KARACHI: I met Hassan Bin Javed for the first time at a Chai Dhaba near SZABIST last year. The theatre group – of which both of us were part of – was there to discuss the revival of performing arts after the pandemic.
Coincidentally, Hassan and I started theatre at the same time, albeit at different institutes. I would take the liberty here to say that it helped in instantly developing an artistic connection with him.
Cut to November 2021, the first Pakistani film to release after the pandemic, ‘Khel Khel Mein‘, aired its trailer in which Hassan could be seen sharing the screen with the main lead comprising Bilal Abbas and Sajal Aly. From an aspiring theatre actor to securing a part in his first feature film, he had an interesting journey which he happily shared with The Upcut.
From theatre to cinema
Like any other aspiring actor, Hassan started his acting career with theatre, acting in plays for his university and in some commercial shows. But, in his heart, he knew it wasn’t enough if he were to make it big in Pakistan’s cinematic landscape.
“Doing theatre helped me build my craft, as I did theatre at both amateur and professional level, but it was not going to help me enter in the mainstream entertainment industry,” says Hassan.
Thus started his journey of struggle where he wandered through different production houses hoping to land a role, any role. Disappointed, but still firm in his resolution, he went to the auditions organised by Filmwala for ‘Khel Khel Mein’ at the Arts Council.
“I was not hopeful for any significant opportunity, but I had to keep trying and applying to every platform I would get,” adds Hassan.
As fate would have it, he received a call that he had little hoped for. He was told that he would be offered a role in ‘Khel Khel Mein’ along with the top stars of the Pakistan entertainment industry.
The experience of Khel Khel Mein
“It may sound cliché, but to be honest, it was like a dream come true,” Hassan says while keeping calm, realising that he still had a long way to go. He did not shy away from admitting that working with Nabeel Qureshi and Fizza Ali Meerza was the greatest work experience he ever had.
“We received a professional and respectful environment. The director and producer made sure to tell us that our selection was on merit because we had the talent. For all of us young actors, it couldn’t have been bigger than this,” he says with glee in his eyes.
He adds that the main leads Bilal and Sajal helped the young actors a lot during the shooting of the film. According to him, he never felt that he was working with two superstars.
“I was privileged to share the screen with stalwarts like Javed Sheikh, Marina Khan, Samina Ahmad, Farhan Ally Agha, Naveed Raza, and Manzar Sehbai. It was indeed a proud and unforgettable moment,” says Hassan when asked what was the experience like working with the veteran stars.
What to expect from the movie
“It’s a fresh concept with a different and engaging soundtrack. The new faces will give the audience a fresh feel. ‘Khel Khel Mein’ is a project that will make the viewers proud of the film industry that it is evolving and moving ahead with time. I want to talk more, but some things should be kept secret for the audience to explore while watching the film.” he laughs.
Without giving away any spoilers, the actor made sure to keep it subtle and not ruin anything for me as well. The movie holds an important place for the Pakistan film industry as it has a supporting cast loaded with youngsters, which bodes well for the future of the local film industry.
The movie revolves around Saad (Bilal Abbas) and Zara (Sajal Aly), who are planning a play on the 1971 Indo-Pak War. The story encourages the youth to step up and change the stereotypes and norms that hold the society captive.
Soon after the release, the movie was criticised on various grounds by bloggers on social media. The criticism went so overboard that, at one stage, fellow actors of the industry had to tweet, post updates on their Instagram accounts, urging the bloggers to stop criticising the movie needlessly.
“Constructive criticism is always welcome,” says Hassan. “Nothing in the world is perfect, and critique in cinema helps us to improve our content. But there were some bloggers and critics who only bashed the film because it was trending, and they used it to get limelight and views,” he remarks.
However, he believes that the public and proper critics were not affected by the criticism as they are getting positive reviews from the masses.
Struggles of newbies in the Pakistan entertainment industry
It was important to discuss the issues that an aspiring artist faces in the country since the local film industry is in a phase of rejuvenation. And, one would expect the drama industry to fare better. However, that is not the case. As it turns out, nepotism reigns supreme over the entire Pakistan entertainment industry.
Hassan has had to deal with his share of struggles and still has a long way to go. But, he believes that struggle is a part of life and a person should never get demoralised at any stage.
“I was lucky to get a part in the film after an audition, but during the audition days, I used to think it would take a long time to get an opportunity. An artist has to be very patient and positive if he wants to work in Pakistan,” he concludes.