In Conversation with Ahmed Ali Akbar: on ‘Laal Kabootar’, his Acting Ambitions and a lot More

In March 2013, we were introduced with new crop of actors through an indie film “Siyaah” by a young producer Imran Raza Kazmi. Although “Siyaah” was a huge risk for a first time producer due to its genre and also because film was comercially released on just eight screens, but one thing we were pretty sure about the film was that its lead actors Hareem Farooq and Ahmed Ali Akbar will surely make it big in coming years. And they did, indeed. Talking of Ahmed, the actor first bagged major role in 2015’s superhit film “Karachi Sey Lahore” which was shortly followed by Asim Raza’s “Ho Mann Jahaan” and was last seen in last year’s box office hit “Parchi”. With his fifth film set to release in coming months, we thought this was the right time to have a tete-a-tete with this supremely talented actor. Here are some excerpts from our conversation with him.

Out of your four released films, you have done two, “Siyaah” and “Parchi” with Hareeem Farooq, Azfar Jafri and Imran Raza Kazmi. How do you people get along?

“We did our first film together. “Siyaah” was first feature film for all of us and since then we have seen each other grow in this industry. Besides we are from the same city so yes, with Hareem and Imran its always a very friendly experience or we can say “ghar waali baat”.

Post “Siyaah”, you did quite a few prominent and chartbuster TV projects, including “Guzarish” from ARY Digital and HUM TV’s “Yeh Raha Dil”. Do you also believe that TV in Pakistan helps you improve your craft?

“It does, it definitely does but more than helping you grow as an artist, I feel TV helps your growth more as a star as you get more eyes on you and your work is more accessible to majority of people. In Pakistan all the stars we have produced in last two decades have been produced by TV. And besides popularity it also runs your kitchen and makes you stable enough to do films or theatre.”

Theatre, film and TV, you have done all. What you enjoy the most now?

“Theatre is my first love but right now I think I am enjoying doing films. It’s because you get few scenes to shoot each day while doing a film so you put your whole heart in giving the best out of you to it, unlike TV where you have to shoot 15 scenes a day in our country. So I enjoy more doing theatre or films.”

Afer “Siyaah” we saw you in a major role in 2015’s “Karachi Se Lahore” which was shortly followed by “Ho Man Jahaan” where your role was limited to only looking good in background. Why you did such an insignificant role that too after doing KSL?

“I agree that my part in “Ho Man Jahaan” was almost forgettable but see that was my first film that I did in Karachi. Infact I did that one way before “Karachi Se Lahore” was offered to me. It’s just that it released a year late that is why it looked off on my part”

Talking about your next project, how were you approached for “Laal Kabootar”? How it happened?

“Kamal (director) met me at my friend’s place and there he showed me his directed music video “The Desert Journey” and I was so impressed by his work that I made my mind that I am going to work with this man if he ever makes a film and then just few months later Kamal came to me to discuss his idea of “Laal Kabootar”. He explained me the dynamics of this character Adeel and asked me to come to his place as Adeel to see if I understood that character well enough, so it was a very intresting way of auditioning and Kamal is a brilliant director I must say.”

Tell us more about this film and your character Adeel that you played in it?

“Adeel is someone who is looking for an escape from his regressive and monotonous life and for that he is always up to some notorious activitives and somehow he meets the female protagonist through a situation and because he is a hustler so he finds an opportunity in that situation so he goes further to help her for his own benefits. What happens next is an intresting series of events which I cannot unfold right now but it’s a very intresting story”.

You come from a different background than Adeel, a Karachi-based thuggish character so how you managed with things, such as the slightly different dialect?

“I have been in Karachi for last four years and during that I have observed a lot which has helped me in this project. Also I went to North Karachi to observe the lifestyle of people living there but I wanted to bring that touch in a very subtle way with my dialect as I didn’t want to over do with this character so i kept it very subtle”.

How has been your experience of working with Mansha Pasha?

“We have known each other from quite some time as we already have done a TV project together and also we are friends in real life but intrestingly that didn’t help us in “Laal Kabootar” as there is a very different and awkward kind of chemistry our characters have which I cannot reveal now but I think it would have been more easy for us on sets had we not known each other.”

And how has been your experience of working with a debut director, Kamal Khan?

“It has been one the best acting experience of my life as Kamal has a very realistic approach towards filmmaking and he wants to show things the way they are and to not sugar coat them. We had extensive rehearsals and also we kept evolving the script, the more we understood our characers. Kamal after explaining us the scene sometimes used to ask us to do it differently so to get the unexpected reaction from the actor standing infront, something that we do in theatre. There are some scenes which are 6 to 7 minutes long and are shot in one go, something which is previousely done only in “Cake” here, so it was a very organic and spontanious method and it made “Laal Kabootar” a very refreshing and one of its kind of experience for me.”

What you think would make “Laal Kabootar” stand out among other local and imported films?

“It’s a very different film from what we have produced so far. I think being different would be its real selling point. Its not an indie film as we have Mo Azmi on DOP seat who has done films like “Cake”, “Jalaibee” and “021”. Its being shot as a commercial film but at same time we didn’t let commercialism take away the authenticity of this project. It’s an intense film with a very gripping story and with the elements of thrill and action so I am sure people will love watching it”

Whats next for you after “Laal Kabootar”?

“I am reading few scripts, there is one TV project and one film which I am considering so let’s see which one I am going take up, as I haven’t signed any of them yet.”

Written by Azadar Kazmi


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