Mumbai: He’s a top star in Pakistan and now with the rave reviews coming his way for Khoobsurat, Fawad Khan seems to have begun his Bollywood innings on a glorious note. He and his co-actor Sonam Kapoor were seen aggressively promoting their film for over a month. Fawad, however, says that this kind of exposure took some getting used to.
“Back home in Pakistan I’ve given interviews on TV maybe just twice in my 13-year-long career. I’m not really comfortable with all this attention. I feel embarrassed. Although I am thankful for all the love. At heart, I am an introvert who is just getting used to all the interviews and media interactions. And you need to be careful about what you say. Thankfully, I have not goofed up yet,” he says with a smile. Fawad continues, “Whatever appreciation I’ve got despite the limited work I have done has been great. People have been receptive and I think it’s a privilege to have earned this respect.”
When his female fans in India got to know that their heartthrob is married and has a son too, there was heartbreak all over. Speaking of his better half, Fawad says, “I have been in love with my wife since I was 17. She has always been my strongest support. Even when I didn’t have this fame, she was there. She designs for our in-house fashion label that we started two years ago. It’s a successful one and I’m proud of her work.”
He’s a doting daddy too. “The time I’m truly happy is when I’m playing with my son. We just mentally connect. There’s nothing more fulfilling than playtime with him.” He describes himself as someone who nurtures romantic views about life. “I am an immature person and I am very lazy too,” Fawad adds.
Not many know that besides his acting chops, Fawad’s got some crooning skills too. “I was a rebellious kid in college and music was an outlet. It was quite a passion those days. I’ve been part of the Pakistani rock band Entity Paradigm. The idea was to introduce rock in Pakistan. But I was lazy and still am. Now that I think of it, we could have done much more.”
Khoobsurat was a brush with serendipity for him. “I do have a manager, but this film happened more on personal correspondence. Last year in January I got a call from the casting director Nalini Ratnam who had seen my work and had shared it with the team of Anil Kapoor Film Company. She called me and gave me an idea of what the script would be like. Then they called me to Mumbai where I had a meeting with Shashanka Ghosh (director) and Sonam. Half an hour later Anil Kapoor saab, Rhea and me were discussing how we will shoot the film. It was a simple and straightforward process. The team is such a fun bunch to work with. They have spoilt me a bit and set my expectations high as far as hospitality is concerned.”
The ladies may be swooning to his romantic hero image, but Fawad draws his inspiration for one of Bollywood’s iconic on-screen villains, Amrish Puri. He says, “He’s one actor whose demise made me really sad. Every time he would come onscreen, rohngte khade ho jaate hai, he would have that kind of an impact. After Mr India, I watched him in Indiana Jones Temple of Doom and I felt he ate up everyone else’s role in the film. He had such a powerful screen presence and that is what I take away from his performances.”
The actor admits to being no expert in Hindi cinema. “I’m not too familiar with Hindi cinema but while growing up I watched films of some of Bollywood’s very iconic actors. That’s also because my parents were fans of Hindi cinema. I grew up abroad and in those days there were five films that I would watch on repeat mode, Mr India, Satte Pe Satta, Do aur Do Paanch, Woh Saat Din and Mr Natwarlal. They were mostly Amitabh Bachchan films. So 80s was the time I watched whatever Hindi films I’ve seen.”
Drawing a comparison between the Indian and Pakistani industries, Fawad says, “I’ve worked in TV more than films. I can’t compare the mode of operation when it comes to filmmaking. There’s a second wave of cinema in Pakistan, lot of films are being made. But sadly when it started, I wasn’t there. I’d love to be part of it. In India the film industry is huge. In Pakistan, it’s just starting. The learning process is on.”
Speaking of Indian television content, Fawad says, “Nowadays Indian content is about 90 per cent soap operas. Back at home, 20- 30 per cent constitute soap operas. Soap operas tend to drag same characters, same location. It must be an art to have the audience glued for 500 episodes. It takes lot of talent.” He adds that he will never do Indian TV shows. “That’s not my cup of tea” he says.
A certain section of the film industry in India isn’t happy with the influx of Pakistani actors in Bollywood. “It’s important to break the hate. I would like Indian actors to work in Pakistan too. It’s an honour to have Naseerudin Shah working in Pakistani films. Letting a few people’s hate affect our work would be giving in. I find it a very uneducated approach to life. I don’t pay attention to such things.”