The last Pakistani film of 2017, Chupan Chupai generated mostly positive reviews from viewers and critics, while it also raked in decent figures at the box office. Among other things, one of the major highlights of the film is its fresh yet talented cast that comprises mostly theatre trained actors. One of them is Faizan Khawaja who has done a commendable job as the righteous minister’s reckless son, Bobby, in Chupan Chupai.
"I’m overwhelmed with the response I have gotten; I can’t explain how excited I am," he told Instep in an exclusive interview. "When I walked out of the cinema after the premiere, I was hoarded by fans and I have no words to explain that feeling. It is like you visualize something and then seven years later you are living that moment and see it happening."
Responding to why he wasn’t part of the film’s promotions despite having a key role, the actor said, "I really wanted to be a part of it but since the film’s release date was preponed all of a sudden, I was already occupied with other projects."
Khawaja began his journey in the entertainment industry over a decade ago with his first theatre play, Heer Ranjha at the Rafi Pir theatre in 2004. After this, the artist went to India to study film at the Whistling Woods; he has always been very passionate about acting and got first hand and priceless exposure to theatre and films there. Upon his return, he joined the industry in Pakistan but in the absence of a film industry, he started working for television.
"I never wanted to do television to begin with," he shared. "I was trained at my university for films but when I came back to Pakistan unfortunately there were no films being made over here. The first six months I was very depressed that why we aren’t making films. I always wanted to do films; I was trained as a filmmaker and my brain only thinks of films 24/7. However, I had no choice but to get into television at that point. Now things have changed and as films have started rolling, the industry has taken a new start. With some good films out there, people are hopeful that Pakistanis can also make films."
Do you think television is a stepping stone to films?
"I think TV is a very important medium because if you are an actor, you need to get your name out there," the actor asserted. "And the only way to do that in this country is through television; it is a platform where you can prove yourself. I do think it’s a stepping stone and it is very important to do television as it allows you to practice before you actually make it to a film. It exposes you to the viewers, producers as well as directors. If you don’t work for TV, then there is no way to reach these people as we don’t have any casting systems otherwise and film producers want slightly known faces. A lot of people who saw my film hadn’t seen me on TV before but they loved and appreciated my work (in the film). And I would thank television for that because I learnt everything there before appearing in a film."
Though Chupan Chupai marks Faizan Khawaja’s debut on the big screen, it wasn’t the first film he shot for. The actor has shot for an Indian film called Bangster which couldn’t release as planned due to strong political rift between the two countries in the last couple of years and is expected to release in February 2018. The film has been produced by Zeenat Aman while her son has directed it.
Speaking about the film, Khawaja revealed, "Bangster follows the story of three boys who rob banks and are trained under their guru that is played by veteran artist Naseeruddin Shah. I am looking forward to its release in the first quarter of this year."
Moving on, the actor also spoke about the projects he is currently working on and his plans for the future. He is busy shooting for two TV serials and one of them stars Hina Altaf opposite him. "I’ve been offered one film as well as a commercial post Chupan Chupai but nothing has been finalized as yet. My basic agenda is to eventually make a film; I’m a filmmaker at heart and hopefully I want to make a film one day as a producer-director."
When asked if there is anyone in the industry he looks up to, the actor responded, "I don’t really idealize anyone but I really respect Shaan [Shahid] as a person; he is a very intelligent man. I admire Fawad Khan but it is not like I want to reach at their place. If I ever reach that point then I have my own standing; I don’t target anyone but myself to achieve a certain position."
Towards the end of the interview, Khawaja shared an important message for all those who wish to make a career in showbiz. "I would say, come prepared because it is a very harsh industry and it is very difficult to make your place in this industry given all the competition. Believe in yourself and have faith that you will make it, just don’t give up. Seven years ago I had a dream and today I am standing and living that dream and I could never imagine that I would reach this point. In this period I quit acting 10 times out of frustration; four times I went to America, hoping that I would get another job there and live my life like a regular citizen. So, I think the key to success is consistency."