Hello, hello! As I type this, we’re past the (gulp) one-month anniversary from when SZ put up this post, and so I feel I must begin with an apology. Initially, I was going to respond to this Q&A session with a video-blog, but first my laptop crashed and all my recorded data was formatted – and then (even shared screenshots with SZ, because I know the whole thing sounds made up) my video editing software went haywire and refused to render & publish my rerecorded videos.
I still managed to salvage some footage – which you’ll see as you scroll down – so all in all, not a complete disaster. Thank you for your patience, guys, and for all the interesting questions you asked. It was a blast responding to each and every one of them.
I hope this is as much fun for you as it was for me.
Right then, so without further ado, let’s begin our bizarre, beautiful journey in 3, 2, 1 –
Adeensyed: Who is the better actress: Maya Ali or Emma Watson?
Adeensyed: What are your fears in life?
I suppose it’s the fear of not leaving behind a legacy; of not being remembered for doing important work, of making a difference after I’m gone.
Adeensyed: Your favorite book?
Do I have to pick one? I’d read anything written by Stephen King (my all-time favorite author) or Neil Gaiman – but here’s an interesting spin on your question: the best memories I have associated with a book is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
Buttsaab: How tall are you? Do you speak French? Would you work in Bollywood? What do you think of movies like ‘Waar’?
‘I’m almost 6 ft. 1,’ he answered, curious and a little bit creeped out at the very… specific inquiry.
I do speak a bit of French, but not as well as I should. That’s one thing on my list of 2015 resolutions: brush up on my omelette du fromage.
French. I mean French.
Re: the Bollywood question: Yes, I would – if the right script came along. I’ve already had my say on this topic in a recently conducted interview (scroll down to question no. 10)
Re: ‘Waar’, any film that features a mildly (unintentionally?) sensual cheek-to-cheek scene (Ayesha Khan & Shaan) gets an automatic A from me.
Jokes aside, though, I think you have to credit the film for changing the visual landscape of Pakistani cinema. Also I’m a huge fan of the post-intermission sequence – the way the suicide bombing was juxtaposed with the track Mauje Naina and that dance sequence ft. Meesha Shafi & Shamoon Abbasi. Chilling, and wholly original.
Adeensyed: Are you choosy when it comes to picking characters?
I’d like to think I am, and I’ve been very fortunate to have gotten interesting, unorthodox roles to play so early on in my television career. Well, maybe except for one. But with that particular project, my apology is in its title.
Adeensyed: Which character was more challenging: Omer Hashmi or Aunn?
I think they were both quite challenging roles, actually. With Aunn, I had to maintain a fine balance between quirky and over-the-top; I wanted the character to come across as immature, not farcical. Omar, of course, was the first time I performed an angry, aggressive character. It was also my first full-fledged serious role, so that added to the pressure. Audiences were so used to Aunn I think many believed (and some might still do) that I couldn’t pull off a character like that.
Tasneem: Are you interested in doing Bollywood films? If yes, then what kind of project would you choose?
I’ve already answered your first question, Tasneem (see above). As to what kind of project I’d choose: I don’t know. Anything offbeat, interesting, quirky, Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bhardwaj, Imtiaz Ali – wow, I’ve moved on from adjectives to just listing down director names. (Laughs)
I don’t see myself fitting into the traditional ‘Bollywood hero’ role, though (can you imagine: Mera Pehla Pyaar, featuring Deepika Padukone and Pakistan’s beloved chitti bandari* Osman Khalid Butt) – and somehow I’m more attracted to negative characters in film, be it Pakistani or Indian.
* (To those of you unfamiliar with my vlogs, someone posted this comment describing me in one of my earlier videos, and I have since wholeheartedly embraced the laqab.)
Adeensyed: Has anyone ever told you that you resemble ORLANDO BLOOM?
Acha? This is the first I’m hearing of it.
Adeensyed: Your favorite movie genre?
Definitely horror. My brother Omar is a huge fan of the genre as well; he (and Omar Ali Khan, the owner of Hot Spot and the director of Zibahkhana) introduced me to some fantastic, offbeat horror films when I was young. I mean, I remember I was watching The Conjuring on my laptop in the dead of night, and when that clap-clap sequence came on, I jumped so hard I fell off my bed.
