Be it the scary Rehan or the simple Bhola, he can do everything!
You may know him as Bhola one day, as Rehan Chaudhary on another and Zaid on some other day of the week.
You will feel connected with Bhola in Ranjha Ranjha Kardi because of his innocence, might hate Rehan Chaudhary in Inkaar for being a psychopath and/or relate to the normalcy in Zaid’s attitude in Jaal. That’s the brilliance of Imran Ashraf, one of the finest actors of the current generation who makes you love, hate and relate to all of his characters on Hum TV at the moment.
He doesn’t consider himself as an actor par excellence but credits The Creator for gifting him with the power of observation and ability to recreate any person he gets in contact with, on screen. Spotlight got hold of this extremely talented actor and asked him the secret behind his success on TV, his ability to become anyone and play diverse characters at the drop of the hat. Here is what he had to say:
First and foremost. Are you an alien from outer space who can mold into any character imaginable at the drop of a hat? Because humanly, that’s not possible!
I would like to call myself a hardworking actor, from Planet Earth who is lucky to have been at the right place at the right time. It may have taken the directors and producers some time to realize that I can play any character but as they say, good things come to those who wait. I waited for my chance and thankfully it has arrived.
As for the ‘molding’ part, I am an actor who will have to keep on working because I don’t have a rich father to support me or a family to pamper me.
I am a middle-class individual who has to work to get the kitchen running. Due to my busy acting schedule these days, I don’t have the time to plan for the future and I am thankful to Him for that. Maybe that’s why, if I like the script, I go for it without thinking about scheduling and the future.
Usually actors do one play at a time so that they can stay in character and give it their best shot. But Bhola and Rehan Chaudhary are different people, different identities and live in different surroundings. How did you make them both believable and acceptable?
It would have been great had one drama of mine been on the air so people would have first remembered Bhola and then moved onto Rehan Chaudhary but the scheduling of plays isn’t in my hands.
What is in my domain is to make all three characters (including Zaid of Jaal) to be as different as possible so that those who don’t know would think that three different people are playing these characters. I am grateful to the audience that they have accepted me in all three characters and my versatility was able to satisfy them.
How did you become Bhola? Who approached you for the role as I am sure many actors would have been eyeing it?
I must thank the writer Faiza Iftikhar who handpicked me for the role; in fact, when she wrote the script two years back, she had two names written on the script – Kashif Nisar (the director) and Imran Ashraf. She might have liked what she saw in Dillagi or some other play of mine but whatever made her choose me, I am grateful for that role (smiles).
The interesting thing is that when I met Kashif Nisar, we were thinking of doing some other play but we realized that we had Ranjha Ranjha Kardi with us and went for it. The rest, as they say, is history. Many actors were eyeing the part but the writer and director both remained adamant and I finally got selected to play Bhola.
It’s understandable that director Kashif Nisar saw a Bhola in you; but where did he see a Rehan Chaudhary in Imran Ashraf?
I guess my dedication to Bhola made him realize that when I can play someone as difficult as Bhola, I can do Rehan Chaudhary as well. That’s why when Inkaar was offered to me, I took a liking to the character who is always right in his mind and believes that he is helping his friend when in fact he is ruining his life.
What helped me the most in getting into the skin of the protagonist was my own way of preparation – when I take on a role, I make up my mind that I was born as that person, the actress who is playing my mother gave birth to me, the actor playing my father is my real father and so forth.
That’s what helps me on the sets, be it that of Ranjha Ranjha Kardi or Inkaar; when the director wants me in character I am ready, be it the scary Rehan or the simple Bhola. The director didn’t let me go overboard and that’s the reason I come subtly sometimes, and unsettling the other.
Acting is one thing we know you are good at; what made you write Tabeer last year, where you killed your character in the first episode?
I am not a writer because they are learned, intellectual and educated people; I just am an actor who is able to write. Tabeer happened at a time when I was being cast as the villain mostly and I knew that I had more to offer than just play side roles on TV.
I wrote the play during the eight-month break when I stayed away from the screen in order to rediscover myself. Every channel where I worked rejected the play because they couldn’t expect the hero to die in the first episode and it wasn’t picked by anyone.
Until the day the script reached Aehsun Talish who even asked me if it was really me who wrote it. It was he who convinced MD Productions who didn’t remove a single dialogue for which I am very thankful. I am currently working on another script, let’s when it gets completed and made because it will take time, I know.
All your characters are different from each other, be it Shammo in Alif Allah Aur Insaan or Dastageer in Dillagi. Don’t your family members ask you to be either an antagonist or a protagonist, instead of going to and fro?
I am very lucky to have supporting family members; my father is a retired banker, brother Faysal Abbas is a singer musician and mother is a housewife and they know that whatever I am doing is not because I have a choice, but because I don’t have one.
Although I used to help my father in his asset management business when young, they all knew that I was inclined towards debates and acting, as I was a top-class debater in my school days. When our business liquidated, I had to do something to support myself and my family and the first thing that came into my mind was acting. As for my wife she knows and understands my line of work.
I am glad she wasn’t there when girls were eyeing me during the university shoot of Inkaar (laughs) but that’s what happens when one of your characters becomes popular among youngsters. My son is hardly two months old so it will take him time to realize that his father is someone who can become any character, as you said, at the drop of the hat.
What is the actor in Imran Ashraf most excited about regarding his plays?
Ranjha Ranjha Kardi is currently moving towards its closure and I am sure people will have questions when it ends. As for Inkaar, that drama has entered an important phase where Rehan Chaudhary will be tried for the attempted murder of Yumna Zaidi’s Hajra.
What I am excited about is how the play moves from there because there is a very surprise entry of one of my favorite actors Ali Tahir who will dazzle the audience with his body language and delivery and take the shine away from us. I am waiting for that and will advise you to do the same.