There’s confidence in his stride and ‘coolness’ in his demeanor. Uzair Jaswal is sure of himself and what he has to offer and that’s what has consistently made him a hit act. He’s high voltage on-stage and has a plethora of loyal followers on social media that make his internet presence massive. Most recently, he’s been performing his debut album, Na Bhulana nationwide, from which he released the music video for one of its tracks, ‘Khazana’ this summer.
However, what’s taken up most of his time this year has been his leap to acting. The younger Jaswal brother made his way to the small screens last year and returns with Geo Entertainment’s latest offering, Shayyad, helmed by Syed Ali Raza of Bashar Momin and Khuda Aur Mohabbat-fame, and also starring model-turned-actress, Sadia Khan and seasoned actor, Nauman Ijaz in titular characters. He proudly shares that he also lent his vocals to the soulful OST of the serial that has done well amongst the TV-watching audience.
Instep caught up with the thunderbolt at his burger joint in Islamabad, patently named Jessie’s after their blessed family name.
Instep: Shayyad marks your second drama serial; what’s your criterion of signing on to television projects been so far?
Uzair Jaswal (UJ): I’ve been very picky about what I take up. I had done my first play, Moray Saiyyan because Abdullah (producer) had been in touch with me for a long time and offered me this particular role, and that’s when I decided to speak with the writer, Rabia Razzaq and she explained to me the whole story and my character, and I felt my part was very strong. Even in Shayyad, I feel Saad, my character, offered a wide range of emotions to play with. It’s basically all about his journey, and how he grows from being a 19-year-old to a responsible, mature man, and how this transition takes place. I felt it’d be interesting to portray someone who’s initially irresponsible and runs away from his fears to becoming calm and collected, and how the whole process was narrated to me was very impressive. Later, when I got to know more about its team, I felt like being a part of it.
Instep: Tell us a bit more about your character, Saad. Did you relate to him, and how was the process of getting into his skin?
UJ: Like I just said, Saad’s character is very interesting and relatable because he’s a young lover boy, who’s there for the woman he loves, and that’s what makes him so persistent also. Even if he knows he’s not getting the same kind of response, he’s adamant that his love will win. And from that to being a whole lot confident and composed, I feel it’s a transition we go through in real-life also. I think we’ve all been through that phase, when you get done with college and land yourself with a lot of responsibilities, life hits you and you become a completely different person, but the love in your heart remains the same.
Instep: Shayyad also stars veteran actor, Nauman Ijaz. What was your experience like working with him?
UJ: Working alongside Nauman bhai was amazing. The few scenes I had with him were very riveting, and I had a great time shooting. When you work with someone of his caliber, you obviously learn a lot, and I look forward to working with him again.
Instep: Both your serials have been mellow, conventional love stories; do you think you’ve consciously taken up safer projects?
UJ: It’s not about that at all. I do agree that both my characters have had the similarity of being likeable and expressive, but that’s completely coincidental (laughs). Those are the kind of roles that have attracted and appealed to me and are the ones I thought the audiences would be able to relate to better. I am open to experimentation; I hope I get to read and play characters that are different and challenge me in a different way maybe.
Instep: Your debut film, Jalaibee released almost three years ago and you were initially a part of Maan Jao Na, which Adeel Chaudhry signed onto later. When do you plan to return to the silver screen?
UJ: There’re actually a couple of scripts I’m going through for more TV assignments right now. There are some film offers too, but I’m going to be very selective. Even now, over the period of a year and a half, I’ve only done two plays. I’m looking for something that allows me to show what I’m capable of as an actor. I was speaking with a couple of filmmakers but for some reason or the other, either I didn’t have dates or something, but I couldn’t be a part of any of them. I feel there’s a right time for everything and hopefully, loads of more acting to come.
Instep: You also starred in Pakistan’s first full-length online film, Oye Kuch Kar Guzar (OKKG). Do you think the future sees the web-space replacing TV and cinema?
UJ: It was an amazing experience shooting for OKKG. We literally completed the entire film in about ten days and shot for 20-hours a day, I believe. It was very hectic and lengthy, but I’m so glad it turned out to be great. I do feel the internet has taken over, but every medium has its own charm and market, and an audience. Internet obviously does hold a great place in everybody’s life now and going digital is the new thing, but at the same time, TV has a very loyal viewership and it won’t lose that at any cost; you can’t deny the impact of cinema either. I feel right now one must show their presence everywhere, because that way, you’d be reaching out to the maximum number of people.
Instep: We’re seeing a lot of album releases this year, even from your brother, Umair Jaswal. Do you think the culture is reviving for the better?
UJ: Yes, Umair bhai is; everyone is and I’m very excited for their new music. I hope it does bring back the old times, when I grew up to MTV and all these channels that played music all the time. New artists were introduced, they were recognized individually every week, and I really miss that. I hope that all of our hard-work gets the same kind of exposure too. It genuinely gives me a lot of happiness that musicians are documenting their music now, because that will surely work towards the betterment of the industry. I hope we end up seeing our own content on music channels and taking musicians seriously.
Instep: As a musician and actor, an influencer, do you feel you’re socially responsible for changing mind-sets? Do you feel the need to give back to society?
UJ: Of course, as an artist, people look up to you and they admire you so you’re in a position to make them think and know about subjects that you probably wouldn’t have been able to if you weren’t on their screens. I do feel the responsibility to take part in causes that help the society, and spread awareness since people see you on their screens and hear what you’re saying. With that power and liberty, I try to do and inculcate good. Currently, I feel people need to know more about climatic changes, I hope we’re able to protect our people, crops and forests, and make sure we’re well prepared and equipped to resist ourselves and help others fight it.