What I wouldn’t give for an encore.
Mashaal Saddiqa: Hi, I wanna ask how do you feel when you see your crazy fans! Have you ever appreciated or loved any actor or someone like your fans love you ??
Adneensyed: Your favorite Pakistani TV serial?
That would be a three-way tie between 50/50, Aangan Terha (these two for their brilliant, brilliant satire – it’s no wonder these serials are still celebrated via Facebook & Whatsapp video shares: they are timeless) and Ainak Wala Jinn.
Adeensyed: Sahir Lodhi interviewed you in his morning show once…what kind of experience was it? (as you mocked him once in an Omore TVC “Ye cone hai Sahir lodhi nahi.”)
First of all, far as I know he was contacted for and approved said line – and it wasn’t me who mocked him; that’s the storyboard and script I got.
Re, the morning show: It was a good experience; he was a well-informed host and struck me as an intellectual – which was a sharp contrast to all the ‘Sahir Lodhi hate’ that was rampant on social media at the time. We did have a difference of opinion over a plot thread of Aunn Zara, but that’s that.
Adeensyed: Who did you get along with the most during the shoot of Diyar-e-Dil?
Shooting was so much fun with all the cast/crew members – me, Ali and Hareem go way back (we’ve done theatre in Islamabad together – in fact Ali and I made our theatrical debut together in 2005) so it was fun acting with friends you knew – of course this was my third project with Maya and we’re close friends, so there’s that… from Haseeb’s energy on set as a director to our DoP Zeb Rao to makeup artist Summiya Majeed; we were the proverbial ‘one big happy’.
Tasneem: OKB When are you gonna marry?
Matlab meray cousins aur family ke taanay kaafi nahi hain jo ab yahan bhi sunni parrahi hai. (Laughs)
When I find the love of my life.
Your question reminds me of a comment my friend made recently that made me laugh so hard: ‘Obi jaldi shaadi kar lo bohat zor ka naach aya hai.’
(EDIT: Turns out Sana asked the same question. I hope the above was a satisfactory response, Sana.)
Ruba & Rehmat: What you enjoy more: theatre or television? If theatre then in what way has theatre helped your performance in dramas?
(Before I begin: thank you, Rehmat for your wonderful comments and your support)
Theatre, any day. Theatre’s my muse, my mistress; this might sound very repetitive but it is my raison-d’etre. If it weren’t for theatre, you’d probably never have seen me on television – or, for that matter, on YouTube.
See, I’m an introvert by nature, and back in the day I was painfully shy/closed-off; this gawky, unsure kid with, how does the song go, his ‘nose stuck in a book’ – theatre gave me confidence, it gave me drive. It kindled a true passion for the performing arts in me. I think the way theatre has helped me most in dramas is that I try to approach each character I play the same way I would in theatre: thinking about the character’s background, upbringing; what makes him ‘tick’, what quirks and characteristics I can add.
Rehmat: How hard or easy was it to play a character like Wali… Asking because that was my favourite character in novel… And equally excited to see you as Wali.
It was very hard! Pahaar jitni to expectations hain logon ki, given that he’s such a beloved character from the novel – and such a multifaceted one at that. The way Farhat Ishtiaq has written Wali and the way Haseeb visualized the character were a huge help, of course. What was the most challenging was that he has a very different dynamic with every character: Agha Jan, Faarah, Roohi, Arjumand… I just hope I’ve done him justice.
Rehmat: Which shade of Omer gave you the most exciting experience?
I think I enjoyed Omer’s scenes with his father, Rahat Hashmi (played by Usman Peerzada), the most. There was an incredible negative energy and chemistry there; a constant game of one-upmanship that I really enjoyed. And the fact that I tried to carry a bit of Rahat’s DNA – his temperament, his aggressiveness – in my performance as Omar as well; which I think makes him flawed but also human. You know Omar’s essentially a good guy, but he has his father’s genes.
(EDIT: FA asked a similar Goya-related question).
