Fire-n-ice Fawad

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By I don’t have opinions and i am terrible at conversations — Fawad Khan on being embarrassed at being a sex symbol
  • Published 16.09.14

As Fawad Khan walks into the coffee shop in the lobby of JW Marriott in Mumbai’s Juhu, there is an audible sigh that is impossible to ignore. Almost every woman in the coffee shop turns to ogle the Pakistani star who has attained heart-throb status in India as well. Dressed in a basic grey tee and crumpled dark blue jeans and sporting a beard, Fawad looks nothing like the clean-shaven Zaroon Junaid from Zindagi Gulzar Hai, the Pakistani show that has won him so many fans here. Nor does he look like the uptight prince from Disney’s remake of Rekha’s 1980 film Khubsoorat. But there is no denying that the man is good-looking. Over a cuppa, t2 quizzed the father of one about co-star Sonam Kapoor, being an accidental actor and, of course, his sex symbol status.

What makes Khoobsurat the perfect Bollywood launch for you?

Three things, actually. To begin with, I think the Kapoors (Anil and daughters Rhea and Sonam) have a extremely well developed sense of aesthetics and they tend to execute it well on screen. Also, it’s always an added advantage to work with established names to get the audience to the theatres. And, it’s the first ‘Disney’ film in India.

What I found interesting in your answer is that you don’t mention being attracted to the screenplay or the role.

Well, I’m just being honest. As an actor, I don’t think the ‘perfect’ role…or the most exciting role... of my career is yet to come. So, I do qualify a role but the team that I am going to work with is a little more important than the role. Unless I get a role so amazing that I am ready to overlook all other factors. In 95 per cent of the work that I have done, I have cherished more the team that I am working with rather than the role.

What was your first impression of Sonam Kapoor?

I tend to wait for the last impression.

So, what is the last impression?

She is a great person. We have become good friends. She is a wonderful host, co-star and human being. She is very chilled-out and has no hang-ups. I was told that she can be intimidating to some, but I didn’t think so….

Bollywood has come to mean many things for the people of the subcontinent. What was your idea about the industry before Khoobsurat?

Bollywood has a charm of its own. I wouldn’t say it represents all of India because there are other film industries in India, but as an outsider when we talk about India, the first thing that pops up is Bollywood. And cricket as well (smiles). But that’s how strong Bollywood is all over the world. It is an identity that is unique to India.

Did you have an idea about Bollywood’s style of working?

No I didn’t. I don’t have any pre-conceived notions. I am not a very opinionated person. Many people find that boring (smiles) because I am terrible at conversations. I consider myself blessed to not have opinions. My opinions are just on the basis of morality — judge someone if they are good, lying, cheating or murdering… other than that everything is fair game. So I came with minimal expectations... but yes, with a certain sense of intimidation. But then again, that was because I was stepping out of my comfort zone for the first time.

Have you been a fan of Bollywood?

Of course! Specially films from the ’80s and ’90s. I know people might think that I am extremely tasteless after reading this (laughs), but I like the films from that period. I associate my childhood with that era. The films that I stole off the video rental guy were Mr. India, Satte Pe Satta, Do Aur Do Paanch, Aakhree Raasta, Kaala Patthar and Woh 7 Din.… They were mostly Amitabh Bachchan films. I associate Bollywood more with that era rather than today.

According to Wikipedia, you are the highest earning Pakistani actor…

(Laughs) And Wikipedia is wrong most of the time.

But what is it like to go from being an established and popular name in Pakistan to being a rank newcomer in India?

It is tough. You are nervous... and most of the time I am nervous because I want to carry forward the legacy that I have created in Pakistan to India. Having said that, I have always believed that where there is a rise, there will be a fall. I know that if there is failure, it will be a temporary state. I am prepared for it…but for some degree, I am also unprepared for it. My wife (Sadaf) and I always talk about what else is there to do in life in case I fail at what I am currently doing.

It is very healthy for an actor to have a couple of flops. You can’t keep raising the bar with every film. To expect that is foolish. You will flat-line at some point. I have had ups and downs back home as well. There have been times when I questioned if I wanted to continue acting.

In the past you have spoken about being an accidental actor. Does this attitude come from not dreaming of being an actor when you were growing up?

I think everyone dreams of being an actor. Anyone who says that they didn’t dream of being an actor or a star is a liar…

Really? I didn’t!

Errrrm... except you! (Laughs) At some point in time, most of us have fantasised about playing a character. So, even for a brief moment that desire is there in everyone’s heart. I was a day-dreamer… I would completely zone out in class. But yes, I didn’t expect to become an actor. So, yes, acting did happen by chance for me. I didn’t take myself seriously as an actor until about 2008 and that too when I realised that the audience is reacting to me. But even now, my expectations are always minimal.

One of the by-products of being famous is being judged for your looks. What is it like being a sex symbol?

(Long pause) I think it’s fashionable to call any actor a sex symbol today (laughs). I feel very flattered, but also embarrassed. I consider myself a gentleman… I am flattered… it is nice… (long pause) but I am embarrassed. Can we talk about something else please?

How does your wife Sadaf react to your sex-symbol status?

(Laughs) She just says, ‘If that’s the case, then I am lucky’. Her attitude is, ‘I am glad that people are jealous of me because of who I am married to’. She takes it very well. But I have to say that initially when this started, there were times when there was some degree of possessiveness. I am also very possessive when it comes to her. So, yes, we have had that tug of war in the initial days, but it is overshadowed by our intense love for each other.

Are you very romantic off camera?

I believe I am. I believe very strongly in the institution of love. I don’t just believe in it for a man and a woman… but in a universal sense. Around the world, we lack the ability to love one another.

Karishma Upadhyay
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