Tell us about yourself.

I find it challenging to define myself in a few lines—there is so much more to me than just words. I was born in Fairfax, Virginia where I had the opportunity to observe diverse cultures. After high school, I moved to Pakistan and enrolled at  SZABIST, graduating as a gold medalist in Psychology. I’m an avid fan of horror and thoroughly enjoy acting and modelling.

Meet Haider Rifaat, an emerging model, web talk show host, and upcoming actor. The twenty-three-year old go-getter who is ready to embrace Pakistan’s thriving movie industry speaks to Hannan R. Hussain about his aspirations

Describe yourself in three words

Compassionate, loving and dedicated.

You created a web talk show titled The Haider Rifaat Show. How did this journey commence?

I learned the art of video making from my brother Moosa, when I was eleven. I started my YouTube channel in 2010 and uploaded fan made trailers of movies, television shows and rendered a couple voice-overs. Eventually, I decided to produce my own content, but had no knowledge of a tripod. Instead, I used creative means (like making use of a table) to record videos.

As I grew older and ventured into print journalism, I realised that it would be a great idea to have my own talk show on YouTube. If I think about accomplishing something professionally, I try my best to bring it to life. The Haider Rifaat Show was exactly that. My basic training in video editing came in handy as I created a web talk show that encompassed celebrity interviews, politics, entertainment, fashion and global news.

From script writing, editing, production, camera work and hosting, you seem to handle every element of the show on your own. What is the key to unlocking this balance?

I seek perfection in everything I do and leave no room for error. Yes, multitasking can drain you, but it is worth it.

When you are passionate about something, nothing is challenging. The key is determination, confidence and vigour. These qualities have enabled me to give the best to my work, be it acting or hosting. There is a stark difference between setting a goal and achieving it. I endeavour to achieve, and not procrastinate.

It takes time to rise to the forefront in theatre. What motivated you to hang on to your passion for acting?

Patience. I have done quite a few stage plays but they never constrained me acting wise. I was fortunate to have had screen experience well before my theatre days. Some may transition from theatre to screen but my case was different. I learned the techniques and methods to play with the camera at a tender age.

I feel failure has taught me a lot as well. Rejection motivated me to work harder and see things for what they were. One opportunity led to another, and things started transpiring on their own. I owe a lot to my supportive family, especially my mother, and God for all that I have accomplished so far.

Tell us more about your upcoming movie 24 Hours.

24 Hours is my feature film debut. The movie centers on human trafficking and I play a helpless victim in my supporting role. My character is powerful and important to the storyline. People will be able to relate to my character, especially the victims of trafficking violence. I’m certain that this project is going to be a turning point in my acting career and I’m thankful to the director, Sharf ul Murtaza Zaidi, for having faith in me.

Apart from 24 Hours, which other projects are in the pipeline?

I just wrapped up a drama serial titled Kiran for PTV Home that will premiere soon. It is about ambitious transgender individuals. I’m also writing my first book.

How do you prepare for a performance?

I just visualise myself in a situation and become that character. It is an inherent trait but I have to keep working on it. I try to keep my performances as natural as possible to evoke an equally realistic response from the audience.

If there was one role you could play in the future, what would it be and why?

I find a negative character very appealing. There is more margin for acting and an element of mystery. The compelling presence of an antagonist adds more depth to a story and makes it interesting.

How has the experience of interviewing some of Pakistan’s biggest public figures been like?

It’s been a game changer. I never thought I would get to interview renowned celebrities, journalists, anchors and politicians at such a young age. My experience has been fun and riveting because you get to share common ground with different people. Celebrities have their individual struggles that make them unique.

Describe a weekend in the company of Haider Rifaat.

I’m outgoing, so I spend most of my weekends exploring new places. I enjoy a good walk, exercising, shopping and watching mystery television shows and movies with family.

Who is your source of strength?

My mother. She is an extraordinary woman and a force to reckon with. She has a solution for everything and has been by my side in the darkest of hours. She’s been through very tough times herself, yet is always positive and determined to make everyone around her happy. I can share absolutely anything with her. She is my lifeline.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Conquering the entertainment industry.

For all young people endeavouring to juggle their various passions, what advice do you have?

You can’t depend on anyone else but yourself. I created my own talk show from scratch to be in front of the camera. My willpower allowed that idea to blossom sooner than expected.

It’s also important to learn from your past mistakes, improve and grow. Don’t follow the crowd. It’s important to stand out in whatever you do.

Good Times


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