‘There are limited roles for both men and women in TV’: Junaid Khan

Actors Junaid Khan and Aiza Awan, who are currently sharing the screen in Ek Jhoota Lafz Mohabbat, recently made an appearance on Time Out with Ahsan Khan to talk about the television series and their journeys in the television industry.  Khan, who made his mark in the Pakistani entertainment industry first as the lead singer of the band Call, and then as a television actor with a list of various acting credits to his name, explained that he discovered his passion much later in life. The Ishq Tamasha actor shared, “I wasn’t always interested in singing. I got into this very late, around the early 2000s. That’s when I realised I find comfort in this form of expression. So that’s when I became more interested in music. It’s always been my first passion. Television allows me to read characters and understand the shades of negative characters as well.” Speaking about how his love of live performance prompted him to take up acting, Khan revealed, “I was interested in theatre. I enjoy interacting with crowds, which is why I was involved in live music as well. When I was offered acting [on television], I figured I’d give it a shot. I did my first project with Jawad Bashir, and that’s when I realised it was something that I should do.” Compared to Khan, who made his acting debut in 2011 with a well-established singing career under his belt, actor Aiza Awan is relatively new to the game. When asked by the host whether she feels she should have changed her name due to the similarity with seasoned actor Ayeza Khan, Awan explained that she does not feel the need to do so. She said, “This is my real name, why should I change it? People often ask me to change my name, telling me to take the ‘Aiza’ out. But I like my name so much, I don’t want to change it.” Elaborating on her character in Ek Jhoota Lafz Mohabbat, which follows the lives of two sisters, Awan shared that she plays the role of the mischievous sister of the character essayed by actor Amna Ilyas. “Both sisters are very different. The way they think and what they want out of life is very different,” she explained. “My character is of the ‘negative’ sister, even though I look very innocent.” Khan, while talking about the drama, shared that in this particular play, both the male and female characters face some level of oppression. On how there is a lack of diversity in the characters that he is offered, the actor shared, “There’s a limit to the characters in television, but I feel like I get good characters but of course, there’s a lot more to explore.” He elaborated further later on in the show, “There are limited roles for both men and women. It really depends on who your target audience is, and for television, it’s usually housewives. That’s why most of the stories revolve around the home. That’s what they want to watch.” The actor added that he feels digital platforms give actors and directors more creative freedom, saying, “I think there should be change, but it really depends on the audience. For example, directors  working for digital platforms are ready to experiment and so are the ones making films.” Addressing a statement attributed to her in which Awan alleged she wants to get married and settle down, the actor explained that while she would like to eventually get married, leaving her work is out of the question. “I will get married, but I will continue working as well. I am interested in marriage and in my work,” she shared.  In a segment of the show where each of the two guests was made to answer a question about the other, with an incorrect answer leading to an electric shock at the press of a button, Khan was asked what Awan believes is important when it comes to winning awards. The actor answered, “I believe she thinks networking and PR are important to win awards,” to which Awan responded saying, “No, I believe to win awards you need talent. You should be a good actor. Who wins awards from PR? Do they?”  In the same segment, after Awan was asked which female actor Khan may have stalked, the actor replied with Sana Javed’s name. She said, “There’s Sana Javed, I saw [Junaid] looking at her,” which resulted in Khan shocking the actor. “Swear that you’ve never looked at her or stalked her,” retorted Awan, to which Khan responded by putting both his hands in the air, followed by a justification, saying, “You know what stalking is? It’s going on someone’s profile, clicking on it and then going through it. I have never done that. If while scrolling you see something, that’s different. You should know what’s going on in the world.” Speaking about a Bollywood project that Khan was rumoured to have rejected, the actor revealed that the news was false. He explained, “I didn’t leave it. It was offered, there was shortlisting, but then they didn’t cast anyone from Pakistan.”  On whether he would have liked to do it, Khan said, “Of course. It was a big film with great music. Bollywood is loved in Pakistan as well, so why not?” He added, “Several actors say that they refused offers themselves, and I thought about how anyone could actually say no to such an offer. They ended up casting from India only.” After Khan was asked by the host whether he felt like he was still waiting on a career-defining role, the actor explained that he prefers to go with the flow and not force things. Highlighting the difference between business and art, Khan elaborated, “I’m chilling in this field. I like exploring and understanding characters. It’s not like I want to play the role of a superhero or work with a certain director or actor. I am just on this journey and things come to me on their own. Television is not a brand-building exercise for me. I have a passion and it has more to do with art than with business.” 

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