- 05 Aug - 11 Aug, 2023
PARAS MASROOR - A QUINTESSENTIAL ACTOR
- 15 Oct - 21 Oct, 2022
Paras Masroor may not have the looks of a ‘conventional hero’ of television but he surely masters the art to shine in any role he does on screen. He had started his journey as a theatre artist and soon spread his wings as he donned many hats, including those of a conventional actor, playwright, current affair host, director, musician, and acting mentor.
To put it simpler, he is a hidden gem. An underrated actor who set the benchmark with a plethora of roles he has played in a decade-long career. He masters the art of giving a new life to any character with his superb screen presence – be it scheming Torah Khan in Sang-e-Mar Mar, the arrogant Zahid in Angaan, or supportive husband Muraad in Pehli Si Mohabbat.
I met the dynamic actor during his debut film, Carma, promotions. As he was busy promoting his film, I didn’t get a chance to talk to him at length about his other projects. Once the promotions were over, I called him again for a detailed conversation. His wife cum Media Manager, Kiran, arranged the meeting.
The actor reached my office right on time. Dressed in a khaki shirt and white jeans, with a trimmed beard and short hair he looked quite different than his usual getup.
“I like to experiment with my looks – sometimes I keep long hair and a beard. The next day, I would walk in with a clean shaved face or any other variation in my looks,” the actor told us.
He shared that since childhood he had the habit of disguising himself into different characters.
“Disguising is my thing and it helps me move around in public without the fear of getting recognized” Pehli Si Mohabbat actor stated.
Paras has tried his hands on all three mediums of performing arts, theatre, movies, and television, but when asked what quenched his acting thirst, the actor quickly replied ‘theatre’.
“I enjoy doing theatre the most – it is the mother of all performing arts. I was fortunate to get enroll in the first batch of NAPA in 2005 and since then I couldn’t disassociate myself from it,” he told us.
The actor added that working in all three mediums is different but still there are some similarities between theatre and movies.
“Television is a very quick medium. Here we don’t have enough time to get into the nitty-gritty of the subject. You have to finish shooting episodes in the given time frame. However, working in films and theatre is quite similar as they have a preproduction phase and an artist can bring his depth and method to it,” he added.
Talking about the revival of serious theatre in Pakistan, the actor gave huge credit to Zia Mohyeddin and his team for bringing the glory of theatre back.
“There was a time when people were confused between stage shows and theatre. For them, slapstick comedy was theatre. NAPA played a great role in bringing the glory of theatre back. Now, people have started taking this medium seriously and quality content has been produced,” he said.
The actor, however, admits that less work is done at the theatre because of a lack of finances.
“People don’t want to invest their money into it. To make it financially viable and to increase footfall, plays have been commercially treated now. Dawar Mehmood and Anwar Maqsood sb have come up with their political satire that attracted a huge audience. So we are in the right direction and it is a good sign,” he said while being optimistic about the future of theatre in Pakistan.
ON LOBBY SYSTEM AND NEPOTISM THAT EXISTS IN OUR INDUSTRY
Talking about the lobby system that exists in our industry Paras said that it affects him as an artist.
“Television is thriving at a fast pace in Pakistan. As an actor, we get maximum exposure and opportunities to grow here. However, here too nepotism and lobby system has made things complicated,” the actor shared.
“If you don’t belong to any lobby. It is hard for you to get back-to-back offers,” the actor exposes the harsh reality of the glittering world.
“Right now, three big channels are at the top of their game in the television industry and all of them have their respective production houses. They work with a certain group of artists – that is the reason we see a lot of repetitions in characters,” he said.
“If you are somebody like me, who doesn’t belong to any particular group then you have limited work offers. You will be called when there is an urgent need for a performer who fits that role and there is nobody in the team who could do it,” the actor said while exposing the nepotism culture.
REMINISCING STRUGGLING DAYS
Paras versatility is reflected in the varied roles he has performed so far. Although his father has connections in media but he never uses them to get work.