Rehmat: So great to know about your writing skills as well.. Any upcoming project that you have written or thinking to write?
Yes, in fact I’m very happy to be part of my friend and producer Imran Kazmi’s upcoming project, a romantic comedy with an element of drama. We’ve had a great experience working on ‘Siyaah’, and I’m really excited with how this film’s shaping up as well in its scripting.
Maham: You are not a regular user of social networking websites: why?? You don’t even upload pics much on Instagram?
Romy: You reply to comments of your fans on your fan page…Is it actually you replying ? If yes then how do you get the time in the busy schedule?
Tooba Shah: Do you use your facebook page yourself or are there any admins?
Param: Is there any chance of seeing you in full beard ever or you will always be seen with this kind (or design) that you keep? Why did you choose to have this kind of beard in Goya?
I think ‘Diyar-e-Dil’ will be the closest you’ll see me in a full beard. My facial hair is very, hmm, how should I put it, uneven? Patchy? Like I’ve yet to pass puberty?
I dunno about Goya… I wanted a different look for Omar; I’d like to think he’d have gone for this kind of style. I’m sure Rahat Hashmi would have wanted a prim and proper, clean-shaved Omar. Small act of rebellion?
Romy: Name one Indian TV actress and one film actress with whom you would like to work in a TV serial and in a film.
I confess: I don’t watch Indian TV except for when I’m visiting my family in Lahore, which you know, don’t even get me started.
Indian film actress? Hmm: Sri Devi. Huge fan. I’d also love to work with Vidya Balan or Alia Bhatt. A guy can dream, right?
Romy: Which Indian TV serial do you like the most?
You know, when I was younger, Zee Horror Show used to scare the sh*t out of me. That theme music alone guaranteed sleepless nights.
Romy: How are you so down to earth and kind to your fans?
That’s very kind of you to say! I…err…don’t really know how to answer this one, to be honest.
Fefefe: Are you good friends with Mohini (Sana Javed) off-screen? Do you guys hang out often? Please answer honestly.
I am friends with Sana; we hit it off during the shoot for Goya. In fact it was kind of like a trio: me, Sana and Farah Shah – because we had so many scenes together, we’d often be seen laughing our collective behinds off at the latest Whatsapp audio/video Farah shared with us (she was the one who introduced the Goya team to the ‘Coca Cola’ song, which eventually made its way in a scene as well.)
We don’t hang out that often, no, but that’s because we’re busy with projects and when not, jab free time hota hai mai to forran wapis Islamabad bhagta hoon.
Roopan: Do you prefer acting in comedies or stories with intense characters?
I think comedy comes a bit naturally to me, especially in theatre. And while I love making people laugh, some of my most challenging characters have been extremely intense. And I love a challenge.
Roopan: Do you think being Pakistani and coming from a rather cultural place puts boundaries on actors?
If you’re brave and you believe in what you’re doing, I don’t think there are any boundaries, to be honest. Except the ones that are self-imposed. I mean, I assume you’re talking about taking on hard-hitting, bold topics and themes and not asking whether I’d ever appear in a Fifty Shades of Grey.
Because if it’s the latter, then yes of course there are boundaries. But that’s part culture, part common sense. Death to ‘Inner Goddess’!
Roopan: What are your thoughts on India and Bollywood?
I’ve never been to India – though my team from Desi Writers’ Lounge had amazing things to say about the place and especially the people when they went for the Goa Arts and Literary Festival, but I’m a huge, unabashed fan of Bollywood.
Tooba Shah: Why are you so cute?
My only response to this is a series of awkward facial expressions and a sudden reddening of my cheeks and ears.
Tooba Shah: What kind of roles do you like to play?
Dark, intense roles, mostly.
Hashtag ‘Damaged Goods’.
Mona: Everything that I want to know has already been asked, so I’ll just want to know what are his plans after Diyar e Dil?
Hey Mona, always a pleasure. I’ll never forget your support when I was taking my first steps in the industry.
I’m looking at a couple of TV scripts, I’m writing a movie, I’m thinking of doing theatre again; it’s been 5 years since I’ve directed a major commercial play and I miss it. There might just be a film project (acting) as well, but it’s too early to talk about it.
