An actor, musician and model, Taifoor Khan entered the world of show business while still in his teens. After a successful stint as the founding member of a band named Jadoo, Taifoor moved on to acting. He has since worked in a large number of televisions serials including Choti, Daray Daray Naina, Dil Ka Darwaza, Do Naina, Kaun Karta Hai Wafa, Khalish, Meka Aur Susral, Meri Dulari, Mubarak Ho Beti Hui Hai, Pardes, and Parsai, and made a name for himself as an actor of considerable merit. In an exclusive interview for Good Times, the talented young man talks to Ally Adnan about his band, making music, the craft of acting, his career, sibling rivalry, cinema, his plans for the future, and many other things.

“I am an atypical person with a lot of eccentricities”

You started your career in show business by founding a two member band, Jadoo, together with Shehroon Khan. Jadoo produced a string of hits, such as Come Into my Life, Meri Sanson Main, and Ve Mahiya Ve, but was disbanded in 2008. What went wrong with the band?

Jadoo enjoyed a period of success for several years but, like most bands, began to see its popularity wane as fans of its music grew up and developed a different taste in music. Shehroon Khan and I had a great time with our band but, over the years, the grind of the road and the mounting of shows became too much to handle. Jadoo became more work than play and, by 2008, we had become young adults who did not have an interest in carrying on what had essentially started out as a teenage activity.

Are you still friends with Shehroon Khan?

Yes, I am. Shehroon Khan and I never fell out as friends. Our priorities in life changed and the band ceased to be one. We decided to dissolve the band jointly. The two of us have great memories of our time together as band members and remember the songs that we created very fondly.

Do you plan to resume your career as musician?

I do not have any plans to resume my career as a musician but do harbor a secret desire to make music at some point in the future. I believe that I have a lot of music left to make and need the time, energy and wherewithal to create it. I am sure it will happen but do not know how and when.

What training do you have in music?

I don’t have formal training in music. I am fortunate to have been born with the gift of music. It was and will always be a part of me.

Which do you enjoy more: acting or making music?

I find acting more rewarding but making music is more fun. These days I am focusing only on acting but that may change in the future. I am not a big believer in careful, meticulous planning and let things happen as they are ordained. Artists have an inborn belief in fatalism and allow predestination to chart the course of their life and career. I really don’t know when my focus will shift to music but I do feel that it will happen, sooner or later.

You hold two master’s degrees – one in business administration and the other in multimedia studies. Why did you opt for a career in show business instead of pursuing a more conventional career, say, in business administration?

I am an atypical person with a lot of eccentricities. My individualistic, and sometimes quirky, personality makes me unfit for a conventional career.  I tried to find success in the corporate world but failed miserably. Typical nine-to-five jobs are not for someone like me. I find the regimented atmosphere of corporations stifling. I thrive in creative, artistic and open environments and feel at home in the world of show business. This is where I belong and where I plan to stay.

(brother) Sami relies on intuition and instinct whereas I follow the method

You are an alumnus of the venerable National College of Arts, Lahore. The institution has, however, attracted a lot of criticism in recent years and is believed, by many, to have morphed into an elitist institution that caters to the privileged, promotes classism, values money over merit, and allows the disparate treatment of rich and poor students.  Do you believe the criticism is justified?

No, I do not. It’s unfair, unjustified and unwarranted. The National College of Arts is a great institution that welcomes people from all cross-sections of society and treats everyone with fairness and equity. I do not think that any other institution in the country can boast of the kind of diversity that one sees in the National College of Arts. I am aware of the few incidents that have hurt the image of a truly wonderful institution but those were an anomaly and not representative of the way things are done at the college.

Did you enjoy your time at the National College of Arts?

Yes, I did. It is a wonderful school and helped me mature both as a person and an artist. My time at the National College of Arts made an invaluable contribution to my intellectual, emotional and academic growth. I would not be the person that I am today had I not spent time in the college.

How did you learn to act?

I believe that I was born with innate acting talent. As a child, I was highly animated, loved to entertain others and had unusually high levels of energy. My imagination was highly developed. I liked to be the center of attention. And I loved to participate in activities that required me to live and behave in cleverly defined, imaginary sets of circumstances. When I look back at my childhood, it is obvious to me that I was always an actor. I always behaved like one.

