Failure is a part of this industry: Osman Khalid Butt on films, friends, and his indomitable mother

The actor shared nuggets of his life before an enthralled crowd on Tabish Hashmi's show

Entertainment Desk May 21, 2024

The multi-faceted actor Osman Khalid Butt, who cracked the genetic code in the looks department with a face that crinkles into the readiest of smiles, delighted viewers as he graced the couch of the charismatic Tabish Hashmi on Hasna Mana Hai

Sitting before a crowd of overjoyed engineering students in the audience, the wit and banter ping-ponged between host and guest. Osman - who goes by aclockworkob on social media as a homage to his favourite book, Clockwork Orange - invited viewers into his world by recalling his extraordinary late mother, who passed away in 2006. A woman who left behind her homeland – France – to be with the love of her life in Lahore, Osman recalled how his mother was the glue that held his vast extended family together. 

A tribute to a loving mother

“Of course, everyone thinks their mother is the most extraordinary being that ever lived, but my mother really was special,” reminisced the self-declared maths whizz and Diyar-e-Dil star. “She was here in the ’65 war and the ’71 war. She could have left at the time, but she chose to stay behind. She helped the Pakistani government and also founded a French school. She worked very hard and loved the country.” 

Osman credited his mother’s impressive achievements all the more considering her starkly different upbringing in France. Upon getting married, Osman’s mother walked straight into an intricate joint family, which may have been a declaration of undying love, but also brought it its own unique set of challenges.

“It was a huge culture shock for her,” explained Osman. “She didn’t understand a lot of Urdu, even though my dad had taught her, and Punjabi was even harder.”

Not one to admit defeat, however, Osman’s mother picked up Punjabi bit by bit and parroted it back in retaliation to anyone who dared try to bring her down. “I think she extracted the best out of Pakistani culture,” said Osman fondly. “I get my looks and my brains from her! She was a soft critic, and very loving. Her loss was huge for everyone in the family.” 

When theatre - almost - goes wrong

Having grown up in a loving family as he did, Osman’s fans will be aware that he swan-dived into the world of acting with a role onstage in Moulin Rouge. What audiences may not know, however, is that Osman almost sent the theatre into a blind panic when he inadvertently ended up swivelling a gun at then-President General Pervez Musharraf, who was sitting in the front row. It was a prop gun, but Osman recalled seeing the wave of fear spread before him as he took aim. 

“The climax involved me pointing a gun at the audience,” revealed Osman. “I was centre stage, and after pointing the gun at the audience, I had to then point the gun back at myself before committing suicide. He [Musharruf] was sitting smack in the centre in the front row, right where I was pointing the gun. Everyone knew it was a prop gun, of course, but I could see the panic taking over! When I moved the gun away, you could physically see the audience relax.” 

Hard-core friendships make a career

Having been part of the showbiz industry since 2007, Osman cherishes colleagues Maya Ali, Zara Noor Abbas and Ahmed Ali Akbar as close friends. “I really should have a stopwatch for every time someone asks me why I’m not collaborating with Maya,” joked Osman. “People assume there is a rift between us when we’ve not been seen together for too long, but nothing could be further from the truth. We’re all good friends, and these collaborations are in the hands of producers and casting directors. When the right project comes along, we’ll be working together again!”

Osman may enjoy a thriving career today, but the self-deprecating actor recalled that his first film did not soar quite as high as he anyone would have hoped. “Failure is a part of this industry – of any industry, actually,” he said philosophically. “I also had a movie that was banned because it made a joke about the then-president, but a ban is great because of all the publicity you get!”

At the stage Osman is in his acting career, the twinned fear of failure and getting banned is something he can put to rest. And of course, maths whizz that he is, should by some miracle his showbiz career implode completely, Osman can always take a leaf out of the engineering students’ books by using the brains he has been gifted with and get back into academics. 

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