Film promotions have turned into disgraceful circuses: Ahsan Khan

Published: December 23, 2017
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PHOTO: FILE

PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD  : Ahsan Khan has massive star-power and that can certainly not be said of many leading men. He’s not afraid of letting his guards down and that’s the kind of inclusion that makes him as big a person, as he is a star. His philanthropic offerings to the deprived in our society remain unparalleled and his evolution as a performer has led him to become one of the most acclaimed actors in the industry. For now, he’s hot property, but then, isn’t he always?

Ahsan’s comedy flick, Chupan Chupai alongside Neelam Muneer and Faizan Khawaja as well as veterans Talat Hussain, Sakina Samo, Rehan and Javed Sheikh, calls it a year of barely a handful of hits, scheduled to see the light of the day on December 29.

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Amidst the promotions in Lahore, The Express Tribune caught up with the personable protagonist of the film, beginning with the very phenomenon of promotional tours. Pointing out some of the recent publicity strategies, Ahsan felt there was need for more decency.

“These promotional campaigns of movies have devolved into disgraceful circuses where actors are expected to dance at the drop of a hat and do the craziest of things to attract attention,” he carped, followed by a coy smile, hinting at a recent release’s marketing strategy. “If only as much effort was put into making good films, the exaggerated drama of promotions would subside. The sad part is that for a few films, which were promoted this way, it didn’t work for them. Content is the real game changer.”

However, not only did Chupan Chupai’s script impress Ahsan but he also saw it as an opportunity of giving back to the industry through his understanding of the craft and serving as motivation for the debutant makers. “I think the day I

met Mohsin Ali (writer/director) and read the script, I knew I was going to be working with a bunch of new people. They’re all Napa graduates and if they approach me for a character, they must respect my work,” Ahsan shared.

“At the same time, I also wanted to support the industry because I feel we need a lot of new brains and technicians, and producers; we should encourage them,” he continued.

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“There are actors who only go for big names and productions, which is like having it all served to you on a platter. For me, a real actor is somebody who can make a small project into a big one. If you’re only doing a few projects and that too with established people, what is your input and contribution?”

Despite having a career spanning over seventeen years now, Ahsan’s popularity saw a fleeting rise as a result of his serial Udaari’s success last year, where he was seen taking up the taxing disposition of playing a rapist. He has since actively participated in bringing awareness to taboo subjects of sexual and domestic child abuse, and is currently penning his own book on the concern, and producing a documentary shedding more light on its consequential existence in Pakistan. Viewing Chupan Chupai as an escape of the dusk, Ahsan explored the commercial aspect of acting after an emotionally gruelling chapter.

“I was shooting a very heavy portion of Udaari when Chupan Chupai came to me. Udaari was a very difficult subject, and also comedy on television is substandard to say the least, the last show I remember was Loose Talk,” he observed. “I feel there’s more acceptance for comedy in film also, they’ve been received a lot better by the audience than any serious film, so I thought it was a good way of promoting the new blood and I took it up for myself as well, as a relief from Udaari. I wanted a lighter project, and I had a great experience overall.”

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Last seen on the silver screen in the forgettable Sultanat, which was meant to be a television drama, Ahsan revealed, but edited into a feature film; his last official film offering was the Punjabi-language romance, Ishq Khuda in 2013. Chupan Chupai reintroduces Khan to the movies after a prolonged sabbatical. “I have been offered a couple films over the years that did get made and I’m glad I didn’t do them,” Ahsan chuckled. “I think it all comes down to the script and the production house. I work for myself also, so I need to enjoy what I do.”

Looking back to the inception of his career with films, Ahsan says he has no qualms about being associated with what now-seem-like-inferior assignments. “I will never regret that all, I own everything I’ve done to date because it’s all been a part of my journey. You’ll always have hits and misses. When you’re young and enter the industry without any guidance, you do make mistakes. In fact, I wouldn’t call anything I’ve done ‘bad’, it’s been a part of my learning,” he maintained.

Nevertheless, was he satisfied with the endeavors that launched his career? “I was not,” he was quick to respond, “I always felt that there was less margin of acting and proper work in those times. After doing some scripts for television, I realised that there’s great work happening and I should stick to that only. I found myself adjusting to television better than Lollywood, and I think I made the right choice. I don’t blame those regional filmmakers either, they were just mostly made from that mind-set, and I just couldn’t cope with them. Now, after so many years and better offers (for films), I decided to go for it.”

India has a great influence on us and we share the same language: Ahsan Khan

Also having taken the plunge into production a few years back, Ahsan will now be working on features and has a period piece by Amna Mufti and a comedy with Mohsin Ali of Chupan Chupai lineup up; seeing the latter as more commercially viable for the time being, Ahsan hopes to commence that first. On the acting front, the actor has a busy year ahead of him. He will soon wind up Amin Iqbal’s musical opposite Ayesha Omar and newcomer, Sarish Khan titled Rehbra, and has also signed another film along the similar lines, broadly a “romantic-comedy.”

“Cinema is slightly new to us, so I feel making a film that has romance and nice music with comedy as well would do great. Social commentary and messages for the audience can also be included in such narratives, but I feel we’re not yet ready for very serious cinema since there’s already a lot of hate that’s going on in the country and when people choose to go to the theatres, they want to watch quality entertainment,” he highlights the reason behind his next cinematic choices. “Yet, I feel there needs to be certain depth and the content must be substantial; we need to develop more gripping stories.”

Although he’s open to trial and error; Ahsan also has a number of innovative projects in his kitty. “I love experimenting as much; I’ve just done a game-show for kids and made my theatre debut in London a few months back, and I’ve just finished dubbing an animated film called Tick Tock also. We do need new ideas and genres as well; that’s how the industry grows,” he concludes and hopes that his cinematic segment reopens to sold-out shows.

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