Ahmed Ali Akbar, is the new popular guy in town, who impressed us with his charm and versatility at the Hum Style Awards. Not only did he host the evening flawlessly, he even performed and managed to stand out among other stars.
Recently, the Yeh Raha Dil star spoke to INSTEP and addressed nepotism, the casting couch and his experience with the entertainment industry.
When asked whether people confuse him with Ahmed Ali Butt from time to time (as he mentioned that in HSA). “To be honest, that’s just a joke I created for my Hum Style Awards bit. I just needed some material,” stated Ali.
Ali, who is originally from Rawalpindi, initially started off as an athlete and was a national level tennis player. “All the men in my family play tennis, it’s a family tradition. Currently my younger brother, Abid Ali, is the number one national tennis player in Pakistan.”
His first brush with the industry came when he was 13 years old and was offered to play the lead role in a PTV show called Top Watch, a show about a child who discovers a time-controlling watch made by his grandfather. “I was offered the lead role but because of my shy nature, I ended up doing the role of the friend in the show.”
Ali claims that music helped him get out of his shell. “I was part of an underground band called Nafs and we used to play to rock music.”
He further shared more about his first break in the industry “I was in Thailand for a theatre workshop. Coincidentally, Ufone was shooting a commercial there that day. One of their models backed out so they had only 24 hours to find a Pakistani actor in Thailand. I got the role and ended up becoming the face of Ufone for the next 5 years because of that.”
Ahmed Ali Akbar was seen doing cameos in big projects like Asim Raza’s Ho Mann Jahaan and Wajahat Rauf’s Karachi Se Lahore. “These roles really helped in changing my career. Now I’m getting good quality projects and I’ve been offered nearly 10 to 13 films.”
Ali went on to share more about his struggle in the industry, “I’ve seen how nepotism works in our industry. I’m especially concerned about nepotism because that is one of the major reasons our country is going down the drain. The star kids are always given priority. There’s not much to do about that except work hard and wait for your opportunities.”
He also explained why we won’t be seeing him on the big screen anytime soon despite of a lot of offers. “Either the films never made it to the production stage, or I didn’t like the scripts. It’s so hard to choose scripts for films because you just don’t know how a film is going to turn out since everyone is new and doing it for the first time. When people approach you for films, they are so good at convincing you that they’re producing something great. But then you see the film on screen and you wonder what went wrong.”
Ali also explains that there have been instances where he auditioned for roles but didn’t get the part. “And that’s good. It’s all part of the process.” We are surprised to hear this because we didn’t think established actors even bothered auditioning for roles. “They don’t. In fact, a lot of them discourage me from doing it too. They say ‘you’re a well-known name now and you don’t need to do these auditions.’ But I don’t work like that.”
Ali has only been in the acting field for three years now but he has already seen all the dysfunctions of the industry.
“Yeah it’s all a little weird. We even have a casting couch. Of course it exists. I haven’t had to directly deal with it but I know of firsthand accounts of those who have. But you see the rule is that if you have talent and know you can make it on your own, you don’t need the help of such a couch. There are those who agree to it and that is their prerogative.”
However, Ali also clarifies that there are only a few rotten apples in this tree. “I’ve met some wonderful people here as well. At the end of the day, it’s what you make of your circumstances.”