Vivacity, fireworks and a bundle of laughs — those are the thoughts that radio jockey (RJ) Khalid Malik from “The Breakfast Show” conjures up. Malik’s name invokes a wacky image of him bellowing “Good Morning Pakistan!” with his uniquely animated voice and personality that works better than any caffeine fix to get you in the mode for the daily grind. One naturally assumes then, that a rendezvous with this rambunctious RJ is bound to be a roller coaster ride.
“People have this expectation that I will always be this hyper as I’m in the morning show. One can’t be hyper 24-hours a day, seven days a week. There is a time and place for everything. The show is where I let loose the shallow, the crazy and the whacky side of me,” says Malik rather sedately. Such bipolarity completely stumps an avid morning show fan. Josh, his choreographer and wife takes it all in stride. “Khalid doesn’t realise how different he is in real life from the RJ. But you put him on a microphone and he’ll kill you every time,” says Josh.
So who’s the real Malik? “RJ Malik is the real Malik,” he answers, still quite stoically. “If it wasn’t the real me, the show wouldn’t do as well as it does. Since I am extremely sensitive I can feel what others may be going through.”
Despite the sobriety, Malik still retains his characteristic wit and instantly cracks up on how people assume he is rather intellectual. “I’m not an intellectual!” he cries out. “I hope I’m intelligent but I have no desire to be an intellectual.” And when someone angers him, like during a traffic jam, instead of cursing, he just rolls down the window and makes absurd faces so that the person freaks out.
An unconventional couple (their wedding was a Hawaiian themed affair in Sydney), Malik and Josh migrated from Australia to make it big in Pakistan. Curious choice one would think. Returning to Paki-stan to realise their dreams of stardom! “There’s a lot of work here for an actor. If there’s a place you can make a contribution it is here, at this very moment,” asserts Malik. And he should know as he has done the whole gamut, from working at MTV as a VJ to production at Dawn News to theatre and drama serials, and of course, his claim to fame, “The Breakfast Show” on City FM 89. “I breathe, eat and sleep ‘The Breakfast Show’. It’s my baby,” says Malik.
As the man who has done it all, it comes off as no surprise that he claims that the airwaves are his chosen medium. “Radio is far more professional, thorough and visionary than any other form of media in Pakistan,” claims Malik. “The key decision-makers in broadcast are very myopic and have a short-cut mentality.”
There is a deep-seated anguish and frustration beneath Malik’s carefully controlled voice. “It is the nature of the industry we work in, world over, to be cut-throat. But in Pakistan, this beast is totally wild and unleashed. I wish we could tame it a bit,” he broods. “Of all the roles that I’ve performed, I’ve never been the main male protagonist. My work is appreciated yet I don’t get the substantial roles. My only answer to that is production politics and the cliques in the industry that promote only one group of people.”
Yet, Malik is hopeful and holds a rather interesting philosophical view of his predicament, “I get recognised when I go out so I’m happy. I am also spiritual and feel that one faces hurdles only when one is in the right direction.”
It is with this unique conviction that Malik keeps on going “Five years ago, I was a planner. Now, I have no clue where I am headed except for my immediate goals. What I am doing now is my end.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2011.