Tell us about your incredible journey from Shashlik for PTV to Joyland?
Its been a remarkable journey of self-exploration and learning. Following the footsteps of my grandfather and parents , there was no obligation or supposition that I would join the same line and I think there was no active encouragement as well. So, I chose it by choice, very consciously, that I would get into the performing arts.
My debut, Shashlik, broke the ice in exploring my acting skills which helped me secure a place among the masses and never had i known that it was just the beginning. I experimented with Commercials, hosting, writing and even teaching as these all mediums of learning and exploring taught me how to sustain myself through failures and made me as strong as my inspirations. The show has to go on!
Realisation comes with time and experience, and that my actual calling was direction or storytelling primarily, staying behind the camera. I like to act, but should focus more on direction.”
Direction speaks volumes about aesthetics and execution of the plot, and Zindagi Tamasha was a self Realization and side by side cultivated the firm faith in me, that my directoral qualifications allow me to prove my abilities. As it leaves a lot of responsibility towards the audience who dedicate their time and attention to watching something that you’ve made.
Around 2019, after the inception of Khoosat films, I feel that I earned the freedom to finally make my own films,
“All the way to Joy Land, I would say, the turbulent episodes of your life, no matter within your academic performance or practical worldly wisdom,actually guarantee your growth and determine your graph as to what limits can you touch the sky. Surviving the test of time is the essence of actualization.”
Your father Sir Irfan Khoosat, being the legend of our industry and the one who marked his name in the industry as one of the finest actor and director, gave any pressure to you when you started off your career?!
Of course that’s natural and people do compare. My father has directed stuff for television, theatre and cinema but his primary focus has always been acting.
“Initially when I was more into acting there was a lot of comparison, assumptions and some undue pressure on me as I also started with comedy and my father is very famous and known for some of his iconic comic serials.”
I was very young and not much professional and lacked that kind of talent my father had. Soon I realised that even in acting, I didn’t want to limit myself to comedy and made that conscious shift.
“I stopped doing comedy because I feared that people will brand me just as a comic actor because people here can’t differentiate between a comedian and a comic actor.”
“Being a comedian, is a very rare gift that some people have and it is a very specialised kind of performance.”
“I am not a comedian, I am an actor who can try to do different kind of roles and the same goes for my father.”
My father, his name and my surname will always be my identity. I stopped taking this comparison and pressure too negatively, but being honest, initially I was bothered. I realised it later that this identity is my pride and will always own it as my motivation and life long inspiration.
What do you think are the most important things for a director to have?
Direction is a broad field and it is quite obscure in so many Ways with Strong technical knowledge and aesthetic control being the foremost. I have learnt over the years that as a director your job is to steer the whole ship or to create an environment where you facilitate collaboration helping others bring out their best.
“Direction is an artistic endeavour but strangely it requires alot of people to bring their creative and technical skills. So for me it’s all about the environment and the energy that one creates for the collaborators.”
If you could be any actor, who would it be?
Though I would just like to be a good/decent actor but if I had to pick one actor that I could be it is the one and only, Munawar Zarif.
What is your favorite genre of film?
My go to genre as a viewer is psychological thrillers, intense drama and mysteries.
Tell us about your first television appearance?
My first television appearance was in a sitcom called, wrong numbers. It was written by Dr. Younus Butt and directed by Jawad Bashir in 1999.
I played the role of a nerd medical college student and I looked quite unbelievably bizarre. It was interesting and I remember that I had no idea what acting for camera is all about. There were two rounds of auditions but Jawad created an environment where one would not feel daunted or intimidated.
How do you develop a story and How do you choose which projects to work on?
The keyword for this is patience, observation and some research. If a story sits somewhere in you, where it really makes a place for itself then it will just grow on its own. If you believe in the basic idea, (which could come from anywhere as the whole chemistry is a mystery) and give it the right amount of time then expect some beautiful metamorphosis to happen.
“Not all stories or ideas bloom into something good. At times maybe you just have to sit for long or at times maybe drop the idea. All we need to make is a connection with what we are developing and let it just slow-cook as then stories find you instead of you finding them.”
What is your favorite scene in your film? Why?
That’s a tough one 🙂
I have a theory/practice of detaching myself from my work as soon as it’s done and delivered because it causes some weird obsession sometimes and pulls you down rather than nurturing you or helping you to grow so I’m not very obsessed with my work.
“Yes, I do have fond memories of my work and I think Kamli is studded with brilliant performances and the memories attached to them are very close my to heart. The brilliance of my brilliant actors, when I look at it are just magic.”
As in actor I remember a scene in Manto between Nimra and me where Manto is hallucinating looking deep into the mirror and then Nimra appears. The memory of it and how we shot it is still so fresh and clear in my mind. I was so close to the mirror in that scene that I could not even see myself and simultaneously I had to be aware of the camera and Nimra’s magical appearance; in short it was all just spellbinding.
What inspired you to make Kamli and be a part of Joyland?
I think life usually inspires you, your own exsistence at that point in time and the emotional space you are in. Kamli grew very organically from a short film that I saw and then it developed with a lot of my own personal experiences and my screenwriters own take on themes. The story stayed with me and I gave it time to grow and breathe and it blossomed into the blockbuster, Kamli!
As a producer, I have a supporting role in Joyland and I love Saim as a friend and as a filmmaker and I knew that he was developing Joyland and when he asked me to be a part of it I was more than happy to help him make this dream of a film come true.
What was the most challenging aspect of directing a film?
Just making the film with some sense of freedom and keeping your vision intact without being a dictator or having unnecessary control and having everybody collaborate is the most challenging aspect I think. You can’t be aggressive or too angry while directing any project.
“Being a director is like having a great amount of responsibility where you need to find a middle ground with all the collaborators and still not letting go off your style, integrity and the creative approach that you have.”
What was the last movie you saw?
The last movie I saw was, Cate Blanchett’s Tár.
Would you like to share some details about your upcoming project with us?
A Tv serial is coming on Green Tv called Goum. I have directed this and also acted in it. There is also a limited series coming up on Express Tv with Saba Qamar , Juggun and Rabia Butt.
I’m also doing a lot of exciting stuff for my YouTube channel, Khoosat Films. We have three shows as I’m exploring the landscape of digital world.
“I am in the process of writing a feature film.”
Tell us about how “Khoosat in the Kitchen” started and the whole idea behind it.
I have done a cooking show a few years ago too it was called, ‘Star Iftar with Sarmad Khoosat’. I am not a chef but I am actually a very passionate cook and I come from a family where everyone is a foodie.
“We are family that’s a mix of kashmiris, Chaudhrys and Jutts so we have a variety of food. My Dadi was from Delhi so we have a taste of that as well with some great cooks in the family.”
I find cooking very therapeutic and particularly talking about ‘Khoosat in the Kitchen’ I’m trying to explore the digital landscape and trying to see what kind of content or interaction with the fans can be done. More of a fusion of two things that I love the most, food and films.
Any advice for aspiring filmmakers?
Dreams do come true depending on how much conviction and belief you have, so belief in your dreams and originality and don’t ever look for shortcuts. Enjoy the process!
Photography & Edit: @waqar_ahmed_butt @paragonstudioofficial
Make up & hair: @paragonsalonlhr
Salon style director: @alikhalid_26
Set design & Art direction: @ayproductions.pk