in Trouble, which became a blockbuster on the box-office, was originally supposed to debut with Shoaib Mansoor’s Khuda Kay Liye in 2007. The actor had issues with the length of his role but cited “personal reasons” to not do the film. Ali’s loss became Fawad’s gain and the film became the cinematic debut of Fawad Khan. The film received massive critical acclaim and commercial success, locally as well as internationally.
Zara Noor Abbas (Teefa in Trouble and The Legend of Maula Jatt)
Zara Noor Abbas is the new film-star in town with back-to-back releases of Chhalawa, a recent release, and Parey Hut Love, to be released soon. The actress who was most loved for her acting performance in the super hit Hum TV production Khamoshi was offered two big budgeted films in a span of only a few months. Zara was offered a role in Teefa in Trouble. She was asked for a screen test and the talks went on, however, Zara couldn’t play the part as her actor-mother Asma Abbas was battling cancer, and Zara wanted to prioritize her family over her career. She was also offered another role in The Legend of Maula Jatt which she refused as Mahira and Humaima had more significant roles in the film. The film is yet to be released but the buzz for The Legend of Maula Jatt is unprecedented in Lollywood.
Meera (Na Maloom Afraad)
Meera was the original choice for the song “Billi“ in Na Maloom Afraad. She refused to shoot for the song due to a skin disease that she was tackling with at that point in time. Not long after Mehwish Hayat was chosen as a replacement for the song which surprisingly went onto become a chart buster. The same situation was also recreated in newly-released Baaji’s opening scene where Meera’s character gets replaced by Mehwish Hayat’s.
Hamza Ali Abbasi (Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2)
Hamza Ali Abbasi is known for his political interests and as an activist apart from his impressive performances in super-hit films and dramas. The actor who refused a part in Akshay Kumar-starrer Baby due to its anti-Pakistan content also chose to opt out of Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 or JPNA-2 as he didn’t believe in the content endorsed by the franchise. He said his role in the JPNA-2 prequel was a mistake as the film had scenes and dialogues which objectified women and he was against that. Fahad Mustafa bagged Abbasi’s role some time after.
Syra Shahroz (Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2)
Syra Shahroz refused Mawra Hocane’s role in Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 opposite Fahad Mustafa. The actress defended her decision for refusal by saying that the actresses in the franchise have nothing substantial to do, and that they’re just mere props. She also mentioned that the Jawani franchise objectifies women which Syra can’t tolerate as an artist and a woman.
Iman Ali (Punjab Nahi Jaungi)
Iman Ali is known for taking challenging roles in films such as Khuda Kay Liye, Bol and Mah-e-Mir. The veteran model who recently got married was actually the original choice for Mehwish Hayat’s role in Punjab Nahi Jaungi. Iman rejected the film for personal reasons. The film’s team revealed that both, Iman and the producers, mutually decided not to collaborate on this project. The film became one of the biggest blockbusters on Pakistani celluloid.
Sohai Ali Abro (Punjab Nahi Jaungi)
Sohai Ali Abro witnessed massive success in a span of a few years with hits like Jawani Phir Nahi Ani and Wrong No. apart from superlative dramas such as Pyaray Afzal. She was offered Urwa Hocane’s role in Humayun Saeed-starrer Punjab Nahi Jaungi which she turned down as she didn’t want to do a supporting role. After the success of her previous movies she expected something bigger and meatier as an accomplished actor. She went on to do the critically-acclaimed film, The Motorcycle Girl, which won her laurels for her performance and women empowering content.
Osman Khalid Butt (Parwaaz Hai Junoon)
The Baaji star was originally the parallel lead in Momina Duraid’s Parwaaz Hai Junoon. Instead of Ahad Raza Mir, it was Osman Khalid Butt’s name that was initially announced with Hamza Ali Abbasi, until Osman chose to opt out of the film. The actor stated he couldn’t accommodate the shooting schedule of the film as he was busy with promotions of his film, Balu Mahi. Osman was replaced by Ahad soon after and the movie released to decent commercial success on Eid-ul-Azha in 2018.
Mahira Khan (JPNA 2, Punjab Nahi Jaungi, Parey Hut Love, Parwaaz Hai Junoon)
Mahira Khan, being the biggest female superstar in Pakistan is also known to be the biggest heart breaker of directors who envision her in their films. Having already done Ho Mann Jahaan with Asim Raza, Mahira became an obvious choice for the team while casting for Parey Hut Love. Mahira couldn’t do the film due to date issues, there were also murmurs in the industry that the bona fide actress didn’t want to do a multi-starrer and also didn’t want to make her pairing repetitive with the film’s hero, Sheheryar Munawwar. Parwaaz Hai Junoon, Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 and Punjabi Nahi Jaungi were other mega budget options that she turned down without a problem.
Shaan Shahid (Love Mein Ghum)
Reema’s directorial venture Love Mein Ghum starred Moammar Rana in the lead role, however, before Moammar became the lead, it was who Shaan was signed for the film. On Tonite with HSY Season 1 Reema expressed that Shaan Shahid ditched the first shooting schedule of the film for an endorsement shoot despite giving his approval for the film. The actress had to cast a replacement at the eleventh hour as the film was on the floors in a foreign location.
Danish Taimoor (Azaadi)
The Mehrunisa V Lub You star was signed on for the Moammar Rana and Sonya Hussain starrer, Azaadi. Danish had a fallout with the makers over the prediction and content of the film and left the film. The film was based on the backdrop of Kashmir issue.
Farhan Saeed (Kaaf Kangana)
Both Urwa Hocane and Farhan Saeed were in talks for the Kaaf Kangana lead pairing but the project went through several production delays and changes because of which both the actors stepped out of the film. The movie is due to release this year with Sami Khan in the lead role. This film was supposed to be Farhan’s Lollywood debut, but not anymore.
Resham (Kaaf Kangana)