If you’ve seen any of the Pakistani movies that have come out recently, the chances of you having spotted Ahmed Ali either lurking somewhere in the background or cracking a joke or two are very high. Fresh off his latest — and most memorable — stint in last year’s Karachi Se Lahore, the actor seems to have wasted no time in moving onto his next project: the second run of Nida Butt’s musical comedy Grease.
Having made a humble beginning from stage, returning to the medium feels like homecoming for Ali. Though it may have been through films and television that the thespian caught the attention of cinemagoers and television audiences, he credits the hours spent in the theatre for helping him learn the tricks of the trade. With a decade’s worth of acting experience under his belt now, Ali is no less than a veteran when it comes to performing live. “I have been acting for the best part of 10 years, since I was 20, and it was theatre that I first started out with,” he tells The Express Tribune.
Coincidentally, the actor is a product of the same circuit that has provided the Pakistani entertainment industry with a host of notable actors such as Hamza Ali Abbasi, Urwa Hocane and Mawra Hocane. Despite attaining reasonable amount of acclaim and success through numerous productions in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, one thing Ali was desperate to check off his to-do list was starring in a play directed by Nida Butt — a feat he managed to achieve twice with the same play. “When I was acting in Lahore and Islamabad, word was out that a Karachi-based director [Butt] was working on a live musical. Since I used to sing as well, I was very keen to work alongside her,” recalls Ali.
The opportunity finally arose and the actor was one of the first people to turn up for auditions. Not getting his hopes up too high, he gave a trial performance aiming to land at least a bit-part role. “Fortunately, Nida selected me for the part of the lead character,” he shares.
Although the original run for Grease — performed nearly two years ago — starred notable performers including Sanam Saeed, Ayesha Omar and Sara Haider, the latest edition has seen a change in the cast. Despite the changes, the actor believes that “the production quality of both the performances is almost the same”.
“The only difference is that this time around, I am working with a different cast because of which I have had to alter my acting style a little bit so that it blends nicely with that of the co-actors,” he added.
With Grease’s second run nearing its end now, the Karachi Se Lahore-actor has already started contemplating his next move. “I am in talks regarding my next film and drama but nothing has been finalised as of yet,” he proclaims. Despite receiving plaudits for his comic timing and chemistry with actor Yasir Hussain, Ali is looking beyond the usual entertainment films. Even though he is fully aware that working in the typical masala or comedy film would help him gain more recognition, one thing he is keen on ensuring is to avoid being pigeonholed as an actor. “It is true that comic roles will help you gain the audience’s attention but then again, I want to develop a diverse body of work as an actor. My previous work in films such as Siyaah (horror), Karachi Se Lahore (comedy), Ho Mann Jahaan (coming-of-age) and Tamanna (drama) — in which I also worked as a camera operator — is evidence of this.”
When asked whether or not he would be making a cameo appearance in the Karachi Se Lahore spin-off, Lahore Se Aagey, the actor immediately ruled out the possibility of it happening. “The way they are taking the story forward is the best possible way in my opinion. Plus given how Yasir Hussain’s Moti was the breakout character of the first film, he is well-placed to carry the movie on his own.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2016.