You all know him as a singer; now meet Junaid Khan, the actor! The musician-turned-actor tells Us about his foray into the world of acting, the various small screen projects that he has been involved in, and what he has in store for his fans in the coming months:
Us: How did you discover your acting talents? And what inspired you to take up acting professionally?
Junaid Khan: Well, as kids we all imitate our favourite cartoon characters and that is how we all start as actors in our own domain, that is our house or amongst our circle of friends. Realising this, a few years before I took up music, I did a few theatre plays at university level which were slightly appreciated, and thus gave me more confidence to take up performing arts seriously. But soon I took up music and got really into it, and also studying and working at the same time didn’t give me much room to spare a bit of my time even on thinking of taking up acting. But now that I’ve taken up entertainment as a full time profession, I did have time to pursue acting as a career. Plus I am a huge cinema fan. I love going to the cinema and watching the latest screenings. I guess that inspired me at some level to take up acting.
Us: Please tell Us about the acting projects you have done so far.
Junaid: Well I have done quite a few projects. I did two plays for Faisal Qureshi’s productions which were directed by Jawad Bashir. These were aired in the past two years. Recently, I have been occupied with Momal Productions and have done three projects with them till date. One is on air by the name Mujhey Roothney Na Dena directed by Aabis Raza. Second one, Mata-e-Jaan, will be aired in February this year which is directed by Mehreen Jabbar. And the most recent one, Madiha Aur Maliha, is being shot and will be aired in March.
Us: Did you face any difficulties when you first started acting?
Junaid: Yeah, of course. There is some theory behind acting as well which you get to learn when you go through the actual experience. Luckily, I have been blessed with great directors who guided me through each and every shot and pointed out if I was doing anything wrong and appreciated me after a good shot. Though, I have shot various music videos and had faced the camera numerous times before, acting for a play was altogether a different experience. I remember I used to forget lines initially during my first play, but soon got over that.
Us: You are currently appearing in the television drama Mujhey Roothney Na Dena (MRND). Please tell us about the series and the character you por tray in it.
Junaid: Yeah. MRND comes under the category of a soap. A soap is usually more dramatic and has various characters and stories interlinked with each other. It was a great learning experience for me. Aabis, the director, helped me a great deal in understanding the philosophy behind the soap category and also about the character ‘Shehroz’ that I am playing. Shehroz is a very mature guy who is quite composed and calm in nature and also who is quite close to his friend Saqib. He really feels for him and ends up going through a lot of drama in his life due to his friendship. The storyline is slightly bold but still highlights those situations which aren’t too strange for us. One way or the other we do go through all those factors which are highlighted in this play.
Us: How has the response to your acting been so far?
Junaid: I am blessed that the response has been really appreciative for me, so far. People liked my character and also related to him, and felt for him. When the audience links to the character, then I guess the actor has done his job. My upcoming play is Mata-e-Jaan in which I am playing a negative character; really excited to see how that comes out as I believe negative roles have more margin of acting.
Us: How do you define success?
Junaid: I think for an artist, if he is able to convey his message through his medium, be it acting, music, painting, etcetera, then he has reached success. Fame and money comes with time but success comes with hard work.
Us: How do you choose your acting projects? What are the factors that made you choose your current projects?
Junaid: There are a few factors that I keep in mind, and if they click then I sign the project:
a. The production house: what projects they have done before.
b. The director: the projects he has done before.
c. The character: if the character is appealing and challenging.
Us: What do you look for in a role? What kinds of characters attract you to a project? And is there any kind of character that you would choose not to play?
Junaid: I am a continuous learner and I am always looking for challenges as they help me learn more and more. Same is the case with acting. I try to look for challenging roles that have the margin to display my skills and also help me grow as an actor. If the character is interesting then I can overlook some other factors while signing a play. Just like in Mata-e-Jaan, when I was being explained the role, I was told that it would be a negative character; I straight away took it as I always found bad guys quite appealing and wanted to see how I would do as a bad guy, and if people started hating me after that, I will know that I have successfully pulled off my character.
Us: What do you think about the current state of the Pakistani i) television industry, and ii) film industry?
Junaid: Thank God that the television industry has shifted the viewers’ focus from all those crappy news channels to entertainment. Salute to the television industry for doing an excellent job. Television is growing faster and is taking over all forms of entertainment these days.
As for our film industry, it is going to have a totally new structure now. The directors who have done commercials and dramas are now realising that film is the eventual medium which the viewer is going to, so now our new lot of talented directors are focusing on making feature films. It’s just a matter of a year or two and soon our viewer will be seeing what our film industry should have been since the beginning.
Us: Do you have any Bollywood aspirations?
Junaid: Well, film is every artist’s eventual goal. Currently, Bollywood and Hollywood are the actual film makers so yes that is an aspiration.
Us: If you could have been in any film ever made, which one would it be? And which character would you have liked to portray?
Junaid: Well, I am a huge action fan. If I ever had the choice, I would have played John Travolta’s character in Face/Off or Tom Cruise’s role in MI2.
Us: You are also working on your first solo album. How is that coming along? Can you tell Us about any of the songs you have worked on so far? How soon will it be released?
Junaid: Yeah, I am working on quite a few tracks. I am really excited about the album as the songs are quite close to me. I have written and composed most of them. Well, there is one track - ‘So Close So Distant’ - that recently got released on this Valentine’s Day. It is a rock ballad in collaboration with an international female artist, Jennifer Jandris. Do visit www.facebook.com/junaidkhanofficial for the video of the song.
Us: Are there any other projects in the pipeline that your fans can look forward to in the coming months?
Junaid: Yeah, there are loads of things happening in terms of acting and music. A few interesting projects on the music front that I am really excited about. Will keep you guys posted as soon as I am about to release them.
Us: Any message for the readers?
Junaid: Well, just live and let live and enjoy the blessings of life that have been given to you by God. Don’t let stress ruin it for you and cherish each and every happy moment that you come across.