How good must an actor be for him to leave an industry thrice before finally coming back to make his mark in not only local television and film industries but also in those across the border? Perhaps, that artiste should be as good as Fawad Khan. As the rising Khan bags the Filmfare Award for ‘Best Debut (Male)’ for his stint in the Sonam Kapoor-starrer Khoobsurat, The Express Tribune talks to his first-ever co-stars from TV drama Jutt & Bond to explore how the once-acting novice has become a new-age acting sensation.
Screenwriter-actor Vasay Chaudhry, who starred alongside Khan on Jutt & Bond, shares how, ahead of the casting for the show, he was won over by Khan’s good looks and boyish charm. “We were looking for people to play the part of Bond in Jutt & Bond, and the most important requirement of the part was that the selected person should look like a desi James Bond. When he (Khan) came, I thought he was perfect for the part,” said Chaudhry.
Khan rose to prominence as a vocalist for nu-metal band Entity Paradigm (eP), but it was through his role on Jutt & Bond that he got his first break. Zain Ahmed, who directed Khan for his TV debut, recalls him as being a very “shy person.” He shared that he always believed Khan had that spark to earn his spurs as a distinguished actor.
Zain’s faith in Khan’s acting credentials is evident in how he used to shoot the show’s episodes on weekends, only to accommodate him in the project, as he was attending college at the time. “I knew him before Jutt & Bond, as I directed him in a theatre play while he was doing his A-levels. He was like every other boy at his age, but one thing that stood out about him, even back then, was his focus,” he noted.
According to Chaudhry, a major reason why Khan has been able to attain the stature he has today is that he has become less shy. “When we were shooting Jutt & Bond, he would never talk to his female co-stars and used to be reserved, even towards male cast members,” stated Chaudhry. “The fact that he has been able to overcome his shyness over time has not only helped him improve as an actor but has also facilitated him in reaching this point.”
Zain believes that Khan benefitted greatly from his off-screen rapport and chemistry with fellow eP member Ahmed Ali Butt, as he helped him come out of his shell. “Ahmed comes from an acting background and his friendship with Khan helped because, initially, he used to be hesitant while filming scenes. Also, whenever we used to shoot songs or over-the-top sequences, he used to worry, ‘Loge kya kaheinge’,” he shared. But, according to Chaudhry, “Even after Khuda Kay Liye happened, Khan did not become ‘the Fawad Khan’ that he is today, as he had to continue working on television for a while before finding success with Dastaan.”
Chaudhry stated that many people overlook the fact that Khan is very hardworking, citing the example of his acting career during which he quit thrice, only to make his final comeback with a role in the film Khuda Kay Liye — a part that was declined by Ali Zafar. Having worked with him both before and after the success of Humsafar, Chaudhry has witnessed Khan’s growth as an actor. “When we started out together, he used to treat acting more like a hobby,” he commented. “Initially, he used to have this instant coffee-like focus, but when we last worked together on the telefilm Armaan, he had become extremely professional and ensured that each and every frame he was a part of was perfect.”
Six reasons why Fawad Khan won the Filmfare Award
Humsafar: Although Khan managed to prove his mettle prior to his stint in Humsafar, there is no gainsaying that it was the success of the show that made him a household name and established him as the country’s most sought-after actor. The screening of the TV serial in India on the newly-launched Zindagi TV only served to boost his popularity and fan-following across the border, prior to the release of his Bollywood debut Khoobsurat.
Khuda Kay Liye: Khoobsurat was not the first time Khan graced the silver screen with his presence. He had already made his feature film debut in the movie Khuda Kay Liye, with veteran director Shoaib Mansoor helming the project. The actor depicted the role of a musician-turned-maulvi, which a much more daunting character as compared to the one he portrayed in Khoobsurat.
Rockstar status: The word ‘rockstar’ is an overly used term in Bollywood to describe a popular actor, but unlike his Indian contemporaries, Khan can stake his claim to the title as not only is he a renowned actor but also has a successful music career with his band eP. It was through the band that he came to the fore as an artiste, and, as eP’s frontman, he experienced how to pivot large crowds and audiences. It’s also interesting to see how he gained ground across the border while hailing from a music band, a relatively unexplored realm in Indian entertainment.
Stubble: In this day and age, when actors prefer to keep a ‘clean’ look in an attempt to appear younger, Khan went against all odds and sported stubble in his debut film. Not only did his beard accentuate his regal status in the film but also gave him a more natural and masculine look.
Maa, baap: It would be unfair to give no credit to Khan’s parents for his successful career. First, they deserve to be lauded for his great upbringing, as despite the fame and fortune he has garnered, he remains humble. Second, but more importantly, for his looks. He clearly has a good set of genes.
Lack of competition: Not to undermine his achievement, but Khan benefitted from lack of competition for the award this year. Other actors who were nominated include Tiger Shroff (Heropanti), Tahir Raj Bhasin (Mardaani), Sharib Hashmi (Filmistaan), and Freddy Daruwala (Holiday), and none of them had a high-profile debut like Khan.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2015.