“I felt the industry was unfair with me because I didn’t have a godfather”
Heartthrob Aagha Ali is the son of renowned actor Agha Sikander, known famously for his 1980s-90s hits Waris and Mian Biwi Razi, and grandson of veteran artist Inayat Hussain Bhatti. With acting in his blood, he is paralleling the career path of his late ancestors and is making a niche for himself in Pakistan’s show business. Aagha is taking his well-established career to new heights with his forthcoming drama roles. Rukhsar was his big break as an actor. He followed its success with stellar performances in Halki Si Khalish, Sheher-e-Yaaran, Mere Meherban, Digest Writer and Band Khirkiyan. The latter performances have helped him emerge as one of Pakistan’s finest actors today. .
Give our readers your background.
AAGHA ALI: I am a hardworking person and like to do interesting things. I love my job as an actor and believe that people appreciate me for who I am.
What brought you to the world of show business?
AA: My father was an actor – it was my dream to be one too. I looked up to him and wanted to be like him. He passed away when I was young and my wish to be on screen was pushed to the back burner. It was not until college that theatre plays got my attention. A music society approached me as my background was in the performing arts. The first song I performed was Aadat; the crowd was in full swing as they chanted my name aloud, “Aagha, Aagha!” That was it! I knew what I was destined to do.
What was your thought process like before you entered this field? Did it startle you?
AA: I thought the process was clear and simple; you come in, do your best and people commend you for your efforts. When I joined the industry, I came to know of certain lobbyist groups. More than just talent was required; I had to score others points, too. I faced different situations in life and felt that the industry was unfair with me because I didn’t have a godfather.
I suppose it is part of the job. One has to overcome such hurdles and move forward. I never really experienced media hype but was there, steady on my own. Maybe I am not the talk of the town every two months but I know my place in the industry.
“I love my job as an actor and believe that people appreciate me for who I am.”
Is it important to make headlines though?
AA: Absolutely – it is essential and easier too, nowadays. Perhaps not the right way of doing it with viral stories taking charge but if your hard work gets recognition on social media, it stays with people forever.
Your devoted fan base is eager to know about your future roles. Tell us what more you have to offer.
AA: I am shooting for an untitled drama with Zarnish Khan. There are two others for GEO; one with Hina Altaf and Amar Khan and the other with Minal Khan. I also hope to sign a solid film script.
Do you have any regrets work wise?
AA: I received a call for Mohib Mirza’s character in Sher-e-Zaat, which I turned down. I should have done that drama as it had Mahira Khan in it. I would love to share the screen with her! Gul-e-Rana was another project I found typical but it emerged as a success. I am happy that Feroze Khan did it as his television debut.
Do you manage to get some quality time alone during a busy schedule?
AA: Not these days – I used to think that one project was enough but lately the competition has become fierce. Many months go by and I seldom get to see my family. I love my mom and enjoy being with her but it has been a challenge for some time now.
What annoys you about your celebrity status?
AA: People ask personal questions about my relationship, mostly about my breakup. I can’t tell them everything. Going through that phase daily is painful. Sometimes I come across my fans but am unable to entertain them entirely given my hectic routine. I do, however, feel grateful that at least they care about me.
You are quite vocal about your battle with psoriasis. Has it created hurdles for you in this profession?
AA: Yes – I probably wouldn’t have opened up about it had it not affected my career. My condition worsened for two years. I was neither able to reach sets on time nor wear certain type of clothes. Psoriasis really put me off. I tried my best to get a cure for it but in vain; nothing helps to this day. I feel that people should show some empathy and understanding for my condition.
There is considerable acceptance for every illness in developed countries. Do you feel that people needlessly label you for your condition in Pakistan?
AA: It has not happened with me but I am certain that people here avoid talking about their state of health. We should learn to accept others for who they are and what they go through. Initially when I was diagnosed with psoriasis, I had no clue it would turn out to be a lifelong illness. It is a daily drill, which consists of monthly checkups and medicines.
Some understood the problem while others didn’t. Every society has different people. The international press projects many positives of their respective countries but in Pakistan, our media predominantly highlights the negative aspects of life. I never took off my socks for a drama with this kind of condition, except for one. I thank those directors who cooperated with me and made me feel comfortable in my skin.
“As a person, I became stronger and survived the worst times with my disease and all-time lows in the media world.”
Who has aided in your personal growth?
AA: Myself – at the start of my career, I never wanted a godfather for myself. The case is different in our industry. As a person, I became stronger and survived the worst times with my disease and all-time lows in the media world. I am who I am today because of my failed relationships and projects. I was more of an angry, on the edge kind of a person seven years ago. I am now more serious about my work and family. With time, you learn a lot; so did I.
What traits in a person repel you?
AA: There is just one and that is lying. If someone has the tendency to lie, I have the ability to catch it. Another trait is backbiting. If I were to say, “Haider, man! Great to see you buddy!” The tone would suddenly change in your absence to, “Oh, he is a useless guy!” I know a man I shared a scene with who began to talk filth behind my back. All I do is distance myself from such people.
Any plans for marriage?
AA: I have failed once and feel no need to try again. Marriage is not an option to consider as far as I see myself in the next 20 years.
The best word of advice you hold dear to this day.
AA: I recall getting no callbacks in Karachi but my mother was there to help. She said, “I know you are a talented actor and you should know that you are a talented actor. You may lose if you think a certain way. So, just keep believing in yourself because if you won’t, no one else ever will.”
INTERVIEW: HAIDER RIFAAT
STYLING: RAO ALI KHAN
PHOTOGRAPHY: SHAHBAZ SHAZI