DUBAI: Blue-eyed actor Ali Rehman Khan doesn’t believe in taking up run of the mill characters. He transitioned from theatre to movies with a series of television performances in between. In a candid conversation with him regarding his upcoming movie Parchi, set to release early next year, Ali shared more insights about his journey as an actor and his progression from theatre to dramas and then finally, making his way to movies.
The Express Tribune (ET): Tell us about Parchi and your character?
Ali Rehman Khan: My character’s name in Parchi is ‘Basheer/Bash’ who is a fierce individual, someone who is fearless in any adverse situation. Bash is an irrational and selfish person, but he has a very interesting journey as he makes some life-changing discoveries as the story unfolds that completely changes his outlook.
Parchi is unique because it is a complete package. It has emotional intensity and action along with a love angle to make things interesting. Most importantly, it has situational comedy, which is its main USP. It is not the typical comedy that we usually see in films, but it is the situation that each character falls in that makes the story hilarious.
I can’t say much at the moment about the story but the trailer of the film speaks for itself. All I can say is that it is a very fast-paced film and a complete entertainer. I am pretty sure that the audiences will not be bored for a second while watching it.
ET: How was your experience working with Parchi’s team?
Ali: Parchi has a lot of phenomenal theatre actors who have worked really hard to get into the skin of their characters. It’s always great to be in a project with Hareem [Farooq] because she is not only a good friend, but also a very talented actor. Both of us get into the skin of our characters as soon as the director calls out ‘action’ and the amazing chemistry we share makes everything easier and more organic. I have previously worked with Imran [Kazmi] and Azfar [Jafri] in Janaan, and the fact that I’m working with them again, speaks volumes about our comfort level. It was overall a wonderful experience!
ET: You mentioned theatre. How did theatre help your journey?
Ali: You can either learn acting from an acting school or you can learn through experience; for me it was the latter because my experience in theatre helped a great deal in developing and polishing my acting skills. Theatre teaches you a lot and you grow as an actor because you are acting in front of live audiences, and there is no room for error. You constantly need to be at the top of your game. If you forget a line, you simply have to improvise on the spot, and in the reverse situation when a co-actor forgets their line, you need to think fast and react accordingly. It is very important to be on alert and always in tune to what is going on in your surroundings.
Because of theatre, you develop confidence in yourself – not only as an actor, but it also teaches you the importance of believing in yourself and having faith in your abilities. It’s very important to solidify your acting prowess as it helps you shape as an actor.
Also, theatre helped me learn character development and also various voice exercises and different pre-stage exercises. In the end, it all comes down to the individuality of each character; every actor has his or her own method and work ethic – and that’s what makes each actor unique.
The more I talk about theatre the more it makes me want to go back! If I see a good opportunity in the near future then I will definitely pursue theatre again because I really miss it.
ET: Do you think that kind of a work ethic is appreciated in Pakistan where the industry is still in its teething stages?
Ali: I perform every role that I take up with the seriousness and sincerity that it deserves. I have been working to the best of my abilities. At the end of the day, it’s my performance on screen and the audiences are judges as they decide whether I perform well or not. If I work hard then it will translate on the screen, and if I don’t – that too will also show.
I have to ensure that I give my 100% and do justice to every role that I take on. This is where your experience from theatre comes in; you get many takes when you are shooting for a film, but just one when you are doing theatre. It makes all the difference because you are so tuned to give that one perfect shot!
ET: Do you think character acting is missing in our industry?
Ali: Yes and no. As an industry, we are still more focused on heroes and heroines, and not too much on characters. But, this is slowly changing with time and the more we do films, the trend will eventually change. An example of this can be seen in Parchi as it is a very character-focused movie.
Each character has its own league in the film and I believe all the actors supported each other and brought the best in one another. Apart from Parchi, the character played by Gohar Rasheed in his upcoming movie Rangreza, in which he plays the central character of ‘an anti-hero’, will definitely break a few stereotypes. All these changing trends look very exciting, as people have started to accept and appreciate roles of all kinds, and not just mainstream heroes.
ET: What do you think about Bollywood? What are your plans on working there?
Ali: The idea of actors going to Bollywood is great! They have an established set up as they churn out hundreds of films in a year while the Pakistan’s film industry being in its early stages of revival, produces about a dozen films in a year.
Bollywood is a huge industry with a very professional outlook towards everything. From its crew, to the actors, producers and directors – all are thorough professionals. We can definitely learn from their experiences and technical expertise, and apply them in our own industry. Our industry is flourishing at a rapid pace, but there is still a lot that we need to learn and there is a lot more that we can do with our films. The more multiplexes we have, the more audiences we can build and with that we can start becoming more professional.
We have come a long way now, and have majorly improved in the past four to five years. It’s so wonderful to see Pakistan adapting and doing so well in such a short time. It is only a matter of time that we will see some huge improvement in our industry.
ET: But would you work there?
Ali: I as an actor would love to work in Bollywood. I wouldn’t want to limit myself to a certain industry, and I would love to explore myself in order to grow as an actor. But the condition is that it has to be a good script and I should feel that I can do justice to the role. Because for me, doing quality content is important. If the role is good and the right people are involved, then I would definitely do it.
I would never take up any role that would portray Pakistan in a bad light, because I am proud of my country. Also, as an industry we can learn from other countries’ work ethics – not only from Bollywood but also from Hollywood.
Ali: I don’t really have a favourite but I saw Dunkirk recently and I loved it. The performances were simply mind-blowing! I also liked Inception and Godfather because both of these movies are character driven and boast powerful characters. These are some true masterpieces that will stay in the memories of people for the years to come. From Bollywood, I liked Aamir Khan’s stellar performance in Dangal and also the young girl Zaira Wasim’s performance in the movie. Even her recent movie, Secret Superstar was really good.
We are still very far from producing content like this – but this does not mean we do not have the potential. To be honest, we are not the only people who are far from producing such content. Even in Hollywood, there are very few people – like maybe Christopher Nolan, because that man is a true visionary. It is very hard to follow his footsteps, and Dunkirk is a rare example of Hollywood pushing its boundaries. We still have a very long way to go when it comes to pushing our boundaries because of the sensitive nature of our audiences and their lack of acceptance. But you never know, maybe a similar visionary can emerge within Pakistan and bring a revolutionary change. Nothing is impossible!
ET: Any upcoming projects your fans need to know about?
Ali: I am focusing more towards movies now as compared to dramas. I have been reading a few movie scripts and there is a lot in the pipeline, but I can’t say much because I haven’t signed the dotted line yet. Once I do, you guys will be the first ones to find out, promise!
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