Lollywood is a rough place to be in, especially if you are looking for a quick break. But once every while one comes across a success story that defies the rules of the film industry. Actor Shamyl Khan is one such example. It’s almost unheard of for a newcomer to make the kind of impression he did in Larki Punjaban in Britain where it has been released. But the actor has discovered that not all is as it seems in the land of make-believe.
Having a Turkish mother and a father who claims Central Asian descent, his personality seems to be a confluence of both. It was surprising to learn that Shamyl’s family didn’t object when he decided to try his luck in acting, leaving behind a steady job in an oil company. Perhaps realizing that showbiz might not be the bedrock to base his future on, Shamyl is considering pursuing an MBA or law degree now. Still, he is making the most of his gains in showbiz.
“My father is a friend of Syed Noor’s. I wanted to establish myself as an actor of substance, different from the usual kind. He advised me to first learn the basic techniques – everything from production to editing. Soon I found myself working with the director,” Shamyl says explaining his entrance into this field.
His actual journey began when he started assisting Syed Noor in his projects, which included Sapnay apnay apnay, Daku, Chorian tay hatkarian and Mehndi walay hath. This has turned out to be an invaluable experience for Shamyl as he now realizes what it means to look through the director’s eyes, understanding what directors expect from artists.
“Working with a director like Syed Noor was a blessing in disguise for me. It helped me to see that working on TV is completely different from working in films. Both have a totally different environment,” says Shamyl. He has also been lucky with his foray into television as he clinched a role in late Mohsin Ali and Haseena Moin’s serial Eik naiy mor per.
“My experience on television has helped me a lot in my acting career. Since we don’t have institutions that can groom aspiring actors, practical experience in the field is the only possible way we can polish and hone our skills.”
Considering the crisis that the Pakistani film industry is currently going through, Shamyl must be aware that the stakes are high and that Larki Punjaban will have to surmount quite a few obstacles to strike a chord with the masses, when it is released here in Pakistan in mid-September.
“I know that the expectations are very high. But believe me, I have delivered the best as far as my personal efforts are concerned. I have done some very difficult scenes where I could have used a stunt double. The whole team has strived to present a solid product. I believe it won’t be another Lollywood formula film where a comedy picture scares the audience more than it makes them laugh,” Shamyl Khan remarks, tongue firmly in cheek.
Though often newcomers in the field take whatever offer they can get, Shamyl seems to be a bit more selective when considering projects.
“My priorities haven’t changed. I’m available for all those roles that have substance, something that meets the basic level of quality. I’m not here to do more of the formula fare that has ruined our industry.”
He feels that as a person, he is simple, yet difficult at the same time. Difficult in the sense that “when I am determined to do something, I become very rigid and rarely go back on my decisions.” How, then, has he adjusted himself to the unprofessional attitude that reigns supreme in Lollywood?
“If you appear to be flexible in this industry, then people will begin dictating to you. Once you start compromising, that is the beginning of the end because if one compromises, then one is forced to do things that may go against one’s conscience. That’s something I feel a good artist should always refrain from,” he says.
How much has fame affected his personality?
“I haven’t changed and my feet are firmly fixed on the ground. I’m an artist and my job is to entertain people. My fans are very important to me. Their feelings matter to me a lot. I sometimes ponder what they expect from us entertainers. The truth is, most fans just want an autograph or to be snapped with us. That is it. So I feel it is an entertainer’s responsibility to be humble and deal politely with fans,” he says emphasizing the point.
Shamyl thinks the best work he has done so far is the Ishq music video, which was directed by Shoaib Mansoor and featured Baba Bullay Shah’s mystical Sufi poetry.
“That was a spiritual experience for me. It was something extraordinary and I’m really thankful to Shoaib Mansoor for considering me suitable for the project. He is without a doubt an extremely talented person and whatever he does, he does well.”
What does the budding actor think is the best way to reverse the negative trend that has gripped the local film industry?
“We artists are also responsible for the decline of our films. If artists refused to work in movies they felt didn’t offer anything sensible, then the situation would be different. In a small industry like ours where only four or five leading artists feature prominently, if these actors turn down substandard movies, then that will definitely make an impact. The same policy should be adopted by leading directors,” he opines.
Shamyl Khan sets himself apart from the other starry-eyed hopefuls swarming the Lollywood corridors by dedicating himself to his art and checking all other peripherals at the gate.
“I’m more interested in my work. I’m a workaholic. I feel I have miles to go before I can relax and feel satisfied,” he says contemplating the future. With good looks and a positive attitude being his strong points, if Shamyl sticks to his current rules of engagement, we might just see a new star rising on the glum local showbiz horizon.