Q. 1 You have dabbled into many things — you act, compose, sing, write lyrics and paint. How did you get interested in all of these?
I always want to take up things that challenge and interest me whether it is my film roles or my music videos, songs, doing concerts around the world and gigs. When you are in the centre of the creative process, there is a point when you experience a divine moment which makes every role worth it.
Q. 2 How is it juggling between so many things?
I am a good multi-tasker, so while I am on a film set, I could be composing a song, or while I am composing a song , I can be thinking about my character. But at times, I take a complete break and step back and do something that is only for myself — it can be composing a song or anything else. Recently, I directed a few short films just to understand the medium.
Q. 3 How would you compare the Pakistani film industry with Bollywood?
The Indian film industry has grown to be the biggest in the world. It has a huge infrastructure and releases 4000-5000 prints per film. Whereas the Pakistani film industry is at a nascent stage with a few interesting cinema emerging. Hopefully, we will see a rapid growth.
Q. 4 Which Hindi films are your favourites?
I really liked 3 Idiots, the Munnabhai series, Dilip saab’s Devdas, Mr India. From the recent releases, I liked Haider and Raanjhanaa.
Q. 5 What is it about Hindi movies that appeals to the Pakistani audience?
The Pakistani audience likes the entertainment that comes with big stars — dance and songs, action and the production values of the sets. Ultimately, people go to the theatres to be entertained. All the big stars, Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh have a big fan following in Pakistan.
Q. 6 Do you feel that art is the unifying force that will help in bridging the gap between our countries?
Art transcends cultural boundaries and is the unifying force. Besides, the language spoken in Hindi films is very close to Urdu. People understand it quite easily in Pakistan kyunki Urdu ke kaafi lafz use hote hai. And then writers like Jaaved Akhtar, Gulzarsaab and many others use Urdu in their writing. There are many similarities, be it the music or culture. It is the binding factor between the two countries.
Q. 7 Is there any role that you would like to play?
I would like to play a historical warrior. It could be an epic character or a spiritual figure like Buddha, or the Sufi saints like Baba Bulleh Shah and Farid who have changed the world with their teachings.
Q. 8 If you were to be reborn, which actor would you want to be?
I would like to be reborn as myself. Because I am an actor, painter, writer, musician, trained singer, poet. I am very happy and comfortable with all these aspects to my personality. So if I was reborn as somebody else, I would not be able to do any one of these things.
Q. 9 If given a chance, what would be the one thing that you would want to resolve between the two countries?
I think I would want our issues to be resolved, so that we could tread the path of progress together like the European Union. I think both the countries can become a force to reckon with in their own right.
Q. 10 Pakistani serials have become very popular with the Indian audience of late. Any chance of seeing you in one of them?
Pakistani television series have their own unique way of telling stories, primarily in the way they are written and shot. In Indian serials, the treatment is very over-the-top. Our TV and dramas have been our strength for a long time. Even today, people remember dramas like Tanhaiyan, Dhoop Kinare, etc. I have done TV serials in the initial years, but I am not too fond of it. I like films more.