Art and Culture

We are an entertainment industry, not a preaching one: Farhan Saeed

Apart from music, singer and songwriter Farhan Saeed made his name in the television industry as well with many notable projects such as Udaari and Suno Chanda. However, the days of experimenting with his many talents are not over yet. The 37-year-old actor who’s often seen in light-hearted comic roles playing a romantic hero chose a strikingly different character for his ongoing web series, Badshah Begum. The political drama sees him essaying the role of a pir, Shahzaib, fighting his sister for the gaddi of power. And mind you, he has already garnered praise for his acting from the first episode only.

In an interview with Fuchsia Magazine, the singer-turned-actor shed light on his character and why he chose the angry-man role this time around. He also responded to the general critique the show might face and lamented how the audience has now started taking dramas “too seriously”.

Since the Khizer Idrees directorial divorced itself from any similarities to reality by deeming itself a thorough work of fiction, the reporter raised the question of whether the purpose of the drama has now been reduced only to entertainment or does it still hold a message for the viewers. “It is an entertainment industry. Please watch it as entertainment only. I’ve often seen people on social media posting against serials and questioning ‘what are they teaching’ or ‘what are they implying’. We’re not in a preaching or teaching industry. If there’s a message, that’s fine. If not, dramas are made for entertainment,” shared the Udaari actor in response.

He further added, “People nowadays have started taking dramas too seriously. They ban things and comment on certain portrayals in the shows thinking, ‘What will people take from it?’ Firstly, they should know that whatever they show serves as a mirror to society.”

He concluded with a message for the audience, asserting, “All of you, take it easy. If you don’t like the content, change the channel.”

Saeed also revealed that Pir Shahzaib wasn’t the only role he had considered. “I was offered another role in another drama before the role of Pir Shahzaib and I chose the latter because I’ve never played a character like it before. When I was reading the script, Shahzaib’s character kept attracting me throughout and I’m glad I chose it. In hindsight, I have been a part of many projects, but this one was special. Shahzaib will stay with me for sure.”

The makers of the show described Shahzaib’s character as a grey one. Challenging the notion, the reporter questioned him whether it really is grey or is it an anti-hero narrative where he plays the negative side. “I don’t see it that way at all. It is not negative,” clarified Saeed. “You’ll see it once you watch the show, but that’s not the perception you should have.”

On how challenging essaying Shahzaib was, Saeed humbly said that it wasn’t challenging at all. “Since I have never done something like this before, it was particularly easier to do. When you’re new to a role, the audience has no expectations. It’s an open field and I experimented a lot while giving it my best.” He also revealed that while it is a new avatar for him, handling guns and talking politics, his character still has a soft, romantic side.

Expanding on the significance of the role for him, he shared that even after two months of shooting, he remembers the dialogues. “There are some dramas whose dialogues I wouldn’t even remember the next evening post-shooting but this series, I still remember it after two months. If I’m happy and satisfied with our work, I don’t care about the results. And I am happy.”

Written by Saji Gul, produced by Rafay Rashdi, and directed by Idrees, Saeed believes that the experience of bringing it to screen was “magical”. “This is not your everyday drama. The combination of Khizer, Saji and Rafay is a beautiful one. They’re all geniuses. Rafay’s vision, Khizer’s dedication and Gul’s writing, we don’t think the project was compromised in any way at all and that’s evident in the drama, and in the bond that the whole cast developed on set. We are a family.”

Since Saeed is an established name in the entertainment industry as a singer and as an actor, he spoke about how the younger generation of actors that he worked with did not see him as Farhan Saeed the star. “The set was more enjoyable because I was Shahzaib on the set, not a star, not Farhan Saeed. The vibe was fun, even the most senior actor Shahzad Nawaz was our ‘yo’ guy. He was the coolest of us all. It was one of the projects where everything was right.”

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