Winning Streaks

“Success comes to those who wait”- the ideal case in point could well be this cutie-pie Ahsan Khan. Born and raised in London, this gorgeous guy made way to his soil to carve a niche for himself. Set the ball rolling as a film actor, he later drifted towards the tube. From the most talked about film actor to the most in-demand TV actor, it hasn’t been too long a trek by most standards.

You started your career from films but then drifted towards the tube, what were the reasons behind that?
I started working simultaneously for television and films, but for that particular period of time I was focusing more on films. I got the opportunity to work with the leading directors of the film industry like Syed Noor, Sangeeta, Iqbal Kashmiri, etc. but after my breakthrough in Ghar Kab Aao Gay I realized that the films that were being churned out of the industry were very unimpressive and lacked class. On the other hand. I was offered some major television projects like Javed Fazil’s Khiyal; Ashfaq Ahmed’s Shalakot; Ayub Khawar’s Mehboob, etc plus I was getting the lead roles in both the plays, therefore my focus shifted from the films to the tube.

But you have recently signed a film after such a long break, what provoked you to sign that?
During the course of my growing television career I have had a lot of offers coming in from the big screen, but they have not measured up to my standard. This project Teray Bin Jiya Na Jaye, which I have now signed, promises to deliver us from the run-of-the-mill films that are being made these days. Teray Bin Jiya Na Jaye is a Perez Malik Production; he is the only qualified filmmaker in Pakistan. Imran Malik is directing this film and the playback singers and the choreographer are Indian. The film is being shot in Europe. The cast includes myself, Zara Sheikh, Imran malik, Sherry, Haneef Raja, Naghma and Nadeem Baig. But the foremost reason for my signing this film is because I get to play the main-role.

You are working in a lot of plays right now don’t you think that you are getting over exposed?
Most of the offers that I am receiving these days are from the top-most directors in the field, like S. Suleiman, Javed Fazil, Faisal Bokhari, Ayub Khawar, Pervez Malik, Usman Zulfiqar… And they’re offering pivotal roles that are impossible for a true actor to snub. This should answer your query as to why I have chosen to work in so many plays. Secondly, still much is left to be desired and since the viewer-ship has become so divided due to the increase in the number of channels, I believe over-exposure in not an issue that I should be too worried about for the near future.

You have been known for your show performances, but it has been quite some time that you have done that, any reason behind that?
It’s true that I have a natural flare for dancing and I am pretty good at it!! But dancing has never been a goal that I have set out to achieve. These days acting takes the first priority, but I haven’t given up dancing per se – I still do perform on and off for various shows but only if they’re worth it. Like my performance in the Kodak Film Award Show was highly appreciated. A few dance numbers, which my fans could look forward to, are those in the upcoming film Teray Bin Jiya Na Jaye.

Having worked both in Karachi as well as in Lahore, what difference do you find in both?
I feel there’s not much of a difference for me as an actor in either city, but I think that the Karachites have a much more professional attitude towards their work. Therefore the work environment is much better suited for an actor to polish or bring out his/her talents. This is the reason I am taking up more projects in Karachi than Lahore these days.

Why have you not settled in Karachi, while many Lahori artists have?
I have already more or less settled in Karachi, but I think these terms ‘Lahori’ artist and ‘Karachi’ artist are not appropriate as they create regional rifts. And we as actors should be free to work anywhere within Pakistan or abroad as we please. For instance, the very first project of my career was an English long-play, shot in London, which as a collaboration between English and Asian Filmmakers. This was to be screened for a film festival being held in the UK – I got this chance because I was born and was living in England back then, yet I was not labeled as a British artist.

What are your criteria for signing any project?
First, and foremost there should be a good director and a good script and of course a challenging role, which goes without saying. I also make sure that the team of artists I am working with is also competent coz acting is all about ‘actions and reactions’. So if the artists one is working with respond well, one also gets the chance to work to the best of ones ability. Yes and a good paycheck don’t hurt either!!!

What are the pre-requisites of becoming an actor?
Well, Pakistan has no drama schools or acting institutions to boast of where one can learn about this stuff as a proper subject. That is why so much of our potential talent goes to waste. The only people who can survive are those who have an in-born flare for facing the camera and grooming themselves with on-the-job training/experience. And of course good looks are a plus point.

Do you think that you are film material keeping in view the likes of Shan, Momi, Saud and Babar?
HAHAHAHA… the kind of Punjabi gandasa films that are normally being made here, do not suit my personality. Otherwise, If the given the challenge I am confident that I can act equally well in films as I am on television.

You’ve been a permanent part of some of the productions, what is the reason behind that?
The reason being that I am not a fussy person and get along well with most of my cast and crewmembers. Secondly, I work according to the director’s demand so that they also feel comfortable working with me. That is the reason they keep calling me back after I have once worked with them.

Lollywood is passing through a bleak period right now, what factors do you think can help in making it stand once again?
The crux of the problem lies in the fact that there are no producers willing to think “out of the box”. The same themes and storylines are rehashed and presented to the audience. There is a major lack of novel ideas. With the increasing globalization of the world, the Pakistani Film Industry has to raise its standard significantly if it wants to compete with the onslaught of foreign films on an international level. I would say that, 99% of the success of a film lies in its script – which the Lollywood films severely lack. Although we have intelligent directors and talented actors, the deficient screenplays and dialogues ruin their efforts to churn out a quality film. The remaining 1%, which includes the technical side of filmmaking, has nothing worth commenting on either – the cameras are outdated so are the developing and printing methods. The music and song quality speaks volumes for itself in a nutshell; a drastic change in terms of educated people taking over charge is needed. Not necessarily MBA’s but at lest those who are creative and have a professional outlook towards this field.

Any character that you have played that is close to your heart?
Such a role is still to come but there have been many, for instance the role in Ashfaq Ahmed’s play ‘Shalakot’ was a memorable one so was Pervez Malik’s ‘Taqdeer’ and ditto with Javed Fazil’s ‘Duniya Daari’.

Any plans for your own productions or direction in future?
For the time being I am too engrossed in my busy acting schedule. I have plans not only to work in Pakistan but also internationally. I’ll soon be going to do an international project in the future I seen myself opening my own production house and produced a few plays, but these plans are not for any time in the near future, but Inshallah they are lined up as my next career move as for direction I have nor thought about it.

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