Looking like a model straight out of GQ magazineâ€”tall, handsome, mansome, dapper and aristocratic looking, Wiqar Ali Khan is the style icon of Pakistan as well as a model, director, ex MTV VJ, seasoned actor and producer. Born in Swat and raised in London, he got his lucky break as a model at the age of 16. Wiqar took the Pakistan industry by storm when TV viewers first saw him conversing in an amalgamation of the Queenâ€™s English and fluent Pashto. he has been the face of Calvin Klein, served as the vice president for MTV Pakistan for two years and has recently worked in the Pakistani film Jalaibee. Sana zehra interviews this soignÃ© gent
Wiqar rushed into the room where me and my team were waiting for him for less than 2 minutes. He seemed embarrassed by the wait, which marks a nice change from other celebrities; he looked like the perfect archetype of the laid back hot surfer dude. Wiqar confessed that he had hardly slept the night before because he was scared that he might over sleep. It worked in our favour as he fit in perfectly with the sleep deprived photographer, stylist and me. The only difference was that he looked perfect without sleep! It was fun getting to know him through out the day. What really struck me about him was his ability to connect with the people of Pakistan. Pakistanis truly love him. Perhaps it is the positive energy that he emits that makes the other person feel comfortable right away. I noticed that people were not scared to walk up to him and talk. Wiqar possesses natural elegance. Every major brand wants him as their brand ambassador! Dressed super casually in denim jeans and a white shirt, which looked couture on Wiqar. I had a lot of fun getting to know this true gentleman and I hope you have fun reading his interview just as much.
Your love for Pakistan is inspiring but you chose to live in the UK Why?
Pakistan is no doubt my motherland, however, my parents chose to relocate to London in the â€˜60â€™s and we were bought up there. We came back every summer vacation for 3 months at a time to keep the connection with our families, Pakistani roots, culture, heritage and language and I have fond memories of that time. I go back and forth simply because my kids go to school in London and my immediate family lives there. Till this day I choose to spend most of my time in Pakistan as I have projects here and Iâ€™m proudly promoting this country at the end of the day.
You are strong on social media but I feel like itâ€™s a double edged sword, it gives you a platform to get your message across but then it also….
Life is like a double edge sword and even a coin has two sides, there are pros and cons in everything. I see everything as a positive, itâ€™s a mindset and a small adjustment. I use my social media like everyone does to show things from my perspective. I am a student of life on a journey like a tourist. Whether it be a new country I visit, a new cuisine I try or people that I meet along in my journey. Itâ€™s just me being myself and sharing some experiences. Itâ€™s for friends, family and fans to see what Iâ€™m up to.
We have never seen you posting pictures of your wife. Is that because you donâ€™t want to lose your fan following?
My wife Mitra is so beautiful (Mashallah) and if I post her photos then definitely all my fans will become fans if her and leave me haha. Btw, I have never hidden the fact that Iâ€™ve been married for 13 years (Alhumdulilah) and have two wonderful boys. I post photos of them every now and then. Maybe one day Iâ€™ll post a photo of my wife if she allows me, because trust me I have tried very hard but havenâ€™t been successful.
You once said in your interview about Jalaibee that it is proof that Pakistani films can be made at international standards. What exactly is the international standard of filming?
I feel that we have not only the talent in front of the camera but also the technical knowhow behind the camera to produce on an equal footing with films made in Hollywood and Bollywood. The main difference is budgets and number of cinema screens. Since starting Jalaibee a couple of years ago, these have both increased enormously. Hence, there were films that were sent for Oscar nominations and one even came home with the golden statue. For a country that only produces a handful of films, thatâ€™s a huge accomplishment. But as they say, the proof is in the pudding, so only time will tell. International standard also suggests that a film is made with many sensibilities in mind, be it scripting, screenplay, styling, sets, wardrobe, art direction, post production, dialogue delivery, character acting, marketing, promotion, casting, story telling, film angles, sound, distribution, etc. These are some of the basic points that international films look out for that make them successful. Now we are witnessing Pakistani film makers following some of these basic rules and creating films on par to these standards.
How has Jalaibee prepared you for your leap into feature films? Any upcoming projects?
