Standing against Bhola was a challenge I couldn’t refuse: Syed Jibran
Syed Jibran is one of the finest actors in Pakistan who can easily play any character and make it relatable.
From Jutt in Bond at the turn of the century to Ranjha Ranjha Kardi and Mere Humdum on Hum TV, he has done a variety of roles that have made him a crowd favorite, and some for which people hate him. Qualified as a doctor who is managing multiple restaurants in Islamabad, Syed Jibran is making it big in many fields.
Spotlight got hold of the ‘Sahir’ in Noori’s life who is currently on the list of most hated characters and asked him how he manages to stay relevant despite doing the good, the bad and the ugly roles on TV.
Currently you are part of multiple TV dramas with two on Hum TV, and one on another channel – you are the good guy in Mere Humdum, the baddie in Ranjha Ranjha Kardi and the ugly in Qaid. How do you even manage to do all that while staying cool in real life?
Just like the way I manage to divert questions like Yaar aap Noori ko chor k kyon gaye (Smiles). People come to me and say things especially when you do something different. Frankly, had it been in my hands I would never have aired three dramas featuring me but since it’s up to the channels, I can’t say anything about that.
For me, the best character is the one that gets a solo run and takes time to register like the one in Khudgarz where people believed that whatever was happening to my character was wrong. I may not be happy with multiple plays on air simultaneously but the feedback I get gives me a good feeling. There is nothing better than that!
You are a smart, good looking, handsome man, why do you crossover to the dark side when you can only play the always-winning hero, and getting the girl in the process?
If you aren’t experimenting with yourself, nothing is going to work. At my age when you have spent some time as an actor, improved your craft and have developed a fandom, an actor can experiment, even if some of us don’t. Like all my contemporaries, I started young, with the good guy roles and trust me, the kind of characters I am doing now, I wouldn’t have thought of doing 10 years back.
That’s because back then nobody believed in us and we were flying our solo flight as a hero; I am glad that with the passage of time the directors thought of me as someone who would like to experiment and that’s why you see me in positive, negative and characters with shades of gray.
When you were part of Ranjha Ranjha Kardi, Bhola was just another character but during your disappearance from the drama, he has become a crowd favorite. Now that you are re-entering the drama against him, what can we expect?
I can’t say much about me but Bhola … he can expect nothing but trouble! The reason why I chose to play Sahir is that after reading the script, I realized that it is going to be Bhola’s play and that everyone will be going to love him. But then, someone had to stand against him and I chose to as it was a challenge I couldn’t refuse.
What attracted me was the fact that the only one standing in front of him and happiness will be me. A lot of actors might run away from such a role but not me and the credit for that goes to director Kashif Nisar with whom I had a few meetings to develop my character.
It was pre-decided that my character will go away so that Noori and Bhola get into their zone. Now that they are married, my character is going to create so much mess in their lives that no one can imagine. If people are hating me for that, it would mean that I have done justice to my role.
Why did you opt for acting when you are a qualified doctor and could have made millions of rupees instead?
Because the idea of making millions of fans seemed better (Laughs). Everyone in my family is a doctor and I had to go that way too but that’s my qualification only. When you belong to a family of surgeons spread all over the world, you can’t just break away like that.
When I was in 3rd year at the Rawalpindi Medical College, I knew that I might not pursue medicine as a profession but I wasn’t keen on acting as well. What I wanted to do was start a business but acting got so serious that I had to do both.
It was only because of my first director the legendary Tariq Meraj Sahab who convinced me that I was good at acting. He and Iqbal Hasan Khan were the ones who gave me my first lead role in PTV’s Eid play Dada In Trouble and taught me the basics of acting and helped me improve my accent as well.
As for the business …
I started off with Gelato Affair and managed it for 10 years in Islamabad. Currently, I have two restaurants in the Capital – 1969 & Time Goes On and Beef Lettuce Tomato.
The former serves Pakistani/Continental food in a ‘60s themed indoor venue with an outdoor setup as well at the picturesque location of Zero Point, opposite Lok Virsa. The latter – BLT – is pure continental with steaks and all and we are planning to bring it to Karachi soon.
What about going into the other mediums such as films, web series …
Besides drama, everything else is tricky at the moment. If a drama doesn’t work, you can always bounce back with another one but if a film or web-series don’t, you will have to work harder the next time. If I compile a list of bad films that were offered to me, I might top the list and that’s why I am considering just one film with Yasir Nawaz that he will work on after Wrong No. 2.
As for the web series, it will be good for the actors but only when it is as popular as TV which will take time. Every actor would love to go on the web as it will be good for their personal profile and will help them in the longer run.
What has been the biggest regret of your career so far and how do you plan to correct it, given the chance?
There is hardly a comedy-drama on TV these days and my biggest regret has been not being able to do proper comedy (not sitcoms) … and horror too.
People know me as someone who would grasp anything that is off the norm and that’s why I am spreading the word that if you have anything that falls into the category of horror and comedy, I am up for it. A couple of people have approached me as well and if I go with them, I will be going into a territory which we haven’t touched that much.