Nation’s New Heartthrob - Bilal Abbas Khan

Women, young and old, are busy crushing over him after he dazed everyone with his looks and acting skills in serials such as Rasm-e-Dunya and O Rangreza. A young performer in his mid 20s and an even young entry in the world of entertainment, Bilal Abbas Khan has managed to make a space for himself in a field that is women-dominated. With a film, some hit dramas and different accolades already in his kitty, the talented, handsome star talks to MAG about what lies ahead of him. Excerpts:

What kind of kid were you growing up?

As a kid, I’d always wanted to be an actor. I grew up watching films, so the filmy factor was always there [in my life]! I was a huge fan of cricket, still am. My interest always leaned towards performing arts even during exams and classes, I used to do theatre and give various auditions. My mother wanted me to serve in the army but following my passion for acting and theatre, I eventually auditioned for a couple of dramas and soap serials.

What is the fondest memory you have from back then?

When I was six or seven, I used to dance on the song Goray Goray Mukhray Pe Kaala Kaala Chashma. My mother would run after me with a chappal (slipper) in her hand, as it used to annoy her so much [laughs].

Who are you closest to at home?

My dad! He has always been very supportive [toward me] and since he was into films, it was easy for me to pursue my dream.

How have your siblings helped shape your personality?

I am blessed with a caring, loving and supportive family. I am really close to my youngest brother who is not just my partner in crime but my confidant, too.

Q. What was your first day at work like?

I still remember, I wore a blue shirt with same coloured pants. It was the first day [of shoot] for drama serial Saya-e-Deewar Bhi Nahi, directed by Shehzad Kashmiri. I remember my first scene was with Ahsan Khan and Navin Waqar. I can’t even describe the level of nervousness I was feeling that day!

Q. This is an industry where it is fairly hard for male actors to make their mark as the projects are mostly female-centric. Do you agree?

Yes, I completely agree. We do get to see some male-centric content but most of them are female-centric because our target audience is mostly women. But at the end of the day as an actor, I feel that it’s not about quantity but quality and even if you have one scene, you need to give it everything.

Nonetheless, in a short span of time you have set yourself apart from your contemporaries and have shone through the crowd. What do you accredit this success to?

God has been kind. I am just doing what I’m immensely passionate about. I never expected people to appreciate my work [this much] but ended up on great projects so early in my career. Other than that, who I am and where I am today is all because of my fans and their love.

Which has been your most challenging role so far?

All the characters I played have been really interesting, but Qasim from O Rangreza has been very special. The [most] challenging one is yet to come, though.

Your debut film Thora Jee Le was snubbed heavily. What do you think went wrong?

Thora Jee Le was a project with all new people and for me, it was a great learning platform and I made some great friends there (on sets).

Do you regret taking up that offer too soon or at all?

I don’t think there is anything like ‘regrets’ in my life. I look at them as lessons and experiences.

Everyone loved your work in O Rangreza and many were particularly upset at it not being nominated in this year’s LSA. There was a huge outcry. What is your perspective on it?

Honestly, it is too early in my career for awards! Of course, it does feel nice when your work gets recognition, but [even] if it doesn’t, it’s totally fine for me. I act for myself; the feeling I get when I’m on sets is ineffable. As long as my fans are appreciating and admiring my work, I am happy because that’s all I live for.

What are the things you focus on when selecting a role?

I want to be satisfied even 10 years later when I think of all the choices I made, all the characters I played. I used to be super confused previously but now I’m at a point where I know what I want to do and where I want to be. I focus on the margin [of the character], the role has to be challenging and needs to take me out of my comfort zone, and the story has to be different!

Which of your leading ladies have you particularly liked working with?

As clichéd as it sounds, I end up being friends and having fun at work with everyone.

Any names of those you’d like to work with next come to mind?

I would not take any particular name, but I have worked with real gems [so far] and would love to work with and learn from the paragons of our industry.

What qualities do you think make you different as an actor?

I’m no different than any other actor. I like to think that I literally lose myself when I’m in a scene; I become the character I’m playing.

If you weren't an actor, you'd be?

If I wasn’t an actor, I’d be a struggling actor wanting to be an actor [laughs].

Antagonist or protagonist?

Both! If the plot is good and if the character has enough margin, just make me act!

Other actors you find inspiration in?

Not just one name; Sushant Singh Rajput, Ranbir Kapoor, Rajkumar Rao, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Irrfan Khan.

What is your character in Bala like and how is it different than what we've seen from you so far?

I am playing the role of a man who is not just family-oriented but also knows when to take a stand for himself! He is the complete opposite from my previous roles as he acts crazy and at times, even screams his heart out.

Ushna has been deemed a difficult actress to work with. How was your experience shooting for the serial?

I’ve had such a lovely experience and so much fun doing scenes with Ushna. She’s such a brilliant actress!

Can your fans get an update on your love life?

As crazy as this sounds, my work is my love! No jokes. I guess when the time comes, it’ll happen itself.

What is your ideal girl like?

Don’t really have an ideal. I feel a good relationship, compatibility and trust matters the most and I hope to find it with time! •