Faysal Quraishi - A Phenomenon

  • 19 Jan - 25 Jan, 2019
  • Ambreen Asim
  • Interview

Meeting Faysal after ten long years was like a revelation that people do change for good, and an actor transforms for the better. With impeccable and unmatched acting skills, the man of many words has come a long way since his Boota days and definitely has a long way to go especially after his return to films after over a decade.

Other than acting, he has a penchant for Harley Davidson, [proof is the jaw-dropping Harley Davidson parking in his grand abode], is a great foodie [no tantrums here as he can eat even if the food is cold] and is a lively, jolly, full of life, humble being. Undoubtedly, he is one of the finest actors Pakistan showbiz industry has been proud of having.

Faysal is all ears when he listens to you and is all talks when he sheds light on his career span, his passion for acting, and the industry he has been a part of since his days of yore.

In a candid conversation with MAG, Faysal Quraishi, talks at length about his persona, his second coming to films and everything in between. Excerpts:

You have always been in favour of comedy films. Then why did you go for Sorry as your first movie after 15 years?

Undoubtedly, masses accept comedy films very easily, no questions asked. But then there are recent movies that do not belong to comedy genre but did well at the Box Office. When people ask me the reason of choosing the story like Sorry over some comic script, I simply ask them to name more than three comedy movies in Pakistan that have been a hit.

Punjab Nahi Jaungi was not the comedy but it was a hit. It’s not about which genre a film belongs to, what makes a difference is content. A film always sells if it has all the right ingredients to please the masses.

There is a trend of releasing big movies on Eid and you have announced to release Sorry after Eidul Azha. Don’t you think it’s a risky decision?

Need of the hour is the allocation of film releases as per their story and genre. The trend of releasing all big films on Eid is not going to do any good for our industry. The latest victim of the trend was Load Wedding. I really liked the movie for its story, content, and execution but it went unnoticed amongst Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 and Parwaz Hai Junoon.

What should be the strategy to address this issue?

We really need to sort this out because there are lots of movies coming up. So, I hope that we understand this situation and bring out a solution to end this. It would also be feasible for audience to select a movie between the two. Choosing between the three is a hassle for the audience.

Tell us something about Sorry – A Love Story.

Sorry is a commercial film, a love story. When Sohail [Javed] narrated me the story, what actually hit me hard was its content. I had been offered so many films in all these years and the reason of saying no to all of them was my audience and what I have to offer them; a few laughters or a good story with strong content. I wanted to come back with a film that would leave a good impression on masses and Sorry is one such film. It has a very good, engaging storyline.

Plus, I strongly believe that character-driven stories are very important. Like yesteryears movies that entirely belonged to its characters like Nadeem, Shabnam, Mohammad Ali.

So, should we say that Sorry is Faysal Quraishi’s film?

No, it belongs to all four of us; Faysal, Sonya [Hussyn], Zahid [Ahmed] and Aamina [Sheikh]. When the film is out, people will see how every actor is aptly placed in the movie.

Industry people are speculating that Sorry would be a low budget, drama type of movie. Your say?

Well, I would ask the naysayers to wait for the trailer, watch it and then speculate. And I would like to know what is a low budget movie. It is not about the budget. I would reiterate that it’s all about the story and the content.

Everyone who is in the film business; me, Humayun or anyone else, cannot cross a certain limit because if we do, we would be compromising on our earnings. There are certain things that we need to keep in view as producers.

How do you define Faysal Quraishi?

It’s been like ages and I am searching myself, as to who I really am. Every day, I realise that my yesterday needs some improvement and amendment and the next moment I am fixing it and improvising things. You can say that I am an explorer who has been on a hunt to search for better things in life. There is not another way to define myself, I believe.

What is one rare quality of yours, according to you, that has helped you achieve heights in your profession?

I think that I am very humble as a person and that is what people also say about me. Also, I work very hard. Rest is all in the hands of Allah. ‘Woh jis ko chahay izzat de.’

Given that fact that you have appeared in so many roles, how do you manage a different avatar and versatility in every role?

I am seriously clueless about this. I think it is inborn. I make a sketch of the character in my mind whenever I go through a script. For an actor, it is mandatory to have a strong observation. Equally important is his/her execution skills. And I am one of those actors who are more into observing others and take inspirations to improvise.

A writer writes a character whereas an actor creates it. The look that you created for Bashar Momin became a trendsetter. Tell us something about that.

There were so many people involved like Nabila, Sajid and others. But yes, it was after Bashar Momin that people started to realise the importance of character creation and how a certain character should appear on screen. And that was the need of the hour. If, for instance, an actor has two to three projects runnings simultaneously on different channels, and he looks the same in every drama, it looks very odd.

If we talk about Boota from Toba Tek Singh, I gained so much weight just for the character of Boota and right after that, I grew a beard for my play, Chamak. So, these little things do make a lot of difference and are very necessary for an actor.

Which actors inspire you?

