Veteran actor Sajid Hasan is happy being a mortal who lives in rented property

The celebrated star bared all for his fans with Ahmad Ali Butt

Entertainment Desk May 24, 2024


Anyone with a love for the jewels of PTV from the '80s will have a space in their hearts for actor and screenwriter Sajid Hasan. Having fallen into the profession after being scouted off the cricket ground outside his house, the Dhoop Kinare star invited viewers to his journey to fame, his long-lasting marriage, and his views on the commercial scripts littering the world of showbiz today. 

Lucky in love 

“My wife calls me a bachelor husband,” he admitted with a wry smile as he chatted away to Ahmed Ali Butt in his podcast Excuse Me

Hasan has been married to fitness instructor Shakila Chapra since his thirties, and like any devoted husband, credits her entirely for where he is today. Hasan admitted to being a fan of Hollywood queens of yesteryear Audrey Hepburn and Vivian Westwood, but neither of them hold a candle to his other half. 

“Women are a work of art, but when you are married, your wife should be on one side, and all the woman of the world on the other,” he advised. Fully admitting to living with his head in the clouds as a writer, Hasan credited his beloved wife for keeping him grounded. 

“My wife still tells me off whenever I do something wrong,” he confessed. “I’ve been very, very lucky. She’s a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful person. She still does yoga, you know, and I think I’ve kind of survived better because of her. She does it all.”

The transformational nature of fatherhood

A father to three sons, Hasan mulled over how any parent was always learning on the job. “You have to teach your kids, and I don’t know whether I’m a good teacher,” he said right off the bat. “Once you become a dad, you understand why your father was the way he was with you!”

Hasan, however, has nothing but beautiful memories of his own father. “My father was very laid-back and gave me nothing but love,” he said warmly. “I don’t remember him ever raising his voice. He always treated me as a grown-up, and gave me all the rope to hang myself, so I did that all the time!”

Striving to follow in his own father’s footsteps, Hasan knows that he wants to be as open with his children as his father was with him. “I’m of the opinion that you should be friends with your kids,” he remarked. “I’m friends with all my sons. My youngest can also be rude! But once they’re out in the world, they will all find out the truth and find their own way.” 

As for finding his own way through life, the quest is ongoing for Hasan. “Some people become calm as they age. But people like me who haven’t found what they’re looking for – it never happens with them,” he said. “You need to search for your purpose in life, and you sometimes forget when you enter dramas, because you live so many lives then.” 

Wanting to be a cricketer

Entering the world of dramas was something Hasan had longed to do as a child, but he almost fell into the profession without really intending to. During his student days when meant to be studying for a master’s in literature, his university shut down due to political unrest. To while away the time, Hasan frequented the local cricket ground in Nazimabad for exercise, always secretly hoping he would be a cricketer. 

“Even when I was 35, I thought I’d enter cricket!” he recalled. “Dhoop Kinare was a big hit by then, but I still wanted to become a cricketer! There were so many great cricketers coming out of that ground, like Javed Miandad and Moin Khan, and I was convinced I was a great all-rounder. But I never knew how to approach the authorities the right way.” 

Fate had other ideas in store for Hasan, however, when Riaz Ahmed Mansuri, editor of the English language magazine The Cricketer spotted him on the ground, and after ascertaining he knew a thing or two about literature, asked him to write for his publication. There was no looking back. Working at the magazine proved to be a springboard for Hasan, allowing him to meet other writers in the showbiz world and eventually land acting roles. 

“I was always very picky with scripts,” rued Hasan when reflecting on what he would do differently. Nursing a burning passion for working with only the ‘right’ material, Hasan revealed there were many projects he let go of in his pursuit of perfection. 

“Scripts today have become so commercial,” he lamented. “Producers have to keep satisfying people’s voracious appetite for television, and what happens then is that quality suffers. Actors aren’t even given proper direction anymore.”

In Hasan’s view, commercial scripts are not the only thing plaguing Pakistani television. “PEMRA needs to finish,” he said with conviction. “It is a totally crap authority when it comes to moralising, telling you what to write and what not to do. It shouldn’t become a moral authority.” 

However, Hasan insisted that anyone who is in the profession and has a family to support should put their personal preferences to one side when debating scripts. “Look at it as a job,” he said. “My advice to the kids of today would be to pick up whatever work you can. I always thought that there is no money to be made in acting, but you can make money in this profession. Just pick up those scripts, even if you don’t like them.”

Yet to grow up

Today, despite being a highly regarded figure in Pakistani showbiz, Hasan continues to live in rented property and dabbles in real estate to keep the money coming in. Like other mortals, he, too worries about the electric bill. “I never took up ads that were offered to me, and there were so many roles I didn’t take because I didn’t want to keep playing the same character – maybe I should have done it!” he said with a smile. 

Hasan may be a national treasure, but it is certainly not a view he shares about himself. “I consider myself a very normal, down-to-earth human being,” he stated. “I never wanted to be a ‘hero’. I still find it so odd.”

Still a child at heart, Hasan has one core piece of advice for anyone wanting to be serious about acting. “An actor should be very childish,” he stated firmly. “Always. I have yet to grow up.”

Forever young at heart, it looks as though Hasan will be in the hearts of his fans for years to come. 

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