Renowned actor Ahsan Khan on his career, the film industry and how he prepped for his acclaimed role in ‘Udaari’
LAHORE : The ever polite Ahsan Khan may have been part of the Pakistani showbiz industry for well over a decade now but he is still without the airs of a grizzled veteran. The actor is as charming in person as he is on screen; his work in projects like the super-successful Udaari and full-length feature film Ghar Kab Aao Gay bear testimony of his talent.
Ask any director and they’ll tell you that it takes a special someone to make the audience adore them in a negative role. With Udaari, Ahsan – who played a child molester in the serial – did just that. He may not have played the character of the blazing, charismatic hero but for him, it is the depth and substance of a character that counts.
“Udaari was a great but very, very tough experience for me because of the script. When I first read it, I just knew it was going to be something special and the story just needed to be told,” Ahsan told The Express Tribune. “I worked very hard for my character; I wanted to make sure that the message of the serial reached everyone, that the taboos around it are broken. Udaari became a game changer of our industry because no one else had done anything like it.”
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Ahsan recalled how many of the scenes he had to do justice to were just too challenging and “filthy,” so much so that he often had trouble digesting what his character Imtiaz was doing. “I kept telling our director Mohammed Ehteshamuddin to tone down the aggression. I had never seen such things in my life so it became even harder to get into character, especially for the molestation scenes.”
Nonetheless, if there was anyone who could do justice to Imtiaz, it is Ahsan. “I’ve always wanted to be an actor,” confessed the star. “I was always fond of acting, dancing, singing and performing in general. As a child, I watched many films, acted in school plays and even in front of the mirror. It’s been quite a journey. I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes and struggles.”
Trial and error is the name of the game for Ahsan, who shared, “I make sure Ahsan Khan is original. I’ve worked with the best and the worst directors, which has shaped me as an individual. Acting is not just performing your lines; it’s a test of patience,” he said. “It improves your learning skills.”
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The actor is currently elbows deep in projects, working on two films simultaneously: a comedy thriller by Mohsin Ali called Chupan Chupai and a romantic thriller by Amin Iqbal titled Rehbraa.
“Chupan Chupai is a satire about unemployment and how today, youngsters deal with it is. The cast includes Javed Sheikh, Sakina Sumo and Neelum Munir,” Ahsan revealed. “As for Rehbraa, we’ve got Ayesha Omar and Ghulam Mohiuddin too. Both films are very interesting and entertaining.”
Unlike many of his contemporaries who treat television merely as a stepping stone, Ahsan’s passion for acting does not discriminate between the big and small screens. “I actually turned down four major film offers recently, as I had committed to TV already. I believe that television is our forte; no Pakistani actor should neglect it. We have a great niche market for our dramas, both locally and abroad,” he stated. “I, for one, could never abandon a medium which brought me so much respects and success.”
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But Ahsan is equally keen on films as well, especially now that the Pakistani film industry has turned over a new leaf. “Up until now, Lollywood was like a regional film industry, rather than mainstream Pakistani cinema. Syed Noor and Shoaib Mansoor kept it alive but there were very few Urdu films being produced then,” he said.
The Ishq Khuda actor also feels it is unfair to compare Lollywood with the Indian film industry, with there being a major disparity between both. “Bollywood has government support and phenomenal revenue. The entire budget for one Pakistani film is what India spends on just one film song!” he opined. “Here in Pakistan, we are doing things on our own, trying to provide entertainment with limited resources and without external support or formal training schools, etc. What we lack are good scripts. Our films should not look like TV serials.”
Of course, Ahsan has been approached by producers from Bollywood as well. “I had been meeting with some directors but then things started heating up on the political front,” he revealed. “I think I’d still consider going there if the project is good and allows me to maintain my dignity as a Pakistani actor. If not, I have plenty of great work, love and success in Pakistan already.”
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