“Mazdoor admi hoon, meinay iss qaum ko jaganay ki qasam khaa rakhi hai”, says the outspoken Adeel Hashmi. There have been many before him who tried the same, but failed, so he often second guesses what set him on this route. Adeel is sure that this is the journey he’s meant to undertake.
Perhaps the burden of being a mazdoor for the soil is a generational affair for Adeel. After all, his impressive lineage includes grandfather and revolutionary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, father Humair Hashmi, mother Moneeza Hashmi and aunt Salima Hashmi. The Hashmis have been associated with PTV since its outset and have contributed greatly to the cultural sphere and Adeel has enjoyed a long, multifaceted career himself.
However, there is a lot more depth to him than what is evident in the popular advertisement series, where he is seen sporting goofy characters. And that depth is reflected in the comfort with which he switches between speaking fluent Urdu and English, exactly what he wishes to inculcate in today’s youth.
Of late he has reduced professional activities to focus more on running the Faiz Foundation. “Faiz sahib takes up most of my time and gives me the deepest satisfaction, the kind that I haven’t known professionally,” says Adeel.
This year in November, we will witness the first three-day Faiz Festival featuring performing arts, lectures and panel discussions. Adeel hopes to invite performers from all over the world, including Naseeruddin Shah, who is set to perform for three days. Other notable names include Pakistani British journalist Tariq Ali, Muhammad Hanif, Asma Jahangir and other assets of our country.
“We need to break free from all the worries that we are shackled with. Our temperament in the last 15 years has become abrasive because everything around us is harsh. The only way to feel slightly more human is to be exposed to literature, art, music and talks.”
Much like his grandfather, Adeel remains very optimistic about the circumstances, despite the chaos around the country. That is also the reason why he wants to keep the witty side of his character alive, but the lack of depth in humour these days, gets to his nerves.
“People who experience life slightly closely believe that humour is very important,” he says. “Now, we crack jokes that are funny but shallow as opposed to people before us who were astoundingly funny.”
Adeel’s take on comedy has never been dated. Be it the hilarious portrayal of Luci in Teen Bata Teen or his usual comedy of errors, Adeel has always packed a punch while jesting. But he doesn’t want to ‘Stand up’ to the task of making people laugh.
“Theatre is a medium that frightens me and I’m certain that the moment I try it, people will realise that I’m a phony. I want them to keep believing whatever they do about me.” Perhaps Adeel’s light hearted self-deprecating humour is what is so enjoyable about him.
He recently acted in a film which is set to come out in February and has also written one, but does not plan on gracing the director’s chair any time soon.
“I don’t meet up with a lot of people and film is a collaborative art. I am just an overtly sensitive person and once I develop that second skin that is needed to survive in this society I will”.
For the moment, he doesn’t have the courage to delve into a project of that nature because he believes that we are yet to understand the importance of discipline in art.
Adeel concludes the conversation with a smart little personal anecdote. “One has to keep progressing, I have to keep doing what I’m doing but I have no idea what I’m doing. The other day someone asked me how life is treating me to which I replied ‘maza bohat aa raha hai lekin samaj kuch nai aa raha’”.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2015.