Some reach stardom quickly, and for others, it comes slowly. For Pakistani TV actors, the recent film revival is a blessing in disguise. Thanks to this cultural comeback of cinema that is dominating headlines and hearts, many of these actors have been able to break the ‘only-for-television’ label that has chased them for long – especially in front of new audiences. Several of these young actors have hushed their detractors to the sidelines by putting on memorable performances, and, in some cases, have found more glory than their fellow onscreen cohorts. Many of these actors have gone through a striking transformation, as a result of hard-work and perseverance when it was required the most. So, here then, Instep lists the top five actors who stole the show with their debut performances – on the big screen, in and across Pakistan.
Fahad Mustafa – Na Maloom Afraad (2014)
Before he became the country’s most loved game show host, Fahad Mustafa was a successful TV actor who rejected several film offers – until he heard director Nabeel Qureshi narrate a script about a trio of men and a con.
It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. And, in the case of Fahad Mustafa, the perfect vehicle to make the transition from small screen to the big screen.
Fahad played the lead character of a failed insurance agent who joins his roommate and landlord in a nefarious scheme of sorts, to secure their future. With its quick, sly wit, fresh pace and thrilling performances from the likes of Javed Sheikh, and debutant Mohsin Abbas, Na Maloom Afraad became a sensational hit, and Fahad’s performance, in particular, was lauded across the board.
Ayesha Omar – Karachi Se Lahore (2015)
She came, she sang and she conquered – the story of Ayesha Omar’s rise from television star to screen queen, is simple but hardly insignificant. Ayesha Omar made her film debut through Wajahat Rauf’s Karachi Se Lahore and landed the opportunity to showcase, not just her skills as an actor, but also as a singer and a dancer.
On the popular track, ‘Tutti Frutti’ Ayesha attempts a Beedi-esque persona but what truly stays with you is not her dance movement, but her vocals on this particularly catchy number. And in a film driven by several male performances, Ayesha managed to make a difference with her presence.
Yasir Hussain – Karachi Se Lahore (2015)
Karachi Se Lahore is a male-dominated film and its writer, Yasir Hussain is the man-of-the-hour. Not since Athar Shah Khan’s Jedi has any writer-actor managed to make audiences laugh in such regular succession. He stuttered and the audience stuttered with him; he made a funny remark and the hall erupted with laughter.
For those who thought that the movie’s success is a fluke, he proved them wrong with his hilarious routine at the Lux Style Awards, circa 2015, and stole the show, first as Moti, and later, as a traditional singer and a make-up artist. Pakistan’s cutest import to Bollywood, Ali Zafar had to stop Yasir during one of the skits and requested him to go slow or others would go out of business.
Ahmed Ali Butt – Jawani Phir Nahi Ani (2015)
Ahmed Ali Butt comes from a long line of artistic individuals. The grandson of the legendary Madam Noor Jehan and Shaukat Hussain Rizvi, Ahmed is the son of Zill-e-Huma and counts actors Sonya Jehan and Sikandar Rizvi as his first cousins. Given his genetic makeup, it’s surprising to note that Ahmed Ali Butt is just making his big screen debut. Given his skill set, one would’ve assumed that it had happened already.
Ahmed Ali Butt, however, is no ordinary performer – he sings, raps, acts and even directs – on occasion – both, sitcoms and music videos.
That said, no one, not even his biggest supporters could’ve predicted the enormous success of his debut film, Jawani Phir Nahi Ani, as it shatters records. In the film’s context, his Pervez aka Pepe character is the most emotional one of the lot, but also one who elicits the most laughter from audiences in consistent fashion.
By his own admission, he is also the only one in the film who performed a deadly stunt. Good job, Butt sahab!
Sarwat Gillani – Jawani Phir Nahi Ani (2015)
Her powerful performances made her a star on television, but for her to achieve cinematic glory, Sarwat Gillani had to produce the goods and make the mark. Fortunately, this theatre and television actor found inspiration in her grandmother’s mannerisms and used it as a reference point to play the role of a pregnant Pathan woman who loves her husband but is angered by his idiosyncrasies.
In Jawani Phir Nahi Ani, her dialogue delivery is marvelous, and her attitude is just as striking – be it carrying a gun, riding in a jeep or making suggestive jokes. It’s a confident performance from a worthy actor.