Ali Abbas’s journey as an actor has been an interesting one. With his father, actor Waseem Abbas, set against Ali following a career in acting, Ali pursued a BA in business administration, followed by a degree in law. He went on to work in production before his father relented and Ali was able to focus on acting full-time. However, what sets Ali Abbas apart is that nepotism did not come into play in his career. Ali had to work hard without his father’s help or assistance and went through the struggle to make it on his own. With a solid body of work behind him, including notable roles in “Tum Kon Piya,” “Khaali Haath,” “Nazr-E-Bad” and “Mera Khuda Jaane,” Ali Abbas is currently making waves as Aamir, the very realistically creepy antagonist of “Naqab Zun” on Hum TV.
You have a reputation for being selective regarding your work. What is your criteria when signing a show? What do you look for in a script before saying yes?
Absolutely, I do try to do selective work and try to do my research before choosing a subject. My criteria when signing a show is very simple. The most important thing is the story. What is the story? Who is the director and the team involved? Other than that, what is my character and what is the impact of my character within that story? If my character is not necessarily the hero, even if It’s the villain or just a character, even then I will go for it if it’s impactful.
Coming from a family of actors, do you feel as though it has been helpful or a hindrance in your career? Do you take advice from each other regarding work?
I think coming from a television or film family background is always a hindrance, because from the first day people expect the same things from you that they expected from your parents or grandparents. Besides that, I feel there’s an added pressure to meet your own family’s expectations. Even if you ignore the outside world, when you have so many living legends in your home who have worked at the highest level in this field then that also adds pressure. So yeah, it’s a lot of pressure when you’re from such a background. And yes, I do take advice from my father and he helps me out in choosing my projects and characters, because I think there’s no shortcut to experience, so I would definitely take advantage of his experience. And it’s not just me, I see a lot of young kids coming to him for advice, because he’s such a friendly guy. So yeah, I have that luxury at home.
What is the most challenging part about playing a role like Aamir in “Naqab Zun”?
Because I’ve done 3-4 negative roles, the most difficult part was that the director and I wanted to keep the character in a grey area. We didn’t want him to be an out-and-out negative character. We didn’t want him to be a typical negative character. He needed to have a normal routine and I wanted to humanize him. How would I make him seem human and not like a larger-than-life villain? So that was the most difficult part and that was the challenge. And I think – I don’t know – but maybe we have succeeded, but I think we have at least played our part.
What message do you want viewers to take away from a show like “Naqab Zun”?
The most important message from “Naqab Zun” that I believe audiences should understand is that they should not trust everybody from their family when it comes to molestation or sexual harassment. Because this is possibly a mental illness that anyone can have and it doesn’t matter whether they are educated, uneducated or what part of society they come from. It’s a human illness, so you have to deal with it as such and you cannot trust everyone with your children, your sisters, your family. So I think this is a very positive message and Aamir’s character is being taken in a direction where it will be clear that we are not glorifying a negative character. Rather we are highlighting this negative character and sending a message through him.
Of all the characters you have played, which one is most like your real life personality? Which one is least like you?
I can’t decide which character is similar to my real life personality. I’m a fun person, but I also get very angry and a little short-tempered as well. Aggressive characters have always been my forte, which I’m trying to change now by doing different characters, but the characters that have highlighted me as an actor have always been aggressive. If I look at the most humanized character out of my roles, it would be Zarbaab from “Tum Kon Piya.” I really enjoyed that character and I thought that it was very real. It was not like me, but it was like a real person, it was like a lot of real people that I knew. So that character from “Tum Kon Piya” is one that I really liked personally.
Least like me is Aamir. I won’t lay a hand on my saali (sister-in-law), so yeah, the “Naqab Zun” character is least like me.
On the sheer basis of his hard work and commitment, Ali Abbas has proved himself to be a reliable actor with a strong script sense. At present, Ali Abbas has a great lineup for viewers to choose from with 3 shows on air right now: “Naqab Zun” on Hum TV, “Rishtay Biktay Hain” on ARY and “Kahin Deep Jalay” on Geo.