You must have seen him holding his ground in several television plays alongside A-list celebrities. Whether it was the affable Dastagir in Dil Lagi or the mysterious Tipu of Tau Dil Ka Kya Hua, a bereft romeo as Sunny in Lashkara or the highly praised transgender Shammo from Alif Allah Aur Insan, Imran Ashraf has shown us his many different shades in a short span of time and as of late the actor has won over hearts with his performance as a mentally challenged Bhola in Ranjha Ranjha Kardi.
In an exclusive conversation with Something Haute, we managed to decode a few layers of Imran Ashraf who seems to be at ease about where he stands in life. Imran is out of the usual run of things; despite being a child star, he never aspired to become an actor. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why he boldly takes on risky characters like Shammo and Bhola.
“For a guy like me, who has no connections in the industry, neither a chiseled jawline nor six packs and who is straightforward and at times blatantly honest, the decision to act itself is a risk. My career started with a risk and I believe it will continue to be at risk. So yes, I don’t think my acting choices are much of a problem,” he quipped.
Imran sincerely surrenders to his directors, and considers all his characters equally challenging. When asked how he prepared for Bhola who is mentally not older than a seven-year-old and in love with Noori (played by Iqra Aziz), he shared, “I haven’t learnt acting. I just observe real life and there is something to learn from each one of us. I imbibe unique nuances and characteristics of people,” he said adding, “Before the shoot, I had sort of convinced myself that I was born Bhola and then I performed it.”
The actor had once remarked that his biggest competition is casting directors. He amusingly laughs when asked why. “I am often told that if we cast you as a lead then who will perform the supporting roles? Luckily now I get offers for lead roles as well, but strangely enough recently I was offered a play in which I felt the supporting role has much more meat. So there is no criterion or perhaps there is one: Instagram followers!” he said.
Talking about his critically acclaimed and much lauded transgender character Shammo, Imran has no inhibition. “The character itself was amazing; it was only difficult to decide whether I should play it or not because of the usual trappings in our society. However, I learnt that when everyone is a naysayer, listen to your mother. She asked me to go for it and it became my breakthrough performance,” he said.
Not many of us know but the Lashkara star has also tried his luck at writing. “I wasn’t getting good roles so I decided to write a play (Tabeer on Hum TV). Every TV channel rejected my script for four years and then Ahson Talish decided to make it. He is the reason that I have started writing seriously again.” The actor is currently burning the midnight oil on another play which will be an out-and-out commercial venture with artistic inspirations.
As much as Imran loves and enjoys the limelight, he is humble and grounded at the same time. He says God has been very kind to him and he has a firm belief that divine powers are at work in the background. “I wrote Tabeer with the same message that even if you lose everything in life, the Almighty will bless you in the most unexpected ways,” he said, revealing that his foray into acting only happened when his father’s business was liquidated.
Imran thinks that an actor is a blank slate. “I think actors have no personality. If you have a one-toned personality [as an actor] then how would you be able to change it? It till become monotonous. In order to get in any character’s shoes, one has to let go of his/her personality traits,” he said.
What’s next for him, a film or a web series? We asked. Imran unequivocally said he is not interested in films at present. “Pakistan is recognized for its TV drama and it’s also my priority. I will do a film only if I will be offered something truly amazing. However, if I will be offered an exceptional role in a movie and a drama simultaneously, I will opt for a TV play,” he said, adding, “I don’t have any idea how to act in films, so first I should know the skill or at least learn the basics.”