The Ishq Zah e Naseeb actor stresses on experimentation and evolution as he gears up for his film debut in 2020.
In a pool of actors trying to make a name for themselves in the world of acting, whether on television or in films, Zahid Ahmed has set the bar high. He has done so with his elevating performances.
Making some unconventional moves when it comes to selecting roles, he chooses projects that many would dismiss. The role of Sameer-Sameera in the recently concluded drama serial, Ishq Zah e Naseeb is a great example.
The actor attracted a lot of traction for depicting the role of an individual with Dissociative Identity Disorder – with a second, dominant female personality, that too with grace.
Just recently, one learned that Zahid Ahmed is finally making his film debut this year, with the prominent Saba Qamar, starring opposite him. Though the first film he signed was Sorry – A Love Story that has been put on hold; the actor is still a part of it. There is no news on its release yet.
The untitled project with Saba Qamar, however, will mark his first appearance on the big screen, scheduled to release on Eid ul Azha 2020.
During his exclusive interview with Instep earlier this week, Zahid Ahmed speaks about playing roles that are dissimilar, making his characters convincing with each performance and finally agreeing to star in films. Excerpt from the conversation below…
Zahid believes it is a wise decision and the right time to enter the cinematic landscape. “I play a police officer (in the untitled film) who tries to help this girl, essayed by Saba, with a huge problem that she has. In doing so, I hope to impress her with a very elaborate story,” Zahid begins to share as we sat for the interview, adding, “The story of the film revolves around the elaborate lie that I tell her.”
Written by Mohsin Ali and directed by Saqib Khan, the upcoming film will be shot in Karachi with a small portion somewhere in Punjab, beginning from the last week of February.
“If I were to look at the story and the character on offer with the same lens that I use to judge offers on television, I would have probably said no to this film (as well) because this is out and out commercial, comedy entertainer,” Zahid admits. “But the decision to ultimately do this was also because of the same reasons – good entertainer with a good level of comedy that strays away from slapstick, goofy and crassness. Having a co-star like the amazing Saba Qamar, a good writer, strong director and a holistically well-known production were some of the other reasons that drew me towards this project. This is me finally putting myself out there, stepping into the arena with a very safe bet.”
For Zahid, entering into the world of cinema is an evolution. If he further switches from being an actor to taking up any other role within performing arts, he would love to direct or produce films and for that, any practice would be helpful.
“I could do TV all my life but then I am not evolving,” he asserts. “So, this is a part of my own process of growing as an artist; I do need to expand into the hemisphere of cinema, just for the sake of evolution.”
The actor is also headlining ongoing drama serial Mein Na Janoo as Nain, who is a blind young man. Zahid admits that the drama is not doing as well as he expected for various reasons but he is content with what he wanted to convey with the character. When asked how much attention he pays to the script when deciding roles, he responds, “I try to strike a balance between the story and the character but my preference would always be character.”
There is, as Zahid explains, a reason for it. “You have to leave a lot to a director’s skill; he can take care of the overall story but my character should deliver something I can connect to and would resonate with viewers.”
Reflecting on his most recent performance in Ishq Zah e Naseeb that has created an even bigger fan base for the actor, Zahid expresses, “The greatest outcome was the response of the audience; the character was highly experimental. Initially, the excitement was just about doing something different but now that it is done, the excitement is about the fact that it was a critical and commercial success,” he continues, also admitting that the drama did faulter somewhere around the last few episodes. “However, the fact that we were able to come up with such a complex subject and also got the audience on our side was the biggest victory. The only thing I can speculate now is, will this give courage to a lot of other producers who might be thinking about extremely complicated subjects like this but they have never tried it before because they think ratings will be a problem. This drama is a proof that ratings will not be a problem.”
Zahid credits director Farooq Rind and writer Hashim Nadeem for creating an engaging story and handling it sensibly and sensitively, rather than making it a stress test for the audience. Given that Ishq Zah e Naseeb tackled a mental disorder, it could have easily gone wrong had the creatives behind it taken the entertainment value out of it and put it forth as more of a medical condition.
“Farooq Rind treated it like a mystery play; he built upon the intrigue of the disorder and then he sort of dived into the problem. We are not clinical psychologists here, we are not here to tell people how to cure it,” the actor added.
Zahid has also shot for an upcoming drama serial featuring Sonya Hussyn opposite him; the two will be seen as a couple, belonging to the lowest strata of society, madly in love. The character is ordinary but the story is exceptional, claims the actor.
On a parting note, speaking of talent versus stardom, something that exists in Bollywood and Hollywood, Zahid reflects, “I don’t think anyone who aspires to become an actor should take any sort of discouragement from this fact. One has to have razor-sharp focus of why they are doing something in the first place. Don’t act because a project in particular looks appealing but act because you love to act.”
“Performing arts is something I abandoned another life for: I had a ten-year career in telecom, I left my city, my parents, my family to live in Karachi,” he continues. “The intention was, is and will always be to do great work and with that money, fame and everything else will follow. That is a by-product.”