I’ve expanded Stanislavski’s seven questions to fourteen. I make sure that I have the answers to these questions when preparing for a role

Once in show business, did you rely just on your innate acting skills and get no training?

One’s acting talent is necessary but not sufficient. I had to work hard to develop and refine the skills that I was born with.

What did you do to hone your craft?

I studied acting technique and became familiar with the various styles of acting. I learnt how to read a script, understand the goal of the writer, follow the instructions of the director, and bring a scripted character to life. Most importantly, I worked on developing the ability to create specific relationships for the characters that I play.

Are you referring to “points of view” when you say, “specific relationships?”

Yes, I am. A competent actor creates relationships with all the characters, places, events, circumstances, settings, and things in the story. He needs to have a clear point of view towards other characters, his circumstances and his world.  An actor cannot deliver a good performance in the absence of clear points of view and an understanding of relationships.

You and your brother, Sami Khan, are well known television stars. Have your careers in show business fueled sibling rivalry between the two of you?

No, it has not. We are both successful actors who have been blessed with fame, fortune and glory. We get offered much more work than we can possibly take on and often find ourselves saying no to projects, sometimes to desirable ones. We are lucky that we don’t have to fight or compete for work – not with each other and not with anyone else. Neither one of us harbors the negative feelings that typically fuel sibling rivalry. We are both very positive people.

Who is the better actor, you or Sami Khan?

We are both good actors but follow different styles of acting. Sami relies on intuition and instinct whereas I follow the method.

Is that the Stanislavski Method?

Yes, along with the techniques developed by renowned acting teachers Stella Adler, Sanford Meisner and Lee Strasberg. I have expanded Stanislavski’s seven questions to fourteen. I make sure that I have the answers to these questions when preparing for a role. I rely on them very heavily. They help me be a fully developed and connected actor.

What are the fourteen questions?

Who am I?

What are my strengths?

What are my weaknesses?

Where am I?

When is it?

Where have I just come from?

What do I want?

Why do I want it?

Why do I want it now?

What will happen if I don’t get it now?

What obstacles must I overcome?

How will I get what I want?

Why would audiences care about me?

Why would audience care about my success or failure?

What criteria do you use to select acting projects?

I like to work in projects that give me an opportunity to play roles that are unorthodox and different from my real life persona. I enjoy inhabiting the skins of vastly different people. The psychological make-up of people who are not like me is of great interest to me. I enjoy deconstructing and understanding it.

You have worked in a very large number of television serials, both in lead an in supporting roles. What have been your favorite serials?

I like Do Naina, Dil Ka Darwaza, and Mubarak Ho Beti Hui Hai a great deal.

What do you think of your body of work as an actor?

I think it is good but a work in progress. I hope that it will grow into a memorable oeuvre of television serials and films.

Your recent television serials, Tohmat and Mubarak Ho Beti Hui Hai, have been very successful. What television projects do you have in the pipeline?

I am directing and acting a television serial titled Be Wajah. It has been written by Monam Majeed and stars Noman Ijaz, Alyy Khan, Saba Faisal, Mehrunissa Iqbal, and Kinza Razaq. It is a good play and I believe it will do very well with viewers.

Did you enjoy being one of the contestants of the television reality show Madventures?

Madventures was one hell of a journey for me. I surprised myself with the energy, stamina and guts that I was able to summon during the reality show. And Samia Azhar was a great partner.

Did Danish Hayat and Mehwish Hayat deserve to win the contest?

Not at all. Saima and I should have won.

You do not seem to have a great interest in cinema. Is television all you want to do?

No. I want to do films but very few are being made in Pakistan and I have yet to be offered a role that I want to do. I will make my movie debut as soon as I find the right role in the right film.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

I plan to complete work in the various television serials that I have signed. I hope to land an interesting role in a good film. And, I want to take some time off for rest and relaxation.

Photographs By :Daud Malik
Interview By : Ally Adnan

Ally Adnan lives in Dallas and writes about culture, history and the arts. He tweets @allyadnan and can be reached at [email protected].

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