There’s No Business Like Showbusiness Kunwar Nafis
He’s the dude you are well acquainted with by now, courtesy his myriad television appearances. Even if you do not know him by name you know him by face as he is a permanent fixture on one or the other local channel. Kunwar Nafis is no rookie in this business; he’s had his initiation in his teens via his debut appearance in TV serial Aanch.
It was then that he got his first taste of success. Prior to that, “I used to sing in a children's programme on PTV in chorus with many other children. That’s how I got an offer for Aanch as the producer was looking for some kids for his serial.”
However, after the completion of that project we rarely saw the lad again and we wondered where he had disappeared? Here’s a exclusive interview with the actor who’s back after a hiatus.
I was completing my higher studies but I never lost track of acting and stayed in touch with it by making sporadic appearances in TV serials and plays. In between I had a few modelling stints as well till the time I completed my MBA. Once I had my degree, it was time to fork out - get back to my passion - acting. I had always harboured a love for acting and was waiting for the right time to make a comeback.
Even after completing my Masters in business, I realised my heart was in showbiz and so I decided to make it my full-time career. However, that certainly does not mean that I take on all the offers that come my way; I am quite choosy in the characters I portray.” says Kunwar.
Having been away from mainstream showbiz for the last few years, telepk.com queries if the experience was any different from his earlier days? “Well, there was a huge difference in both the eras as by the time I made my comeback it was a different ballgame altogether. When I had acted as a child, I had observed that that was the time when directors ruled supreme.
However, this time around, it’s the actor’s call. Celebrities are now dominating the scene completely. At that time it was just one government-run channel, and exposure for the celebrities was limited. If you got a good offer you were lucky. There wasn’t much talent around either as showbiz was not considered a profession in itself. It was not a stable source of income rather, it was just a hobby.
Things have moved on since then; today, an actor or a singer has a lot of scope and growth prospects with unlimited local channels. The international market is another avenue for our talented lot as actors and singers are now being exported from Pakistan by the dozens, making our land a source of raw talent.”
After a pause Nafis continues, “The media boom has given endless opportunities to our people to pursue their dreams and today many are opting for showbiz as a career. If you ask me, our work requires a lot of physical and mental strength as well as expertise and is undoubtedly better than any other field of work.
Everyone wants to be a part of this business, as we say there’s no business like show business. With technologyadvancement and new markets opening up, it has become quite viable for an actor of today.
What we lack is institutions and people here are working on their own initiative; hats-off to the people in this field for being great improvisers. We have a long way to go still. On the other hand, cinema culture is on the verge of revival and we should now focus on improving that genre as well,” reveals Nafis.
Navigating back to his television appearances, we ask the man of his portrayal of many an intense character as witnessed on the celluloid. “It’s true that besides my regular roles I have done some offbeat stuff as well like one teleplay where I witness a murder and the toll it takes on the character as an eye witness who is threatened by the murderer; that was a thrilling experience.
Then there was another telefilm in which I played the role of a young makrani boy, with the proper getup and accent; it was quite an insight into their lifestyle and I got a lot of appreciation for that particular role from my viewers and directors alike. It was a learning experience for me and there was no glamour in it.”
On his dream role
Nafis discloses, “I like every challenging role, although I would like to portray a lover-boy-cum-action hero.” That’s everyone’s dream role, now.
Some of his latest appearances were in Char Chand, a serial in which he has a negative role, and which is yet to be aired. Then there is the ongoing series called Hospital. He also has to his credit a movie titled Zibahkhana - Hell's Ground, which is out in the market now and has been screened in more than 25 countries at various film festivals.
Although he has done numerous serials, plays, telefilms, etc. what he would really like is to work in a good Pakistani movie. And he certainly does not mean the Maula Jutt style but more on the lines of something like Shoaib Mansoor’s Khuda Kay Liye.
On his favourite actors and directors, Kunwar says, “In Pakistan, I think Shaan has come out well as a groomed film hero. Then there’s Iman Ali who has done a good job. In directors, I like the works of Tariq Jameel, Babar Javed and Nain Maniar. I give credit to Javaid Sheikh for always taking initiatives to make better movies and I guess Humayun Saeed can also play an integral role in contributing towards the betterment of Lollywood.
However, the legendary Shoaib Mansoor has made a masterpiece in the form of Khuda Key Liye which I guess is a milestone and the first step towards the revival of cinema in Pakistan. It is an internationally acclaimed movie and has created waves around the world. It would be an honour if I get a chance to work for and with Shoaib Mansoor.”
Although Kunwar claims showbiz to be a good choice of profession, he has not made it his sole source of bread and butter. Besides his acting bits he also works as a brand manager for a local television channel.
How does he manage two demanding jobs?
“I would not say that it is easy to cope with being an actor and a brand manager. Both are time consuming and need attention and devotion. I would say that acting is something I enjoy doing while being a brand manager is something that I take solely as my work as I have acquired a degree in Business Administration from IBA. My passion for acting will always be there and will not fade away.
“All said and done, I think that our industry needs some refresher courses in professional ethics as payments are usually not made on time, due to which an artist has to suffer, giving reminder calls and follow-up calls on something that he/she has already earned and have not been remunerated for on time.
There is a lack of business ethics and things are handled very casually and haphazardly in most cases. Showbiz is a full-fledged profession and it should not be treated as something that can be done on the sidelines, while focusing on some other business. It should be treated as a professional career.
Unfortunately, we see only those people faring well in this field who have a good support system and are also financially well looked after. For actors like myself, showbiz would have been more feasible if more creative and quality programmes were being made and most importantly if better films were being made as I would love to work in movies rather than TV plays,” he laments.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy so we ask Kunwar on his take on love. “It’s the most essential part of a person's life, and yes, I am passionately in love with my work and if you are talking about a relationship, then no, I am not in a relationship at the moment, though I feel it’s time to tie the knot; it’s just that I’m waiting for my Miss Right… so let’s see!” he reveals grinning.
Future plans for Kunwar Nafis are, “To establish myself as a seasoned actor in the industry. I want to do something exemplary for Pakistan. We should always believe in ourselves, and be flexible enough to learn from any and every source without any bias. It’s better to co-exist then not to exist at all.
And it always helps to work towards mutual benefits. Pakistan has a lot of talent but just not the right ventures and platform to make it really happen,” he shares with us. And his parting shot is, “Five years from now, I would like to see myself as one of the top movie stars in Pakistan as well as the sub-continent.”