Fawad Khan - An Enigmatic Theatrical

  • 28 Oct - 03 Nov, 2017
  • Rabia Mushtaq
  • Interview

Anyone who is familiar with Karachi’s theatre scene must be acquainted with the name of this theatric lad, Muhammad Fawad Khan – an artiste who got himself noticed in the realms of theatre, television and film, following his many talents. With the privilege to have worked alongside the geniuses of Pakistan’s performing art industry, Fawad is one bloke with extraordinary experiences leaving aspiring actors envious. The keen thespian shares cherished details of his life and promising career in an interview with MAG.

"I am extremely passionate about theatre,” says Fawad, when asked to introduce himself to someone who isn’t familiar with his life and work. The 33-year-old performer has graduated from the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA), with a major in Direction for Stage in the year 2008 and has been consistently doing theatre ever since. “Being passionate about all of the aspects of theatre, I have not only been directing but acting and writing as well,” he speaks about his association with the performing arts and the journey that followed.

For an apparently introverted guy like him, what attracted Fawad towards this field, which is still, unfortunately, considered a not-so-serious career option? “Before joining NAPA, I had fallen in love with movies. I was doing BSc. then. I watched lots of European cinema and was a huge fan of Iranian movies. I wanted to be a film-maker back then,” he tells me, adding, “Then I saw NAPA's advertisement wherein they offered to teach film-making along with theatre. But it turned out that they taught filmmaking for only a trimester. Rest of the course was of theatre. And I think it was great because a new world opened up to me and I fell in love with the latter more than movies.”

According to Fawad, his alma mater has had a huge influence on him both, as a person and as an artiste. “Whatever I am professionally, today is all because of the education I got from NAPA. I don't just mean the teachers but also my batchmates. There were lots of crazy people in my batch and that was great,” shares Fawad, who is also a junior faculty member at the said institution and teaches acting, based on Stanislavski's System, and theatre history. “I believe I've had great teachers in my life and try to bring some of that in my teaching, as well. One of the rules being that I have to try to make them think for themselves,” he sheds light on his experiences as an instructor of the craft.

Keeping in mind that our society is not taking the education of performing arts seriously, I ask Fawad if teaching or studying the subject is different when compared with other disciplines. “Performing arts is something that our society does not give enough respect to. A lot of people don't even think that it has anything to do with education,” he laments about the crooked mindset and continues to share its significance in his own life. “I had a great time studying theatre and every time I get an opportunity to attend a theatre workshop or learn something from someone, I thoroughly enjoy it. But, I guess, if you are passionate about something then you-would enjoy studying no matter what it is,” the performer says.

Fawad is quite a multitalented guy, for he has not only tried his hand at acting but has also directed and written scripts for theatre plays. As far as acting is concerned, theatre gives him the most joy. However, he feels that ‘writing is the toughest job and the most fulfilling as well’. The actor has been part of some major productions which include Waiting For Godot, directed by Zia Mohyeddin; Six Characters In Search Of An Author, a production that was very special to Fawad because he got the chance to direct one of his most beloved teachers, veteran actor Rahat Kazmi; Khel Ek Raat Ka, a play that was done in a very intimate setting and was immensely appreciated; Baba Jalinoos, an adaptation of Molière's Tartuffe or The Impostor; Khoya Hua Aadmi by Kamal Ahmed Rizvi and Qusoorwar, an adaptation of 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose. Talking about more of his work, Fawad states, “I, along with Nazar Ul Hasan and Meesam Naqvi, started Dastangoi in 2014, and have so far received a lot of appreciation for trying to revive this lost art form. I also tell stories to kids and have worked with ToffeeTv and Zambeel Dramatic Readings a lot.”

Many of Fawad’s works as an actor, director and dramatist have been appreciated among the performing arts fans; however, his play Chup – written and directed by himself, and Sunil Shankar, respectively – was a rather risky attempt considering our sociopolitical landscape. What provoked Fawad to write such a script? “There is a dearth of playwrights in Pakistan and being one of the few people who are doing theatre, I feel that it's my responsibility to fill the gap. No one else will do it but the people who are theatre-makers themselves. Every artiste tries to respond to the times he/she is living in. Chup was just an attempt to respond artistically to what's happening in our society,” he positions, to which I ask if the audience should expect more of such work from him in the future. “I want to write more but I'm not sure if my other work will tackle controversial issues or not. The issue in Chup struck a personal chord with me and I was able to write it. Rest, I'm not sure of,” he avows.

He comes across as someone who’s aware of his craft, for he has a clear-cut answer to my question that pointed towards the reluctance of bringing thought-provoking subjects at the forefront. “There is not a single subject in the world that cannot be thought-provoking. It depends on how you tackle the subject at hand. You can be writing or discussing the most pressing problem of the day but if you are treating it in a simplistic manner then whatever you're saying or doing is useless,” he opines and further states, “So, the need is to try to depict our reality in all its complexity. How to do that? Well, one way forward is education. Our artistes need to be educated and aware of their responsibility as one, or at least they should constantly be thinking about what an artiste's responsibilities are.” Speaking of possible solutions, he talks about Muhammad Hassan Askari’s essay on Manto's short stories about partition, which he suggests to be read by every artiste, if not everyone.

Fawad’s very first serial Shiasta Shiasta introduced him on TV as Saad, a character he claims to have enjoyed portraying the most. However, Danish from Khoya Hua Aadmi, Juror No. 3 in Qusoorwar, Leontes in Winter's Tale and many more are among his favourite roles from various theatre plays. The actor-cum-director-cum-playwright has worked in movies like Gardaab and Jeevan Hathi, while he “might” do more films in the future.

His admiration for the performing arts makes one inquisitive about his ideals in the business, considering the number of masterminds he’s surrounded by. “There are so many,” Fawad replies, when asked whom he idealises in terms of acting, direction and playwriting. “[I idealise] Asghar Farhadi, both, as a director and script writer, and actors in his movies do a great job. In Pakistan, [I idealise] Mehreen Jabbar,” he says. Nevertheless, Nazar Ul Hasan happens to be his favourite co-actor, for he is ‘a great team member, a great actor and a very good friend’.

If not an actor, Fawad would have been ‘a professor of Physics’. “I was and still am interested in science. I try to keep myself up to date with what's happening in the world of science,” he says, leaving me amazed at his versatility.

Born on July 24, Fawad revisits his childhood and shares that he was ‘ok as a kid’. “I didn't bother my parents much and was an average student. I loved listening to semi-classical music and remember listening to Yeh Daulat Bhi Lelo Yeh Shauhrat Bhi Lelo by Jagjit Singh when I was about eight years olds and despite being a child myself, I was filled with a longing for childhood,” shares the philosophical chap.