Azfar Rehman is one of the most successful actors of his generation. This fortnight he speaks to Mehek Raza Rizvi about his start in acting, exploring new avenues, choosing responsible scripts and more.
Everyone knows Azfar Rehman the celebrity, but whatâ€™re you like at home? Tell us about your childhood.Â
Iâ€™m very chilled out and easy going at home. I had a very wholesome childhood and Iâ€™m fortunate to be blessed with the best parents a child could ask for. I was born in Islamabad, but we moved to Karachi soon after, and thatâ€™s where I went to school. It was a comfortable and privileged childhood, for which I give complete credit to my parents.
Youâ€™re the first in your family to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. How supportive was your family of your passion for acting?Â
Iâ€™m absolutely the first in my family to pursue a career in show business. It all happened accidently; I had completed a degree in advertising and got a job at an advertising agency that was starting an entertainment channel. Eventually, I was recruited for that channel. My parents were always adamant about their children first getting a solid degree and then choosing whatever path they wanted to take. I had both a masterâ€™s and bachelorâ€™s degree in advertising, but I always wanted to be an actor. At that time the entertainment industry was booming and a lot of private channels came into being. My parents were supportive of my decision. They donâ€™t get to watch a lot of my work, because theyâ€™re busy with their own businesses and travel a lot, but they respect my job and appreciate my success.
How do you feel the industry has evolved since you joined it and whatâ€™s been your biggest learning so far?Â
Itâ€™s evolved a lot during the past couple of years. Weâ€™ve reclaimed the stature of the best drama serials in the subcontinent. The scripts are now better. Thereâ€™re so many new productions and television channels, along with an abundance of very talented writers and directors. Iâ€™m very proud of where our entertainment industry is today; the writers deserve a lot of credit for their insight and depth.
Looking back at your career, would you do anything differently?Â
Iâ€™d be a little more conscious of the friends I make and be more punctual. If I were to do things differently, Iâ€™d not accept projects just to support friends, nor would I give favours to the fickle and two-faced people Iâ€™ve encountered during my career. Iâ€™d not be as sweet and a little firmer perhaps.
What would you say have been the highlights of your career so far?Â
I think Iâ€™m extremely privileged and cannot thank God enough. Iâ€™ve had one of the best talk shows called â€œSpotlight with Azfar Rehmanâ€, when I first started my career. From that to doing numerous drama serials and getting several award nominations, hosting one of Pakistanâ€™s biggest reality shows, â€œMiss Veet Pakistan,â€ doing feature films like â€œChhalawaâ€ and â€œPunjab Nahi Jaungiâ€ and just staying relevant for almost twelve yearsâ€”thereâ€™ve been multiple highlights.
Out of all the characters youâ€™ve played, which one do you relate to the most and why?Â
I did Pakistanâ€™s first web series for Eros called â€œEnaaya.â€ My character in that, Jimmy, along with my character, Sheheryar in â€œAatish,â€ a drama serial that aired on HUM TV, are two roles that I can relate to most. Both were easy going and realistic.
Being a public figure comes with immense responsibility towards your audience and fans. How conscious are you of that fact while selecting scripts?Â
I think Iâ€™m more conscious now than I was earlier. Iâ€™ve started leaning more towards scripts with a social message. For example, these days Iâ€™m doing a drama serial called â€œAakhir Kab Tak,â€ which creates social awareness regarding predators and harassers and how to report harassment. I do believe, though, that if youâ€™re working on a project that provides comic relief or some sort of entertainment to your audience, that too is a social service. Weâ€™re living in stressful times; thereâ€™s so much depression because of the pandemic as it is and thatâ€™s made worse by constant bad news in the headlines. We all deserve some respite through entertainment.
In our interview with Ayesha Omar she mentioned how her road accident changed her as a person. You were in that accident with her. Did it change your outlook towards life in any way?Â
It changed my outlook on life completely. The accident was like an awakening for me, a knock on the door. You know how they say a close encounter with death brings you closer to God? Thatâ€™s true. I feel Iâ€™m a lot more religious now. I also work on being a better, more considerate and humble human being every day.
As of now, you have four drama serials airing on different TV channels. How does that leave behind any time for family or for yourself?
I believe Iâ€™m great with managing my time. I make it a point to take out time for family, which is why I donâ€™t work on weekends, unless thereâ€™s something very important. I take annual vacations with my family, but people donâ€™t get to see that on social media because I like to keep it private.
Do you think itâ€™s important for actors these days to explore the web and other avenues apart from traditional television?
Regardless of which field youâ€™re inâ€”whether youâ€™re an actor, model, director, or even a journalistâ€”itâ€™s always great to explore different avenues. You should be open to expanding, growing and improving your craft. The web gives you more room to experiment with projects, characters and voicing social issues, so making use of that platform is beneficial for all.
Photography: Yasser Sadiq Grooming: Sajid’s