What was the experience like working in Bollywood?
I’ve learnt a lot from working in Bollywood. Pakistani films are certainly on the rise but in India, movies are already a huge, money-churning business, they’re extremely organised and professional. For instance, wherever our team went to shoot, we were accompanied by an auditing team. They’d work in a separate room and make sure that we’d never go over the budget. There is so much to learn that I find the entire debate that Pakistani actors shouldn’t work elsewhere senseless. By working in other countries, we’re able to move out of our comfort zones, learn more and bring that back to our own industry.
The Indian film industry is in a very exciting phase right now as it has the perfect combination of experienced filmmakers and newcomers, who are taking Bollywood to new heights.
In the course of promotions for “Khoobsoorat” I have met Farah Khan, Anu Malik and Anupum Kher and they’ve all been very welcoming.
Looking back, what are your thoughts on “Humsafar” or “Zindagi Gulzar Hai,” the dramas that made you famous?
“Zindagi Gulzar Hai” couldn’t have been shown in India at a better time, I appreciate the efforts of HUM TV who are trying very hard to make their productions popular all over the world. I feel very fortunate.
The days that I am off work are the days I spend like a bear
How do you spend your free time?
The days that I am off work are the days I spend like a bear. I go into hibernation. I stay at home and connect with family. I visit my parents or my in-laws and I love to spend time with my son.
Any movie or dramas in the pipeline?
I’m currently in talks for a Pakistani film and a couple of Bollywood films. I’m staying away from television for a while.
This year, there was a small kerfuffle at the ARY film awards with Shaan proudly declaiming that he had never worked in an Indian movie. Ali Zafar gracefully and intelligently defended his decision to work in India. What message would you like to give your fans in Pakistan about cross-border collaborations?
It’s useless criticising working in India. Ali has carved a niche for himself; I have been his fan much before he came to Bollywood. He has got all the elements working for him. I am a huge supporter of Ali. There are very few people who don’t like my work in India; they are continuously criticising me and my work, they have their own opinion and I don’t want to say anything to them. If any Indian actor will work in the Pakistani industry, Indian people will criticize him or her, I think there is no limit or border for talent and art.
I find the entire debate that Pakistani actors shouldn’t work elsewhere senseless
Your character Zaroon in the Pakistani romantic “Zindagi Gulzar Hai” is immensely popular in India. Are there any similarities between the two of you?
Only the romantic part!
Who are your influences in Bollywood?
I grew up on Amitabh Bachchan films like “Do Aur Do Paanch,” “Mr Natwarlal,” “Satte Pe Satta” andÂ “Shahenshah” etc. I love this dialogue: “Jis din main koi gori titli dekh leta hoon mere khoon mein sainkado kaale kutte ek saath bhokne lagte hain, uss din main Black Dog peeta hoon.” And “Rishte mein toh hum tumhare baap lagte hain” from Shahenshah. I’ve also seen “Mr India” several times.
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