Showbiz

Exclusive Interview: Aijaz Aslam – All That ‘Aijaz’

Written by Omair Alavi

To keep rediscovering yourself is one of the most important traits of a successful actor. However, Aijaz Aslam is more than an actor for he has reinvented himself in so many ways that one might lose count. He began his career as a model in the 1990s, then ventured into acting and became one of the most recognized faces from that era.

His story doesn’t end there for he continued to discover his other qualities, that led him first into the world of fashion designing and later to production, near his silver jubilee celebrations in the field. Be it his ethnic menswear or western attire, ‘Aijazz’ achieved new heights before fading away in later years.

But when one business began to decline, he switched to skincare & health care products that are now doing extremely well. He is currently reworking on his clothing brand and is hopeful that this time he will not repeat the mistakes he committed earlier and take it to newer heights.

How the talented actor turned producer manages to wear so many hats and shine in each field, and what makes him come up as a new man every time, Bold decided to meet the actor and ask him the secret. Read on:

Aijaz Aslam as a Model turned Actor

It was way back in the early 1990s that a tall and handsome youngster made his acting debut in NTM’s Kashkol, and became an overnight sensation as ‘Roshu’, his character’s name. He wasn’t just part of the ensemble cast that featured Talat Hussain, Syed Kamal, Tahira Wasti, Hassam Qazi, and Seema Zaidi, Aijaz Aslam led the drama despite being new to the field. He used his ‘modeling experience’ to enter an unknown field, and became popular as well as successful in no time.

The veteran actor considers his will to learn, and his ability to adapt as two of the key elements in his road to stardom. ‘From Kashkol to my recent plays, I have made it a hobby to learn from anyone, and everyone. I still remember that during one of my earlier plays, I was unable to pick up a file folder, and then deliver a dialogue without breaking the momentum, that too in front of the legendary Talat sahab.’ Aijaz recalls while narrating an interesting anecdote. ‘I asked Talat sahab for guidance who at first was reluctant because of his earlier experience with another newcomer, but when he saw that I was keen to learn, he told me that ‘it was all in the stance’, and I instantly realized that I had to change the way I was standing, and voila, I delivered the shot without any further delay!’

Aijaz also credits the many actors and directors who have helped him polish his skills over the years, and he believes that if one is willing to learn, nothing can stop that person from reaching the top. In the last year, three of his dramas namely Nand, Log Kia Kahenge, and Uraan managed to do well, and his performance in all of them was appreciated by the viewers.

‘It doesn’t matter whether the character I am playing is big or small, for me what matters is the thought process behind the creation of that character.’ The Log Kia Kahenge actor explains. ‘I had to gather all my experience to play the bad guy in Uraan and had to keep it subtle because, in my mind, I was the good guy, and those not listening to me were the bad ones. In Nand, it was difficult to upstage the brilliant actress Faiza Hasan but thankfully, my character was written in such a way that I could stand my own ground and deliver a performance that was powerful, and relatable.’

However, Aijaz claims that the Log Kia Kahenge character was the most disturbing for him as an actor. ‘My character appeared in the first few episodes of the play, but it had to be so powerful that it would drive the rest of the play without my appearing in it. Thankfully, the producers, the writer, and the director believed in my vision, and while the suicide sequence that was censored on TV, those who saw it online appreciated my performance and dedication behind the whole process.’

Aijaz Aslam as a Risk Taker!

It’s no secret that Aijaz Aslam has made a name for himself as an actor, but not many know that he is also a producer who wants to change the way dramas are being made in Pakistan. ‘With Netflix and other OTT platforms finding their footing in Pakistan, it is the best time to showcase our talent to the world.’ Aijaz enlightens while talking about Over-The-Top platforms and their scope in Pakistan.

‘However, for that, we will have to first educate the audience before taking a leap of faith, for the kind of dramas that are shown on our TV are the kind of stuff they want to watch anywhere else as well. It will take some time but when they are ready, the makers will also be ready to fulfill their needs.’

At a time when many of his colleagues are still playing romantic leads, Aijaz believes that to stay relevant as an actor, one must play his or her age, and let the audience decide. He has migrated from lover boy characters to character roles of an elder brother, a middle-aged parent, or someone who cares for his family, and has excelled in those as well.

‘Playing a character that is closer to my age gives it credibility, and the relatability the viewer seeks. Thankfully, in Cheekh, Nand, Log Kia Kahenge, and other dramas where I had the chance to explore my acting prowess, I was able to bring the shock value that is often missing in our plays.’

Unlike his fellow actors, Aijaz is open to different kinds of characters and that’s why his recent telefilms were well received by the audience.

‘In Ghanchakkar, I got to do play an older guy who can’t hold on to a job, and decides to marry a beautiful woman believing she is rich too, but in the end, she turns out to be a fraud as well. It was fun because the comparatively ‘older’ gang of Mahnoor Baloch, myself, and Faysal Qureshi got to play the lead, and entertain the audience during the Eid holidays. As for Future Imperfect, I went for it because I found it to be a novel concept, that will hopefully help in upgrading our viewers and improve their taste.’

Aijaz Aslam as an Entrepreneur

For someone who began his career as a fashion model and continues to appear in advertisements after nearly three decades in the industry, Aijaz Aslam has come a long way. Apart from establishing his career as a successful actor, he launched his own brand Aijazz that helped put Pakistan on the map of international fashion. His embroidered sherwanis, kurtas, traditional groom couture, and wedding accessories became an instant hit, and coming from a former model were appreciated by the industry.

However, it wasn’t as long-lasting as the actor might have hoped, and he had to shelve it for the time being for his other ‘businesses’. It is his recent foray into ‘Personal Care’ that has further consolidated his credentials as an entrepreneur. After the successful launch of his natural and herbal skincare range, Aijaz Aslam introduced new skincare & health care products to his natural & herbal products range.

Through his skincare line, the forever-young actor aims to provide natural and organic solutions for all. Not only does his skincare comprise of the age rewind face wash, face serum, and face cream, it has been created for men who don’t take care of their own self due to their busy lifestyle.

‘After the overwhelming response I received for the skincare products, I decided to venture into health care products as well.’ Aijaz Aslam states while talking about his new line. ‘These products are all-natural and organic, making them both easy and effective to use. I believe organic products are the best, safe & effective for everyone.’

Had such products been launched by someone who had been new or unknown to the industry, it would have seemed like something to cash an actor, but with Aijaz at the helm, it became an overnight success. With orders coming in from around the world for his products, Aijaz hopes that it will help in the relaunch of his clothing brand, which above all gave him the initial idea of how to conduct business.

About the author

Omair Alavi