Pakistani movie Chalay Thay Saath is gearing up to be quite a different tale than what has previously been showcased from Pakistani cinema.

No item numbers or dance performances and a story rich in detail and history, Chalay Thay Saath promises to be a roller coaster of emotions.

With an entertaining couple of Osama Tahir & Mansha Pasha, Syra Shahroz’ earnest character, Kent S. Leung’s witty humor, and Faris Khalid’s comical infatuation with Zhalay Sarhadi – the mistress of giving the cold shoulder, Chalay Thay Saath is sure to keep you on your toes.

With only 10 days to go (and counting!) before the big release, VeryFilmi had an exclusive chat with the brains behind the movie.

Atiya Zaidi, agency superwoman by day and writer by night, opens up about the Chalay Thay Saath experience.

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VeryFilmi: What inspired the story of the film Chalay Thay Saath?

Atiya Zaidi: Umer had written a one-page story ten years ago about a group of friends going to Hunza and that was our starting point as we went on a story search to Gilgit and Hunza.

The story of the film was inspired by the land itself.

You will have to go there yourself and look up at the towering mountains covered in snow, threatening and comforting at the same time to see what I mean by this. The life of the people, the stories they grew up with, the myths and folklore of the region and the attitude towards life itself acted as our muses.

VF: Any of the parts based on real life events or characters?

AZ: Yes a lot is based or inspired by real life events especially at the climax of the film the lines between fact and fiction have been blurred on purpose.

Our mission was to create realism and make the viewer forget that this is fiction.

The characters also mimic the people around us, while their nuances and perspectives are their own, they are hybrids of people we have met in our lives.

VF: Kent plays the role of Adam in the film. Why did you choose a person of Chinese origin for this role?

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AZ: The first stop we made on our story search was at the beautiful and serene Chinese Graveyard in Gilgit where 88 Chinese workers are buried. These men lost their lives while building the Karakorum Highway.

810 Pakistanis also laid down their lives in this construction alongside the Chinese and the sad part is that the rest of the Pakistan is oblivious to these facts.

We don’t want to educate our viewers on geography or history but we do want to bring these fantastic tales naturally in the narrative.

When we entered the graveyard, Umer and I immediately agreed that one of our characters will be from China.

It was later when we were done with the first draft of the screenplay that the dream of CPEC started to become a reality.

VF: Was Resham’s part written with Syra Shahroz in mind? Why?

AZ: As the story develops and the characters are taking their shape, a writer can hear the voice of the character as he/she talks.

I am a visual writer, I imagine the smiles, the tears and the tone of voice as I write the dialogues.

(Once I was traveling for work and I was busy writing the film on the plane. It was a sad scene that I was writing and I later realized that I look like the stupidest person in the cabin who is constantly sniffling and wiping her tears).

Syra comes across as an earnest and genuine person and that is what Resham is like.

Syra fitted perfectly as the story developed. Again Umer and Beenish were the ones who suggested her name even before the writing of the screenplay started and I could not agree more.

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VF: Tell us a bit about CTS? What do you hope the audience takes away from the story?

AZ: A warm feeling in their hearts is what we want the audience to take away from the film. We are hoping that they will forget about the kitchen duty at home or the pending deadline at the office as they sit in the cinema.

I hope that the audience will celebrate the triumphs of the characters and will lament their loss as their own.

We pray that while they absent-mindedly stuff popcorns in their mouths, they forget that these characters are not real.

VF: What’s your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite part?

AZ: Favourite part is writing and least favorite part is writing. Famous writer Dorthy Parker said the same thing, that she hates writing but loves having written.

Writing is a lonely job.

You can discuss and think with others, for countless hours, but all that needs to go on paper and that has to be done alone. As opposed to my day job of being a creative head in a leading advertising agency where we sit with teams and thrash out ideas, as writers you don’t have that luxury.

VF: Do you have to get “into character” to write your protagonist?

AZ: Oh I think I answered that J Yes definitely you have to get in character. Sometimes I used to forget that I am saying the dialogues out loud or that I am mimicking the expressions.

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I could be very entertaining for someone to watch a writer sitting in front of a laptop, late at night making faces at the screen.

VF: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to write a film script?

AZ: Thinkers think, writer write. Pick a pen, pencil, laptop, or even a typewriter. Don’t wait for the perfect software to start writing. I wrote in MS Word which I found out later was so much harder to do than on software like Celtx but hey it got the job done.

Also, remember that done is better than perfect. Get it done, you will never make it perfect.

VF: How do you make sure that the characters who act match the characters of your script?

AZ: That’s the basic requisite of any actor that they should embrace the character and make them come to life. The casting was a lengthy and careful process with constant discussions and auditions.

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Umer and Beenish worked very diligently to cast the right people who do justice to the story.

VF: Any more scripts in the pipeline?

AZ: Not right now but I would love to write more.

Well, we can’t wait for the movie to come out! Chalay Thay Saath releases on 21st April, 2017.

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The post first appeared on Very