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Posted at: Oct 13, 2015, 12:42 AM; last updated: Oct 12, 2015, 9:49 PM (IST)

A bankable star

Bollywood for Pakistani actor Faizan Khawaja, who is all set to make his debut in India with Bankster, is nothing new as he got his initial training on this very soil

Nonika Singh

His brooding eyes and simmering angst have blazed across in a host of Pakistani dramas earning him the sobriquet of angry young man. In India talented Pakistani television actor Faizan Khawaja may not yet be a star. But his intense performances have certainly made him grab more than eyeballs.

Just the other day as he was walking down the beaches of Mumbai he was instantly recognised by many a Mumbaikar. All thanks, of course, to Zee’s Zindagi channel which has aired umpteen serials starring him.

However, his association with India is not just restricted to Zindagi but goes back in time. It was here in Mumbai that he learnt the nuances of filmmaking at Whistling Woods International and had the opportunity to interact with greats such as Naseeruddin Shah. Now, as he is all set to make his mark in Bollywood in a forthcoming film Bankster directed by Azaan Khan ( Zeenat Aman’s son) it’s like a dream come true. This is a dream he has been nursing ever since he decided to study filmmaking here in India, on the behest of his father who felt that learning in India because of cultural and language affinity would be a far better proposition than going to the US. For a while Faizan even stuck around to find work. Then 26/ 11 happened and he had little option but to return to Pakistan.

As he looks back he isn’t bitter about those days. Even at that time he felt more sad than angry. Besides, he always knew the tide would turn for the better. And today as many a Pakistani actor is making waves in Indian film industry he only stands vindicated. Sure there is no guarantee that things will eventually work out in Bollywood. After all, Imran Abbas’ tryst with Box Office has been sorely disappointing. Faizan, however, feels there would always be another chance.

He also begs to differ with those who believe that Bollywood opening doors to Pakistani actors has only worked to their advantage. He reasons, “It is a mutually beneficial relationship. After all Pakistan is a growing market for Bollywood.” While he reveals that Indian movies like Khoobusurat starring Fawad Khan have done exceptionally well back home, soon he thinks Pakistan will be a bigger market (for Hindi cinema) than the US and the UK.

His ultimate wish, however, is not just to be part of Bollywood but to release his films in India. Yes, this son of noted producer director Rashid Khawaja has already made a film about his experiences in India. Sure he would love to have Indian actors on board in his productions. The heroine he wants to romance onscreen is none other than the girl of the Bhatt block, Alia Bhatt. Sailing in two boats, acting and production, he admits isn’t easy. Compared to time consuming and taxing production “where one has to work non-stop”, acting is almost like a luxury.

Acting, anyway, comes naturally to him. But no he isn’t anywhere like the angry young man he portrays in the serial Ru Baru currently on air on Zindagi channel. He shares, “What happens in our television industry as in industries anywhere else is that once you do a particular kind of role you get typecast.”

Interestingly, we might scoff at our own serials, he reveals, that his mother is a great fan of Indian television and an avid watcher of many a serial like Jodha Akbar. While he himself is not clued in to soaps he gives full marks to Indian television shows and their production values. Comedy Nights with Kapil is his personal favourite.

Indeed, if he had a chance he would rope in Kapil, “a brilliant actor”, for his films. Till Indo-Pak joint ventures become a norm rather than exceptions he hopes his ‘almost autobiographical’ film encapsulating his stay in India will help cut through skepticism and distrust that often cloud the relationship between bordering nations.




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