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Transcending boundaries: Pakistani actors in B-Town films

Leading stars from across the border are all set to find their foothold in Bollywood

Three years ago, Pakistani actors Imran Abbas, Fawad Khan and Humaima Malick teamed up for a small screen show. The trio is now stepping into Bollywood around the same time. Imran, who features in Vikram Bhatt’s Creature 3D, says, “Call it coincidence or fate, but we are making our Bollywood debut just weeks apart.”

Imran Abbas will be seen in Creature 3D opposite Bipasha Basu
Imran Abbas will be seen in Creature 3D opposite Bipasha Basu

Humaima will be seen in Kunal Deshmukh’s Raja Natwarlal, which hits the marquee this month. Both Imran’s and Fawad’s films — who stars in Shashank Ghosh’s Khoobsurat — are lined up for September.

Fawad became a familiar face to the Indian audience with his TV show, Zindagi Gulzar Hain, which recently aired on a channel that broadcasts Pakistani serials here. The Lahore-based actor is learning the ropes of how Bollywood and in-your-face promotions work. “Back home, I retire to my shell. I do my work and go home. I grow my beard then suddenly become clean-shaven to avoid getting recognised easily,” says Fawad who was also part of the critically-acclaimed Pakistani film Khuda Ke Liye (2007) which had Naseeruddin Shah as a cast member.

Humaima Malick features in Raja Natwarlal with Emraan Hashmi
Humaima Malick features in Raja Natwarlal with Emraan Hashmi and Fawad Khan makes his B-Town debut in Khoobsurat opposite Sonam Kapoor.

First time
Making appearances on TV shows to promote his films was a novelty for him. “When I was on Comedy Nights with Kapil, I was scared. Back home, we have Omar Sharif (Pakistan’s veteran stand-up act) whose wisecracks can send you reeling. Also, dancing does not come easy to me,” admits Fawad. “It is like math, I have to get a hang of it to do it. I have to prepare for it.”

Looking good
On the other hand, for Karachi-based Humaima, whose debut film Bol (2011) released in India, dancing comes easy. “I love dancing. Bollywood, typically, is all about song, dance and looking good, I love it,” says Humaima who was earlier slated to debut in Soham Shah’s Sher, which did not see the light of day. The actress is currently back home in Karachi as “being with the family makes you grounded and connect to reality”. She will soon return to Mumbai for her film’s promotions. “I consider India my second home,” she says. Though Imran is based in Islamabad, he, too, finds Mumbai similar to Karachi. “A couple of years ago, I was in Mumbai for the shoot of the TV show Yeh Vaada Raha which had artistes from India and Pakistan.” He was to be part of the Akshay Kumar-starrer Boss (2013), but that did not happen and he claims that he was also offered Aashiqui 2.

India connect
Imran says, “I know Mahesh Bhatt and he is known for introducing talent from Pakistan.” The actor has also completed his shoot for Muzaffar Ali’s Raqs in Lucknow. “My family moved from UP to Pakistan, so shooting there was special for me.” There is also an India connect for Fawad as his father crossed over from Patiala while his maternal side is from Hyderabad.

Though the trio has dabbled in Pakistani teleserials and films, they don’t find a big difference in the shooting patterns here. “As soon as the camera rolls, the actor has to start his work. It does not matter where you belong,” says Imran.

Fit the mould
In the past, there have been Pakistani actors who have tried to make a foray into Bollywood, but have not made it big. The three hope that they can break the mould. “Apart from work, there is also the lure of spicy vada pavs and bhel puri,” says Imran while Fawad digs dosas and Humaima loves the spread sold on Mohammed Ali Road.

When they acted together...

In 2011, Imran Abbas, Fawad Khan and Humaima Malick featured together in the Pakistani television series Akbari Asghari.

A still from the Pakistani TV show Akbari Asghari
A still from the Pakistani TV show Akbari Asghari

It was adapted from Nazir Ahmad Dehlvi’s book Mirat ul Uroos (The Bride’s Mirror). While Humaima essayed the title role of Asghari, Fawad and Imran played the male leads

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