Ehd-e-Wafa’s concept attracted me towards the play: Ahmed Ali Akbar
Meet Ahmed Ali Akbar, the Sheheryar of Ehd-e-Wafa and the one the audience was rooting for (after Saad, of course!) in the grand finale.
Like his character in the drama, Ahmed Ali Akbar is one of the most underrated actors around. He has hit films (Karachi Se Lahore, Laal Kabootar) and blockbuster dramas (Yeh Raha Dil, Phir Wahi Muhabbat, Tajdeed e Wafa) to his name, besides his vast theatre experience.
Spotlight decided to meet the talented actor from Rawalpindi and get his opinion on Ehd-e-Wafa, Sheheryar’s progression in the drama and what the future holds for him. Read on:
When you had signed Ehd-e-Wafa, did you expect it would become one of the biggest hits of 2019?
Ahmed Ali Akbar: When I heard the story and learned who else was in the cast, I knew it was going to be a popular drama. I felt it was going to be watched all over the country and there would a hype even before its release. So, yes I had an idea, but no way did I predict the impact it has made.
What made you go for the character of Sheheryar in the first place; was it offered to you or did you opt for it?
Ahmed Ali Akbar: I was offered Sheheryar and Sheheryar alone; I wasn’t given an option. I was told that the drama would revolve around four guys and that I would be the one playing Sheheryar, the one who ends up as the Assistant Commissioner. I was given a brief synopsis which made me want to do the project.
Would you have chosen another role had you been given the choice? If yes, then why?
Ahmed Ali Akbar: If I was given the choice, I might have gone for Saad’s character because it was that of an Army officer. Ever since I was a kid, I had a love for the military. At one point I wanted to become a pilot, my father believed I could be in the SSG (the Army one).
SSG was shown as a group that bonded well … who did you bond best within the group?
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Osman (Khalid Butt) and I have been friends for over a decade, ever since I started theatre in Islamabad, and that’s why he and I are good friends. Wahaj (Ali) and I became good friends during the shooting as we shared similar tracks in the drama and had more screen space together than the rest of the boys. A lot of our shooting schedules coincided and I found him to be a very nice and funny guy.
Ahad and I clicked like we had known each other for a long time. To be honest, it doesn’t seem any more like it’s just the four of us who’ve formed this bond, instead, it feels like everybody out there who could relate to the SSG, our fans all over the world have become a part of it now.
Some of your dialogues reminded the audience of Angry Young Man Amitabh Bachchan. Was it deliberate or did it come naturally to you?
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Hahaha. I hadn’t pictured Amitabh Bachchan at all, I mean, I don’t even resemble him in any way, so no, it wasn’t deliberate but I’ll check this off of my bucket list; be cool like Big B. I think It had more to do with the lines that were written by Mustafa Afridi. Also maybe I was trying to make it more dramatic than natural and that’s how it sounded like (mimics Big B) Main Amitabh Bachchan, Hain!
Which scene from the drama was your favorite?
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Instead of scenes, there were either days or moments that were memorable for me. For example, ever since I was a kid I had wanted to step into one the offices of a retired military band that would pass by on my way to tennis almost every day. Never did I imagine I would be shooting in that same office let alone playing in the same band.
Then there was the scene with Hunbal – who played Firdaus Sahab’s son – where Shehryar meets him after years to help with the land dispute. Hunbal nailed that scene, he made it so easy for me to be genuine ‘in the moment’. It felt so real.
Last but not the least, the day we returned to Lawrence College to shoot the last sequence was quite memorable. Where life for us and the SSG comes full circle. To deliver a speech and give advice at a place where it all began, where four students met and became friends and returned as mature, successful individuals was a beautiful experience.
That scene was very memorable because it came after all four of us completed our arcs, and were giving back to society. It was not just symbolic and metaphoric, in a truly-coming-of-age scenario with a purpose, but also a scene that made our characters speak with experience and patriotism.
I could feel tears building up in my eyes when the boys were delivering their lines; in fact, all four of us felt extremely proud that we were giving back something to our country, something that I hope stays forever.
What is next on the plate of Ahmed Ali Akbar after Ehd-e-Wafa?
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Since the unfortunate global catastrophe (of Corona Virus) resulting in a quarantined world, I am laying low and praying. However, I am also preparing for a role that I am supposed to do in a film that is to be shot by the end of the year. All I can say is that it’s a very interesting role for which I am preparing these days. I will try to use the alone time on my hands – the solitude – to bring out some optimism and positivity from within me and work through these sad, terrifying and dangerous times.
Till then all we can do is stay safe and pray that Pakistan manages to be mindful and safe through these testing times.