Amar Khan and the industry

Annam Lodhi sat with Amar Khan for some Q&A about her latest shows and to talk about perceived problems in the industry

Amar Khan and the industry
The only child of veteran actress Fareeha Jabeen, Amar Khan is a film graduate who says that she knows all the tricks of the trade and wants to apply them mindfully. She first appeared on screen in 2016 with her telefilm, Chashm-e-Num, penned by herself, and has now hit the screens again with two shows.

Annam Lodhi: Being a film graduate, do you think the industry lacks professionals with professional qualifications relevant to the field?

Amar Khan: There is a myth which runs in the industry that most stalwarts gain fame by getting on-field experience. Hard work is key because educational courses about the industry came much later; people did not feel the need to give this industry educated or trained artists and still don’t. There are two or three filmmaking schools and almost no acting academies in the country, which is the gap that needs to be filled. Unfortunately, this attitude and lack of knowledge of technique reflects poorly in our films today. It is a given that the field needs formal education, bringing potential projects which include better-educated artists.

AL: What are your thoughts about individuals who treat the business as a means to an end?

AK: Anybody who comes here for overnight stardom usually gets hooked to superficiality, like the number of Instagram followers they have. In my humble opinion, they aren’t contenders for a long and meaningful race. I don’t think those people should even think of entering the industry just because they marvel at its glitz and glam. This medium is one of the most influential, informative and entertaining platforms – not just for creativity but also to inspire people.

AL: Let’s talk about nepotism. I am sure you have been implicated already! Your mother is an actress and your maternal grandfather was a filmmaker in the early 60s. Do you think there is nepotism in the industry and how do you defend yourself?

AK: Honestly, I do have an edge because I have better guidance and possibly the ease of grabbing opportunities. My mother really isn’t an instructor; she actually wants me to carve my own niche and graph. Yes, she has always guided me about everything in life – more than specifically about this field.

I heard somebody say once that Amitabh Bachchan’s son will never be like his father if he doesn’t prove his mettle beyond the usual. In comparison to Bollywood, I don’t think there is much of nepotism here. Also, why is nepotism strictly linked to actors only? When a doctor’s or an engineer’s offspring opts for their family profession, do we debate that?

AL: You debuted in your own telefilm, Chashm-e-Num in 2016 and now in 2018 you are coming out with two back-to-back serials. Did you find it difficult to break into the industry?

AK: Chashm-e-Num was a fulfilling and absolutely wonderful experience. Ahsan Khan came on board not just as the male protagonist but also as the producer.

In today’s cut-throat competition not even your own father will give you a chance if they don’t see potential in you. I did my own telefilm because I had a unique and heartening story to tell. I got my second breakthrough my latest serial Ghughi because they had seen my acting skills in the telefilm. To tell you the truth I shifted to a new city, Karachi, and sat at home jobless for almost four to five months waiting for a better script to act in, went through several meetings and auditions, I faced my own challenges.

Yes, my appearance has been a little sporadic because I don’t believe in opting for any run-of-the-mill project. This year I already have two projects on screen and two more are in the pipeline. There isn’t any formula or game plan, it’s just that every story brings its own magnetic pull for an actor.

AL: Tell us about your first serial Ghughi. We hear you were chosen at the second lead first and then became the main lead. What happened?

AK: It’s a period play set against the Partition backdrop, where a Muslim peasant falls in love with a Hindu girl while he tries to avenge his family’s honour. Yes, I was approached for a second lead but as destiny had it, the main lead couldn’t manage her dates and right at that juncture, I stepped in to discuss my own role. That is when the makers first saw me and my passionate overview of the narrative and characters. The very next day they decided to bet on me as the protagonist.

AL: The first few episodes have got rave reviews from the audience. Tell us: what should we expect from the show as it progresses?

AK: Expect to delve into the colourful exotic lands of 1940’s-era Punjab, see the political and religious tiff which results in calamity and loss of humanity. For the small screen, this will actually be a cinematic experience when we will see detailed production design, war sequences, kabbadi and songs. Also, stay tuned for some intense power-packed performances and skilful direction.

AL: So you said in one of your previous interviews that Belapur ki Dayaan will be Pakistan’s first ‘realistic’ horror project. Why do you think so?

AK: No caricature-ish techniques have been applied to the witch’s appearance. Like it is not a venomous, blood oozing witch or one that emits white light through her eyes. Saife Hassan (the director) tells his stories with the utmost subtlety and realism. He isn’t copying a Hitchcock or Polanski, he has his own style. The sound design and camera movement breathtakingly creates suspense and jitter. Also, the way all the characters perform will take you back to the days when clean impactful horror flicks were made for the big screen.

AL: Tell us about your role as a witch. How did you prepare for it and what was your process?

AK: Honestly, I have never been a horror fan. I am quite a coward when it comes to watching these paranormal supernatural flicks. So I had to go through a more rigorous prep. I watched some classic horror films. Also one thing which helped me the most was that I made a playlist of some eerie and horrendous background score and songs. So my journey from home to set would be to indulge in these songs and as they played in my head I got into the mood for my performance.

AL: You are more than an actor as per your profile. What else will we be seeing you doing?

AK: Acting is surely going to remain the centre of my profession and considering that it is my first love, you’ll see acting much more. But screenwriting is also on the cards. Content is paramount but it asks for nurturing and lots of time and hard work. So that’s why you might see me writing seldom.

AL: What are your future projects?

AK: I have just zeroed on two more interesting drama scripts which will be an interesting watch. Also one feature film, about which we will talk in detail later…