Who’d have thought that Hamza Ali Abbasi, who first shot to fame as ‘Pyaray Afzal’, never wanted to act in that TV drama in the first place? That he doesn't plan to take his good looks across the border? That the hunky heartthrob has never fallen in love?
The actor-turned-social media activist revealed this and much more as he defended his brash views, political dabbling and singlehood in The Reham Khan Show on Dawn News.
On love and marriage
Hamza Ali Abbasi's legions of female admirers can take heart: the hunky heartthrob is not getting married any time soon. In fact, he's never even been in love!
“I have never fallen in love and the feeling that you can’t live without a person has to be there,” he said.
Girls have none other than PTI Chairman Imran Khan, who doubles as Hamza's 'love guru', to thank.
The actor shared: “I once told Khan sahab how I was drawn towards this woman and he gave me some sound advice: ‘Marry someone whose qibla (direction) is the same as yours’— that made a lot of sense, like I am very opinionated so I can’t live with someone who has no opinions.”
From Hamza to Pyarey Afzal
So opinionated is Hamza Ali Abbasi that he initially found it hard to take the drama which made his career, seriously.
“I didn’t even like the title of the show," he confessed, "My friends poked fun at me because of that, but when God has decreed something, I believe it eventually happens."
Hamza planned to turn down the role, and only took it up on the insistence of people like Humayun Saeed:
"Now, many people don’t even know my real name and address me as Afzal.”
"I speak my mind because I feel responsible for it"
If there's another reason for his popularity, it's Hamza's controversial social media posts. The man can’t seem to keep his thoughts to himself and frequently takes to Facebook to air his views about everything from showbiz and society to politics and religion. He says he considers it his responsibility to do so.
“It’s not necessary that only a politician should talk about politics or solely a cleric should preach religion. I am an actor, but I mustn’t be barred from speaking on these matters. In order to progress in this society, we need to break these taboos.”
The actor also revealed that it was his fearless mother that instilled in him the courage to speak up.
"I feel it's an insult to me if I ever feel scared of something," he said, "The biggest misconception in Pakistan is that you can't speak your mind. A few months ago, I said a few things about religion and art, how they're not different from each other. Some people hurled abuses at me, others agreed with my opinion, but all my friends were concerned for my safety."
"If we really were conservative and close-minded, then people in our showbiz industry wouldn't have done things that would make Hollywood stars blush," he adds frankly.
On the consequences of speaking up
Does his vocal nature hurt his career? We know brands have retracted contracts and whatnot. It's a thought that doesn't cross his mind, we guess. Hamza believes that rozi-roti lies with God alone: “If we agree that respect or disrespect is given by God, this idea can actually liberate you.”
If his bold stance and affiliations with a political party are leading people to believe that he's contemplating a career in politics, Hamza lays those assumptions to rest.
"I'm not a career politician, but being a Pakistani, everyone should have a political opinion. If good people stay out of politics, then we will be ruled by the scum of the earth."
So where is his career headed? While he didn't talk about his directorial venture Kambakth, he did make clear his thoughts about the industry at large:
His favourite medium is TV for its wide reach, but Hamza has high hopes for the film industry. While he says that film is yet to be the bigger medium, its revival in Pakistan has been incredibly fast-paced. "Waar was made at a time when we were making one good film every few years, and this year we have ten films that we want to watch in cinemas. All this is happening with hardly any resources; imagine what we can do in ten years when we have a proper infrastructure in place."
Will he wait out the interval in Bollywood?
"I've had three to four Bollywood offers, really good ones. But I don't see myself going to Bollywood. I don't need to. If the film industry was non-existent, it would have been another story. But our cinema is getting to world class level. I'd be crazy to leave right now."