After a span of almost six years, Fawad Khan is set to return on-screen as the lead in a Zindagi Original opposite his Zindagi Gulzar Hai co-star, Sanam Saeed. Alongside, he has three other projects in the pipeline, including The Legend of Maula Jatt – touted to be the most expensive Pakistani film to date, Money Back Guarantee and Neelofar (opposite Mahira Khan). The actor talks about his hiatus, his way of giving back to the industry and why its crucial for artists across the world to collaborate and exchange ideas for the greater good.
Anupama Chopra (AC): It's lovely to have you back on Indian screens with a Zindagi Original on Zee5. Here's all I know about it: you're playing a single parent in the show, which is a blend of supernatural with magical realism. It's about loss and love, and is directed by Asim Abbasi, the director of the much-acclaimed Churails and Cake. Is there anything that you can add to this info?
Fawad Khan (FK): The show features Sanam Saeed. That's all I'm allowed to reveal. It's been an amazing experience working with this wonderful cast and crew. There's one thing I can definitely say about it: perhaps I didn't get to know everyone on a one-on-one basis, but I spent a great time together with most of them. On the day I was leaving the set, I told them, 'After Kapoor & Sons, this is probably one of those projects where I feel like I've made a family on set.' A lot of positive energy went into making it and I felt those positive vibes. I love these guys. This project is dear to me and near my heart.
AC: You haven't done any major film roles since Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. You shot for Maula Jatt and Neelofar but those films haven't released yet. Does this create any sense of insecurity that you're not seeing yourself on the big screen or is all the rest of the work that you're doing keeping you busy?
FK: I am an extremely lazy worker. If I could have it my way, it would be raining money without me moving a finger (laughs). I love the work that I've been a part of. I've never been too worried about how much I'm doing as opposed to what I'm doing. Life has been kind of weird. There has been a long hiatus but then Covid came along and we were all stuck at home. I've been having a great time at home with my wife, kids, friends and family. During this time, I actually shot three films. I know I've been away for 5-6 years but when the dam breaks, it's going to be a lot of stuff to watch. Saari shikayatein, insecurities khatam ho jaayengi.
AC: But are there insecurities?
FK: No, they aren't there. I think it's wrong for any person to say that they've never been insecure. As you grow older, some people become more insecure and some start letting go of those insecurities. I think I'm the latter. I just like to have good conversations and good relationships with people. That's the main driving force for me. It motivates me to get back to work, meet people and get up. As long as that's happening, everything else is good. You don't have to be number one to enjoy life.
AC: Do you miss Bollywood?
FK: I do. I made some great friends there and still keep in touch with them. I miss Bombay, I think it's a beautiful city. In fact, in every city I've been to, I've had a lovely experience.
AC: In an interview, you had talked about how politics widens the gap between our countries and how artists can actually bridge that gap. Given the current state of politics and policies, what would you like art and artists to do?
FK: I would love for them to collaborate and work together. It is an educational experience. It increases your exposure and understanding of people from different parts of the world. It fosters friendships, relationships and the things that we look for – more peaceful times.
AC: The conversation around you is so much about your handsomeness, about how good-looking you are. Have you ever felt objectified or have you ever lost a role because you're too pretty for it?
FK: I don't think so. If I lost a role, that's because I wasn't good enough for it, not because I was too pretty for it. There have been many more beautiful faces in the world, and they land all the roles that they want to. I never felt like that, at least. I didn't get a role because I wasn't good enough a performer or because I didn't suit it. [As far as objectification is concerned] I think at some level, everyone likes being objectified as long as it doesn't cross a very thin line and becomes offensive.
AC: Tell me about The Next Big Story – the platform you've launched for writers. What's the ambition and how do you want to make it work?
FK: I've always felt that there is a dearth of fresh content. Everyone wants to be an actor or a director but very rarely do you want to be a writer, a DoP or any cog in the wheel that makes it go round. That trend is changing now. In the case of writers, the concept was to make people write synopses, stories and film concepts and send them in. We encourage this activity through our platform. There's a need for content as well as a need to nurture writers. This way, we could kill two birds with one stone.
This shouldn't end with writers. I would like it to happen for lighting and tech departments. There should be workshops where you call in people and are able to exchange ideas, learn from them and teach them something too. Living in the kind of limitations that we do, this enhances our ability to cope with situations, which we call jugaads. Between India and Pakistan, this could be a great trade of talent – learning the technology and exchanging ideas could be a great thing.
AC: Given the enormous amount of success you have; do you also have a sense that you want to give back?
FK: I think it always comes from a selfish place. It's not a selfless act. If things improve, it'll generate opportunities for everyone. The other thing is to not let the legacy of good work die. Suppose if someone in the future wants to become a part of the industry, it should be better than this, not lesser. In that way, giving back is an important part of getting what you get from the industry as well. But sometimes people make it a point to give back. No, you don't have to if you don't want to. It's a good thing if you do it but don't make it a compulsion.