Seher: How r u?
So very tired. I am juggling two dholkis (one dance practice in Islamabad – the other in Lahore), two writing assignments, a laptop that loves nothing better than to crash and burn right before I press Save on my work, my shoots and…
Err, sorry. This escalated quickly. I’m fine, you know, always next to normal.
Sana Khanum*: Which Game of Thrones:
is your favorite?
* Sana, I read your previous question and had written out a reply but I think ‘TogetherWeStand’ has summed it up quite beautifully. If you haven’t already, please read their response underneath your question.
You know, from the novels, I’ve always been drawn to Cersei Lannister’s character (the chapters that are from her perspective), followed by Arya Stark.
In the series, aside from these two, I love the Tyrell women.
The Baratheons are noble, but House Lannister is where all the drama, the politics are.
Episode? Hmm. Oh, it’d have to be ‘The Rains of Castamere’. I knew what was coming and yet it was so brutal, so gutting.
Re: character – TYRION LANNISTER.
Also, your Board exams must be underway by now, but the very best of luck!
Hamna: You are a great person Osman! Do you like the British music band One Direction!?Are you exited for you new role as Wali in Diyar-e-Dil!? What is your favorite character Aunn or Omar Hashmi? Is it possible to get a follow from you on twitter?
Thank you, Hamna! I don’t really follow their (One Direction’s) music, but I heard ‘Steal My Girl’ and I think it’s a solid pop track! By the way, I heard about Zayn…so, err, my condolences.
I’m very excited about Wali, a little sh*t scared, but mostly very excited. Between Aunn and Omar Hashmi? Definitely Aunn.
Re: the Twitter follow, if your timeline is interesting, who knows.
VZ: A contemporary whose work you admire?
I love the thought process and philosophy behind every role Sanam Saeed chooses. Hers is a model I’d like to follow.
VZ: A book that you’ve just finished reading/currently reading?
Aside from rereading all the Tintin and Asterix comics (in PDF format: Ayo Technology!), I’m currently reading ‘Brand New Ancients’, a dramatic poem I had the good fortune of seeing performed live by Kate Tempest at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh back in ’03.
- You used to make videos on YouTube, but you stopped making them quite a while back. Why is that? Was it because YouTube got banned? Along those lines, are you still in touch with all your friends who appeared in your videos?
- Do you read a lot? If so, what do you think is one book that has impacted you the most in life?
- What is your biggest achievement so far?
- What are some other things you would like to do in the future apart from acting?
- What inspired you to go into the Pakistani entertainment industry?
- Yes, when YouTube got banned I sort of lost my vlog mojo. I did record a parody of ‘Waar’ last year but never got round to editing it because I got busy with the shoots of Munkir, Goya and then Diyar-e-Dil. Now I suppose it’s too late to release it. And yes of course I’m still in touch with all my friends from the vlogs! You’ll be pleased to know that Mustafa and Sundus (that is, ‘Farida’ and ‘Khirad’ from the Humsafar parody) are getting hitched!
- Yes, I do. And man, that question is impossible to answer. I can do you one better though: last year, back when Facebook trends used to be interesting and not about whether a dress is black & blue or gold & white, I was tagged in a post and so I wrote down the ten books that impacted me the most. Here is that list (and as you’ll note, I cheated):
IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
American Gods/Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
‘Salems Lot/It/The Shining/Misery [let’s just say his entire body of work] – Stephen King
A Night in the Lonesome October – Roger Zelazny
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf – Edward Albee
Angels in America – Tony Kushner
The Road – Cormac McCarthy
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Ice Candy Man/The Crow Eaters – Bapsi Sidhwa
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess (which is where I get my Twitter and Instagram handle: @aclockworkobi from!)
