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November 15, 2019
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I can’t write better than Anwar Maqsood: Yasir Hussain

He may not be the best actor around but Yasir Hussain is one of the most versatile actors we have. He began his career as a theater artist and then went onto conquer the world of Video Jockey (VJ) for Aag TV, writing dramas for TV and acting in them, wrote the successful Karachi Se Lahore and Lahore Se Aagay films, hosted the After Moon Show for two seasons, and was also part of the Ho Mann Jahaan writing team. Last year he chose to play a villain in Hum TV’s Baandi and his effort to look bad was appreciated by all those who saw his performance.

Now, the talented youngster is back to his roots and will be acting in the prequel of Aangan Terrha, the Anwar Maqsood play that made him a household name in the first place. The News Tribe managed to talk to him about the two Akbars of 2012 and 2019, the upcoming play Naach Na Jaane and his return to the least financially viable platform after five years. Excerpts:

TNT: After playing the lead in two films including one opposite Saba Qamar, a villain in a TV drama written by Asma Nabeel and hosting a successful TV show, what made you return to theater to play Akbar?

Yasir Hussain: Theater has always been my first love and when you are being lured back to it by the best writer in the country and the one director who helped me deliver my best performance, who wouldn’t return to the roots. At the moment I am not doing anything until Naach Na Jaane completes its run because theater demands time and you can’t do justice to yourself if you move from one platform to another.

TNT: What about the couple of films you were doing besides the talk show; saying yes to Aangan Terrha prequel came as a surprise.

Yasir Hussain: Actually the films that were associated with me are now being associated with others (laughs). Wajahat Rauf shelved the third part of his road trip film but the other one that he offered me was more or less like Moti, without the stutter. So I excused as I wanted to explore myself and do something else as I don’t want to be typecast. I also opted out of Yasra Rizvi’s Senti Aur Mental because it didn’t appeal to me that much. Anwar Maqsood’s script does and that’s one of the reasons why I said yes when he and Dawar approached me.

TNT: Does that mean that you have no more film on your plate?

Yasir Hussain: I am not all that crazy about films at the moment; I am thankful to Allah for making me popular and I am content with whatever level of popularity I have achieved. Just today I got a call from a person who told me that if I wanted to reach the top I will have to say yes to his project and I told him politely that I don’t want to be the number one because I have enough fame to last a lifetime thankfully. I want to do something that stays with the audience and it doesn’t matter if I have to wait for it. The legendary Amrish Puri was 42 years old when he became successful in films and he was so popular that no one looked at the hero when they shared the frame; Since I am 32, I can afford to wait for a project that appeals to me. The reason I did Baandi was that it had a character that appealed to me, the lines by Asma Nabeel were well-written and I loved the director. It wasn’t a lengthy role but I am not looking for that; it’s strict quality over quantity for me and whatever will appeal to me, be it theater, TV or film, I will go for it.

TNT: Tell us something about Naach Na Jaane, the prequel of Aangan Terrha; will it be Akbar’s story or about all the characters?

Yasir Hussain: It’s not Akbar Nama; it’s all about the characters that went onto become popular in Aangan Terrha, be it Mehboob Ahmed, Jehan Ara or even Chaudhry Sahab. Akbar stood out because people loved the character when it was screened on TV and had something different about it when I did it on stage. It was not a solo show then, it will not be a solo show now because like Umar Sharif, I can’t do solo shows.

TNT: When you last did Akbar 7 years back, things were much simpler for you as there was no hosting assignments, no TV, no films, no social media, and no tension. It will be different this time, right?

Yasir Hussain: Actually tensions ab zyada hain (laughs). Since I am not on Facebook, I don’t know what goes around on Social Media but yes it is important now which is a huge change. As for my acting and hosting assignments, I had to take a break because of this drama as without rehearsals and commitment, I would not be able to pull it off. The change in age doesn’t matter because my age is exactly what Akbar’s would have been in 1978; if Aamir Khan can pull a college boy look at 50, then why can’t I when I am actually closer to the character’s age.

TNT: It’s a good thing that you are back to your roots; why don’t you write for theater like you used to way back when you started your career?

Yasir Hussain: I wrote Dawar’s initial plays but ever since he has become associated with Anwar Maqsood, I have stopped writing because a) I can’t write better than him and b) acting in his plays is a learning experience for me as an actor so why spend time on my own writing when I can learn from his scripts. Till Anwar sahib is active on the scene, I am glad to be part of his acting team and the day he says that he will not write anymore, I will start writing! When he was on a hiatus, had Dawar asked me, I might have written for him but not when Anwar sahib is writing brilliantly.

TNT: Are you feeling nervous or confident of doing well on your return to Arts Council stage after five years?

Yasir Hussain: For a theater actor who lives on variety and diversity, I have done a few TV roles that were easy, so easy that now to do something difficult is scaring the hell out of me. I have all the faith and trust in Anwar Maqsood’s writing and Dawar Mehmood’s ability to extract the best out of me; their combination can make a dead person act and I have seen them making ‘dead actors’ perform on the stage (smiles).