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Hamza Sohail – Son of a gun

Written by Omair Alavi

He came, he saw and he conquered, that’s how one can summarize the career of newcomer Hamza Sohail.

He came, he saw and he conquered, that’s how one can summarize the career of newcomer Hamza Sohail. Despite being the son of one of Pakistan’s most famous TV and theatre actors Sohail Ahmed, Hamza chose to make a name for himself without his father’s help. When he performed on par with actors like Naumaan Ijaz, Sania Saeed, Iqra Aziz, and Faryal Mehmood in Raqeeb Se, and then came back strongly with Main Hari Piya, everyone noticed this young actor who tried his best to take his father’s legacy forward.

Currently the 25-year-old is starring in Badshah Begum as Pir Shahmeer and is winning hearts for his near-perfect performance. BOLD had a chat with the rising star and asked him how it felt to be in an industry where his father is nothing short of a legend, where he has to compete with many actors simultaneously, and what are his plans for the future. Read on:

When you debuted in Raqeeb Se, it took people some time to realize that you were the son of legendary Sohail Ahmed. Why did you keep it a secret when you could have burst on the scene as a ‘star kid’?

I had no intention of announcing myself as a ‘star-kid’ because my father had instructed me to ‘go out, find your own teachers and create your own path’ which in his eyes is the best way to prove my mettle. I agreed with him and that’s why when I appeared in Raqeeb Se, I wanted people to notice me for me, rather than for being Sohail Ahmed’s son. The pressure of carrying his legacy forward is a lot and had I announced myself as you said, it wouldn’t have added to the pressure of making my debut as an actor.

Were you always interested in acting or did you come up with that idea one fine day?

Being part of a household where art is considered supreme, I always craved acting but didn’t tell anyone since my parents were very strict about my studies. After completing my O and A Levels from Beaconhouse School System in Lahore, I went abroad to first complete my Bachelor’s and later Master’s in Business Management, and it wasn’t until I returned home that I told my parents that I wanted to be an actor. They accepted my decision and asked me to start from the bottom, which is exactly what I tried to do. I went to director Kashif Nisar to find a job as one of his assistants but he cast me in Raqeeb Se, and the rest is history.

Your parents must have known that you were into acting, otherwise, they would have opposed their foreign-returned son from entering showbiz!

Of course, they knew, after all, you can’t hide anything from your parents. But they were strict about studies and that’s why even when I was studying in England, I never thought about acting. It was only after fulfilling their wish to graduate with flying colors that I spilled the beans and they were good enough to acknowledge my decision.

Did your father help you out in entering the industry where he is nothing short of a king?

Actually no, and I am glad that he didn’t otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to learn certain things that you can only gain through experience. I want my craft, my strengths, and my weaknesses to be different from my father’s. What comes naturally to him doesn’t come naturally to me; I have to follow my strengths, and that’s what I have been trying to do. Right now, it’s baby steps for me, and trying to learn from my mistakes is the best way forward.

How would you describe the pressure of being Sohail Ahmed’s son – good, bad, too much to handle!

Of course, the pressure is naturally there. But I try not to let it divert my focus from my work. I’m just trying to give it my all, learn, and just trust in the process. I believe that if I can emulate him in any way, it would be great for my career as an actor and also as a dutiful son who followed his father’s footsteps, even if it meant doing it through baby steps.

You mentioned your interest in going behind the camera, can we assume that you will turn to direction in the future?

Why not, but right now I am fully engrossed in acting. I do observe the directors I work with as it might help me in the future but at the moment, the focus is on learning the craft in front of the camera. Whenever I get the time, I will try to go abroad and do some courses in direction, but it might take some time.

Your character in Badshah Begum is winning hearts all around and everyone wants to have a brother like you. How did that role land in your lap?

I have no clue how Badshah Begum landed into my lap but since I debuted with the production house behind the series, they might have kept me in mind while finalizing the cast of the serial. When I got the call regarding Badshah Begum I met the producer Rafay Rashdi who narrated the story to me in such a way that I was sold before he could even finish. Since I was preparing for my next project and had time on my hands, I gave it a try and I am glad that people are liking it.

What attracted you the most in Badshah Begum – the cast, the script, or the production value?

Honestly, when I said yes, I was impressed by my character but had no idea about the grandness of the set, the ensemble cast, and the impact it would have on the audience. I got to know all that after I started shooting, and thanked my stars for guiding me towards a serial that’s not only one of its kind but happens once in a lifetime.

You spoke about the ensemble cast featuring Zara Noor Abbas, Farhan Saeed, Yasir Hussain, and others. How was the experience of working with such big names so early in your career?

It was a fantastic experience if you ask me, because we stayed together for four months, out of the city. The whole cast became a family as we were together, out of our comfort zones, working in a drama serial that was grand in every possible way. Yes, we had our disagreements but it is common in every family; the positive energy all around us helped us come up with Badshah Begum, which is now doing well on TV.

And then there was the cameo in Mrs. and Mr. Shamim …

Oh, that … it just happened! I am glad that people liked me in that web series even though my work ended in one and a half-day.

Any plans of moving away from Lahore, considering most of the work is being done in Karachi?

It’s true that most of the projects are being produced in Karachi but Lahore is also making a comeback of its own. My next TV project with Kashif Nisar is being shot in Lahore and I am hoping that people will like it, just the way they appreciated me in Raqeeb Se. As for moving to Karachi, well if I am destined to work in Karachi, I will have to move to the city in the near future.

About the author

Omair Alavi