Fawad Khan: I would love to be a rock star again335 views
I will be cautious about my roles, as there are a lot of characters. I’d like to play which could be controversial.He comes from a neighbouring country. He speaks about a culture of a land across the border, but not too foreign to us. Steeped in arts and aesthetics, with a deep baritone, he talks about cinemas of the world, his country and its culture and music. His Pakistan . TV shows were lapped up by desis, long before he sauntered into the Bollywood space with ‘Khoobsurat‘ and the recently-released ‘Kapoor And Sons‘ Since 1921. His polished charm and suavity topped with tons of tehzeeb makes Fawad Khan an utterly attractive package.
At first he appears reticent, a tad bit modest, too. But soon we are on a whirlwind of a conversation — talking about his past days of being a rock star and rebel, to how currently cinema is “rebooting” in Pakistan. He surprises me as he reveals that he’d like to play anything from a Jack the Ripper kinda sinister role, to a beguiling Bond. Why not? The dangerously charming Khan is no less hot than the Bonds of Beverly Hills. Read on, here’s a quantum of the irresistible new Khan in Bollywood…
Did you ever imagine you would be such a rage in India, with just your second film?
Not at all, and this is my humble self speaking. I was not expecting an explosive response like this, and so much love and affection. It’s very touching and flattering at the same time. I didn’t come with any preconceived notions, so I had no fears of not being accepted. My only fear is whether I will be able to pull off a certain role convincingly. The audience might not fall in love with me as a star, but as long as they love the characters I play, I’m happy. Uske baad jo milta hai, it’s a bonus.
Did you familiarise yourself with Bollywood before starting out. Or just nosedived?
I am generally open-minded and liberal, so nothing shocks me. Not that there was any such experience. In fact, it was very pleasant. I grew up watching Bollywood movies. I was a fan of a lot of actors from the 80s and 90s like Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor and Anil Kapoor. I would love watching films like ‘Mr Natwarlal’, ‘Shahenshah’, ‘Satte Pe Satta’ and ‘Mr India’, and these movies have stuck with me. However, when people ask me, ‘Aapko uss film ka gaana yaad hai?’ I tell them, Woh mujhe yaad nahi hai because after I turned 12-13, the influence of cinema in my life was less. Post schooling, when I returned to Pakistan, there was this new satellite dish culture emerging. It was the time of shows like Beverly Hills 90210, The X-Files and their actors like Luke Perry and Jason Priestley. These are the guys that girls were crushing on then. Television viewing was changing in our country and people were listening to Aerosmith, so it was a very gora gora mahaul. I was familiar with that because I had studied abroad and gone to British schools.
TV shows have been a huge part of your career and success. Would you want to revisit television and do you feel its content needs to evolve?
I think there is a paradigm shift in that space, after a global provider of streaming movies and TV series made an entry in Pakistan and India. It has opened doors to explore a variety of content. So far, the usual formats that were tailor-made for a certain segment, primarily the family audience, had become monotonous. While that is fine, we fail to understand that such viewers can enjoy other forms of entertainment as well. I have tried to play a variety of characters on TV, because if I get stuck in one space then I get bored and uncomfortable. Also, the audience starts expecting you to be that character in real life, which becomes tiresome after a while.
Is there a dominant paparazzi culture in Pakistan?
It’s catching on there, too. Nowadays, whenever I land there, there are TV crews at the airport, but I manage to dodge them as I know my way round. In Pakistan, the paparazzi are vigilant, but not as much as they are in India. Ever since cinema has rebooted there, yes, I call it reboot, the paparazzi culture is catching on.
I believe that in your college days you were a rebel. With a cause, I hope?
Yes, I was a rebel and I used to wear my hair long (points to his shoulder). Those were my rock star days. At one point I was a rebel without a cause, just for the sake of it. I used to be a backbencher in class, but that was because I wanted to go to the university where most of my friends went to, especially my wife. And I had been coerced by my father to go to a university and study a curriculum which I wasn’t so excited about. That coupled with the fact that I found other like-minded individuals in the campus made me a rebel. We were all into metal, rock and the underground band culture was thriving then. So, it became a bit of an escape for me, and I remember sometimes I would take a pillow to school. I would pull a couple of chairs together at the back, lie down and go to sleep and wake up only during roll call. I took pangas like that. Then I got into a rock band and we would perform underground gigs. It was a cool time to be growing up there.
So you miss the life of a rock star?
I think a rock star’s life is so much more interesting. One day you’re here, the next day you are somewhere else. People go to a theatre and watch a film; but going to a live music show is the same experience multiplied by 10,000. The best part is that you are done with your job, you get your pay cheque and you leave (laughs!). For a lazy man like me, it’s a great choice. I would love to be a rock star again, if I could find that talent and vocal chord in me which I’ve been looking very hard for all these years. I haven’t managed to find it, so I had to choose the life of an actor.
Women drool over you.
Being an introvert how do you handle all the attention?
I think it’s very flattering and because I am such a big fan of women folk, I think for a person like me it’s even more flattering. I guess that’s why I become extremely conscious about too much female attention, especially in front of my wife, though I think she handles it well. Also, I don’t think I am an introvert anymore; I used to be a self-proclaimed introvert. I feel shy amongst new people, but I guess courtesy requires you to be that way. When you are meeting new people, you can’t just go blah blah and be out there. I think after a while people get to see another side of me which is friendly and fun.
Are movies promoted aggressively in Pakistan?
I remember that during the promotions of your first film here, you were in a bit of a daze.The trend is catching on, especially because internationally Pakistani cinema is not as recognised. Hence, it needs an introduction for even the expat Pakistanis. It’s a norm now that if any film starts its promotional tour in Pakistan, it goes to Dubai and London, too. Sometimes, it’s promoted even in America. So movie promotions back home might become more tiresome than it is in India. See, you guys have put me in a tough space, so I cannot say no to anyone back at home (laughs!).
You have this lover-boy image? Would you like to do an all-out action film? Or play a dark role, maybe?
Do you think art and cinema can play a big role in bridging the divide between two countries?
I think it could be one of the things. Cinema is a medium of cultural exchange. In the world that we live today, news thrives on disaster and catastrophe. We don’t see as many good things being reported. There are certain channels that cover it, but they don’t get that much viewership. I guess people just like to see tragedy and drama. I think films expose you to a lot more, which is good. Also, I believe that the best way to bridge the gap is to travel and expose yourself to the world. The more you see the world; the more you will become tolerant towards different ways of the world. I think the youth should start backpacking from the age of 15.I believe you’ve been inviting your Bollywood friends to your home in Pakistan…
Oh yes, I’ve told Sidharth (Malhotra) to come, even Sonam (Kapoor) said that she wanted to visit. Our doors are always open. I think there is that curiosity, but somehow because of our lifestyle and fast-paced work, we just don’t end up entertaining that curiosity to travel. I’ve always wanted to see India, my wife was keener, but I landed up here for the first time because of my work. My father was born in Patiala and my grandfather is from Lucknow, so for me it’s like going back to my ancestors’ birthplace. When I came to India for the first time, I instantly fell in love with the country, and I felt it was like a home away from home. Well, I think we need to generate some work for Bollywood actors to come over to Pakistan. We will be doing that, Insha Allah.