A Song of Ice and Fire [series] – George R.R. Martin
Practically all his short story collections for adults, but particularly Tales of the Unexpected/Switch Bitch – Roald Dahl
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Seth Grahame-Smith & Jane Austen
Rosemary’s Baby – Ira Levin
A Streetcar Named Desire – Tennessee Williams
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West – Gregory Maguire
Bridget Jones/Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason [Sorry I’m not sorry] – Helen Fielding
Harry Potter [the complete series] – J.K. Rowling
The Taking – Dean Koontz
Smoke and Mirrors [which introduced me to the genius that is Gaiman] – Neil Gaiman
Moth Smoke – Mohsin Hamid
V for Vendetta – Alan Moore, illustrated by David Lloyd
- Forming my production company and directing diverse theatrical productions that ranged from the melodramatic to the macabre.
- I definitely want to direct a film in the near future. And if we’re talking long run, I want to teach acting and writing. I love teaching.
- The promise of an out-of-the-box, extraordinary life.
Aimalfarooq: What TV show is your all-time favorite? What kind of music are you into?
You know, that’s another tough one. I have so many favorites now, from Parks & Rec to The Returned to Gravity Falls to… no, no, must desist from posting another list. If you’d asked me this question close to a decade ago, I’d have swiftly replied: The X-Files, followed by Gilmore Girls.
Nabz: You do not look as handsome in the dramas as you looked in your YouTube videos… how is that possible?
It’s a giant conspiracy, I tell you.
Farwa: Where do you like to spend your holidays?
In my bed. Doing the crossword and binge-watching TV shows.
Farwa: Do you like to have fans around you or do you become irritated?
Well, I certainly don’t mind meeting up with fans, but a constant, hovering presence? Err.
KQ: If you owned one of those decorated “dulhan buses” that we have in Pakistan what would you have written on it?
Any ridiculously cheesy couplet… something like this gem:
Dar dar phirtay hain ham gham-e-ishq ke maaray
Sufi soap ke lashkaaray, jagmag kapray saaray!
Deeba: I enjoy your acting now, but how could you be a part of something as lame as Zibahkhana ?That was probably the most pathetic movie I’ve ever seen!!!!!
Kokab: My first question is Goya related.
Adnan’s death heightened Omer’s paranoia. What according to you was the root cause, genuine fear of Sr. Hashmi or the realization that he, on his own, wasn’t capable of protecting his new family?
I think it was a bit of both, actually – I don’t think Omar really understood the extent to which his father would go to destroy his new life when he stormed out of his house wearing that ‘La Revolucion’ t-shirt. I think he initially assumed his father simply believed Omar would never make it on his own and would come running back to the lifestyle he was used to. While he had no illusions about the man Rahat Hashmi was, it was heartbreaking for him to see the family he’d chosen fall like a house of cards. I think this damaged Omar psychologically; part of how I interpreted the character was that Rahat’s words, his utter lack of faith was getting to him – to the point where a small nagging voice was telling him that maybe his father was right all along. That’s why he was so adamant on leaving the country.
Kokab: Have you read Bernard Malamud’s ‘Take Pity’? If you have, what do you think of a theatrical adaptation with a Pakistani setting, against the 1971 backdrop? Would you give it a go?
Unfortunately I haven’t read ‘Take Pity’. I’ve been meaning to – I found an ebook version but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I will respond to you on Facebook once I’m done. Thank you for the recommendation, though.
Kokab: And now for the sake of randomness and bringing closure to built up curiosity; I would like to know, if it’s just me or is Rubya Chaudhry (at 02:10 in ‘Not Another Humsafar Episode’) in fact mimicking Suniel Shetty.
LOL! No, she wasn’t… hmm, maybe subconsciously?
FA: I really enjoyed Aunn Zara and still laugh my head off whenever I tune in from time to time. What was your favorite scene? & the one you enjoyed shooting the most? & why?
Any scene featuring Nasreen Qureshi (Aunn’s firecracker of a daadi) leaves me in splits, even now. It is so hard to pinpoint a specific scene because there’s just so many gems to choose from – but creatively, and as an actor, I remember there was a scene in the verandah between Aunn and Husna (Hina Bayat) where he’s about to leave the house and his mother is bidding him farewell – they have a heart-to-heart. It was such an emotional moment and Hina Bayat was just so marvelous. I remember I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, which perfectly mirrored Aunn’s guilt at his selfishness. The scene ran longer than it was scripted, and we were just so lost in our characters and in the moment – even Haissam didn’t yell cut. When I embraced Husna, it was as though I was saying goodbye to my own mother.
