KARACHI: Performing well in a single play does not guarantee a promising record for a television actor. However, there are a few who enjoy cult status in the industry. No matter what programme they get cast in and no matter what role they play, they are considered the best.
Talking to The Express Tribune, the public relations officer of the state owned Pakistan Television, Nazir Ahmed said, “Yes, there are a few that stand out. If the actor Shakeel is asked to perform, he still holds that same charm and people watch his plays very enthusiastically. Among the young crowd, there is Adnan Siddiqui and Humayun Saeed whom people love to watch. Among the females, it is Sania Saeed.”
Giving details about these actors’ comparative compensations, Ahmed said, “It depends on what one charges but yes it varies somewhere from Rs25,000 to Rs50,000 per episode. The demand has increased in recent times, due to the opening of private channels.”
According to Syed Mukhtar Ahmad, producer of a private production house, “Everyone does play their part the best. I cannot categorise who is the best but, yes, people enjoy watching Faisal Qureshi and Aijaz Aslam.”
Ahmad was asked how much these actors demand but was hesitant to disclose the actual deal and amount asked by the actors. However, he asserted, “Everyone I believe has their own deals. Nothing is confirmed.”
Actors who are popular with viewers may be preferred by producers and directors, but do they believe that their names sell? Aijaz Aslam, who is considered a top-tier actor, says a definite “No.” He strongly asserts, “It’s a team effort, it depends on the script and the role a director performs.” For any production to become successful commercially, “It even depends on the role that you’ve been selected to perform. To some extent, cast matters in a play and the audience continue to watch it. Otherwise they switch to other plays but irrespective of what it is, anything can click or flop, depending on the viewers of the programme,” Aslam says.
Kazim Pasha, a veteran producer who has been associated with Pakistan Television’s Karachi station for a long time, says, “In the older generation Muhammad Qavi is the best whereas in the younger lot, there is Faisal Qureshi and even Shabbir Jan. In the young female lot, it is Saba Qamar from Lahore who is doing pretty well.”
When asked if the producers hire them, and give them a better package than the rest, he said, “Yes, they sell. The cast value of a play increases because of them and as the product sells well in the market, [they are in a better position to bargain].”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2010.
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