Building a brand name is not important to me – Junaid Khan

  • 30 Nov - 06 Dec, 2019
  • Attiya Abbass
  • Interview

I guess I was too used to seeing Junaid in intimidating suits on celluloid and paparazzi snaps. The sight of him now in tasteful athleisure – a ripped olive green shirt, sweatpants and flip-flops, as he answers the door for us, puts me at ease. A musician who later transitioned into an actor, has a wealth of projects to his name. Some people, myself included, would always identify him (and rightfully so) as the lead vocalist and songwriter of Call – who created rock hits like Jilawatan and Dhoom – before appreciating his versatile portfolio as an actor. His act now is not just limited to television, word reached me, mere a day before our scheduled meeting that Junaid is all set to mark his big-screen debut with a film, Jidhar Dil Karay alongside Mansha Pasha. MAG has an entire archive dedicated to Junaid Khan’s interviews, gauging and documenting his every professional step along the way. Here we add another pager to the archive, with a chat which was easy, light and interesting. Excerpts;

How have you evolved overtime as a singer and actor?

As a person, I think I’ve evolved over time yet my core characteristics are very basic. I’ve been an introvert all my life. I don’t express much but I am trying to let go of that habit gradually. Since childhood and later into adolescence, when I didn’t have music, I couldn’t voice my opinions. Later, when I found my love for music, it gave me a medium to express. Over time, it gave me confidence and sort of paved the way for me into television. But there’s still a part of me that holds onto expressing things. I’m not the kind of person who reacts immediately to a situation, be it anger or happiness. I take my time to express.

We know that the singer in you came to the forefront before the actor. How this transition take place?

I started my band in late 2002, it was a time when I was learning to express myself. I was also doing a bit of theater. My personal interest has never been in popularity as I was always an introvert. Since I was one to instinctively bottle everything up, I always looked for a way to express myself in front of people, to stand in front of hundreds of them and say what my heart desires. The primary reason to make music was also that I wanted a stage to express my feelings. I found a niche in rock music since all the emotional loudness inside me came out through genre. For seven years I worked 9 to 5 in various companies. Then in 2010, I started getting offers from different production houses. At the time, I didn’t take it quite seriously. I was hesitant to experiment. I was trying to understand myself as an artist - who am I and what’s my purpose? But since I wanted to evolve and judge myself as an artist, I found television to be the next move. When my first project, a sitcom Kabhi Na Kabhi garnered positive response, I decided that this can work out for me.

How do you as an actor, endeavor to be selective about your work?

When the scripts come to me, I see which character is suitable for that point in time. It can be negative or positive but it should just be appealing in that point in time. For me, building a brand name is not important. My purpose is mainly expression and that’s why I don’t compete with anyone. My purpose is expression and exploration. I don’t fall prey to concepts that working with xyz actress, a particular production or name will somehow threaten my career.

Now on to your first feature film – Kahay Dil Jidhar – how did this pan out?

I was offered films for a long time. But I didn’t want to do a film just for the sake of doing a film. A year or two back, I was approached by Jalal, the film’s director with whom I had worked previously on musical albums from Dhoom. Jalal and the producer Kamran Bari first approached me with prospects of the film in question. I liked the character and the script, so I said yes. I later learned that Mansha was the leading lady, which also suited me just fine.

Give us some insight into the upcoming film?

The core of the film is basically friendship. There are three to four pivotal characters who are friends. Then there are themes of love, sacrifice in that very friendship. They share a strong bond, so the film has all the commercial elements but it also relays a strong message. The genre is social but it also has a lot of other elements. We don’t want to spill any more details for now.

Does this role which you are enacting bear any similarity with your personality?

It’s quite similar. Shehryar is a very loud, fun loving character which I was never as a child but overtime I have become more expressive, so yes I relate to him. Shehryar has two phases in the movie, one is the university phase and the other is the maturity phase which I can relate more to.