In Pakistan there are few artistes who are able to bring a fresh perspective into their respective industries, but when they are found, they truly change how things work. One such example is Dubai based Asad Raza Khan, who has shown how a performer of a great repertoire can bring pride to his nation.
Known for his work globally, Khan has managed to carve a niche on the stage and the screen as a performer who has both superb comic timing and a knack for Shakespearean tragedy. As a pillar of the Dubai theatre circuit Asad has won his share of praise; he has been included in this year’s Masala magazine’s HOT 100 list and has been named Esquire Magazine’s Most Talented Asian in UAE.
After exploring musical theatre, international films and television what’s next for the Pakistani star? He chats exclusively with Something Haute.
You’ve had your fair share of success through international projects for a while now. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Asad Raza Khan: God has been extremely kind and there have been many memorable moments. In 2013 I became the first Pakistani ever to win Best Actor in Dubai and the honor was repeated in 2014, 2016, and 2017. I also was cast in a Bollywood movie which released in 2017. My own production, Howzat, which was an original script of an Indian couple living next door to a Pakistani couple on the Palm in Dubai, became one of the most critically acclaimed and the largest commercial success in UAE theatrical circuit.
What is your view of the Pakistani film industry. Do you see yourself as a part of it?
ARK: I am a huge fan of local films! The industry is still in a growth stage and has immense potential. For the number of screens, and the penetration that we have, versus other markets, we are still doing very well. I am in talks for a few upcoming projects but I can’t discuss them at this point.
You have also worked extensively in the theatrical arts in Europe; tell us a little about that. How has that experience molded you as an actor?
ARK: In Europe I was primarily part of musicals. This helped me mould my voice and dancing skills along with exposing me to many methods of acting and teamwork. My Bollywood musical From Geneva with Love toured all over Europe. You would be surprised as to how much they admire SoAsian culture.
Tell us a little about how you made it to the ‘Best Actor in Dubai’ list?
ARK: In 2012 I debuted in Dubai with a play called One Day in the Season of the Rain. The love that the city gave me for it was honestly overwhelming. I had decided to continue pouring in my heart and soul into the arts post that. I took part in four different productions after that before landing the title in Hamlet. I went to Royal Shakespeare Company in UK to train for the role and after four months of extensive rehearsals, we put on a show that took critics and the audiences by storm. It was due to that role that I landed my first Best Actor award in 2013. Since then I have received four more best actor, two best writer, two best producer, and numerous appreciation awards like Masala top 100, Esquire Icon of the Year, Best Pakistani Artist in 2017.
You have also worked in Bollywood; being Pakistani, how has that experience been?
ARK: The experience was an extremely positive one. I was given so much love and attention that it was humbling. When ever people found out that I was a Pakistani they would go out of their way to help/take care of me. The most common question I was asked was about our music and television – they are phenomenons in India!
Your films have also made it to film festivals globally. Are you planning to screen them in Pakistan as well?
ARK: Yes, for sure! After being in Miami, Berlin, India, and GCC, we are hoping to bring our work to Pakistan. The deadlines for some of the festivals were missed during the post-production of our latest movie but we definitely want to come as soon as we have an opportunity. We also hopefully want to make some content in Pakistan!
What films/theatre are you planning to do soon? Any major projects set in Bollywood?
ARK: For now the primary focus is to come back home. Pakistani television and cinema is top priority for me. I have always been fascinated and in-love with it and I believe the time is right for me to come back! Heart is where the home is. As for the UAE, we will be re-staging an original work which was sold out last April called “Just Like That” in April 2019 on its one year anniversary and also screen a film for the Cannes Film Festival 2019. My production house will produce a play called Enter Macbeth, directed by Meghana Mundkur to be staged in Nov 2018. We also exploring the relationship of the South Asian diaspora in our upcoming webseries Howzat – a spinoff of one of my most successful productions in the UAE.