Good looks and being good at what you do can be a lethal combination in any industry. By utilising both these strengths to his advantage, actor, Azfar Rehman has proven that showbiz is no different.
In an exclusive interview for Ms T, the charming actor spills the beans on his journey from a regular outgoing young boy to an acclaimed actor with 27 serials under his belt along with direction, modeling and hosting gigs.
When lady luck strikes
One of the first things that caught me off-guard about Azfar was his immaculate sense of punctuality. Having heard countless horror stories about celebrities who keep reporters waiting for hours, I had chosen a café-cum-art gallery for the interview so I could keep myself entertained during the long wait. To my pleasant surprise, however, the charming actor walked in exactly on time.
Clad in jeans and a black round neck T-shirt with an earthy beige cap, he exuded a sense of casual confidence. And I didn’t have to wait too long to find out that being an extrovert came to Azfar naturally. In fact, it was probably his upbeat attitude and energy that landed him in front of the camera in the first place.
“I was nearly 16 and was wandering in Agha’s supermarket with a couple of my friends one day,” recalls Azfar, as he speaks about his acting debut in a television commercial. “Call it destiny or a mere coincidence, but the director Saqib Malik was also shopping there when he saw me.” Subsequently, Saqib’s assistant approached Azfar and asked him if he wished to act in a commercial. “My friends persuaded me to go for it and that’s how I got started.”
But it wasn’t just destiny that sparked his interest in showbiz. Working at an advertising agency gave Azfar the opportunity to closely observe how the television industry worked and made him realise that he wanted to be a part of it. “You see,” he elaborates, his face lighting up with a smile, “I have always been an extrovert and so I felt that my expressiveness can prove to be a great asset for me when it comes to projecting a powerful presence on screen.”
And he wasn’t wrong about that. Azfar got his break in television in 2006, as a host of a celebrity talk show Spotlight with Azfar Rehman. The show was a huge success and ran for almost four years. One of his few defining moments on that project was when he had the morning show host, Nadia Khan, as a guest. “For 10 years, Nadia Khan had not given a single interview and the fact that she agreed to come on my show was indeed an accomplishment!”
From there onwards, there was no looking back for Azfar. His roles in drama serials Dugdugi, Ladies Park, Sitamgar, Baityaan, Mehar Bano aur Shah Bano, Noor Pur Ki Rani, Mohabbat Rooth Jaye Toh and Phir Chand Pe Dastak received much acclaim and made him an instant hit with the audience. Even though, he doesn’t regret any of the projects he has done so far, two of his projects remain very close to his heart. The first one, Yeh Guriya Meri Hai, was a telefilm in which he played a character who suffers from Autism while the second one was drama serial Ishq Mein Teray in which he played an obsessive lover who dies at the serial’s climax.
On six packs, patriotism and the ideal woman
Given the immense versatility in Azfar’s work, one can’t help but wonder how he manages to do justice to each role. “Simplicity along with the power of sheer observation is what makes an actor good enough,” he shares. Even though he advocats diversity in roles, Azfar claims that he will never be able to play a character that he does not believe in. “I always feel that the character one plays is in essence also an endorsement of that particular act or issue being highlighted.” For example, he would not be comfortable playing an abusive husband or an anti-Pakistan character. “That is just not who I am or what I simply want to endorse in front of my fans.”
His patriotism is also evident when he speaks animatedly about the recent screening of Pakistani dramas in India and their instant success with overseas audiences. “Our dramas are more realistic as opposed to our Indian counterparts and I can proudly say that our dramas are now being dubbed in various languages such as Arabic, Turkish and Syrian.” Infact, the renowned serial Dhoop Kinare was also adapted and broadcasted on India’s Sony Entertainment Channel.”
Moreover, he believes that if an opportunity pops up for Pakistani actors to showcase their talent across the border, then they should certainly take it up. “I would also go in case such a prospect comes my way. However, it is highly important to note that I would always come back to Pakistan.”
Azfar, who has spent almost a decade in the television industry also has some solid advice for newcomers looking to make a mark in the field. “I have learnt that one needs to take their career very seriously. The goals need to be concretely defined. We really need to understand that success is not a mere position but a life long continuous process.” And with his upcoming projects which include a drama serial directed by Mohsin Mirza and another serial Surkh Jora, Azfar is working hard and leading by example.
Besides doing justice to powerful characters, there is something else that is on top of Azfar’s bucket list right now. Even though he is already quite fit, the actor now wants a six-pack and claims that he is working vigorously towards this goal. “If I intend to be on the big screen, then having a six-pack is crucial to ensure success.”
As the interview drew to a close, I asked Azfar about his ideal woman, a detail I was sure a lot of his fans would appreciate. “It is very important for a woman to be educated and have a career but then she should learn to strike a balance between her personal and professional life as well,” he shares.
It certainly seems like a far enough demand given that he lives by the same principle himself. And we wish this dynamic artist all the luck with his future endeavours!
Published in The Express Tribune, Ms T, September 14th, 2014.