Altamash came into my life when I was struggling and changed everything: Usman Mukhtar
If cool and debonair had a face, it would surely have more or less resembled Usman Mukhtar.
The youngster made his TV debut with Anaa and instantly made everyone take notice of him through his good looks and brilliant performance as an actor.
He had earlier won accolades for his theatre performances and two films – Janaan and Parchi – where his acting was appreciated by all. He was paired with newcomer Hania Aamir in the former and did double duty in Parchi as both one of the leads and the cinematographer, the man who added an international touch to the crime caper.
Although he downplays his brilliance behind the camera, his work as a DoP was noticed. Just when people thought that he might pursue cinematography, he surprised all with Anaa. Paired with the then Naimal Khawar and now Mrs. Hamza Ali Abbasi, Usman drew comparisons with all the good looking actors to make their TV debut in the last decade.
Spotlight got hold of the youngster and asked him how he felt about strangers asking for selfies, his chemistry with Naimal Khawar and what does he offer next to his fans.
What made you do TV after two successful films Janaan and Parchi?
Acting in films was always on the cards but sadly, the film market isn’t that big in Pakistan. Before that, I had done lots of theatres and directorial work but wasn’t getting the kind of recognition I wanted.
I waited for a long time for a good project and prior to Anaa, didn’t say yes to many projects that came my way. When Anaa came along, I liked the script and the character and did it mostly for the recognition.
Were you expecting your first TV drama to be such a massive hit?
I was actually very scared and confused at the same time because I was new to the drama industry. I had no idea about which director to go for and which writer to work with. For someone who had no idea which of these are good names, I just went for my gut feeling with Anaa.
I am so glad that it worked out and the drama became a huge success. I will forever remain indebted to all those who appreciated my work, their love, and support.
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Farewell #Altamash. You came into my life when I was struggling and out of nowhere changed everything. I don’t think I can thank you enough in words. I feel blessed that I got to play your life on screen. When I first got the script in my hand I had no idea so much would change. To the producer @momina.duraid, writer @fazal_samira and director #shahzadkashmiri, thank you for creating Altamash and allowing me to let the world see him through my eyes. To the fans who liked Altamash and gave him so much love, I am forever grateful to you. You have changed my life. I promise to entertain you for as long as my life allows and I promise to change the world for the better with what I do. You are all in my heart. Thank you so much. Thank you Altamash. #anaa #humtv #izzal #izza #usmanmukhtar #farewell #samirafazal #shahzadkashmiri
How do you handle random people who come from nowhere and ask for selfies?
I really enjoy it since it’s very sweet, a very nice gesture. These people who come to me are also scared as they don’t know how I will react even if it is for a selfie. But when they say that they are a fan and loved your work, it makes your day. Such comments always make you feel important and the feeling that your hard work has paid off is great.
Not many know but you have been making short films for a long time, are active on Theatre and were the Director of Photography in Parchi. How do you manage all that?
It just happened; being a Director of Photography was an accident and came out of nowhere. I am not a cinematographer and don’t want to be recognized as one, but was asked by the makers of the film and told them that it was not going to happen.
I knew that an actor can act and direct a project but to act and do the cinematography is a big responsibility and a lot of pressure. The production house convinced me to do double duty but I don’t think that I did a great job. As for theatre, well as an actor it is the best medium, nothing is better than that.
The direction is my love and whenever I want to express myself or I have a story to tell, I make short films. I am hoping that in the next couple of years I get to direct a feature film.
Your costar Naimal Khawar got married to Hamza Ali Abbasi while Anaa was on air and people made memes about you. How did you handle that?
On the screen, we were paired together but there was never a possibility of me getting married to her. We were more like siblings and I was very happy that she got married to Hamza Ali Abbasi.
Those people who made memes about the wedding and included me in it, well that was funny and frustrating at the same time. They didn’t know the dynamic me and Naimal have because if they had, they wouldn’t have come to me in the market after the news came out and asked me if I was OK. At times it was frustrating, just to think of us like that.
What’s next on your plate? Film or TV?
Right now TV although I am hoping I do a film. The films scripts we are developing are struggling at the moment and I would rather do TV, then go for a badly scripted film.
If I am going to do a film, it will have a good script and if I have to wait for it, then I will. I am working on a TV drama Sabaat these days with the same director of Anaa and the same channel – Shehzad Kashmiri and Hum TV – and the biggest difference is that I have Sarah Khan as my romantic interest.