Reminiscing the old days, the actor said that his struggling period was brief but fruitful.
“I am not somebody born with a silver spoon in my mouth. My father is a producer/ director of national television. At that time, to be a part of the showbiz field wasn’t a lucrative idea. My father didn’t want me to join this field. He wanted me to become an Engineer. For that, he forced me to take admission to Mehran University but without informing him I also gave a test at KU. My interest has always been in social sciences so I got admission to International Relations Department.
During his student life, Masroor realized that acting is his true calling. After taking classes at KU, he used to come to ART Council to take the acting course.
SUFISM RUNS IN HIS BLOOD
"I am not a human being in search of a spiritual experience but I am a spiritual being immersed in a human experience", reads Paras' Instagram bio. As we spoke to him, we found he had a unique bond with Allah – something he inherited by birth.
Paras belongs to a Sindhi Sufi family involved in the arts: his grandfather, Ghulam Ali Masroor, who went by the pen name Faqeer, wrote Sufi poetry in six languages (Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Sindhi, Seraiki, and English), while his father, Beydil Masroor, is a musician and writer who also served as senior director/producer for PTV for 35 years. Paras inherited his interest in arts from his father.
“Sufism runs in my blood. My grandfather was a Sufi poet. My father is a self-made man who made his name with sheer hard work. He did our upbringing on similar lines. In our house you will find more books than furniture,” the actor said.
To become financially independent, Paras started writing content for different channels. He started his career by working from behind the camera. He was an associate at Marina Morning on Hum TV, later he wrote the script for Ehteshamuddin's show on Hum TV.
Paras started his acting career with a couple of projects on TV One and Hum TV. However, he rose to fame with the current affair show, Shabbir To Dekhe Ga – a notion that later becomes his identity.
“The executive producer of the show was an ardent theatergoer. He had seen my work so he asked me to do that show. I auditioned for it and got selected because of my distinct voice quality.” The actor said.
Paras did the show for more than 3 years but then left it because it was affecting his mental health.
“When I used to come to my office there used to be piles of files surrounding my table. I did my best to resolve several issues through that platform but later it affected my mental peace so I decided to quit it,” he stated.
Paras later joined ABB TAK channel and helped in its launching. However, his true calling was acting and he jumped into it the moment he got a chance.
“I met Saife Hassan at a friend’s wedding. He was an old friend and a colleague. We have performed together umpteen times so he knew that the actor in me wanted to be explored.
He recommended my name for Sang E Marmar. The writer, Mustafa Afridi wrote that role for Ehteshamuddin but he was busy directing Udaari so they called me,” he told us.
By the time Paras joined them, the rest of the cast was already on a shoot.
“When I reached the set, I met some amazing people there. I had an acquaintance with Sania Saeed as she used to do theatre workshops at NAPA. Uzma and Umair worked in theatre before. Noman Ejaz also had theatre experience. When the team of likeminded people met, a positive vibe was formed that was later reflected on the screen,” Angaan actor said.
The actor believed that the presence of senior actors helps juniors to horn their skills.
“Acting is an action-reaction game and in it, a senior actor will never want that a newcomer outclasses them so they always put their best foot forward to outshine in the presence of new talent,” he said.
ON HIS PROCESS & METHOD OF ACTING
Paras has been among a few artists who take his work very seriously. When a project offers to him he makes it unique by adding his touch to it.
“My process starts with reading. When any role offers to me, I read the script thoroughly. I don’t read my part in it but read the entire script to get an idea of what people around me are doing. I take time to get into the skin of the character – I study his background, future, or present. To get the spine of the character, I talk to him alone. If someone sees me doing this practice, they may call me mad,” he said while explaining his process to act.
Paras has established himself as an actor and he is now all set to don the director’s hat.
“I have plans to write and direct a movie and very soon I will make an announcement about it,” the actor concluded the interview on a high note.•
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