The small screen is often subject to criticism in Pakistan either its from those who believe displaying certain characters and their stories is against our cultural values, or those who think there is a lack of diversity and inclusivity in characters due to cultural restraint.
There’s also backlash towards the stereotypical representation of men and women in the media, coupled with the repetitive roles which automatically narrows down the scope available to actors.
However, Junaid Khan in a recent interview with BBC Urdu, opened up about the limited working margin for males on the small screen. But he did not cite the lack of content or diversity as the cause. “Because television is a medium largely consumed by women, its main characters are women,” he said. “On the contrary, the work margin for male actors is higher on the big screen,” he added.
Khan claimed that majority of the stories on television revolve around females. And even if a male character is in the limelight, it is because of his association with his fellow female character(s). According to the Kashf actor, it is because of this that “only the roles of a husband, father, brother, son and cousin are available for men,”
“This is a business, after all,” he remarked. “So even the makers can’t extend their narratives in our favour. They have to work within those boundaries,” he shared.
But irrespective of the repetition, the celebrity revealed that he rarely takes any breaks from work and focuses more on building himself. “I read different characters and I’m not into brand building exercises. I don’t limit myself to just brands,” he admitted. “I don’t believe in doing one play a year. TV is a means of expression for me and I’m exploring more of it,” said Khan with determination.
He did admit that there were a few characters that appeared as ‘unique’ to him. “One such character of mine was in Haniya,” said Khan, recalling his 2019 television serial produced by Humayun Saeed.
“I look for such characters. I sat down with Qasim Ali Mureed, the director of the play, and created that character. And props to Qasim for letting me do it, even though at one time it was said about the character that it should not look like this and the body language should not be like that.” Khan then relayed how impactful characters are built with the input from both the director and the team. “I have done a lot of characters that just get lost,” added the star.
As for his experience on the big screen, Khan revealed how that did not disappoint him. The Bin Roye actor opened up about working on his debut film Kahe Dil Jidhar, which has been delayed due to Covid-19. “When a project is for the big screen, your entire body language changes and there is a higher working margin,” he said.
“I have worked with the film’s director Jalal Rumi in my initial music videos so we both know how we like to work,” said the Jilawatan crooner. “The story of the film is written by Kamran Bari. I have worked with Mansha Pasha before as well, so it is an ideal team,” confessed the artiste.
“There were also some things I did for the film that I had never done on screen. For example, I had never danced,” laid out the Mohabbat Na Kariyo actor. Khan unveiled how his reputation in the industry was so uptight that he never even danced at an award show. But thankfully, that ice will be breaking with his big screen performance.
As for the story of the film, he explained how it had a staunch social messages against drug abuse, irrespective of which, he had a field time shooting for it. “Whether the film will be a successful or not, depends on the audience, but I really enjoyed it.” And speaking of his experience of working with fellow actor Hira Mani in Kashf is concerned, Khan said that he is good friends with her and grateful viewers are not bored of seeing them together all the time.
“We are so comfortable with each other on screen that Hira and I often laugh whenever we get a new drama. I am glad the fans like our on-screen performances aren’t bored of us yet,” concluded Khan.