A gifted actor, Ahsan Khan has a lot to offer, and hopefully we will see much more of him in the coming years. He talks to Sehar Zaman about his move to Karachi and the film and television industry in general.
Pakistani film and television audiences could be forgiven for thinking there are two Ahsan Khans: the Lollywood actor trying to establish himself in a dying film industry, and the versatile television actor, taking up challenging roles. Well, the fact is he is very much the same person. Starting his career from Evernew Studioâ€™s â€˜Ghar Kab Ao Gayeâ€™, a big budget movie that gave him much needed exposure at the start of his career, Ahsan went on to do some more movies. However, he then drifted towards television, as it offered him better scripts and an opportunity to try different roles, rather than adhere to the â€˜lover boyâ€™ characters that had become his lot in films.
Born in England, Ahsan moved to Pakistan when he was fourteen. The move back home was very much his familyâ€™s decision and not based on his desire to start working in the film industry, as mentioned by some publications. While in England though, he did short courses in acting from Greyâ€™s Academy, and also starred in a short English film â€˜In The Blink Of An Eyeâ€™, directed by Vera Chavla, as well as in a play. Over to Ahsan Khan:
Q — Why did you decide to start working in television after making your debut in movies?
A — There is nothing new happening in films these days. Television in Pakistan is much more popular than films and enjoys a wider audience, so I realized I would be more appreciated in this medium. The scripts also make more sense. Iâ€™ve started doing a lot of television because it gives me more satisfaction and I find I am enjoying my work. I donâ€™t want my work to be a burden for me, so I try to take quality scripts and directors, which is not difficult to do in television. But I look forward to a time when our cinema industry also flourishes because the magic of the big screen is incomparable. Any actor with a passion for acting would always want to work for the big screen. Even now I havenâ€™t totally left films. I take up projects on and off; these days Iâ€™m doing two movies, both small budget, ordinary films.
Q — But when quality movies like â€˜Khuda Ke Liyeâ€™ and â€˜Ramchand Pakistaniâ€™ are produced, they receive a very enthusiastic response from viewers, so why arenâ€™t more quality films being made?
A — If a good film comes after three years, then thatâ€™s nothing! â€˜Khuda Ke Liyeâ€™ was a huge hit, but the box office report of â€˜Ramchand Pakistaniâ€™ wasnâ€™t that great. I personally think it was a commendable effort on the part of Mehreen Jabbar. Both these were on the lines of art movies although KKL definitely had more of a commercial element to it. Our masses have been subjected to the same kind of movies for a very long time. It is the industry that will have to develop their taste for better movies and unless we have more quality movies coming out, there will be no revival of cinema in Pakistan. I think celluloid is the best medium to educate people.
Q — What sort of characters do you enjoy playing?
A — Well, as you mentioned earlier, I have done a lot of lover-boy roles, but I recently did a character in Sangeeta apaâ€™s play â€˜Mutthi Bhar Chawalâ€™, which is, to date, my most memorable performance. Resham was the lead with me in that play and I played Mangal Singh. Plenty of movies have been made in India and Pakistan revolving around this character. I really worked hard to emulate the mannerisms of Sikhs and also learnt to speak their dialect.
Another role that I really worked hard on was that of a Pakhtun guy in HUM TVâ€™s â€˜Dulhanâ€™. My character in â€˜Mehndi Wallay Hathâ€™ was also very different – I like to do these little experiments and play challenging characters that give me margin to act. I also did a play with Zeba Bakhtiar (now Leghari) in which my role was of a young man growing old, so that was also interesting. Even when I get roles in which I do not get much room to show my talent, I try to bring some sort of variation in it.
Q — Youâ€™ve been in the industry for eight years â€“ have you seen any improvement, particularly with regard to scripts?
A — Initially, I was working just from Lahore, but now I have a base in Karachi as well. There is much more work going on in Karachi with regard to television. All the television channels have their head-offices here, but because I was based in Lahore and doing plays from there, Karachi directors were not familiar with all my work.
Courtesy: Humsay magazine June 2009