Cameo or no cameo, Ali Tahir steals the spotlight in Inkaar
Meet Ali Tahir, the actor who plays Asif Iqbal, the cunning lawyer in Zafar Mairaj’s ‘Inkaar‘ that is making waves on Hum TV.
In the drama, his character appeared after 14 episodes but he stole the show from other performers as soon as he made his entry. He dominated the court scenes despite being in the presence of Rehan Sheikh, Yumna Zaidi and the uber-talented Imran Ashraf in the same frame. If that is not an achievement, then I don’t know what is because right now, Imran Ashraf is riding high due to his deceptive performances.
Spotlight got hold of Ali Tahir and spoke to him about his role in Inkaar, how he felt about it and why he chose to go for a role that doesn’t make an appearance till the 15th episode.
Usually established actors don’t go for a role that appears as late as in the 15th episode. What made you opt for this role?
It’s true that established actors refuse to do cameos as most of the time they go unnoticed. But then there are some cameos that are so good that you just can’t say no to them. Playing Asif Iqbal in Inkaar was a conscious decision on my part because a) it fulfilled all aspects of my checklist and b) it provided me a chance to work with Kashif Nisar, who is a wonderful director.
I agree with the theme of the play which is No Means No and when you get so many positives together, you can’t refuse. In Inkaar, the audience is taught that we shouldn’t start owing our female and when a female says no, it means no in a simple form. The cast was a bonus because Rehan Sheikh and I have never worked together so it provided me a chance to work with him.
As for Imran Ashraf, he is one of the finest upcoming actors who has established himself after a struggle which is why I was happy to be a part of the drama whereas there is Yumna Zaidi who is a terrific actress. I wanted to learn by working with them and that’s why I chose to say yes to the play.
Did you study lawyers for the role or did you come up with the detested ‘Asif Iqbal’ yourself?
There are two kinds of actors, either you are an inside-out actor or an outside-in actor. In Inside Out, you take out something from within yourself and act according to it, in Outside In you observe others and then use that to design your character. For ‘Asif Iqbal’ I went for the Inside Out approach because I had to make the audience hate me because what I was doing was necessary for my client.
Since a lawyer’s main objective is to convince the judge, I first tried to convince myself and although it was quite difficult to agree to something you don’t believe in, I somehow made the actor in me do it. The confidence I showed through Asif Iqbal on screen made people hate him a lot because they knew that what he was doing was wrong, but they couldn’t do anything about it.
I term it as a positive because Asif Iqbal is shown to be a good professional lawyer than a bad one because he knows his job, he knows what the evidence is, and he knows how to construct and cook up the evidence. He knows all the shortcuts a good lawyer must know and it’s not his job to prove who is right or wrong, but whether his client is innocent or guilty.
You and the director must have spent a lot of time creating a character that viewers would detest?
The director Kashif Nisar and I had just 90 seconds discussion on the character; by the end of the discussion he knew what I wanted to do and I knew what he was expecting from me. He trusted me to own the character and I tried to do justice to it by not letting him down.
Sometimes, doing a lot of discussion for a character could ruin it, and sometimes by trusting your actor, you can get the desired results. The script was well written and handed over in advance so I had a lot of time to prepare and when we went to shoot, I gave the director two options and he went ahead with this.
Didn’t you feel bad on the inside regarding the character since he is a hard hitting lawyer with no regard for innocence or guilt?
I felt extremely bad bullying the character of Hajra like that if you ask me. The actor in me doesn’t agree with Asif Iqbal but I have to show that they are on the same page, otherwise, people will not agree to his acting. My heart bled when I was accusing a girl from a respectable family who is of good character and who is the daughter of a Hafiz e Quran.
What my character did on screen was very cheap, throwing around pictures, blaming her for her condition and defending my client, but when you are depicting evil in the society you have to be ruthless. Such people exist in our society who have no moral compass, who would do anything for money and who get all powerful because we don’t portray them on screen.
That’s why I took this role because I wanted to expose such characters and get to do some different kind of acting in the process. I have done my part by showing the shallow and sham side of lawyers who would support anyone for the sake of money, sensationalism and in order to become newsworthy.
Since you are a director yourself, did you interfere with Kashif Nisar or not?
When I am acting in a play, I try to listen to the captain of the ship as much as possible. But when I am the director, I try to listen to my actor because he might have a better idea.
In Inkaar, I stayed away from interfering much but yes when I did have an idea or two, I discussed it with Kashif Nisar, not in front of everyone but by taking him in the corner and in secrecy. The director is always there to listen to your suggestions and it is up to him to use it or not, and that shouldn’t bother you much.
As an actor, you should keep on giving 100% to your character and that’s what I did in Inkaar.