• Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Arts and Culture

Amar Khan: Being her own Hero

Eastern Eye caught up with the multi-talented star to discuss her interesting journey, connection to creativity, comedy, new serial, future hopes, and rebellious nature

Amar Khan

By: Asjad Nazir

There perhaps isn’t a young talent as unique as Amar Khan in Pakistan. The versatile actress is also an accomplished writer and trained filmmaker, who is always looking to do things differently. The daughter of famous actress Fareeha Jabeen has starred in hit drama serials, and made her film debut last year with Dum Mastam, which she also wrote.

The unstoppable star continued that impressive rise with recently premiered serial Heer Da Hero, which has broadcast throughout Ramadan, and is still available in full online. She
has also written the Geo Entertainment comedy-drama about colourful households in old Lahore and heads a strong cast.

Eastern Eye caught up with the multi-talented star to discuss her interesting journey, connection to creativity, comedy, new serial, future hopes, and rebellious nature.

What first connected you to creativity?
Actually, I thought I got my action call right when I was there in my mother’s womb, because she was also an actress. She started her career from the early batch of (TV channel) PTV times. So, I think if it’s in your genes, you can’t run away from that. I always wanted to be an actor and can’t pinpoint a particular moment when. But yeah, ever since I was born, I guess.

Amar Khan

Is it a coincidence that you’ve just been doing dramatically different roles to each other?
So Asjad, I graduated as a filmmaker from Beaconhouse, National University in Lahore. Then at New York Film Academy, I did my intensives, also in screenwriting, and acting. So, whenever I’m opting for any character it’s obviously well thought out. I really read my scripts, and don’t give a yes or no to any character or project by seeing the cast, director, or channel. I always go for content, and characters that would kind of be music to my ears.

How much does you being a good writer inform the choices you make?
I think the writer in me is always very active. In fact, I feel if I am peaking as an actor, that is also because I’m a writer. So being a writer definitely plays a huge role in me opting for what I want to do.

Which character has been your favourite so far?
That’s a tough question to answer. There was this supernatural thriller drama called Belapur Ki Dayan from Hum TV, where I played a witch, and it had a very different fan base. A lot of kids were very enticed, watching that character. Normally, actresses shy away from performing roles like these because they don’t want to get typecast. At that time, a lot of actresses rejected this character because they didn’t want to get that tag of a witch associated with their name.

But you have genuinely been doing things differently…
(Laughs) I think I was always the odd one out. I didn’t want to do a typical run of the mill, dropping tears kind of damsel in distress roles, and opted for that one. So that was very different and challenging. And there is one forthcoming project called Breaking News where I’m playing the role of a journalist,  which is also very close to my heart.

Is it fair to say that you are a rebellious person?
I think you’re absolutely right. There is a rebel in me. And it has been there ever since I was a kid. Even in my school times, I was so aggressive and competitive in my spirit that I didn’t want any of my classmates or other boys to put me in a corner. I was always a great grade holder, and an A-lister student. So, it was there ever since I was a kid.

What did you like about your latest series Heer Da Hero?
Heer Da Hero is very close to my heart and very ambitious. It comes straight from where I belong. It’s based in the walled city area of old Lahore, and is something that is very indigenised, and rooted. It shows Punjabi culture and the people there – their problems, how they interact with each other, and what kind of lingo diction, vernacular and slang they use. They are very vibrant and outlandish characters, which have instantly connected with audiences.
Tell us about your character?
I’m playing a TikToker. As you know, Pakistan is like blasting with all those upcoming TikTokers these days, who have a lot of spark, and are creating videos one after another, which are going viral each day. Again, this character is very different.

You are popular on social media, is this character anything like you?
It is very different from my own personal personality. I had to divorce my own personality and be a character that I’m not, from my nails and hair streaks to a particular Punjabi accent I’m adopting. It was a challenge. She’s somebody who will speak very fluently in her mother tongue, which is Punjabi, but then she cracks into some very confused English adjectives and vocab, which people would find very animated and funny. I think that’s the reason why people are connecting to that character.

Can you talk about the unique Punjabi flavour Heer Da Hero has?
I feel after the success of Maula Jatt, and the song Pasoori, audiences globally have embraced Punjabi like never before. Now they have this drama serial, 80-85 per cent Punjabi and 15 per cent in Urdu, which has been received heart-warmly by audiences. I have DMs from places like UK, US, and Canada, commenting on how much they’re enjoying this drama. Alhamdulillah, it’s a special feeling.

Your comic timing in Heer Da Hero is brilliant. A lot of actors say comedy is the hardest genre, do you agree?
Absolutely. Unfortunately, actors are only labelled as very abled and mature with dexterity when performing more dramatic roles. Even if you see the Oscars, Golden Globes, and other great awards, they all honour very dramatically sound performances. With these more serious roles, you must stir within or think of personal dilemmas to fully get that connection, so emotions just fall through. For comedy you need to get the timing and tonality correct straight away.

Tell us more about that?
For instance, a singer needs to strike that first note correctly and if it’s not on point, the whole song will go wrong. It’s similar with comedy – that your first note has to be correct and everything else needs to follow. If you don’t have everything from the tonality to expressions correct, you will miss that punchline. I feel Punjabis are known for their comedy, which can be loud. So, I completely agree with you that comedy is the most difficult. But it’s even more challenging doing comedy in Punjabi.

What’s the plan going forward, and can you see yourself doing international work outside of Pakistan?

I have grown up on world cinema. I’ve trained myself as a filmmaker, so I would love to look forward to those opportunities as well, where I can globally, kind of broaden my horizons, and work internationally. If any meaty opportunity like that comes on board, I would love to be a part of it. In Pakistan, there is lots in the pipeline. Last Ramzan I wrote and acted in my first film (Dam Mast Dam). I think that was a huge achievement that in my mid-20s, I was not just writing, but also acting in my first feature film. I’m already penning down my next one as well. So, let’s hope for the best.

Do the increasing expectations around you put pressure on you?
Not really, because I feel expectations from my own self are higher. I feel I’m an underdog, honestly. When people thought I could only do challenging roles, like a witch or an antagonist, I did pure roles in commercial projects like Qayamat and Daraar, which topped all the rating charts, where I was just crying and crying, because as an actor, you want to attempt everything and be watched by a greater chunk of the audience. So, whenever people expect a certain kind of avatar, I break that intentionally and try something completely different.

How will you be spending Eid this year?
Well, I think the entire Ramzan went into making Heer Da Hero and getting all the love from audiences. So now that I’m back to Karachi, hopefully, it will be with the family eating a lot of food, because I have been on a very tough diet.

What inspires you?
People inspire me. My mother is my biggest inspiration. The kind of hard work and struggle that she’s gone through in life. Every day when I get up and at times when I’m low in spirit and energy, I think of her, my biggest inspiration to keep me going forward.

Eastern Eye

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