He hosts the biggest game show in the history of Pakistan. He has given the maximum number of hit TV dramas for an actor his age. And now he has made a successful film debut through Nabeel Qureshi’s Na Maloom Afraad, which is being shown to jam packed cinema houses in metropolitans of the country. He is none other than Fahad Mustafa but when you meet him; he is an entirely different person than his screen image. “I am a lazy actor when it comes to working; I like to travel a lot and can’t stand the idea of working 9 to 5.”
Known more for his exploits on television as a versatile actor, Fahad believes that working in a film was always on the cards; he was just waiting for the right time.
“I believe that I am from that generation of actors who helped the TV industry revive with good plays. We changed the concept of Pakistani drama (that were following Star Plus a decade back) and that’s why I decided to venture into films and kick off a revival of sorts.”
Leading TV actors opt for known directors when they switch to films, but Fahad went for an unknown Nabeel Qureshi who himself was making his first feature film as director/producer. “Those who follow my career know that I like to work with lesser known directors, although I have worked with big names too. I accept a role only when the story appeals to me and the plot of NMA was quite tempting. When the director narrated the story to me, I only asked him whether he would be able to make it or not. He said “is se achi bana loonga.”
People still think that Fahad Mustafa produced his first feature film and that Na Maloom Afraad is his brainchild. “I am not Shaan; a producer would never put his money on me. It is your work that should speak for itself and that’s why I gave my 100 per cent to this film. I am not producing it but I was at the sets before any actor and I stayed there late even when I didn’t have a scene, because I had high hopes from the project. Before this movie, I was offered O21, and Delta, Echo Foxtrot but films on jihad are not my cup of tea. I want people to watch my films, meri waja se not because it has some hint of patriotism and all. I wanted to sell NMA on my own and I am glad I have succeeded.”
People believe that Na Maloom Afraad is inspired by Hera Pheri and Delhi Belly…
“Let me tell you, majority of the people also believe that the idea is taken from C Kompany or even 3 Idiots but that’s not true. The three people – one old, two young – are the only common link between Na Maloom Afraad and its alleged inspirations. It is the story every Karachi-ite can relate to and believe me, without the help of the Government – and the people who call for a strike – this film wouldn’t have been possible. One of the best strike sequences in the movie was actually done at Saddar’s Zeb un Nissa Street on a strike day, and believe me it was fun doing that! We torched buses; we set fire to cars and tyres; and gave authenticity to the scene which is being loved by all those who have seen the movie. And even if people say it’s a copy of a Bollywood film, I would take it as a compliment as it means we have shot something of an international quality, otherwise hamari soch Gujjaron se aagay nahi jaati hai.”
What about television and his competitors in the game show business?
“Let me tell you, I never thought of myself as an anchor. When I am hosting, I just be myself, which is a change from what I do in plays. I don’t know why Aamir bhai (Liaqat) thinks I am competing with him. I am not … I didn’t counter his show jaan boojh kay, soch kay bhi nahi kia. It happened by chance and although I love him as an anchor, I don’t address him during my show.”
Fahad continues to talk about Amir Liaqat with a smile. “The problem is that Amir bhai is addressing me, I am that important for him! He is a senior to me and wished me luck when I ventured into hosting a game show, but I don’t know how he assumed that I am trying to be like him when he knows I can’t. He is a scholar who can quote ayaats and hadees; I am an entertainer who likes to have fun. Yes my show gives more prizes than his but that doesn’t mean that you should mock the competition. I feel proud of the fact that in the last five to six months, I have given away more stuff than he has given in his entire career. And the best part is that he watches my show.”
Back to films, does he himself watch Pakistani films? “Yes I watch good films and even promote them when I can. I saw Shaan’s Mujhe Chaand Chahiye and Tere Piyaar Main when they were released more than a decade back; I saw Ahsan Khan’s Ishq Khuda, Humayun Saeed’s Main Hoon Shahid Afridi and Waar all of which were released last year. But let me tell you, I don’t want people to watch my film because I watched theirs … I don’t even want them to watch it because it’s a Pakistani film; I want them to watch it because it’s a good film!”
How does Fahad Mustafa handle being a TV actor, a film actor, a host, a producer and a model? “Yaar I am not a Superman, I am just a common Pakistani man! We shouldn’t underestimate Pakistanis. It’s basically how you divide your time positively and properly. I am the blessed one here since I work and then get a chance to rest at home, on my terms.”
What is next in the pipeline?
“A handful of sequences of Mah-e-Meer is what is on my plate at the moment. I don’t want to reveal much about the film but I believe that I am one of the first actors from this generation who gets to play two characters in one film. You will have to watch the movie to know more.”
As for the future, the actor believes that he will continue acting and producing plays as long as he feels comfortable. “I plan to announce my first film as a producer soon because my aim is to take Pakistan’s film industry to a level that Indian actors would feel obliged to come here. My upcoming project will be written by Ali Imran (of Bulbulay fame), while I have roped in renowned director Anjum Shehzad to call the shots. I could have sent my show reels to India for work but I want to stay back and revive our industry. If we do that, nobody would want to go to India, trust me.”