FA: All the characters in Aunn Zara were so much fun to watch. Who did you enjoy working with the most? Who was most fun to work with behind the scenes?
That’s once again an unfair question to ask. Every cast member: from Yasir Mazher (who I used to call ‘Chikna chacha’ on set) to Hina apa to Maya to Mukarram – I think why the chemistry between each character is so believable as a viewer is because if you visited us on set, you’d think we were all actually family.
And I think that was one of the biggest gifts Haissam could have given all of us – his casting choices were so perfect, the atmosphere on sets so lively and shugli, I think that unit will probably remain friends for life.
FA: Loved your vlog on drama parodies, they were so much fun. It seems like you guys had a whale of a time doing those. Would you still consider making those now, especially now that you are in this field? It would be lovely to see your take on some of your own plays. Aik Nayee Cinderella, Aunn Zara and Goya?
You know I actually had a mini-script of an Aik Nayee Cinderella parody ready where Meesha falls in love with Mayer’s surma (amongst other shenanigans), but because of time constraints I could never shoot it. Of course I’d consider making vlogs again – I don’t think being in this industry has affected my sense of humor – or sense of impropriety – in the least.
I’m hoping to make one of Diyar-e-Dil for sure, once it reaches the half-way mark, just like Humsafar. I’ve already collected so much material!
(EDIT: Warisha also asked the same question.)
FA: Do you think it’s important for new entrants to have some kind of theatre training before they work on TV? Should newcomers take time off to work on their skills like enunciation or expression? Or one can work on these skills (with experience) on sets as they go along?
I’m probably the wrong person to ask this, because my answer is going to be heavily biased. I think theatre – because it’s foremost an actor’s medium – is essential to improve and diversify your skill-set, whether you’re a newcomer or an established actor. But of course, one good TV director can teach you so much as well. I’d say if the opportunity arises, one should always, always do theatre.
One important reason is that while TV roles can be somewhat restricting, in theatre there’s just such a diverse array of characters one can play.
FA: What was your favorite scene in Goya in terms of performance?
(Hey, FA, I answered the first part of your question in a response to Rehmat).
That would have to be the beach scene where Omar is giving a eulogy of sorts to the deceased Mrs. Imtiaz. It was such a heartfelt, intimate moment between Omar and Mohini, and a beautifully written ode to the woman who was Omar’s sole mother figure. I’m so pleased that it got a good response from critics and audiences.
On a lighter note: it was so frustrating to shoot that scene because as Omar, I was staring out into the sea – or rather right into the faces of bemused families and random onlookers (not seen in the frame, of course.) At one point, these two guys walked by, very close to the shooting area, puckered their lips and made kissing noises just as I was giving one of the most emotional dialogues of that scene.
Sana: Will you ever want to be a showstopper at any couture week?
That depends on whether the designer/choreographer will let me do my best Zoolander impression on the runway.
FA: Your dream role… One character you wish you could play?
I know the film just recently released, but I want to do a theatrical adaptation of Birdman. I’d kill to play a character like Riggan Thomson or Mike Shiner.
(EDIT: Adeensyed also asked a similar question)
FA: We have heard quite a fair bit about drama writers complaining about their scripts being torn apart/ tampered with? What was your experience with Siyaah as a writer? Is that how you had visualized it?
Well, of course certain sequences and scenes were altered in Siyaah – but that was mostly because of budgetary and time constraints. Because I visualize a scene and then pen it down, I doubt anything could match how it ‘looks’ in my head – even if I were to direct it myself.
FA: Would you consider writing a serial for TV? What genre will you prefer (to write)?
I’ve actually thought about writing two pilot scripts – one is a workplace comedy; the other, a dark thriller. I’ll definitely write both once I’m done with my commitments, and pitch them to a couple of channels. I hope they get accepted though: neither deal with themes of marriage/infidelity.
Adeensyed: What has been your best experience as an actor so far?
