There’s little arguing that British-Pakistani actor Alyy Khan’s ability to thrive in different work environments has landed him projects as Pakistan’s first animated film 3 Bahadur, independent Hollywood film The Valley, Shah Rukh Khan hit Don 2 and even a cooking show titled Foodistan.
The versatile actor will next be seen playing the role of a nawab in the period drama Mah-e-Mir which is set to release on May 6. “It [the role] wasn’t as stretched out on paper but in every conventional narrative there is a protagonist and an antagonist,” he told The Express Tribune. “Once Iman, Fahad and I started filming, we saw the dynamics of the way it was working out and it became somewhat of a trilogy.”
It never took director Anjum Shahzad a lot of convincing to get Khan on board in the first place. “It seemed they were trying to do a film but one that is out-of-the-ordinary and not your typical run-of-the-mill masala comedy so I went for it,” said the A Mighty Heart actor.
From the looks of it, Mah-e-Mir seems like a film that wholly revolves around master poet Mir Taqi Mir. “It is actually not a biopic. It is about a character, Jamal, and his fantasy, so audiences will learn about Mir Taqi Mir’s work through him,” Khan clarified. He said the film will help people rediscover their roots and the milieu that saw Urdu poetry take flight.
Khan is positive with the way things are going for Pakistani cinema and is particularly happy to see films such as Moor, Manto, Na Maloom Afraad, Jawani Phir Nahi Ani and Wrong No. come out recently. “I’m hoping Mah- e-Mir is well received unlike the recent films Maalik and Hijrat,” he maintained.
He feels that Pakistani audiences have now begun to accept different roles and off-beat storylines. “I played a despicable man in Pakeeza [alongside Amina Sheikh and Adnan Siddiqui] and I’m receiving a lot of positive feedback about what I thought was some of my best acting.”
This is exactly why Mah-e-Mir to him is another such project that will prove to be a milestone for both his career and Pakistani cinema in general. About an industry that is taking its natural course, he said, “At the moment commercial cinema is being bankrolled because it sells tickets and attracts audiences.” Citing the example of Manto, he goes on to say that tastes of audiences are still changing. “It’s very heartening to see that the audiences are ready and they are growing in their own maturity levels.”
Having recently returned home after a six-week shooting spell of The Valley, Khan wants to continue taking up local projects and feels it is a great time to work in Pakistan. “Luckily there’s great work happening here. My family lives here and that’s when I made a conscious decision to start working here.”
Although he is not involved in the sequel of Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s 3 Bahadur, he is working on another children’s animated series, called Tick Tock, which he calls “a brave attempt at doing something different for TV”.
On the other hand, a project on the 1971 war in which he plays a lieutenant is also in the works. “It’s a big show with Indira Gandhi, Bhutto and Mujeebur Rehman,” he disclosed, adding, “Whether it will be a film or a TV show is yet to be decided.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2016.