Sarmad Khoosat - The Ultimate High-flyer

  • 24 Feb - 02 Mar, 2018
  • Rabia Mushtaq
  • Interview

The versatile artiste opens up about acting, direction, Pakistani cinema and carrying his family’s legacy forward, in this tête-à-tête with MAG

The guy is an embodiment of what humbleness looks like. However, it wasn’t an easy feat getting an hour from his busy acting life yet the scribe somehow managed to get the interview fixed with the actor-turned-director, Sarmad Sultan Khoosat – a powerhouse of talent.

The Cheeku of Shashlik has transitioned into the sober Imtiaz of Teri Raza, wooing Pakistani women with his dreamy antics as the love-struck husband. I ask him how does it feel to suddenly get so much attention from female fans? “That’s strange. I’ve never played a character of a romantic protagonist. The other day at a shopping mall, a bunch of girls were whispering, ‘Oh My God! Yeh tou hanstey bhi hain!’. So there’s an innocence about fans that’s pretty sweet.” Was it easy pulling-off the character, is the next question I pose. “There was a lot of restrain while playing this character because my face is very animated, so I need to do less and think more. But then I wasn’t acting in void; it’s the other actor that I’m communicating with and Sanam (Baloch) is brilliant, so we really had that great (on-screen) chemistry,” says Sarmad.

Being the torchbearer of his family’s association with the performing arts is what keeps him in the spotlight, at least, at times. Would Sarmad still had been an actor if his father wasn’t one? “Yes, who knows! I wasn’t one of those kids who had a passion to be in this industry. But it’s almost like if somebody is there who shows you the door, you end up taking that path,” he says and continues to tell us how it wasn’t all the positive aspects he’s inherited being a celebrity’s offspring. “I also received a lot of negativity and animosity from people, as they would always compare me to my father. I have heard really heartbreaking things like ‘Oh my God! What a shame for a legend like Irfan Khoosat to have a son like Sarmad.’ But I won’t say belonging to a family of actors wouldn’t have mattered, it would have. But I might have picked another profession, for I was all set to become a doctor with a degree in psychology.”

Despite Sarmad’s experiments as an actor with different characters for the past few years, one would always adore the naivety he portrayed in yesteryear’s Shashlik. When asked if he too misses the sitcom days, Sarmad says, “In Shashlik we used to do all sorts of bizarre things like dance and lip-sync to songs. Since we all (the cast) were such close friends, I do miss all the fun we had together. Those were the days of innocence and I miss being part of that regular cycle of working in a sitcom.” But is he satisfied with the current trend of comedy? “They are now trying to standardise comedy and being repetitive. Comedy is not ‘just a boys thing’. It needs more characterisation than serious stuff,” he makes it known.

Comedy is not the only genre where Sarmad excels, for it was his multitasking in Manto which proved his versatility and to term it Pakistani cinema’s blockbuster film would not be an overstatement. Nevertheless, the actor has since then stayed away from the big screen. Does he plan to make a commercial film? I enquire. “To divide storytelling and entertainment into art, commercial or mainstream is not something I do. If I’m not driven with a project then I would much rather keep working for TV, for I understand it better,” Sarmad says, adding that he is not in a rush to make a commercial film. “I’m not shying away from it. I don’t think of stories like that, if they fascinate and excite me enough, I tell them without bothering about anything else.”

According to Sarmad, Pakistan’s film industry “is not healthy at the moment. It needs a slightly more intelligent sense of direction. I’m not saying that bad films are being made, some of them are really good but then there are 20 others that are probably insipid and insignificant, that’s where the problem is,” he states further lamenting about “good actors and technicians being boxed into a pressure zone where they need to deliver a formula driven project.”

Apart from direction, his recent appearances on TV have him basking in the glory of success and Sarmad has an interesting take on it. “I would definitely not disagree with the importance of success. It has its own charm. For me it has always been about the process. I started last year on a glum note because Moor Mahal didn’t do well. That’s why I say success is very important,” he shares.

What made him act rather than direct last year is what one wants to find out. “When you’re acting you’re only responsible for what you are doing. As a director, from production to actors to post production, everything is on your watch. Both Baaghi and Teri Raza became those outlets for me. The former was a lot of fun; I did something totally contrasting to myself, for the character was a rough gaaon ka gunda and a mean brother. Then came Teri Raza, where I played a completely different character. Acting that way is really interesting and a means of catharsis,” he divulges and talks about his prowess at being directed. “(When acting) I’m very good at drawing a line and know that I’m not a director. I don’t engage in a serial in that capacity, for I just want to enjoy my part and hang out with co-actors because as a director I don’t get the time to do that,” the thespian reveals.

Talking about direction, one would want to know about his favourite directorial projects. “I would pick Manto, for it took so much of my time and energy and is my troubled yet dearest child.” The brilliant artiste is set to do more of theatre this year, for which he’ll be travelling to Karachi as well. But most importantly, this is what he has to say when talking about his dream project. “I would want to do something around or about Bulleh Shah,” says Sarmad signing off and we wish him all the luck!