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The uber cool VJ, Adnan Malik, has always been known for his slick style. Currently donning the director's hat of his production company, Adnan Malik Productions (AMP), the rising star recently made his acting debut with drama Sadqay Tumhare, currently airing on HUM TV.

In an email interview with Dawn, Adnan talks about his experience and expectations from Sadqay Tumhare and the different roles he plays in the industry.


What are your expectations from Saqday Tumhare given that this is your first ever drama?

Adnan Malik: I don’t really have any expectations from it as this is my first full-fledged TV series. I think that I’m really lucky to have been offered such a fantastic role in Khalilur Rehman Qamar’s richly textured autobiographical screenplay.The dialogues were so much fun to deliver. Then there’s Ehtashamuddin’s sure footed direction, and a dynamic and talented cast.

When I decided to take on the role, I really did it for the experience. I had never really thought about what would happen once it’s released. It was more about personal growth. My training is in the direction and the craft of film-making, and that’s what I do, so being on the inside of a narrative as an actor was the main pull. And acting also makes you confront a lot of your personal demons. Sadqay Tumhare provided the perfect landscape for me to learn about these things.

The experience was extremely enriching in retrospect, and one can really hope that the audience enjoy the end product.

How was the experience working with actors like Mahira Khan, Samia Mumtaz, Qavi Khan and others?

  Adnan Malik and Mahira Khan in
Adnan Malik and Mahira Khan in 'Sadqay Tumhare. — Photo Courtesy: HUM Network Ltd.

AM: Sadqay has an excellent ensemble cast. Mahira and I have been friends since we were both VJs on MTV and so there was a natural comfort and chemistry when working with her. She has been really supportive from the beginning of this project and always believed that I could do a good job with the role (even when I doubted myself). So it’s great to have that kind of trust and positivity coming from your co-star. Plus, she’s such a talent and yet very down to earth.

I had a lot of fun working with Samia as well. She would draw a lot from her theatre background and was always around to give tips. Her character is my antagonist and so she’s quite fierce!

I really enjoyed working with Shamyl Khan as well. He is a dedicated actor and excellent at his craft. Rehan Shaikh was also brilliant to observe. The way he would just morph into his character was inspiring. I could see him work the ‘method’.

Apart from them, every other actor was of a fine calibre as well, from Tahira Imam to Qavi Sahab, Irfan Khoosat to Farhan Ali Agha, Saniya Shamshad to Naghma Apa.

It’s a really rich cast and I think Ehtashamuddin, with his rich acting background, really knew what he wanted and did a great job bringing the best out of each actor.

Earlier on, you hosted different shows and were active in the fashion scene. How did this transition come about?

AM: I studied film-making at Vassar College in New York, and when I moved back, I worked on some documentaries and projects as a director. However, I also got some modelling and hosting offers so I took them on. I was open to experimenting at the time and have enjoyed my varied career in show business. I think it’s important to try different things; it’s all character building. I had been offered acting roles before, but just wasn’t ready for them.

And then, truthfully, a couple of weeks after I decided in my head that I was ready to take a shot at acting, I got a call from Nina Kashif at MD Production and the next thing I knew I was sitting in Momina Duraid’s office saying ‘Yes!’

Even now, I think it was really brave of Momina to offer me this role. She really believed in me and that also encouraged me to take on the challenge.

  Adnan Malik on the set of "Mera Bichra Yaar"— Photo Courtesy: Adnan Malik
Adnan Malik on the set of "Mera Bichra Yaar"— Photo Courtesy: Adnan Malik's Official Facebook Page

You weren’t active in the entertainment industry for quite some time. What had gotten you so occupied?

AM: At the core, I am a director/visual storyteller and have my production company AMP where I direct and produce TV commercials, music videos and documentaries. I was also the video producer of Coke Studio for five years and have made a few award-winning documentaries and music videos. So I was still active in the entertainment industry, just much more behind the scenes.

The transition has been quite organic and I am happy at the place that I am right now, which is directing and dabbling in acting.

Given that the drama is set in olden times, what difficulties did you face in portraying your character?

AM: My character is very reminiscent of the ‘angry young man’ you saw in the Amitabh Bachchan cinema of the early 1980s. So I watched a lot of his films to understand his moods and movements.

The biggest challenges with a period piece is the ‘mis-en-scene’ or what you see on the screen. So it’s the art direction, the costume design and the locations. It has to authentically represent the era you are trying to portray. In this case, it’s 1980 in the south of Punjab.

The problem is that Pakistan has urbanised so quickly, that it was difficult to find locations that would do justice to what Khalil Sahab had written. The Lahore of today is very different from the Lahore of 1980s. Modes of transport have changed; the look of the city has changed. There are billboards everywhere now. We really had to find places that were still relatively untouched by ‘modernity’. So we shot all over Pakistan and have pieced it together as rural Punjab.

Getting the costumes right is also a big challenge. In my case we went for a retro and rugged shalwar kamiz look that was tailored by Sanya Maskatiya and the Western Wear, which was very Amitabh in his angry young man days inspired, by Omar Farooq at Republic.

Feeha Jamshed also did a fantastic job with Mahira’s outfits.

  Adnan Malik as Khalil in *Sadqay Tumhare*. — Photo Courtesy: HUM Network Ltd.
Adnan Malik as Khalil in *Sadqay Tumhare*. — Photo Courtesy: HUM Network Ltd.

How is Sadqay Tumhare different from other love-story dramas?

AM: Its values are different from what we see on television now. It reminded me of the old PTV dramas when I first read it. The storyline is complicated and engaging, but the love between the two main characters is simple, endearing and full of integrity.

It’s very nostalgic of the ideals of a Pakistan that I grew up in. It is slow and detailed and has its own world.

There are very few scripts you read that immediately win you over. The writing is beautiful; even if we read the lines in a plain manner in front of a camera, it would be interesting. All we really had to do was trust the written word. You don’t find that too often today.

Do you have any more dramas in the pipeline after Sadqay Tumhare?

AM: I have been offered a couple of things, but I don’t see myself acting in another drama for a while. I am focused on my directing work, and would be happy to act in something else that I really believe in. But scripts like Sadqay are few and far between.

Almost all television actors are moving towards films. Do you plan to work in films if you’re offered any roles? If yes, what kind of roles would you like to play?

AM: I love the medium of cinema and would happily act in something interesting and challenging if it comes my way. It’s a really exciting time for Pakistani cinema and I look forward to being involved in it both as an actor and as a director/producer in the future.