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Not your average brothers: Samar Jafri, Aashir Wajahat talk ‘Na Baligh Afraad’ and the 90s | The Express Tribune

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Fresh off the big screen, young talents Samar Jafri and Aashir Wajahat sat down with BBC Urdu to talk about their latest Eidul Azha release, Na Baligh Afraad and the 90s era in which the film was set. The production follows two meek schoolboys, comically named Mazhar and Fakhar, who in efforts to transform themselves from scrawny, bullied boys to macho men, try to rent an adult film and find themselves caught in an amusing chain of events. 

While the premise may seem ridiculous at first, and you’re probably questioning how they were able to make an entire (watchable) film based on this specific plot, this Nabeel Qureshi direction is actually more nuanced than it sounds.

Kicking off the interview, Samar and Aashir described their characters as “innocent” boys. “The film follows two immature kids who are growing up with time,” Samar explained. Aashir quickly jumped in with, “Yes, they’re not your average brothers, they grew up in the 90s where there wasn’t as much accessibility as there is today.” 

“Multiply their naiveness by ten compared to today’s children. I think that’s what the film revolves around. How kids who don’t fit into that stereotypical cool kid criteria have the urge to fit in and how that urge can sometimes mess up their lives,” the Sadqay singer remarked.

 

90s vs present day 

 

Talking about the challenges of adapting to an era they didn’t grow up in, the pair attributed their portrayal of the 90s to films and cult classics from the time, giving the example of Andaaz Apna Apna. “I think every child has this in common, their elders have told them stories about the 90s, or whatever time they grew up in. So, I don’t think there’s any boy or girl who isn’t aware of what life was like in the 90s.”

Humorously comparing the era of Walkmans and VCRs to the present day, the pair collectively decided that 2024 is a much better time to live in. “We’ve grown up in this time and so social media has opened a lot of doors for us,” said Aashir. For those who weren’t aware, the pair also have solo careers as musicians, a vocation they owe to the advanced use of technology available only in today’s world.

“For us, as musicians, social media is an outlet which allows us to put our music out there. Before, it wasn’t like this, where anyone could showcase their talent and it could reach any corner of the world.”

 

From television to film 

 

Shifting the focus to past projects, Samar brought up Mayi Re, the acclaimed drama that thrust him into the spotlight and expressed his gratitude to be able to star in Na Baligh Afraad. “It’s a dream come true for an artist like me who just started in the industry, did one drama and is now in a film. There are so many actors who have been doing amazing dramas for years but have not yet gotten a chance in cinema. So, I’m very grateful that I was able to land this role.” 

When asked how he deals with his growing popularity, Samar revealed, “I think it’s very important to have a family that keeps you grounded.” He playfully jested, “It’s also important to have friends that think absolutely nothing of you and continue to put you in your place.”

 

The reality of nepotism 

 

Touching upon the topic of nepotism in show business, Aashir candidly spoke on how his entry into the industry and then subsequent projects would not have been possible without his parents’ involvement. “When my entry into this line of work was smoothed out because of my parents, everything following somehow also gets associated with it.”

He added, “But Nabeel Qureshi is someone who I don’t think would compromise on the quality of his work – he never has. The people who I’ve worked with are very stern, if they didn’t think I could pull off a character, they wouldn’t cast me.”

Then came the age-old debate of whether an actor’s physical appearance matters if they are truly talented. Samar shared an anecdote of how whenever he’s on screen, he refuses to pay any heed to his appearance in order to bring some realism to the project. “If I’m playing a character that’s sitting at home, I won’t get my hair done. When I’m shown having just woken up, I don’t want my hair to be perfectly styled. When I’m at home in real life, I don’t walk around with blow-dried hair, so why would I do that on set?” 

Aashir then added, “I don’t think it’s fair to say that looks don’t matter, otherwise our industry would be very different. But platforms are writing new stories, so the debate may be settled soon enough.”

The duo wrapped up their session by playfully musing over which Bollywood stars they’d leap at the chance to collaborate with once the ban on Pakistani actors loosens. Their ambitious wish list included industry tycoons like Shah Rukh Khan, Karan Johar, Alia Bhatt and the timeless Madhuri Dixit.

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