Few actors look good sneezing into a pile of tissues and complaining of a sore throat. But even with puffy, reddish eyes and in a crumpled denim shirt, Fawad Afzal Khan is khubsoorat. “I wish I could take off on a family vacation. These last few weeks have been the most hectic cycle of my life and you can see the effects showing on my face,” he sniffs in his freezing vanity van. After a week-long schedule in Jaipur for Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, he flies back home. From there, he takes off on a charity musical tour through the US, an annual ritual, before he starts filming his next in Pakistan.
Albela Rahi a biopic on the legendary Urdu pop singer, Alamgir, with Fawad playing the 61-yearold musician. Alamgir was born in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, into a Bengali family. His father Farmuzal Haq was a politician with the All India Muslim League and at 15, they moved to Karachi before Alamgir immigrated to the US. “I’ve visited Dhaka and love the vibe. But the film will be shot in Karachi and other parts of Pakistan, where Bangladesh will be re-created. We are cheating the locations,” he informs excitedly. Fawad’s breakfast arrives, but he refuses to dig into the medu vadas in the midst of an interview. His assistants are patiently waiting to doll him up for the success bash of his recent release, Kapoor and Sons, directed by Shakun Batra.
Recalling his introduction to the big Dharma family the 34-year-old actor says, “I’m notorious for working less and partying more and the shoot was a roller-coaster ride with firecracker Alia (Bhatt), naughty boy Sidharth (Malhotra), the legendary entertainer Rishi Kapoor, cool guy Rajat Kapoor sir and my easygoing maa, Ratnaji (Ratna Pathak Shah). Acting can sometimes feel like 9 to 5 job but in this case, it’s been a blast. I wouldn’t know if they are the wildest Bollywood parties, but you could definitely describe Karan Johar’s house as Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion in Mumbai! But I wouldn’t know what to compare it with because I haven’t been invited to any other parties.
Nobody calls me,” he jokes, looking forward to his third Bollywood outing with Karan as the director. Fawad plays Ali in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Balancing careers in India and Pakistan have made him a star on either side of the border, he admits, optimistic that like his TV shows, his Pakistani films too will work here as successfully as they do in other parts of the globe. “The only downslide about working in India is that I am away from my son (Ayaan) and wife (Sadaf),” sighs the squeaky clean, family man, who never loses his cool or gets embroiled in controversies.
“I share a strong bond with my wife. No one else was willing to put up with me once and that’s the truth.” He married his childhood sweetheart in 2005 after eight years of courtship. Fawad has collaborated on screenplays back home and at some point, aspires to become a director. “Not immediately, though, I’d like to study the craft first in different parts of the world,” says the actor, who refuses to be a prop, but for the moment would let those making the film do their job. “If it works they take the credit, if it doesn’t, they take the flak.”
Right now, he wants to croon a song in a Bollywood film. “I have been asked a couple of times to sing for a film, but I’ve not been able to make time. Acting is such a big piece of the pie, but maybe in my next film,” he smiles, pointing out that he did hum the old classic “Chand Si Mehbooba Ho Meri” in his recent release. “It was an impromptu performance, had I rehearsed I would’ve done better.” His Humsafar co-star Mahira Khan is in Mumbai filming Raees with Shah Rukh Khan. Have they caught up? “We did meet once last year in Mumbai. But our schedules are tight now. She’s a busy person shooting a big film. Badi star ke paas, hum jaise chhote logon ke liye time nahin hoga,” he signs off with a laugh.
Originally appeared in Ahmedabad Mirror