Artist Spotlight: Ahmed Ali Akbar
Ahmed Ali Akbar is a talented young name of the entertainment industry who has not only made his mark in acting but also conquered hearts through his amazing hosting skills. From the praiseworthy projects like Siyah, Ishq Parast, Paiwand, Dusri Biwi, Guzarish and blockbuster Karachi se Lahore 2015 to hosting the renowned Hum Style Awards, this guy has made his place as one of the most valued assets of the industry in a very short time. This young man has given his audience an ever inspiring role model.
Ahmed Ali Akbar is a star, a versatile actor and a genuine human being!
Tell us about yourself and your journey in the entertainment industry?
I’m from Rawalpindi. I grew up playing tennis, cricket and all kinds of sports as long as it was outdoors and physically challenging I loved it. After playing national level tennis, club level cricket and football and representing my school in practically every sport, I picked up the guitar. I had a knack for music since I was a kid. I could play any tune on one of those small Casio pianos for kids just by ear. Soon after I started music in Islamabad and was singing for a progressive rock band. Singing made me comfortable on stage so I auditioned for a theatre play. The introvert inside me found an outlet in the performing arts. Acting and singing became a strong part of me and I realized I wasn’t too bad at it. One thing led to another and I was offered a theatre play in Karachi 7 years later. Things really started to pick up when I came to Karachi and here I am today. Acting for a living. Oh! Wait. Fun fact; I also acted in a PTV children’s play when I was around 13 years old called ‘stop watch’
Siyaah was a horror genre movie, and for Pakistani film industry, it was a big step forward, tell us about it?
I had a small but crucial part in Siyaah. I was only on set for two days so I didn’t fully experience the dynamics of that set. But I became good friends with some really terrific and hardworking people. As far as the film itself is concerned it truly was a tricky move on the part of the producer Imran kazmi. Horror is not easy to do. But look where they are now. The success of janaan is evidence enough that people should just get up and follow their dreams. The film launched the careers of a number of people. I’m glad I was part of that team. Another fun fact; a few members of the team of Siyaah/Janaan made an action short film with Jabbar and I that sadly never got released. That was a lot of fun!
From horror to comedy (Karachi se Lahore) how do you manage to stay so versatile?
But that’s not all I’ve done :). I’ve done over 10 theatre plays and television productions. Each theatre play was different and unique in it’s own way. From Shakespeare to Stephen King’s theatre adaptation, from Broadway musicals to a Stalinist era Russian play. What fun is there to play similar characters all the time! If the role one picks up is any less than a challenge then there’s no fun attempting it. One of the many reservations I have with the Pakistani television industry is the portrayal of one dimensional characters and stories. So sadly I can’t say the same about the characters I’ve played on television.
Director, musician, athlete, teacher… stuntman? In an ideal life where I had been good at math I would’ve worked towards being an astronaut. I’ve wanted that since I was a kid. I’m fascinated by the universe. At one point I even wanted to be a music composer for films. My father on the other hand believed I was good enough at cricket to be part of the national team. But I really want to tell stories and so I hope to direct one day.
Being associated with Hum Style Awards, people see you as an ultimate entertainer, what do you have to say about it?
It was quite an honour for me to host the event. Hum Style Awards were well planned with a really nice theme that I was really at home with. You know at first I was really not comfortable with the idea of hosting such a huge show. The shyness tends to kick in at the worst of times. But the point was to challenge myself and do a good job. I’ve realized that’s what I live for. To break out of the shell I’ve created and surprise myself. Not just in acting or performance but in any aspect of life. That’s growth and growth is happiness which not only helps you in your craft but makes a better person out of you.
If given a chance who would you like to collaborate with?
Oh there are so many people I can name here. People from all over the world but let’s not get carried away and stick to Pakistan. I’ll take the liberty to name several. As an actor I’d like to work with Jami, Shoaib Mansoor, Ahsan Rahim. I’ve worked with Ahsan Rahim for a couple of years now in the TV commercial sector and he is brilliant at what he does. Humble, very creative and constantly tries to challenge himself. Jami and Shoaib Mansoor are two filmmakers who have managed to tell stories that are more than just entertainment. I’d like to see our industry mature to a point where the filmmakers can go beyond just entertainment and add substance to the stories they tell. And these two have managed to do exactly that. That’s brave.
What advice do you have for the aspiring young souls?
Learn. I keep telling aspiring youngsters to ask questions and search for the answers. The age we live in is a blessing. Unlock your phone and ask away, you’ll find the answer to anything. From the most complicated equation in particle physics to workout tips. We’ve got it all in our palms. But beware of the distractions that fill our lives. Don’t underestimate yourself, you’re intelligent enough to know what’s right for you and what’s not. And don’t draw lines, don’t be rigged, destroy your ego and witness yourself grow. Exercise, read, travel, make friends not contacts, be inspired by the best, don’t be afraid to change for the better, don’t hold grudges, take risks and don’t be afraid of failure.
Name one of your favourite projects and tell us why its your favourite?
In 2012 Pakistan was selected to be one of the 38 countries to perform Shakespeare at the globe in London. I happen to be amongst a talented group of actors to represent Pakistan at one of the most prestigious theatre spaces in the world. Pakistan performed Taming of the shrew with Nadia Jamil and Omair Rana in the lead roles. It was a great cast and one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had. Osman Khalid Butt and veteran actor Salman Shahid were also part of the ensemble. We toured England but performing on The Globe was just surreal.