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Star talk: He can be your hero

David Light / 11 August 2009

Pakistanís Ryan Seacrest, Faisal Qureshi, follows on from judge Resham and speaks to City Times about Pakistanís groundbreaking reality TV show, Hero Bannay Ke Tarang

Hero Bannay Ke Tarang continues to succeed as ARY’s number one rated show in Pakistan. The country’s first reality TV show, Hero follows the popular format of putting hopeful contestants in front of three judges from the world of entertainment in order to gain their and the viewing public’s approval.

The perfect host: Pakistan’s man of the moment, Faisal QureshiHowever, instead of searching for the Subcontinent’s next pop idol, Hero is offering the winner a chance to be the next Waheed Murad and sign a film contract in an attempt to stimulate interest in the nation’s re-emerging movie industry.

Faisal Qureshi was himself a movie hero, first starring in 1992’s Saza. Going on to work in Nangay Paoon, Tere Ghar Ke Samnay, Nadia, and Bobby, Faisal is probably best known for his time as a television actor playing Boota in Toba Tek Singh.

Faisal is now the face of Hero and takes on all the host’s responsibilities. He provides the behind the scenes insights and onstage interactions for the audience at home as the contestants continue their quest for fame. He is a shoulder to cry on as well as someone to share in their joy.

Faisal spoke to City Times about his new role.

Hero Banny Ke Tarang is hugely successful in Pakistan and this is your first gig as a television presenter. How did you get involved?

I was introduced to Shoaib Qureshy of Kontent Head, who inspired me by his energy and firm belief that I could host a reality show. Initially, I wasn’t sure but after getting involved in the pre-production meetings I could see a sound strategy behind this effort, and in a way it all started making a lot of sense. The whole team was deeply involved and everyone was given a chance to express their ideas, which were then polished further before implementation as there is not much room for error considering it’s reality television.

I really want to thank Shoaib and Khalid Rashid for considering me for something I have never done before and for putting me on such a big platform. I am happy to say that it is an out-of-the-world experience and strongly hope that through this show our cinema industry will once again return to what it once was.

You have played a hero onscreen before. What got you into the movies?

I have had a long association with the big screen right from my childhood as an artiste in films like Teray Ghar ke Samnay, Bobby, Nadia, Mera Inteqam and many others. My first film as a hero was Saza while I was still in college. I was too young at that time and carried on for four years until I said goodbye to cinema 19 films later. I could not see myself doing that typical kind of film and role forever.

Faisal Qureshi plays the host as he presents a contestant on stageTo be honest…I never wanted to be a hero. I’ve always had the passion to be an actor. It’s like the difference between Shahrukh Khan and Aamir Khan. A hero will never take a huge risk in terms of deviation in his roles while an actor will go all out and challenge himself. I mean if you compare the two Khans over a decade you would agree with me that Amir played his characters with the sheer commitment to changing his complete look and style every time.

Now, if we were to reflect at our own industry then Waheed Murad did many films as a hero but when you talk of versatile actors then the names that come to mind are Talat Hussain and Qavi. Similarly, when Nadeem and Javed Sheikh took over as heroes they came with their own style, which was hugely successful. But for me Faisal Rahman is the unsung hero, a versatile and accomplished actor.

In your opinion what are the essential elements of today’s hero?

Grooming is a must today, however, it is not everything. Outstandingly good-looking boys have never made it that big in the Subcontinent. For example take Hrithik Roshan, who is probably the best looking hero in Bollywood today. Yet when he stands next to Shahrukh Khan, the world is hooked on to Shahrukh. This is called charisma, which is God-given and that is what makes one successful on the big screen.

Faisal Qureshi interacts with a contestant backstageIn Pakistan, Waheed Murad had a similar effect and was given the name, “The Chocolate Hero.” He was someone who was not a perfect looking man but his persona and style was such that he looked larger than life. But, today the demands have changed and we need a package in the shape of body, dance, stunts and acting. Moreover, a hero has to be intelligent to face the world, should speak well and present himself accordingly.

Perhaps, equally important is the fact that every new hero brings his own flavour to satisfy the taste of his audience. A good example of this is Imran Khan of Janey Tu fame. The movie is one of the oldest formulas of success and storytelling, yet the onscreen presentation and fresh faces continue to do the trick.

We must not get too focused on the image of a typical Pakistani film actor of the past and neither should we be too influenced from across the border. This is where we must guard our judgment and rather consciously look out for a new signature and acting style.

Would you agree Bollywood influences most moviegoers in the Subcontinent at the moment?

You are absolutely correct. You see we can’t compete with India on many fronts so let’s not compare, but at least we can create good content like we did in the past. I also feel most of the boys here are following Shahrukh, Salman, Hrithik and even John Abraham. There are quite a few good dancers among these contestants, which is a strong element of today’s hero. This may not be a Pakistani image but then our judges should be flexible at least in the beginning because it is the reality of today that our current generation is influenced by Bollywood.

There is a bit of a following of local artists as well but I would say only limited to Shaan. Whenever we go to public gatherings, where the entire showbiz world is present, you will see a mob surrounding Shaan as compared to a crowd around us TV actors. I have no doubt he is a superstar because of the big screen and the public goes out to pay and see him.

Do you honestly believe that a reality show will be able to revive the dormant Pakistani film industry?

Let me give you an example, a few years back our television was completely dominated by Indian soap style content. I was the first one to boycott such plays because for me copying did not work and slowly my other colleagues stopped doing it too. Eventually as an industry we are back to our Pakistani drama and that’s what I feel should happen in cinema as well. Someone needs to stand up and strategise our film industry in the right direction and the day it happens a lot of people like me will join such a project. This is only possible when there is a collective effort to promote original and creative content.

On a personal level, I felt this reality show was unique and my heart spoke to me that it was something big to get involved in. I like working with Kontent Head productions and the way we clicked as a team was inspiring for me. I started giving my own ideas and felt a sense of ownership with this project.

As for your question, whether or not, it will work, the entries, the participation and interest level as a nation today speaks for itself in spite the condition of our film industry.

Do you have a message for the fans of the show?

My message is to support us in this venture and the best thing about this project is the planning and the people behind it. This is a novel idea and a huge task but it’s only a start and we hope to set a standard leading to a chain reaction through this effort. I love my fans who have always supported me on television and they are the reason for my success. I just want to tell them, they will get to see the real side of me in Hero Bannay Ke Tarang on ARY Digital, which is a lot of fun and I hope they will accept me as who I am.

At the moment episodes of ‘Hero’ can be caught in Dubai on Youtube. You can catch Faisal talking about ‘Hero’ live on Good Morning Pakistan on ARY Digital at 8am (UAE time) on Wednesday August 12.

(With inputs from Asim Qureshi)

david@khaleejtimes.com

 
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