There are so many actors like Talat Hussain, Qavi uncle, Firdous Jamal, Nadeem Baig, Noman Ejaz. There is much variety in their work. Then there is a Hollywood actor, Robert De Niro, who I am a big fan of. I take inspiration from his habit of employing different avatars for every film. Because I believe that the way you dress up for a certain role makes a difference. I will never wear chappals with a three-piece even if I am giving a closeup shot because it changes your body language and automatically it affects your expressions. These little details go a long way when you are acting.

How do you deal with criticism?

I never pay heed to criticism until and unless it’s the positive one and is done for the sake of betterment.

You said once that it was very difficult for you to do romantic and tragic characters but you always end up appearing in such roles.

Personally, I am a very lively, jolly kind of a person. Doing tragic roles is like going against my personality and quite challenging for me and I like every such thing that puts me through some challenge.

Role of Aarfeen in Meri Zaat Zarra-e-Benishan was very intense. Did you have any reservations doing the character of an aged person at such a young age?

When writer, director, and actors are on the same page and are connected well, then the serials like Meri Zaat… come out. I am still very thankful to Humayun that he offered me such a strong script. It was very difficult to meet people’s expectations because the novel was already out and it was a super hit amongst masses. And I am very thankful for my audience as well that they accepted me in the role of Aarfeen. Here, I must say one thing that Umera is one such writer who adds depth to her characters while playing with the words and that is a very rare quality.

How was your experience of working with Samiya Mumtaz?

Great actress! There are very few actors in Pakistan whose body of work has such finesse. Also, I love to work with Sawera [Nadeem]. Whenever we do a play together, it is destined to be big somehow. Maybe we are lucky for each other. Whatever is the reason, but yes, she is such a great co-star.

And what about the younger lot? Who is your favourite?

I must say that they all are gifted. Be it Ahad, Mohsin, Gauhar, Bilal, everybody has upped their game and standards of acting. I must say that they have started from a point where we reached after working for ten years and that is commendable.

How do you manage to deliver dialogues at such a high, ear-piercing pitch?

[Laughs] For this, I give all the credit to Muneeza Hashmi. I used to do theatre with her in my childhood. She would sit at the back seats of Alhamra hall during our rehearsals and say, “whisper bhi karo to yahan tak awaz aye mujhay.’ So, such trainings have tuned me for who I am today.

Also, it is very important to maintain the same pitch and expressions throughout the dialogue.

Any acting lessons you took from your seniors?

I was dubbing for a film back in ’93 or ’94. Nadeem [Baig] was present there. After watching me for a while, came to me and said, “why do you lose the pitch at the end of the dialogue, maintain it throughout. Keep the strength of your voice intact.” Such a great man and actor he is. I love him a lot. In the same manner, Abid Ali is a phenomenal actor. I have learnt a lot from Firdous Jamal, Qavi uncle and Noman Ejaz.

Once, at the end of a scene, Noman [Ejaz] interrupted me and said, “This is not the last episode that you are delivering at such a fast pace. Make graph of the character and build your craft around it. You should know which episode you are shooting for and till where you have to take this character.” So, I keep learning from my seniors, and juniors as well.

Your favourite writer?

My favourite writers are those whose dialogues are easy to memorise and such writers are very few.

One thing that makes a serial or a character memorable?

It is very important for an actor to live the character and live in the story to make it big on screen. It is also very important that actors, director and writer are on the same page. These are one of the few important things that I have learnt in all these years.

Do you think that taboo topics should be covered in our dramas?

I always try that I don’t make those people feel uncomfortable who watch my dramas with family. There is a very fine line between decency and indecency and we need to keep a check on it.

I believe that 8 p.m. slot should air dramas with decent content, that is what I think. I have learned it hard way after my romantic drama, Ghost. It had a few scenes for which people complained and I especially apologised. Then I decided not to repeat the mistake in the future.

Your social media posts are very sensible and laidback. Is your approach to life is like this or you are afraid of being trolled?

No, I am not afraid. Numerous times I have been a part of heated arguments and discussions on social media. I go by one rule in life that I will never talk about something that I do not feel worthy enough to give my cent percent to. What I like is to give people some light and direction so that they can set a new path, but I refrain from following trends. I am strictly against joining the rat race, be it on social media or anywhere else. If I do not like anything, I don’t read, listen or talk about that. It is as simple as that.

What aspect of social media you do not like?

On social media, nobody is talking about Pakistan or the positive things about our country, the high achievers of our society. Everybody is interested in spreading negative stuff.

At which stage of your career, did you start taking fitness seriously?

A big credit goes to Ejaz Aslam. He always motivates me to keep myself fit. Other than him, I would also like to mention Farah Shah here, a very dear friend and a sister figure for me. When I failed to win an award for my role in Boota from Toba Tek Singh, she got very upset. She scolded me like anything and said, “In this industry, looks matter.” After that, she got my entire wardrobe changed and helped me with my look. In short, she worked really hard on me and I will always be thankful to her.

What is the key to success?

Whatever you do, do it with your heart and put your soul in it. •