Pakistani sensation Fawad Khan, who enjoys a burgeoning fan following across the border too, doesn't want to be trapped in one kind of role. He says he believes in experimenting new things and increase the bandwidth of his cinematic knowledge.
His debut Bollywood film 'Khubsoorat' features quite a few fudged kissing scenes and Fawad Khan, the Hindi film industry's new entrant from across the border, says he refuses to do intimate scenes as he doesn't want to hurt the sentiments of his core audience.
He is seen as one of the most romantic hero in Pakistan, and interestingly has earned the reputation without getting intimate in front of the camera. In 'Khoobsurat' he is seen romancing Bollywood style icon Sonam Kapoor. Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Now that you have the ladies of Hindustan and Pakistan going weak-kneed, what can they expect to see you in next?
A: Well, sorry if this hurts my audience, but the beard will go off. It must go off. I can't keep it on much longer. I am trying to take on a completely new look. I was also much heftier than I look now. Then I lost a lot of weight. I have to gain a bit of weight now.
Q: When the audience from both sides embraces you, do you think on some level it is a token gesture of reconciliation between the two countries?
A: To be seen that way would be the biggest honour for me and a bigger reward and the biggest award. I am a very peace-loving guy. And if I can promote peace on any level between the two countries, it'd be my greatest achievement. When people in India tell me they feel an emotional connectivity with their ancestry on Lahore and Karachi when they see me on the screen, I feel so honoured. There can be no higher feeling for me.
Q: You are going to cause many divorces in India since many wives want you as a husband?
A: Oh my god! No, that's not true. I am happy my performance has been appreciated. It comes from being known in these parts for my television shows in Pakistan, I suppose.
Q: So, are you planning to stay on in India for the ladies' sake?
A: I wish I could. But right now I need to return home to Pakistan to arrange some screenings of 'Khubsoorat'. They did have a small premiere in Pakistan. But nothing beyond that. I better get back home before I am bashed up (laughs).
Q: The Indian audiences seem to know you.
A: I am quite surprised. It's because of my two Pakistani serials 'Zindagi Gulzar Hai' and 'Humsafar'. I was very surprised by the two serials' popularity. They made me a household name not just at home but worldwide. People loved me. And I couldn't stop laughing.
Q: Why is that?
A: My taking to acting is a bit of a joke. I never thought of acting as serious career. After I managed to make a mark, I wanted to move on. There is no variation or challenge in working with the same set of people repeatedly. I needed to get out of my comfort zone. When I met Rhea Kapoor (producer 'Khubsoorat'), I instantly knew we were on the same wavelength.
Q: Was that why you did an Indian film?
A: That was one of the reasons. More importantly, I want to increase the bandwidth of my cinematic knowledge, so I can do something on my own.
Q: What do you mean by something on your own?
A: I want to put together a film along with some like-minded people.
Q: At the moment your career as an actor is taking off in a big way. Do you think you should try something different?
A: You think so? But I can't stay put in one space. I get restless.
Q: Do we see you in another Bollywood film soon?
A: Yes, I am in talks. It would be something very different from 'Khubsoorat'. I'd love to manage at least one project on both sides of the border next year. My friends in Pakistan and I are trying to put together a Pakistani-Indian project with Indian talent. We are looking forward to a collaboration. But this time it'd be a Pakistani production.
Q: Did you refuse to kiss in 'Khboobsurat' because of the cultural and moral embargo in Pakistan?
A: I didn't want to hurt the sentiments of my core audience. The audience that has got me where I am. I think I need to respect their feelings. A lot of my audience would be quite offended if I suddenly started losing all my inhibitions. I just want to prepare the audience for a gradual change.
Q: So you'll kiss in the future?
A: You never know. I never say never. I'd rather walk the unpredictable path. Besides, I'd never like to throw in something titillating just to spike and spice up a film.
Q: Isn't it natural as in 'Khoobsurat' that a kiss express feeling for two people in love?
A: I agree. But what I learnt from doing the two popular Pakistani serials 'Zindagi Gulzar Hai' and 'Humsafar' is that audiences appreciate a romantic moment without physical intimacy. There was not a touch or a hug anywhere in either series. And yet audiences loved my chemistry with my co-stars (Mahira Khan and Sanam Saeed).
I kind of like the idea of virgin romance to just show the couple's feelings through words and gestures and then leave the rest to the audiences' imagination.