My first memory of Furqan Qureshi happens to be from one of his earliest shows called Dreamers, where Furqan attempted to play a broody bad boy while sporting unflattering long hair and a malnourished physique. Lets just say his acting skills and image have come a long way since! Today he is known for his exceptional performance as Noor, the intersex young boy from Khuda Mera Bhi Hai, and has easily outshone all his experienced co-stars. In a very candid and honest interview, where Furqan had me bursting into laughter with his unabashed statements, we spoke about his current role, his career and more.
When speaking of his transformation from the unkempt Agha from Dreamers to today, Furqan told us “I was the cool boy, I thought looks didn’t matter if I could act…but in reality it’s the wrapper that sells in our industry, even if there is shit inside it.”
Furqan mentioned how he fell into acting due to financial constraints in his life, “I had no money back then to look good, but the struggle and hunger made me realize how important looks are in my career.” He honestly admitted that now he likes his work and while he feels acting is “a cheap escape for people like me,” more than anything it’s about making money. “When actors say they do this to make people smile, it’s a lie.”
The young actor frankly told us how he was worried about the labels that would come with his current role as Noor, “I thought I would have to act like a stereotypical khusra; I refused to cross-dress or act like a woman.” Hence he had to show the directors and producers how he could make his role convincing because “they didn’t want it to be like Fawad Khan from Kapoor and Sons (Fawad played an atypical homosexual character) we were showing to a jaahil audience so we wanted to make it clear.” So in the end the team agreed that having Furqan change his voice to sound more feminine would have to be the convincing factor in his character.
“I was worried about the stereotyping that would come with this role, people questioning my orientation etc, but I had nothing to lose, I’m not Shahrukh Khan!”
Furqan agreed that this might have been his big break, but he feels that he has done better work which has gone unnoticed because the channel or production has not had as big a name as ARY might have. Though he did confess that this has to be the most unique role he has done, where the show’s pivotal point isn’t merely a damsel in distress or a good looking hero. When speaking of our television industry, Furqan mentioned how he believes there are close to no actors who have looks and can act too. “It’s not even about talent, everyone just wants the chocolate boy now…yes looks are important for an actor but for God’s sake, they need to know how to act too!”
When speaking of the cause behind Khuda Mera Bhi Hai, Furqan once again claimed that before his casting he was “too cool to care about their (the trans community’s) problems.” It was later when he did some research that he understood the gravity of the identity crisis these people face in our society. Furqan spoke of the marginalization of the trans community, and how they are given no chance to improve their situation.
“When it comes to gay people, they are still more accepted at least in our industry. Like no one would care if I was gay and I was the boss and had someone working for me. But these people aren’t even given the chance to work anywhere.”
When asked about the fact that the show is leaning towards the ‘preachy’ side, and if that is an effective method to capture the audience, Furqan conceded that the show is more message oriented than preachy and with such a cause it needs to be as outright as possible for the masses (or ‘jaahil’ audience as Furqan put it!) to understand.