Trendy and athletic with a heart-warming smile, Khurram Mushir, dressed casually in jeans, sneakers and tees cuts an iconic figure of the modern-day dashing dermatologist on TV, a rare combo of brawn plus brains.
In just two-and-a-half years Khurram has taken breakfast TV by storm, breaking through a predominance of senior dermatologists over decades. “I believe making a whole-hearted effort in whatever I do and to be what I am. Secondly, I never scrimp about sharing my knowledge and the credibility of that attracts more people. Good looks just help you along the way.”
His conventional film-star looks have won him many hearts but at times made it difficult to prove his credibility as a doctor. “I can’t help it if I don’t conform to the conventional image of a bald, bespectacled doctor. When I began practice, medical reps would tell me how my business will suffer because I was casually dressed.
I wore what I felt comfortable in and gradually I saw that people felt at ease, too. I connect better with my patients or viewers if I am myself. If my hair’s falling or I have unhealthy skin, how does that add to my credibility?”
Khurram first appeared on television as a skin specialist was in September 2005. “I met Pervin Nasir who produced Sola Singhar for Indus TV and she groomed me and gave me the confidence to sit across a senior anchor on the show. Also, Seema Tahir at TV One has given me a lot of support and encouragement. Nevertheless I’ve got my fair share of jealous and insecure co-experts and co-hosts, backstabbers, overpowering channel heads, etc. I have been accused of prescribing medicine without sending people for tests, been praised as an artiste while my credentials as a dermatologist have been held in suspicion. But I take it all in stride and focus on my work.”
Earlier, in 2003, Khuram played the lead against Sadia Imam in a 13-episode private production, Parastaar, written by Zahida Hina and produced by Mohsin Shirazi for PTV and B4U. He appears in TV commercials off and on but acting doesn’t excite him too much these days. “I enjoy acting but can’t take it up full time as it is very time consuming. People are called for shoots at 12 noon, arrive at 4pm and the first scene gets shot at 6pm! I used to watch a lot of PTV plays years ago and they were something to be proud of. The actors had a certain image, a lot of hard work went into the productions, but now it’s a commercial circus. Since it doesn’t even pay well, you can’t make a career out of it.”
But commercials have trained Khurram for live TV shows. “In commercials you learn to look like an idiot and say idiotic things but it actually teaches you a lot. Compared to that, talking on a live show is a piece of cake. You must have solid content, absolutely correct and valid information to give viewers maximum value out of the show. You must have in-depth knowledge and the expertise to spot the caller’s problem in minutes as there is no margin for errors on a live show.”
Khurram feels that just like hiring for other jobs, experts and their credentials should be scanned before they appear on television. “All channels have live shows where people can call in and talk to health experts.
These days, anyone who has limited knowledge about make-up, herbs or fungal infections is called an herbalist, dermatologist or a beautician on television. A lot of them are just quacks who have mushroomed overnight and become stars with so much exposure. Fortunately, the audience out there has become smart and can assess how much an expert sitting on a TV show really knows.”
His clientele obviously boosted in wake of his TV appearances, Khurram accommodates droves of patients from across the country. “They are star-struck, want to have pictures taken with me and basically want me to do a 45-minute reality show for them every time they come for consultation. Patients generally have very high expectations. Some are realistic while others seem to be under a spell and think that they will grow lustrous hair and get glowing skin overnight. I can’t make our entire race change its attributes to look like Caucasians! They want me to perform miracles.”
Khurram is of the opinion that due to media exposure people have developed unrealistic high standards of beauty. “Young women come in for skin care and young men usually with hair loss problems which are getting quite common because of pollution, stress and bad diet. Everyone wants to look like film stars. What people don’t realise is that a lot of make-up and special lights make these stars look the way they do. A lot of the women are from the rural areas and who are constantly under the threat that their husbands will remarry if she does not look like a Bollywood starlet.”
About being accused of prescribing medicine on air, Khuram says, “The creams and tablets that I prescribe on air have no side-effects and are basic over-the-counter drugs like zinc or selenium tablets or evening primrose oil that they could easily obtain from a local pharmacy. People say that I will lose my patients if I give remedies and medicines on television. On the contrary it’s been anything but that.”
About what the future holds for this dashing young man of medicine, he says, “Presently I have a long list of patients, my own show and a huge viewership. But I do think about what’s next…. Maybe a couple of books, you never know.”