“I am a born actor” said a veteran artist Firdaus Jamal who had an exclusive talk with Telepk.com. Reminiscing about his past, he shared with us his formation period and how he thought of becoming an actor.
“My early life has been like other kids but I have been unique and imaginative in my childhood and I used to observe people even in childhood, unlike other children, and I was shy and an introvert. Suppression is supposed to be common among Pathans, but my father was really encouraging. He used to take me to watch movies and appreciated me for my unique talent of mimicry. Actually, he wanted me to become an actor despite the opposition of my mother. I was interested in the performing arts from the very beginning. In school I was the president of Bazm-e-Adab. I have never had any ambition except to become an actor and I recognized the fact that I am a born actor”.
In societies which are underdeveloped the environment is not conducive for art to flourish. The veteran artist feels the agony of this situation, so commented on it quite vehemently; “Basically, our society is anti-art. How harsh it is for a true artist can be gauged from the tragic fare of Gulgee who was brutally murdered and people were unaware of this tragic incident for a long time. For a society like ours, it is very difficult for true artists to survive. The attitude of our society towards art and artists has not been of acceptance. For this political reason are more to be blamed than religious reasons. The socio-economic and political scenario has caused instability of every institution.” Talking about the recognition of artists and art he said; “Encouragement, fans, pride of performance-all become big achievements especially when we compare ourselves with the artists of India.
There with little effort one becomes famous due to an art friendly environment but, here we have to put lot of efforts to get fame and recognition.” Firdaus Jamal is an artist whose true artistic abilities are not hidden from anyone and he is one of those few artists who worship their craft thus feel no great difference when they achieve awards and say, “Your work does not get affected by it.”
The rise in media and the mushrooming of channels has kindled a ray of hope in the hearts of artists but this veteran actor has something else to say about this. “With the increase in channels, work has increased but wages and living standards have remained the same. Look at myself, I have worked hard but for the last 35 years but I have been living in a rented house. We have to work a lot to meet our expenses.” In Pakistan the general interest in politics has gained momentum and everyone tends to have his own view about politics. When we asked Firdaus Jamal about his view he replied: “I have no political interests but I would say one thing: that countries where there is a long military rule art seldom thrive. The same thing has happened to us and our culture and agriculture have both been destroyed. But there was a strange phenomenon that in the Zia era, art flourished a lot and we saw a peak in PTV dramas.” Firdaus Jamal is known for his versatile acting talents. He got his first break from Waris and afterwards he got an opportunity to perform in a classic play written by Ashfaq Ahmad, Mann Chale Ka Sauda. He very said he was very happy about the nature of the character he performed in this drama. “Mann Chaley Ka Sauda was an historic and most difficult play for me.
I performed four characters simultaneously which was really very challenging for me and it was for the first time in the history of PTV.” Commenting on the nature of characters he chooses Firdaus Jamal said very confidently, “I hardly refuse any script. Sometimes directors explain the characters to me but mostly I myself conceive the nature of the characters myself. For me weak characters are a challenge. Everyone can do wonders on strong characters but when one has to take the role of a weak character, then ones acting talent is really tested. I have even done old characters and weak ones young in age.” “There is the soul of an actor inside me which has always inspired me,” said the idol of millions describing his experience of amateur acting in school and college, where he was quite popular for his acting talents. Having started performing on stage at the age of 17 or 18, he did a Pashto film at the age of 17 and his first commercial film was Rishta. Barg-e-Arzoo was the play in which he performed the role of a 100 year old man and for which he received a letter of appreciation by General Zia ul Haq, who used to appreciate artists a lot, in the view of Firdaus Jamal. According to him President Musharaff has is more inclined towards music.
It is said that music is food for the soul and this veteran actor is an ardent example of this adage. Having a great liking for classical music he feels that pop music has no essence, thus he describes this music as being more like the anxiety of the soul. For him traditional food and music are the real essence of life. Speaking ironically he stated that he strongly feels that our art and culture are like broiler chicken, since here substandard is standard and we as a society have turned into a complex society; here everything is not fine; rather we have colonial patterns of thinking and unfortunately South East Asia is still in the grasp of colonial thinking. Commenting on the quality and subject matter of contemporary Indian and Pakistani dramas, he said; “Star Plus is epitomizing Hindu mythology. It promotes Indian religion and culture through its dramas. Promoting Hindu mythology, they project women as negative characters which is inconsistent with our culture and religion. It’s an offence against womankind. The lavishness, glamour and fashion projected in Indian dramas can’t be followed in Pakistan because it does not go with the psychology of our society. Their drama has developed from film thus it is based on fiction. Here, women get attracted by fiction because they are uneducated and suppressed, so they take refuge in a dream world. It’s like a syndrome. In India the objective of entertainment is to take people into a fantasy world, as they sell dreams.”
PTV has been famous for its dramas which were not only entertaining but was a source of moral elevation as well. Now it is not the same. When Firdaus Jamal was asked about this, he expressed his opinion in an anguished manner, saying, “The PTV drama has been murdered by the people like Yousaf Baig Mirza . He forced people to watch Indian drama because he stopped PTV productions and started taking trash from the market at a low cost for his ulterior motives. Due to this people moved to Indian drama. Take my example; I tried to produce a drama on Ahadith-e-Nabwi but he refused to run it. I lost my money as the private channels did not make any handsome offers for my drama. Such people are new and mostly from the marketing side, how can they judge my work in a just manner. They neither have conviction nor IQ. We had that and we tried to educate people but today music and drama are corrupting society.” According to him the conditions of stage and film are not at all good.
They are the victim of depletion. So, according to this truly talented person, we need more educated, technically sound and creative people for the uplift of performing arts. As a patriotic Pakistani and as a critical observer of the ups and downs of this country, Firdaus Jamal has to say “We have no destination as a nation. Here there is no justice and discipline. Justice begins at an individual level. Parents transfer this sense to their offspring and then it spreads in society. Justice is the only thing required for general improvement. Although, a movement for justice is at its zenith but movements have never been fruitful for the masses; only a few people take advantage of them and gain benefit for themselves. For progress, we need to invest in the field of science and technology without adopting the westernized path of vulgarity. In this context China and Japan are best examples.”