13 - 19 June, 2015

His acting is inspired from legends; his scripts are an amalgamation of Anwar Maqsood and Salim-Javed. Meet Yasir Hussain, the talented actor who has now ventured into the field of script writing; and his first feature film Karachi Se Lahore is all set to be released next month. He has also penned the dialogues of Asim Raza’s Ho Mann Jahaan which features Mahira Khan, Shehryar Munawwar and Adeel Hussain. MAG got hold of the ‘Man Friday’ of Anwar Maqsood’s ‘gang’ and had a candid discussion. Excerpts:

Yasir Hussain is an actor who can write scripts or a script writer who can act?
I came to Karachi a few years back to become a TV actor but all I could manage was stints as VJ for a private channel. Nobody took me seriously as an actor because of my age and that’s why I decided to try my hand at theatre, as I had experience of working on stage in Islamabad. As for script writing, it was always in me. I used to write skits in schools and when I started theatre in Islamabad, they were mostly NGO plays. They paid Rs. 300 to Rs. 500 to actors and Rs. 1000 to Rs. 1500 to scriptwriters. Since I commuted from Rawalpindi to Islamabad, I wanted to make the most of it and that’s the reason why I chose to act and write. (laughs)

Who has been the biggest inspiration on your career – as a scriptwriter?
The writer who inspired me the most is Anwar Maqsood; he is a legend when it comes to writing dialogues and creating characters. I am glad that I have worked in almost each and every one of his plays except Dharna. But from Pawnay 14 August to Sawa 14 August, Aangan Terrha to Haaf Playt – he is the man. The only other people who have inspired me are Salim–Javed (Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar) because they were ideal for any director to direct and actor to act. We still love Sholay, Shaan, Shakti, Deewar, Mr. India and others even though they are more than three decades old. The villains were larger than life, the scenarios were well-created and the dialogues were amazing. I have tried to bring my inspirations together in Karachi Se Lahore; I hope people will like my writing just as they liked my acting.

Tell us something about Karachi Se Lahore; how did you come across the idea?
Karachi Se Lahore is going to be a different film; in fact it is one of the few films in Pakistan that are targeted at youngsters. Director Wajahat Rauf and I were writing pilots for TV when it occurred to us that we should do a film, since in a film you are not bound by restrictions. We continued to work on the script for two and a half years and the project is about to see the light of the day. I must also add that during the film, the cast bonded well and that’s one of the reasons why everybody gave his or her 100%.

Your character is that of a guy who stammers a lot – why stammering and who is it based on?
All the characters in KSL have been taken from my life; my character of Moti is based on a friend of mine – bachpan ka dost, Ishaq Khan. Not only does he stammer but he is also witty; he even stops people during conversation to finish his joke which ends in a long time.

The million dollar question – what is the reason behind Ayesha Omar’s song?
All the songs in the film are situational – even what seems like an item number is more a ‘rescue number’. Trust me, the story wouldn’t have moved ahead without the song. It is more like YammaYamma from Shaan rather than Chikni Chameli from Agneepath, if you know what I mean.

You also wrote the dialogues of Asim Raza’s Ho Mann Jahaan; how was the experience?
Asim Raza got to know of my scripting through Mahira Khan and when he approached me with his film, I asked him to first watch my work and then decide. What he saw, I think he liked because he gave me a go ahead for HMJ. I really enjoyed working with him because he is a talented director; he doesn’t even know how much I learned while working with him.

What is the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you have become part of Anwar Maqsood’s clique?
People I don’t even know have started coming up to me and telling me that they like my work and all; that’s the magic of being associated with Anwar sahib. Furthermore, if a police constable stops me for something, I tell him that I work with Anwar Maqsood and he lets me go! (smiles) I am also indebted to the talented Dawar Mehmood who has directed each and every play Anwar sahib penned. He is a competent actor himself and he gives the best roles to me for which I am very thankful.

Why don’t we see you much on TV?
I always wanted to be a TV actor until I worked on it. The very first dialogue I delivered was out of frame. The DOP told me that I couldn’t move my hands as the frame was very tight and that I would have to adjust for TV. I felt awkward because for a theatre actor, such limitations do not exist.

Which actor or actress do you rate as the best in the world?
I have a picture of Amrish Puri at home because he has always been my favourite actor – I want to do a Mogambo-type character once in my life. After watching Piku, my love for Amitabh Bachchan and Irrfan Khan has reached new heights. I am also a fan of Aamir Khan and all these actors are whom I consider the best ever. Amongst current actors in Pakistan, I like Noman Ejaz and Sanam Baloch whereas I have been a Javed Sheikh fan since Ankahi. Although she has worked less, but Shehnaz Sheikh remains my all-time favourite actress in Pakistan.

Where will the fans of Yasir Hussain watch him next in action – in theatre, TV or films?
Since I was busy acting in Karachi Se Lahore, I took a break from theatre but it remains my first love. I am also writing a serial besides a couple of film projects with renowned directors, including an animated film. I am happy that many directors are coming up with their films and as many as three Pakistani films will be released this Eid, which is huge. As for my acting projects, I am open to offers only if the script is good; I don’t mind if it is a film or a theatre play written by students. •

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