Controversially yours: ‘TV dramas are our only representation across the globe’

Actor Hamza Ali Abbasi talks item numbers, Bollywood and everything else he’s loved and hated for

Ians June 30, 2015
Actor Hamza Ali Abbasi talks item numbers, Bollywood and everything else he’s loved and hated for. PHOTO: NEWUNIQUEFASHION.COM


Actor Hamza Ali Abbasi says the influx of Hindi films has spelt trouble for his country’s entertainment industry, which he feels is losing its distinct identity in a race to “be a cheap copy of Bollywood”.

“I feel the Indian film industry has had a huge impact on Pakistan because they filled the void, which was created when films were not being made [in my country]. Our filmmakers have grown up watching Hindi films, so they are trying to make films which look like Bollywood films,” said Hamza in an interview.

“Pakistan’s film industry should make its own identity. I don’t want our film industry to be some wannabe film industry,” added the actor, whose maternal family hails from Amritsar.

Now he has walked into the Indian small screen through his show Pyaare Afzal, which beams on Zindagi TV in India.

Hamza, who has studied bachelors in international relations and development from US and is also the former cultural secretary of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, sees hope in the new wave of Pakistani cinema.

While there was Zinda Bhaag, which was sent as a prospective Oscar nomination, Pakistan’s first Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy has brought in animated films to the country with 3 Bahadur.

“Our film industry is still in a process of emerging. With this new film industry, we have a chance to make it a distinct medium of representation instead of trying to be a cheap copy of Bollywood,” he added.

The actor, who has worked in films like WAAR and Main Hoon Shahid Afridi, and whose theatrical repertoire includes local productions of Bombay Dreams, Phantom of the Opera and Home is Where Your Clothes Are, added that the Pakistani film industry can learn a thing or two from its own TV industry.

“TV dramas are our only representation across the globe. Our identity is brilliantly represented in TV dramas. I think our film industry need not learn from Bollywood ‘masala’ films, but from our drama industry,” said Hamza, who notes that “Pakistani TV dramas stay true to the country’s culture”.

And how is that going to happen?, “For instance, I’ve not seen an item song in Pakistani dramas. Whether we agree or not, Pakistan doesn’t approve of such things,” he said, and added: “Item number is a phenomenon, which is creeping into Pakistani films and is not being appreciated by our people.”

Hamza also believes that Pakistani film industry is “not adapting good Bollywood films, but which are full of ‘masala’ like Grand Masti and Housefull, adding that the current trend is disappointing as “Bollywood is itself trying to do away with such cinema with meaningful films like 3 Idiots and Piku.

On whether he’d like to feature in a Bollywood film, Hamza stated, “I don’t see myself in Bollywood for a while because I think I’m more useful in Pakistan.” He said if there’s ever a joint venture, where Pakistan also has a stake in the project, then he’d probably consider it. Hamza had previously turned down an offer to feature in the Akshay Kumar-starrer Baby.

While he has nothing against actors like Fawad Khan and Ali Zafar, who have made their mark in Bollywood, he pointed at one drawback. “Our actors become really big in Bollywood and then they become a bit inaccessible and a delicacy for Pakistan,” said  Hamza. 

Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st,  2015.

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VJ Ramesh | 7 years ago | Reply Hamza Ali Abbasi is right. Pakistani dramas are much better content and quality wise. The actors and story are top class. They remind us of the Sham Benegal Smita Patil-Shabana Azmi era of 1980. Todays Bollywood films are all about big costly locations, heavy costumes, makeup and jewelry and little clothing. Also kissing and passionate loving scenes with sexy item number performed either by an actress or Salman Khan shirtless. Fawad Khan has already put his foot down against kissing and love making shots. Even Ali Zafar could hardly come in a few films because of the strict Islamic upbringing. Therefore Hamza Ali is correct in saying to stick to doing what you are good at.
Chachoo | 7 years ago | Reply The people like Hamza Abbasi are a boon for the already Confused young generation of Pakistan. The guys like him state so conveniently that we have nothing in common with Indians and this creates many problems. We have to agree to terms that we were all Indians before 1947. There are many cultural similarities and rejecting all similarities is just against the facts. It is alright to develop the so called Pakistani identity. But we should not confuse our masses. Also i want to point out that Hamza belong from a Political family of Pakistan. His father and mother are in the Politics. The political family kids have this type of Holy attitude. Their parents earn the money through all means and then their children become Haajis in the end.
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