Ayub Khosa - Waiting for a Challenge

  • 30 Sep - 06 Oct, 2017
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Interview

"As such, right now I am not doing any project that has gone to set – yet. Everything is on the table,” Ayub Khosa tells me on the phone. We had been trying to meet for this interview for a few days, but given the actor’s hectic schedule, which included a two-day pit stop in Karachi, it became impossible.

I had first met Ayub at Yalghaar’s premiere in Rawalpindi. Even though he was cordial, I deliberately kept my space. Perhaps, this was because of Ayub’s emblematic look – or the fact that one of his roles from PTV’s long-play of the 80s titled Chakar-e-Azam still scared the daylight out of me.

We met the next morning (his room, a few doors next to mine), and I found him to be radically different from what people perceive him to be – jovial, very funny and quite warm.

“I love negative roles. There’s so much margin of performance in playing a villain. A bad guy, if played well, commands the audience’s attention,” he told me on the phone as we talked.

Right now, Ayub tells me he may be doing a few dramas, but more documentaries.

I would appreciate if people would reach out to me when they are writing a script and get my input on what I can bring to my character,”

He has appeared in two motion pictures in the last three years: Operation 021 (O21) and Yalghaar. Surprisingly, the actor has not been typecast into a villain in either.

“I would not be talking in terms of how these motion pictures were received. Commercially speaking, neither performed well nor broke records,” he said. “(However), my work in both O21 and Yalghaar has been quite appreciated. In O21, I was even nominated as the Best Actor in an award, and we decided to pull out from that nomination,” he shared.

Ayub’s character in that film has been the topic of quite a few discussions between Jami, the film’s director, and me. While the film promoted Shaan as the hero, the real hero of the story turned out to be Abdullah – a fact, I assume didn’t play well with the audiences’ expectation of the film at the box office.

“When that character was narrated to me, we didn’t discuss if he would be the hero, or the villain or whatnot,” Ayub tells me. “I’ve noticed something about Jami – in context of the film, he doesn’t look at the people in that movie (as per how the actors are typecast by the industry); he looks at the movie itself – as in looks at the big picture of the narrative. He loves his characters, and polishes them according to that,” he elaborates.

“I always tell (my friends) that making someone laugh is the most difficult thing an actor can do – unless, he has the right material backing him up.”

How the character came out, was open to the audience’s own deliberation, as he said, “As for that character, it was the people’s choice to see him as the hero in O21.”

How different is acting for the big screen and the small screen? I enquire. “As far as we’re talking about Pakistan, the acting we’re taught (or have learned) for the small screen isn’t that different from what we see on film. I am not talking about the golden ages – or the Lollywood era (with the greats) Nadeem Saheb, Waheed Murad, Sultan Rahi, Mustafa Qureshi – that era of screen-specific performance is gone.”

“In India,” he continues, “there is still a different way to act for the big and the small screen. Nevertheless, acting is simply acting – whether one fine tunes it for cinema or television. What matters is the script and the point of view of the director. An intelligent director, who understands film and cinema, would definitely treat his material with cinematic panache,” Ayub said.

Because he has been a part of two motion pictures recently, I asked how he compared the style of their directors, Jami and Hassan Waqas Rana.

“They both have a very different approach to film. Jami has a more professional approach to his film. He shrinks his vision until he only sees what the film is about, and works through that narrow passage. Hassan loves his toys, and everything is immaculately prepared.”

There was a scene in Yalghaar, where Ayub’s character was tortured and interrogated by the terrorists. The scene required a terrorist to drill through his arm. The actor who was handling the drill was supposed to puncture a hole near his hand, but got cold feet. Hassan (Waqas Rana), however, stepped in, and when the scene rolled, drilled right through the side of Ayub’s arm by mistake. Even with immense pain, Ayub didn’t create a commotion to stop the scene. The wound, thankfully, wasn’t dangerously deep, and paramedics were on set.

“Hassan’s set is always well-prepared,” Ayub commended.

The method actor – is that who Ayub Khosa is, as an actor, I asked?

“Ayub Khosa is a mad man. He dives into his role. I manifest as a lover of that character. It becomes my Mehbooba,” he said.

“There are actors who look at their wardrobe, or their hair styles, and it is here that people stray away from who their character is. Then we have Shaan or Shamoon, who deliberate on what their characters are.”

When asked what has been his toughest role, he tells me, “I am still waiting for that.”

Is being typecast a major hindrance in his career, I ask. “I think so. I howl and scream a lot about that actually. I would appreciate if people would reach out to me when they are writing a script and get my input on what I can bring to my character,” he makes it known.

Back when we first met, I had asked why he wasn’t approached for his comedic skills. I repeated my question again. “When I was in school, I was regarded for my comedic tilt,” he said. Even today with friends, he is the life of the party – another point I can attest to.

“I always tell (my friends) that making someone laugh is the most difficult thing an actor can do – unless, he has the right material backing him up.” Which of course, brings us back to why his talent is still not fully utilised. As he said, he’s still waiting for a challenge. •