HARIS WAHEED - A Talented Addition to the Entertainment Industry

Not every newcomer in the acting field can be deemed deserving of the space, and even fewer are able to make a name for themselves through dedication to their craft and quality work. Haris Waheed made his debute on the small screen around two years back, and has already swept everyone away with his crazy brand of performances in serials such as Sammi, Udaari, Shaam Dhalay and Alvida. This talented Arien and a die-hard Robert Downey Jr. fan is newly married to fellow actress Maryam Fatima and has a clear idea of what he wants to do next – “do and make excellent films”, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Excerpts:

Q. What was Haris Waheed like growing up?
H.W: Since childhood, I have been an adrenaline junkie; extremely hyperactive, mischievous and super filmy. Drama ran in my veins instead of blood, but that never came in the way of my studies. I was a good student, exceptional to say the least, but that never made me boring because my zest for adventure was always insatiable.

Out of all the unlimited crazy stories I have engraved in my memory from my wonderful childhood, there was this one time I sleep walked my way through the front door of my house at what happened to be the witching hour, and my entire family went ballistic trying to look for me, only to find me knocking on the door of an apartment several blocks away from mine. Must've been one hell of a night for them!

Q. When did you know you belonged to the field of acting?
H.W: I always knew I wanted to be an actor. It was never a hard choice for me to pick a suitable career for myself because my passion for acting was never a short term interest. I met Saleem Meraj (actor) when I was 16 and he was the one who convinced me that any form of art could never be manufactured, it could only be polished. According to him, NAPA (National Academy of Performaing Arts) was the one place I could polish my craft and do it utmost justice, so that is where my journey began.

Q. Was television always part of the plan or a surprise to you as well?
H.W: As far as different mediums are concerned, my goal wasn't to express myself through a bigger or smaller medium, it was always just to be able to express myself. For a true actor, neither the medium counts nor does its potence. The only thing that ultimately matters is acting. I started from theatre because I knew I would be able to learn from scratch. Television is undoubtedly a bigger medium and I have enjoyed it to the fullest, too. Now, I'm on the lookout for something larger than life i.e films.

Q. You have done quite unusual roles so far whereas most new actors in our industry want to be the lead protagonist. What appeals you when selecting a role?
I started out when I was 19 years old, so I looked too young to play the protagonist in any project. Luckily, all the roles I was offered were unusual and unconventional which is why the critics and audiences, alike, have seen me the way they did and appreciated me. In terms of choosing my roles, I find characters that openly contrast my true personality very appealing. Seeping into the skin of an entirely different human being is one of the most interesting and ground-breaking experiences for me.

Q. Any memorable stories from the time you first started in theatre?
H.W: Three years ago, I was doing a theatre play called Avanti Returns. I can vividly remember the seven-minute long dance sequence, with everyone's skyrocketed energies amalgamated and there, in the midst of the crowd, I felt my shalwar dangle down my legs, with my long kurta being my only saving grace. The audience stared in disbelief, as I shamelessly carried on [laughs]

Q. How have you found working in the industry so far, talking about lobbying, prejudices and other such things many actors have to go through?
Lobbying, grouping and nepotism are evils that exist in every field. The most important thing to remember is not to let the negativity or ill vibes around you affect you. As far as my experiences are concerned, I've been lucky to have worked with veteran actors and amazing directors who made all my experiences enriching and fulfilling.

Q. What have you enjoyed doing more and why, theatre or television?
H.W: I have to say, theatre and television are two different dynamics. The former has its own charms while the latter has its own perks. I cannot choose between them, but I definitely think television depicts the internal while theatre depicts the external. They are both opposite sides of the same coin.

Q. You also collaborated with Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Patahak for a play. How did that happen?
At the time, NAPA had hired me as an assistant for the International Theatre Festival where I assisted both of them. It was an eye opening experience which made me realise that in order to pursue my dreams, it was necessary for me to broaden my horizons and that is the time when [doing] television came into the picture.

Q. You have worked in a short film, Sedare, with a Canadian-Pakistani team. How different was shooting for it than the rest of your projects?H.W: My presence in Sedare was a very abrupt decision by the team. I had a cameo appearance, but it was a scintillating experience. It was very different from television and had way more leverage for improvisation.

Q. I’ve heard that you’re working on a script of your own, a biopic.
H.W: I was working upon it a few months ago, but I have kept it aside for now because I am occupied with a lot of projects. I'll talk about it when it's happening. For now, it's on halt.

Q. What other projects do you have in the pipeline?
H.W: Currently, I am shooting for Gughi, which is a period play set in the 1940's and is an adaptation of Pinjar which has been penned by Amna Mufti. Along with that, there's Soldier Bazaar that is yet to be shot, another film from the makers of Saawan.

Q. You and Maryam tied the knot this year, congratulations! While most young actors would worry about their career and fan follwing being effected, did such thoughts ever cross your mind?
When I first set eyes on her, any doubt that I ever had was removed from my mind. These thoughts never bothered me because my success should have nothing to do with my marital status and everything to do with my craft.

Q. How did things develop between you and Maryam?
H.W: Things developed between us like [in] every other romantic comedy [movie] – a tight friendship, followed by a sudden realisation of the fact that both of us were made for each other, followed by trials and tribulations, and my ongoing quest to win her heart which resulted in a happy marriage that both of us cherish greatly today, and shall always cherish!

Q. What’s your equation with her like?
H.W: More than lovers, we're best friends. We tend to understand each other in a way that no one else can. We have great chemistry, a colourful history and from what both of us can see, a delightful future ahead. Her and I are similar and very different at the same time. I am more of the grounded, principled sort while she is a rule-breaking rebel. After she entered my life, she made me more fun than I actually was and I, somehow, brought tranquility to her restlessness.