All about acting, directing and a lockdown wedding
PERFECT ROLE: Usman Mukhtar
MULTI-TALENTED STAR USMAN MUKHTAR ON HIS CREATIVITY AND RECENT MARRIAGE
ACTOR and director Usman Mukhtar has had an interesting creative journey that has flourished in multiple mediums. The hardworking Pakistani talent has interesting projects on the way that includes a starring a role in hotly anticipated drama series Hum Kahan Kai Sachey Thay opposite Mahira Khan and Kubra Khan. The popular star also found time to get married in lockdown and is looking forward to challenging himself further with film/TV projects that push the creative boundaries.
Eastern Eye caught up with Usman Mukhtar to discuss his journey, future hopes, lockdown wedding and mastering new things.
What first connected you to creativity?
When I was in boarding school, I would visit this trick store and buy special effects make-up kits like Frankenstein and clown make-up. We also had an old VHS camera, on which I would always record videos at home while wearing special effects make-up. At that age, that was ‘creativity’ for me. The spark before the fire!
You have had an interesting career as a director and actor, but which project has given you the greatest joy?
There are a few projects that have given me a lot of joy, like my first short film Aasiya. It was based on child molestation and won Best Film in 2007, which made the whole team really happy. The whole crew worked hard, so seeing it get recognised was huge for us all. Not to give too much away but there is another film; sadly, I can’t talk about it now, since it’s not yet available for the public, but working on that gave me joy.
Tell us about your latest project…
That is a tricky one because we are not allowed to talk about it. Although I will say that the character I play is very different from what people have seen me do.
What is the plan going forward?
Right now, I am trying to find the perfect role. I feel that a lot of actors get stereotyped after their first role (especially if it is successful), and that is kind of what has happened with me with Altamash from Anaa. I hold the role very dear to my heart and am thankful to Allah and all the viewers for its success, but I want to find different roles that allow me to act in a broader spectrum. I want to challenge myself to do newer things and connect with the viewer in a different light.
What do you enjoy watching as an audience member?
I love watching superhero films. I’m a big-time DC fan, so I love reading co- mics. I’ve grown up reading them. I also like watching drama and horror.
What inspires you creatively?
I get inspired every day by people and places in this country (Pakistan). Very early on, someone told me that if you want to improve your acting, you should travel to different places, visit countries, meet all kinds of people, and look at the minor details. Even as a director, there is a story everywhere. Most of my ideas come from my experiences when travelling or going somewhere. For instance, (short film) Bench came to me while I was jogging at the park.
Tell us about that?
We see different people exchange stories at the park on those benches, and I thought, why not a film about it? If the benches could talk, imagine how many interesting stories we would hear about different people and cultures. So, this is how I get creatively inspired by the people and environment around me.
Which artists would you love to work with?
I would love to work with Sanam Saeed and Sajal Ali because they are both great actresses. I was happy to work with Sanam on a film. I would also love to work with Bilal Abbas (Khan) – I think he’s a great actor. I would also love to work with Saba Qamar and Imran Ashraf. My biggest dream was to work with Rahat Qazmi Sahab, however, I’m not sure if that would happen.
You are an accomplished actor and director. If you could master something new what would it be?
Mastery is a strong word. The more you know, the less you know. I don’t think I have or can master anything on the level I want to. Mastery is something that comes towards the end of your career in my opinion. Honestly, I don’t want to master the art and just want to be a student of this field and learn something new every day with every project, role and person I meet.
Is there something new that you want to learn?
I would love to learn how to cook. There was a time when I wanted to learn how to cook professionally as a teenager, but back then the diploma fee was high, and I couldn’t afford it. So, I never ended up learning it. (Laughs) Now I think I will try YouTube, train myself and start posting cooking vlogs.
What was it like getting married during lockdown?
It was a cocktail of emotions. To tell you the truth, as beautiful and exciting as it was, it was also very scary and heart-breaking for both of us. Everyone wants a wedding where all your loved ones are present, but unfortunately, a lot of family couldn’t be there because of corona. We also made a point to not take my ama along for nikah because she wasn’t vaccinated, so we just set up a Zoom meeting at home, so she could be included. So that was pretty hard. I wish that when we do the actual events like rukhsati and everything the situation is better, and everybody can attend.
What is the biggest life lesson lockdown has taught you?
Enjoy the little things. When we were all in quarantine, we missed the little things that we do not appreciate on a dayto-day basis – like to this day I miss going to the cinema and the smell of popcorn before movies. During quarantine, I used to miss going out. Once I literally missed going to the grocery store. I miss going to meet friends and family, so I now realise how much these little things mean, and we shouldn’t take them for granted.