Model turned actor Imran Abbas is making waves on television with strong and varied performances in Jo Tu Chahay and Darr Khuda Say. An alum of National College of Arts, Lahore, he has greatly influenced the landscape of our entertainment fraternity. His work in Bollywood films – namely Creature 3D and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil – is a testament to his versatility as a performer. The go-getter star has a lot to offer in the coming months, including self-produced dramas, an international film collaboration and the upcoming play Bheegi Palkain. Hear it from the icon himself in an exclusive interview with OK! Pakistan as he divulges some interesting insights about his life.
“I am an old soul”
What best describes you?
Imran Abbas: I am real, a hardcore believer and a philanthropist.
What led to a decisive change in your early work life?
IA: I caught Khawar Riaz’s attention at a shoot. He offered me to model, which eventually led to acting and that turned out to be an important day for me.
What else do you have in store for your fans?
IA: I am playing a negative character in Darr Khuda Say. Bheegi Palkain is another project I am working on alongside Ayeza Khan. I will be producing two dramas and there is a movie in the pipeline also. It is an across the border collaboration and will be one of the biggest films ever made in the history of Pakistan.
A storyline you wish you had been a part of?
IA: I feel there are many scripts I shouldn’t have been a part of. We are only human and learn from our experiences. I have no regrets. I don’t long for things that have happened already.
In our dynamic entertainment industry, acting is power. With so much emphasis on physical fitness and an impeccable face, does that not defeat the purpose of acting as a profession?
IA: The definition of heroism has changed quite a bit internationally. Everyone in life has a hero. For me, it is my father. Although I appreciate beauty, I strongly believe that six-pack abs and a model-like face are of no use if you are not a good actor. We have many talented youngsters out there; it is high time we make more films driven by powerful performances.
What is your take on plus-sized male actors and models making their way into the media world?
IA: When they get no work, they blame it on the casting couch, which may be an issue because not everything appears as is. Talented people always have a place in our industry. If you believe in yourself and God, no hurdle can come your way. Just work on your shortcomings and improve yourself.
I wanted your brief take on PTV. It has disappeared completely. Where did the channel go wrong?
IA: It is a long story. PTV’s history is one of a kind. I spent my entire childhood watching that channel but people who are currently running it have caused much trouble. Whenever I visit the Islamabad studio, all I see is an eerie hallway that once held significance.
Let’s not disown our creative companions and try to progress with this channel. How long will we ride on the legacy of PTV’s golden age? At least learn from its prime. The channel currently has zero production value, poor acting and horrendous lighting. We need to push for reforms. PTV will perish unless bureaucratic and political appointments are avoided.
“I want to build a shelter facility for the elderly living in old age homes.”
What are some of your favourite pastimes?
IA: I like to spend time with my elders and listen to them for hours. It is seldom that I bond with people of my age or those younger than me. Today’s generation is fast-paced and I am an old soul.
Tell us how you feel about certain talk show hosts berating a selected lot of actors for their talent?
IA: It is disappointing that many people who I have shared the media platform with are out there spreading negativity. It is a growing culture, especially on social media where people can express themselves openly and bully others. It affects our relationships with co-actors and colleagues. Television talk shows are conducted poorly in Pakistan and they often pit people against each other for no reason.
Why do we feel the need to judge or question someone’s acting ability? Everyone is doing their best. However, should anyone speak out against or in favor of an actor, it must come from a place of experience and substance.
How do you take criticism?
IA: Whatever I have achieved so far in my career is not a secret to anyone. Negativity, sarcasm and criticism stem from low self-esteem. Those who have failed to accomplish anything in life have the worst to say about you. By the grace of God, I am too busy pursuing my goals and living a happy, positive life. I neither muster the time to react nor have the nerve to engage in any kind of dirty business. Those who waste their time talking about others end up losing their dignity in the process.
I thank my fans for standing by me despite the criticism and hate I have received from my fellow actors. They have confined themselves to ludicrous talk shows, award ceremonies and ‘social gatherings’. They think they have conquered the universe.
Your unfulfilled wish?
IA: I am grateful to God that he has fulfilled every wish of mine, even the ones I had not thought of! I had no desire to be a known face but I thank Him for His blessings. I do, however, wish to build a shelter facility for the elderly living in old age homes. Since you have a background in Psychology, I will invite you once the idea materializes. I want to not just spend time with them but also take care of their physical health and mental wellbeing. It is sad to see children abandon their parents for no reason. I bear witness to their suffering.
“I do wish to tie the knot one day but it all depends on God’s will.”
Is marriage on the cards?
IA: One has no control over marriage (Laughs). I do wish to tie the knot one day but it all depends on God’s will.
What traits in a person appeal to you?
IA: Great sense of humor; strong belief system; good taste in music; IQ and communication skills; strong command on Urdu.
Unfortunately, in our society, the word ‘vulnerable’ is most frequently associated with women, not men. At what point in life did you feel helpless?
IA: Thankfully, I have never felt helpless. What upsets me is the thought of not being able to change people and their attitudes towards one another. It is important to change convictions that stem from hatred, extremism and intolerance so I feel powerless when I am unable to contribute my part in that process.
Who has supported you through thick and thin?
IA: My family – I don’t have many friends in life but I am happy because real relationships matter the most. I am proud to have a strong, close-knit family that gives me the energy I need.
Talking Men’s Fashion with Imran Abbas
As a former model, you have walked the ramps and worn designer labels. Why did you opt out of this field full tim e?
IA: Male modelling has very little scope in Pakistan. You walk the ramps routinely and that is all to it. You still require more recognition and fame. Sooner or later, you have to switch to acting. You can neither sell your face for long nor present yourself in the same manner each time.
How has fashion emerged as a billion dollar industry in Pakistan?
IA: Men have the right to dress well. The internet has played a pivotal role in the evolution of fashion. Access to online magazines, be it GQ or Vogue has heavily influenced us.
It is also true that people are losing their sense of individuality and style with fashion trends. What do you think?
IA: Many actors of my generation compromised on their innocence. No one is picture perfect. In fact, beauty is an imperfection. Everyone believes that in 2020, a certain type of nose, jawline and face will be a growing trend or is one already. We often look up to models and want to be like them. That is when we end up losing our individuality. One should celebrate being their own masterpiece.
Three essentials every man should own.
IA: Wallet, cell phone and a watch.
The best menswear designer in Pakistan right now.
Describe your personal formal look.
IA: A tuxedo tends to get too formal but a black suit is safe. I can wear a black suit with a white shirt anytime, anywhere.
Casual or formal fashion?
Fall, summer or spring fashion?
INTERVIEW: HAIDER RIFAAT
STYLING: RAO ALI KHAN
PHOTOGRAPHY: Rizwan baig @ deevees