Having a bad day? Need a dose of positive energy? Some might advise you to go out with friends, rest, or even talk it out with someone close, but I suggest spending a few minutes with Shahood Alvi. What’s most discernible to anyone who strikes up a conversation with him is his uber cool attitude, incredibly soft tone and the astonishing fact that he never has anything negative to say about anything or anyone, and he has been this way pretty much from the start. Recalling his fun, carefree childhood days, Shahood Alvi reveals that he was quite the adventurous kid who would always be up to some sort of mischief. “My early life was very interesting; being the youngest, I was very naughty. My parents would constantly be nervous, thinking what I would do next, and they were right to believe so. I would always be involved in peculiar, mischievous activities; I would jump from the first floor then try jumping from the second floor, then go higher just for the excitement and curiosity of it,” he says, clarifying that his age never ensured him any preferential treatment. “I was never pampered specifically; my parents have done an amazing job of dividing their attention and love between me and my siblings equally, so that we could never tell who they favoured more,” he lets out with a laugh.
A young, over-zealous Shahood could only think of one thing that he wanted to do – direction. It might not come as a surprise to many that he would choose this field, as not only is he talented but has the skills in his blood. His uncle, in particular, deserves a mention here – TV’s veteran, Iqbal Ansari, who has been his “guru” for as long as Shahood can remember. Inspiring and motivating, all at the same time, the hazel-eyed actor has relied on his uncle’s advice on all important professional decisions. Starting his career as a boom operator, Shahood had his eyes set on his goals, little was he aware that fate had bigger plans for him. It hardly takes one by surprise to think that the actor has always been good looking, and so it was a matter of a few years before he got an offer to act. “It was a small role, and I didn’t really think much about it when I said ‘yes’. My next role in Kala Pul gave me the big break. Talat Hussain, who was acting in the serial himself, offered me a villainous role in it,” shares Shahood, who seems to have found the fountain of youth. From then on, everything has been pretty much a piece of cake for him. While his talent made it impossible for him to go unnoticed, his experience behind the camera gave him an edge over his contemporaries. “I had a much greater knowledge of what went behind the camera in terms of sound and lighting. I knew how to manipulate my voice for the camera, where to stand, which side to face, so I think my experience in the field before I started acting, helped me a lot,” he says in a humble, self-depricating tone. Nevertheless, there were times when the actor-director, who married young, found himself less-than-experienced. “I remember, I was acting with Mishi Khan. I had just started and was very shy at that time. My character, on the other hand, was outgoing and had to flirt with Mishi. I kept saying the dialogues looking at her feet. While I got a good scolding from my director, everyone else had a good laugh.”
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Shahood Alvi is one of the actors who have been adventurously risky about his acting choices and have been greatly rewarded for them. Take, for instance, his first major role in Kala Pul; an antagonist is hardly what actors dream of playing in the beginning of their acting career, but that never deterred Shahood. “Honestly, the thought never ever crossed my mind. I completely understand why someone would think that because most actors and actresses always aim for the lead protagonists and want to be the hero or heroine,” he opens up about his perspective towards acting, and continues, “But I have never thought about acting as a medium to fame. I had said to myself early on that I will do all kinds of roles and focus on improving and being versatile, instead of running after superficial things. By the grace of Almighty, I have never had to face issues like typecasting, so I could experiment with my work freely, and today, I have reached a place where people can look up to me, and kind ones like you want to interview me.” Staying true to this thirst for versatility, he took up Ramchand Pakistani, his first and only movie back in 2008.
The Merey Huzoor star gives equal credit to his mother for helping him decide on the kind of roles he should take on. “My maternal side is full of writers, poets, novelists, they are all literarily inclined, so I would ask my mom to go through the scripts that would come in for me. She would guide me as to how the character is and whether I should do it or not.” While on the topic, Shahood also confidently claims that all help aside, he has always tried his best to be original. “It will be wrong to say that I haven’t had any acting inspirations; there are so many talented actors that I have admired for years and somewhere along the road, they have influenced my work and taught me a great many things,” he discloses, and adds, “But as far as performing the roles is concerned, I can confidently say that I have never copied anyone and modelled a character after anyone else’s. What you see on screen is always my own interpretation of things.” If there is anything Shahood is guilty of, it is playing a character to perfection, a crime that has garnered him fame, appreciation and notoriety in equal parts.
He played Mahjaz, a poet who takes advantage of a beautiful, helpless girl, in Bol meri Machli, not knowing that where his excellent work would earn him an LSA on one hand, he would become a victim of a vicious attack on the other. During an appearance in 2010 at a local university as a chief guest, the actor got attacked by a mob of young, delusional girls who believed him to be the character in real life as well. “At that time it was all so disturbing that I had seriously considered leaving the field, as I didn’t see the point in continuing,” says the father of three beautiful, young girls, and like the big ball of positivity that he is, continues, “But now that I look back, I see it as an incident that taught me a lot. See, if an actor performs a role and gets praised for it, that’s his achievement, but if his work is able to evoke an intense response from such a big number of people, that’s something great. I think in the history of Pakistani television, my work in this serial (Bol Meri Machli) was the only one that was able to get such a reaction, after Zahoor Ahmed Khan’s work in Khuda Ki Basti years ago.” He jokes, “Needless to say, I have turned down every invite by colleges ever since.”
Partial to his love for directing, Shahood Alvi is currently excited about the airing of yet another drama that he has just finished shooting and can’t wait to get back into the director’s chair, something he plans to do around April.
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