DUBAI: By now, Imran Ashraf has done it all. The colourful actor has played a sidekick, a protagonist, a villain, a hero, an anti-hero and most recently, a transgender in the play Alif Allah Aur Insaan.
But in an industry that relies so heavily on glamour and good looks, how does an actor like Imran – who is not your typical ‘chocolate-hero’ – avoid getting typecasted? The Express Tribune spoke to the versatile star to delve into his world of things.
Express Tribune (ET): Tell us about your journey to stardom. From your first breakout role to Shammo, a transgender in ‘Alif Allah Aur Insaan,’ how did it all pan out?
Imran Ashraf (IA): I actually never wanted to be an actor. Seriously, this isn’t a joke though it sounds cliché… If you see my first drama, you’ll say the same thing, that, ‘Hey, he shouldn’t have been an actor.’
To be honest, there was little else to do. I was involved in a business that went into liquidation. I didn’t have any other choice. I wanted to make it into a profession; it was something I had to do. I am a normal looking person and have always been aware of that. I’m a realistic guy and I was realistic about the fact that my face wasn’t like that of a typical hero.
But I guess people could relate to my face. When they looked at me they could say, ‘Hey yeah, my brother looks like this, my cousin looks like that.’ I still don’t know how to apply gel to my hair and I told myself that if I want to succeed at this, I must work hard and excel at what I’m pursuing. Acting pays my bills now and I’m really glad about that.
Fortunately, at this point in time, I’m in love with what I’m doing because my hard work is paying off. My character Shammo is a blessing, really. I got amazing feedback for it. People have really loved my performance in the role and I’m grateful to everyone who appreciated it.
ET: What motivates you to do such diverse roles?
IA: It’s my loyalty and passion towards my work. I’ve taken a different path as compared to the rest and on this path, I want to accomplish everything. I want to do every kind of role. I can’t reach that pinnacle I aspire to with playing only positive or ‘hero’ roles. I wish to prove my mettle at villainous roles as well.
ET: Do you think roles for men are stereotypical in our dramas? There is little to no variety. To what extent do you agree with this?
IA: There is no character, no role in the world that doesn’t have a margin for performance. This is all nonsense… that there is no margin for performance or acting.
I do, however, feel that men and women complement each other but I don’t think there is no variety or powerful roles for men. The stories are often revolving around men and while it may seem that the stories are revolving around women, it is actually about men. They do have very powerful roles.
ET: How important do you think it is for men to be typically good-looking to make it big within the industry?
IA: I want to give 100 marks to this question! It is extremely important to be good-looking in showbiz. If you’re not a good-looking person, go cry, bang your head against the wall; this is your fault! It is your curse that you are not good-looking and you have to bear the consequences of not being gorgeous (laughs). Yeh aap ki saza hai, aap bhugtain!
ET: What are your thoughts on Bollywood? Would you want to venture into that territory? Have you been offered any roles?
IA: Artists don’t have boundaries or territories. If there is good work available to them, they should go and pursue it no matter where it’s being done. Similarly, whenever there is good work available to me, no matter where it’s coming from, I am available and totally up for it.
ET: What is the worst thing you’ve encountered in the entertainment industry?
IA: No matter what you do, no matter what industry you’re in, there are good things and there are bad things. Showbiz is an industry that gives me my bread and butter so I can’t really hate on it but that being said, I don’t deny that there is good and bad in the world.
ET: What’s your opinion on Pakistani films? Are you doing any at all?
IA: Films are doing great in Pakistan! I’m not doing any yet though, as I think I still have to learn how to act in a film. I plan on seeing a few films being shot first – probably go on location and see how it’s all done. At the moment, I have no idea how people act in films. It’s very different to the dramas.
ET: Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
IA: In my auqaat.
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