There are things you get to know about someone, when you’re traveling with them, that you’d otherwise probably never know. So, over the years, people that I’ve traveled with are people that I’ve gotten to know best. Earlier this month in London, for Nomi Ansari’s IPL Fashion showcase (you can read all about that in Instep here), I got to spend a few days with Ali Rehman Khan, who had flown in from Vienna to model for Nomi’s show. Ali’s one of the few people in Pakistan’s burgeoning entertainment scene that I hadn’t interacted with or interviewed till now. My first exposure to Ali Rehman Khan was his character Daniyal in Janaan and he made quite an impact. He came across as a good actor, with solid comic timing and it didn’t hurt that he had the looks too.
So his looks, I have to say at the risk of objectifying a good and promising star, is what got him a lot of attention on the streets of London. I did expect a lot of young Brit-Asian girls – who follow Pakistani dramas passionately – to stop him and ask him for selfies but I even saw several non-desi wayfarers turn around to stare. We were at the sunglasses counter at Selfridges when two women, in all black wearing tattoos on their skin and a bulk of silver hardware all over their body, tapped him on his shoulder to appreciate his eyes. “Where are you from; you have such gorgeous eyes,” they said. I don’t think they believed him when he said Pakistan.
That happened at Selfridges and it came with revelation number one: Ali Rehman’s fetish for buying, rather hoarding sunglasses. He bought 2 pairs on this trip; one Dior (above) and the other I forget. I do remember that one was yellow and the other one black. I also remember him mentioning that he had around 16 pairs of sunglasses and was still counting.
The other thing he obsessed over, during this trip, was his high protein diet. I think that over the three days that we hung out in London, Ali had 3 single potato chips as his carb quota. He’d breakfast on 6 eggs and black coffee and then opt for high protein options everywhere we went. There’s a whole section at Pret a Manger; you basically get protein just about everywhere. Ali resisted when Nomi and I indulged in sweet heavenly sugar cones and gelato and Victoria Sponges; he has a sweet tooth so he didn’t even sit with us to avoid temptation.
He’s on a fitness drive preparing for a role and “something special,” he said. But not that he had invested time and torture on getting his muscles (aiming for a 6-pack), he wanted to maintain them with a healthy lifestyle.
Down to earth, easy to talk to and courteous, Ali was the ‘ladies first’ kind of person who’d open doors for them etc. He’d also be attached to these wireless pods and would almost always be talking to someone; we later found out it was his mother. A family man, he had to speak to his parents everyday and his mother, it appeared, several times, which was very sweet.
Ali was also a fun travel partner because of his uncontrollable urge to mimic anyone and everyone who came up in conversation. I won’t name who all came up in our talks but I will say that his mimicry was hilarious! Unfortunately, he’s not taking that up as a career. He’s signed up and has started working on his next film (details soon) and was tossing between two drama serials that he’s been offered. We all, of course, gave our opinion…let’s see which one he decides to do.