Between Belief and Art | Hamza Ali Abbasi's Enlightened Comeback with 'Jaan-e-Jahan'
In the bustling heart of Pakistan's vibrant entertainment industry, Hamza Ali Abbasi stands as a beacon of introspection and evolution. After an interlude that steered him away from the limelight, Abbasi re-emerges with a narrative that's as captivating as his performances. Returning to the TV screens with a renewed vision and a heart enriched by spiritual and intellectual pursuit, Hamza Ali Abbasi's conversation with HELLO! Pakistan unfolds as a deeply reflective narrative, befitting the magazine's elegant cover story. At a train station, which symbolizes both his journey and return, Abbasi, adorned in a shalwar kameez, stands as a bridge between tradition and contemporary thought, between the actor and the philosopher.
The hiatus, as Abbasi recounts, was a quest for truth, a search for answers to existential questions that eventually found solace in the tenets of Islam. "After a lifelong battle with existential questions... I came to a conclusion... it is all true," he shares, his voice carrying the weight of his revelations. Influenced by Mr. Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, this period was not an abandonment of art but a recalibration of his engagement with it. Abbasi clarifies, "Islam does not prohibit any art form but sets certain divinely ordained moral boundaries in which art is to be practiced."
The allure of the script for "Jaan-e-Jahan" and the familial bonds with its creators drew him back to acting. Abbasi speaks passionately about the project, his words imbued with the desire to shift the portrayal of male leads in Pakistani cinema.
"I wanted to opt for a character that was very positive,"
he states, emphasizing the need for constructive role models in society.
Revisiting his chemistry with Ayeza Khan, after the famous 'Pyare Afzal' Abbasi fondly recalls the shared ease and joy on set, underscoring the importance of a harmonious co-star relationship.
"It's always a pleasure working with Ayeza... we end up joking with each other or end up laughing,"
he reminisces, highlighting the light-hearted moments that punctuate even the most serious scenes.
The evolution of Abbasi as an actor mirrors his personal growth, an odyssey marked by profound introspection.
"I think I've evolved tremendously as a human being...
There have been literally foundational changes in my being," he reflects, confident that this transformation imbues his performances with a greater depth.
Abbasi deliberately chooses roles that challenge traditional narratives, seeking to redefine the dynamics of on-screen relationships. He hints at a refreshing reversal of roles with Khan's character, playfully suggesting,
"Maybe Ayeza's character in 'Jaan-e-Jahan' is my knight in shining armor."
Reflecting on his acclaimed role in 'Maula Jatt', Abbasi expresses gratitude and astonishment at the film's success, acknowledging the character's profound impact on his career. He reveals a desire to explore the 'good guy' roles, to escape the typecast shadow of 'Noori Natt', and to present characters that resonate with his positive outlook.
Abbasi discusses the influx of new talent in the industry with optimism, seeing it as a sign of a vibrant and evolving artistic landscape. Looking ahead, he reveals his excitement for two more television projects, which promise to delve into compelling narratives.
His advice to young actors is profound and grounded in his own experience with fame.
"Do not let it affect you or change you... limelight doesn't define you,"
Abbasi advises, urging them to focus on their craft and the intrinsic value of their work, rather than the fleeting nature of fame.
In a digital age where OTT platforms are reshaping entertainment consumption, Abbasi sees immense potential for Pakistani dramas to captivate global audiences and shape perceptions about Pakistan.
Striking a balance between his personal beliefs and the demands of his career, Abbasi speaks of simplicity and divine guidance as his compass, helping him navigate the complexities of the entertainment industry while staying true to his convictions.
When discussing the roles that challenge him, Abbasi's enthusiasm is palpable. He is drawn to characters that starkly contrast with his real-life persona, finding joy and excitement in the exploration of such roles. 'Noori Natt' remains a favorite, but it is the diversity of characters that fuels his passion for acting.
In a candid admission about his acting process, Abbasi confesses to a preference for spontaneity over methodical preparation.
"I am a very spontaneous actor,"
he says, explaining his fear that too much preparation can lead to mechanical performances. His philosophy is one of visualization and instinct, allowing the character to unfold naturally.
Addressing his reduced social media presence, Abbasi shares a thoughtful perspective on the responsibility that comes with public discourse.
"I don't want to accumulate so much content for myself that I'll be answerable for on the day of judgment,"
he states, choosing to speak only on matters that align with his understanding of Islam and his spiritual journey.
In the interplay of fame and personal life, Abbasi has learned to insulate his authentic self from the vicissitudes of public attention. He emphasizes the importance of sincerity and the willingness to apologize when wrong.
"As long as I am okay with what I have done, I don't care what criticism is coming my way".
INTERVIEW: SUNDUS UNSAR RAJA
PHOTOGRAPHY: SHAHBAZ SHAZI
STYLING & COORDINATION: RAO ALI KHAN
STYLE ASSISTANCE: LAHRAYEB SHAMSI & FAREED
LEATHER BAGS: KAACHI AND CO