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Fahad Mustafa’s Versatility In ‘Mein Abdul Qadir Hoon’ Inspired Me To Act: Film And Theatre Actor Ali Hasnain

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Ali Hasnain is a young theatre and film actor who has worked with the best of production houses like Khoosat Films and Ajoka Theatre, along with other performances to his credit such as a “Frankenstein” stand-alone and the short film, “Behind the Closed Door”. Naya Daur caught up with the talented and bold performer to ask him a few questions, which are as follows:

When and how did you enter the showbiz industry, and with which profession?

I don’t exactly remember the year but I’d like to start from the humble beginnings of my turning point. It all started when HUM TV’s drama serial “Main Abdul Qadir Hoon” came out. I got so inspired by that drama and with the way Fahad Mustafa portrayed three characters in it. From that point in time, I changed forever (He’s one of my inspirations). Before that, as a young lad, I used to act in front of the mirror all by myself just for fun. Not long after, with my young heart filled with hopes and dreams, it quickly shattered upon realizing the bitter reality of getting into this industry by oneself. Nobody in my family was in this field but we did have a few contacts here and there within the industry. That being said, I was never interested in taking someone’s help and I’ve always been that type of person. So I had a choice of either having strings pulled for my benefit or staying true to my beliefs. After deciding that I’d rather pursue this career based on my abilities, I then ventured into the world of theatre. There, I began to have my first taste of the industry.

You have done both theatre and film. Which of the two do you enjoy more and you think is your real calling?

To be honest, I enjoy both but there isn’t one I favour over the other. They are like two different planets and I’ve made a beautiful home for myself on each.

That being said, the theatre has its charm but the issue in Pakistan is that not many people come out to watch, as I guess not many are interested in this type of production. So, if I talk about as a career thing, I’d say Film or TV so the masses could know that there’s this talented artist who passionately acts. On the other hand, if you speak about living a character truly on stage, the atmosphere you get to experience in theatre is something you can never find anywhere else. It’s amazing!

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You have worked in both commercial and drama films, including Sarmad Khoosat’s “Zindagi Tamasha”. Which experience was more enjoyable and why?

Yes, I’ve done a small part in “Zindagi Tamasha” and it was great. I admire Sarmad’s acting a lot and getting to do a small part with him was a big thing for me. Working with him is an honour in itself. I call him The Maestro. According to my experience in the field of acting, the drama is something I enjoy a lot. I’ll get to know the commercial side of things soon in an upcoming film project I’m doing.

You are of the view that people here aren’t chosen on merit. Can you relate any such personal experience?

Just like every actor, I’ve been through so many bad experiences but I’ll relate the one that still haunts me. This was an opportunity where I almost secured the lead role in a drama. 8 months ago, I gave an audition. The role details: young male with a personality disorder (serious-psycho) and I had gotten the script only a day before. Long story short, I went to the auditions, did my performance, and all the three Judges/Jury/ Director were amazed by it. Their jaws dropped and even the camera crew got so much into it that they started praising and saying all the good things one could imagine; “We are speechless”, “You should start teaching acting” etc. Thinking I had without a doubt secured this role, I was ecstatic but guess what? I didn’t get the role.

Now let’s get into the meat of the story. A few days back, the same people called me and told me that they are keeping an acting workshop where I can come over and give lessons for a few hours any day that suits me. Right away, I felt shocked and sick to my stomach because at that moment everything became crystal clear to me. I agreed but I asked them why I hadn’t been selected while everyone was praising my acting.

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The person pathetically responded that the director wanted someone with a good social media presence so he declined it even after loving my audition. So, he took a guy who had a good social media presence.

Moral: It doesn’t matter how good you are. Nobody’s going to take you seriously if you aren’t already known or a friendly face to them. Unfortunately, in this game, it’s not about what you know but WHO you know. Sadly, even the talent agencies I’ve worked with are mostly working on a favouritism basis. They never even pitch your portfolio to the client and they just send their handful of people who they are close to and that’s it; done deal! This is such a dangerous affair for quality within the industry because, during the casting process, people mostly hire talent agencies to scout and get new talent on board for their drama, film, TVCs, etc. So, they wouldn’t even know that there’s this passionate artist out there soulfully doing work in this field. How will they ever discover me to get me on board for their project? The people who are supposed to represent new talent are working on this biased format going forward with only the familiar faces they’ve chosen without any professionalism whatsoever.

Tell us about your upcoming projects

Well, due to this pandemic, as everyone knows, all projects have been at a stand-still, unfortunately. Hopefully, within this month, everything will be resumed, Insha Allah. I’ve been working on a few little things here and there but sadly I’m obligated to keep quiet about them. Ironically enough, the project I’m most passionate about is a rather exciting and magnificent upcoming film called “Neelofar” which is being produced by Fawad Khan where he will be acting opposite Mahira Khan. So, for a young actor like me, this opportunity is a dream come true!

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Naya Daur