Anyone hearing the story of Adnan Jaffar’s life for the first time is likely to get the impression they are hearing a coming-of-age story in the same vein as of the movie 500 Days of Summer. Like the perplexed Tom Hansen in the movie, Jaffar too had initially dabbled into a career he seemed to care very little about — news anchoring. Having already carved an impressive portfolio both on stage and television with serials like Aun Zara and Jackson Heights, the actor is looking to build upon his filmography starting with the crime caper Jalaibee.
Despite the success, it has not been an easy ride for the actor. Having acquired an undergraduate degree from the United States, Jaffar returned to Pakistan at the turn of the century to try his luck at news anchoring. Regardless of a stable job and healthy income, things just didn’t seem to click for him and he continued to quit jobs before he could even settle in.
He attributed his pendulum shifts to his ‘busy body’ nature saying, “I just couldn’t sit still.” “When I was doing those jobs, I used to be depressed. When I was unemployed, I was even more depressed because I had no money,” he recalled.
Although having a ‘family cushion’ behind him, his parents were still concerned for his well-being. Like every individual, seeking independence and harnessing a strong desire to make it on their own, Jaffar moved from his family abode into a studio apartment – albeit for a few months.
“The stuff I was doing just wasn’t sitting well with them (Jaffar’s parents). When you’ve been sent to study abroad there are expectations of elders and family members and I come from a family of professionals,” said the actor.
During this process, Jaffar resumed his old habit of reading. “I picked up books and was reading a lot and I was just lost in that world of characters and stories and I just never wanted to keep down the book to face the ground reality,” stated the actor.
Jaffar heard about the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) during his last job at a local news channel. He took a leap of faith by deciding to quit his job and pursue his dream career. Once enrolled at Napa, he realised his lack of linguistic skills in Urdu. But he was determined this time and things finally seemed to fall into place.
“Over there, I picked up Urdu, the Urdu diction the dramatic rendition of Urdu,” he said.
One of the hallmarks of all the great actors is their distinct voice and having already worked as an anchor, Jaffar developed this quality quite a bit. But, it was under the guidance of Napa’s voice teacher, Khaled Ahmed, that he learnt how to use this weapon at its utmost abilities.
Acting seemed to have instilled the competitive edge and drive that Jaffar had been longing for all his life, with the stage suddenly becoming an ‘arena’ for him where he was a ‘gladiator’ whose only aim was to, “go out there and win.”
Jaffar continued to excel at an alarming pace, something which did not go unnoticed by his teachers. All of his efforts and hard work culminated in earning a prestigious role in Oedipus Rex, a play directed by Zia Moheyuddin.
Even his parents started taking pride in their son’s achievements. Looking back at that period of uncertainty in his life, he believes that it has not been wasted and has contributed to his acting skills in one way or another.
According to Jaffar, this is most evident in his performance as Dara in Jalaibee. He has taken inspiration from his friend Bilal Sarhadi, a person whom he credits for instilling the ‘passion, fire and junoon’ into his acting career.
Jaffar already has several projects lined up, which includes appearances in feature films Moor and Manto. Apart from working with directors like Jamil Dehlvi and Sabiha Sumar, he really wants to help other upcoming actors. He has already started a small reading group with his wife for this purpose.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2015.