That’s a tie between Michal from The Pillowman (an abused, mentally challenged character from an amazing play by Martin McDonagh) and Edward from Freedom Bound (an imprisoned Irish journalist who unravels both physically and emotionally in his confinement, from a play originally titled Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me by Frank McGuinness.)
The directors for these theatre plays were Junaid Malik and Tülin Khalid-Azim respectively. Both plays pushed boundaries, and both characters were so fascinating to portray.
Adeensyed: Did you ever cry for a girl and why?
Yes, I have. For very predictable reasons.
Adeensyed: What would you like to happen in the near future in your career?
As I mentioned before, I’d love to be given the opportunity to direct a film. If all goes as planned, I’ll Insha’Allah be going for a course in filmmaking to either the US or the UK later this year or early next year in preparation.
JR: As a writer in the current religio-political climate do you find that you have to self-censor your work for concern of backlash [we see this (backlash) on this side of the border frequently eg., Deepa Mehta could not shoot her film on widows in Benares but created a set and shot in Sri Lanka] or do such concerns make for walking on the edge of a sword with creative expression/activism on one side and pragmatism to make it career-wise on the other? Eg., your youtube video on SMS censorship is hilarious but clearly social commentary/activist in tone. Just wondering how you juggle all this as a writer and actor which = public figure.
I haven’t ever been concerned over backlash – at least at the relatively small scale I’ve made attempts at social commentary and critique. But then maybe that’s it: because my vlogs have always used humor to make a point and the satire has been balanced by absurd, off-color comedy I’ve (mostly, if you take aside the odd threat, attempts at hacking, character assassination et al) gotten away with it? I am not the least bothered with what others might consider ‘career suicide’; if that were the case, the second I debuted on TV my vlogs would have disappeared from my channel.
Adeensyed: Describe yourself in three words.
I’m going to alter this question a bit and describe myself in three fictional characters instead:
Marvin (from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
Selma (from Dancer in the Dark)
Chandler & Phoebe’s lovechild (from Friends)
SZ: When we complain about the nonsensical stuff being shown in our dramas we are promptly handed the standard TRP excuse: this is what the awaam wants and the industry has no choice but to comply. But is this issue really as simple as it is made out to be? Is it really the masses who are at fault or isn’t this also a reflection on the producers and channels’ unwillingness to take a risk …. at least the success of Aunn Zara seems to point more towards the latter … your thoughts?
Well, I am a relative newcomer to this industry and so you’ll excuse me if this comes across as naïve, but TRPs? Awaam? Is the industry so quick to forget the kind of dramas we used to produce when there was a single channel (PTV) on our television screens; the themes and narratives, the satire and progressive thought, the diversity and originality? The woman we see on television today is a shadow of her former self – most of the dramas can be neatly summarized as:
[Drama title]… ek dhatkari hui bebas aurat ka almiya hai jisay muashray ne izzat denay ki bajaye usay thukra diya*.
I understand that this is a cutthroat industry, where ratings do matter and are a determining factor in a drama’s success – but come on. Imagine if instead of what is usually the norm on TV (the drawing-room based middle-class melodrama), there was more diversity in genres, wouldn’t the audiences eventually mold themselves into appreciating and even celebrating the variety offered to them?
My point is, you can’t hold your audiences solely responsible. They can only react to and compare what they’re offered as entertainment. And – once again, my apologies if this sounds ridiculous, #noob – it seems like they’re rather hard-pressed for choice at the moment.
*(This description is stolen from a friend.)
SZ: As an actor how bored, or not, are you by the kinds of stories/roles offered to you?
In two-and-a-half years I’ve done a total of five plays (one of which is yet unaired) – does that answer your question? (Insert cheeky grin emoticon here). I mean, one of my pre-requisites for any drama I consider is that it has to feature progressive, independent female characters – and/or the theme has to be at least a bit hatkay from the norm.
SZ: Being a writer and a director, have there been occasions where you thought you would’ve approached a particular scene/situation/character differently… and were such a situation to arise, would you feel comfortable offering your suggestions?
SZ: Any current drama serial you wish you could’ve been a part of?
~ Osman Khalid Butt