This was a challenging yet rewarding experience for me as we tried to raise the bar in so many ways. Plus, I have always loved the entire process of film making. Subsequently, Jalaibee was nominated in many categories and won an award. I have two movies in the pipeline, releasing in 2017, a comedy and a Pashtu action thriller. Audiences will see two different sides of me. Itâ€™s an exciting time. As Captain Kirk of the Enterprise would have said, Pathanâ€™s will go where no other has boldly gone before.
Audience and film critics said that you delivered dialogues like you were about to introduce the next song on a music channel and that you were barely used as a glamour quotient in the film. How did you overcome the criticism?Â
Polarity is always welcomed. As an actor I tried to do my best as directed. Although this question would be best put to the director as he had a specific idea in mind. However, itâ€™s nice to know we actually have some qualified film critics, because recently I heard a few put down Pakistan bringing an Oscar home. Shouldnâ€™t we be celebrating these moments of joy? The world is acknowledging Pakistan for its talent. We should be too, instead of gunning down the efforts these wonderful people have been making. So in essence I take things with a pinch of salt, except my chai which I take with extra sugar.
How has the movie changed your life?
I got to meet so many new people and make friends on this incredible journey. I was glad that Jalaibee contributed in a positive way to the overall Pakistani movie scene. I feel it helped open the doors for more film makers to take a leap of faith. This has in return created more opportunities for those who want to be part of this fraternity.
Would you do Bollywood films and who would you like to work with?
Iâ€™ve been inspired by Hollywood all my life. However, if something interesting from Bollywood comes my way, then why not? It would be nice to work with them, but in English.
Who are your style icons.?
Iâ€™m inspired by the classic Hollywood era so classy stars like Errol Flynn, Carry Grant, Marlon Brando, Orson Welles, Steve McQueen and Gene Kelly. They all had swagger!
Apart from not trusting others what is one lesson you had to learn the hard way?
I generally put my trust in people as Iâ€™m a team player. Great projects cannot be done unless you trust your team and the people around you. What have I learnt the hard way? Recovering my money from even those people that I thought I trusted.
What insults your intelligence?
Nothing, Iâ€™m very open minded, and every question has its own merit.
When have you had to agree to disagree? Explain.
Over the years I had been involved in great projects and setting up TV channels in London, Dubai and Pakistan and I have managed them for many years as well. Itâ€™s all a creative process and sometimes a team member feels strongly about their opinion, and I believe out rightly negating them can shatter their confidence, therefore, in certain circumstances it helps to agree to disagree
What do you think people say behind your back?
Good things I hope. If itâ€™s negative, then I ignore those comments but if someone has the courage to say it to my face then I would respect that person.
How would you end poverty?
Instead of giving them a fish, I would teach them how to catch one. Because this is an honourable, practical and sustainable method
Whatâ€™s more challenging, a TV show, acting or being a VJ?
Each holds very different set of challenges. I donâ€™t find any of them easy, I work so hard and try to make it look effortless .
If you Were to write your biography what would the title be?
The great titles are all taken, Frank Sinatraâ€™s was I Did It My Way and Richard Branson chose Screw It Just Do It, so I think Iâ€™ll go with The Diary of a British Pathan.
What are the hot topics that turn into arguments for you?
When someone says to me that Pakistan is unsafe, I get irate. No one talks about the achievements, like sports, film, fashion, music, Nobel Peace Prize recipient or the number of Oscars Pakistan has won. That is not forgetting the most breath-taking landscapes on earth. Honestly, Iâ€™m constantly defending and promoting Pakistan that the world never gets to see, since we have been projected very negatively in the media. This will take quite a while to undo.
Do you think the best part of life has happened or is yet to be?
With Godâ€™s grace and blessings, I have had so many great moments in my life and all with no regrets. I personally feel I havenâ€™t reached my peak yet so Iâ€™m looking forward to some more great times to come in the years ahead
What would be your priority if you were made the countryâ€™s President for a day?
I would allow Raheel Sharif and Asim Bajwa to take over after me so that when I leave, the country is in safe hands of honest people. Also, I would ensure universal justice and equal rights.
What do you spend more on: clothes, accessories, perfumes or anything else?
Ooh! I have a weakness for scents.
How would you like people to remember you?
I would like to be remembered as someone who was consistent all his life, a good friend and a good father.
Rao Ali Khan
Rashid Salon (Park Towers)
Hamilton Watches provided by Movements by Collectibles Karachi
Special Thanks Afzal Leghari