Pakistan Is Misrepresented

LAHORE: Liev Schreiber is a straightforward actor — if he likes the script, he will do it but if the story doesn’t lure him in, he will not be a part of it.

He is currently in India promoting his project, The Reluctant Fundamentalist — a tale of a young Pakistani chasing corporate success on Wall Street — a film he describes as a thriller. It will tickle the viewers’ minds and give them something to think about, he says. The movie is slated for release in Pakistan, finally, on May 24.

“I don’t want to minimise the impact of 9/11; 99% of the reactions to the tragedy seemed reasonable, but there was a level of prejudice,” says Schreiber, giving some background to the issue the movie is based on. “Witnessing some of the decisions that were taken, I think if anything, this film will shed a different light [on this event] and encourage conversation.”

The actor feels Pakistan has been misrepresented to the world — it’s been shown as a dangerous place that shares a border with a terrorist hub like Afghanistan. “I would have liked to visit Lahore because it was the place we represented in the movie,” he says, adding that he is no expert on the country’s political situation and has never visited the land.

“I grew up in Canada, which has a huge Pakistani population and my hometown itself, was about 90% Pakistani,” he admits. “There are thousands of Pakistanis I knew growing up and with whom I went to school with.” He strongly believes that “people are people” and this is why he chose to do this film. “We have to take time out and understand each other; build better friendships and relationships,” he adds.

The film’s director Mira Nair has brought together actors from different ethnicities onto one screen and that is what makes the project special for Schreiber. “When we were shooting in Delhi, the idea that we as actors have an understanding even though we don’t speak the same language, was somehow reinforced in my mind,” he continues. “We do exactly the same things, as far as our work goes.”

“What I found unbelievably comforting is that for actors, there is a common thread regarding culture and about how we go about our work — it excludes political ideals,” adds the actor.

In his shoes

Schreiber doesn’t really need any introduction — he started off his career as an indie actor but went on to be a part of numerous acclaimed movies such as Hamlet, Twilight and the X-Men Origins: Wolverine, to name a few.

He feels that if you want to make a film that will spark a conversation amidst a group of people on that specific topic, then you need to be able to connect with those people on the same level.  After that, “the internet can take care of it,” he laughs. “And if no one makes them [these kind of movies], then no one will see them.”

“The global nature and direction that this business is going in, the seamlessness in which films can be shown in the US, then in Pakistan and India at the same time, is fantastic,” he says. “For us, it’s an unbelievably exciting journey. Growing up, I remember we would always hear about the amount of films that were coming out of Pakistan and India and that the industry had doubled the output North America was producing.” He admits it seemed “exotic and wondered what they might be doing different.”

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