One may assume that Faris Khalid is making his cinematic debut in Chalay Thay Saath but it turns out that Khalid is technically not a newcomer to the film industry. “I’ve done a film before but it sort of went under the radar. I played a transvestite in Rahm,” clarified Khalid. That’s not a performance that should’ve gone ignored but sadly that is the case. However, the actor has high hopes from his upcoming cinematic venture, Chalay Thay Saath (CTS) that stars Syra Shahroz, Behroze Subzwari, Zhalay Sarhadi and Mansha Pasha in pivotal roles.
Many industry experts are optimistic about the film’s outcome, based on whatever the film has revealed about itself so far, but Khalid believes that the film has taken a risk. “We’ve taken a bit of a risk by not taking any Bollywood influences. There’s no song and dance. We have tried to focus on characters and storyline. So that way the film is a little different. Perhaps we’re pushing the boundaries a little bit by challenging the norm but we’ve got so much faith in the film. It’s not one of those projects where we’re like ‘oh now we have to promote this because we’re obliged to it.’ All of us are genuinely backing this because we truly believe in it.”
Before anyone can accuse Khalid of being a Bollywood hater, the actor clarified his stance on our neighbours from across the border. “I don’t have anything against Bollywood. For me, personally, it just doesn’t come to me naturally, the song and dance thing. I think it sort of detracts from the story, especially if its drama. And I prefer drama.”
For those of us who will be seeing Khalid for the first time, let’s do a quick recap of his theatrical background. Khalid began his career with theatre; he performed with Saad Haroon in his improvisational comedy troupe, Blackfish. Since then, he has done a cooking show, several TV projects and is currently hosting an improv troupe called Improvistan.
“I started theatre years ago and then Blackfish took off in early 2000s. I did some TV as well but I always kept it on the side. I moved to Dubai, got a corporate job. Then Rahm happened in which I got to play a transvestite and I love character roles,” he shared. Khalid also explained how he landed a spot in CTS. “I used to do a cooking show back in the day and Umer Adil and Beenish (director and producer of CTS) produced and directed that show. So they contacted me to see if I was interested or not. It was a great script and I really liked it. Also, it’s great to work with people you respect.”
Khalid is also busy with another film. “They haven’t revealed my character yet so I can’t talk about it. It’s also story and character driven so I’m looking forward to that too.”
While we promised Khalid to not reveal the film’s name yet, we can only confirm that Khalid has managed to bag roles in two highly anticipated films. Even the second film has some very big names attached to it.
Thus, one would naturally assume that Khalid has a lot of film offers on the table. “No actually,” said Khalid before breaking into a thunderous laughter. “I’m not looking to do this full time. Only if it’s a good project.”
We wondered why not? Khalid seems to possess all the qualities a potential film star should have. “I teach, I do corporate trainings and I enjoy my work. If you do something like this full time then you pick up projects that you don’t like because you have to keep on working. I’d much rather not be in that situation.”
Khalid’s lack of interest in becoming a ‘celebrity’ was evident when we saw him at a protest recently. We attended the dog culling protest conducted by Nida Butt and we noticed that even though Khalid had made an appearance at the protest, he seemed to shy away from giving photo ops to photographers. Because we’ve seen Khalid perform improv we can say this for certain that Khalid isn’t one to shy away from a big crowd. In fact, at the Chalay Thay Saath trailer launch, the production team chose Khalid to act as the host for the evening and Khalid was casually and comfortably conversing with a crowd of nearly two hundred people.
One can then conclude that Khalid is here to do work he truly enjoys and isn’t here to become a ‘star’. Nowadays we see a lot of young actors who want to become celebrities first and prove their acting/singing/dancing abilities later. And these celebrities have succeeded – one can see their social media activities. While they’ve probably only done one film, and that too poorly, they have thousands of followers, a statistical reality that has given them ‘star status.’
Thankfully, Khalid didn’t shy away from addressing this issue. “It’s a very interesting dilemma as that is representative of Pakistan as a whole. You don’t see very high barriers of entry. Nobody is really going to question your credentials, as opposed to abroad where they’ve got higher standards. This is good because it encourages people to join the industry. What’s unfortunate though is that it makes people very complacent with mediocrity. Every time I go into an acting job I’m a little intimidated because I haven’t really sharpened my chops.”
On a concluding note, Khalid reiterated that one must remain humble no matter how big a star he or she becomes. “I think people should be grounded. People become celebrities, they become bankable names and that’s why people want them in their plays, films and TV projects but that shouldn’t be an indicator that they’re good at their craft. Being a celebrity detracts from focusing on your work. I hope it changes though.”
This article was originally published in Instep, March 25, 2017.