A sincere and dedicated actor, Imran Ashraf has worked hard and steadily made his way up the ladder of success. He began acting in 2011 and made a name for himself by working in dramas like "Mere Meherbaan", "Gul E Rana" and "Dillagi" (amongst others) before striking gold in 2017 with “Alif Allah Aur Insaan,” where he played the role of a transgender. Imran continued to act in successful shows like “Dil Mom Ka Diya.” In 2019, Imran became a household name with his role as Bhola in ”Ranjha Ranjha Kardi,” which won hearts nationally and internationally. Discussing his career, Imran Ashraf shares his thoughts on his recent shows, his process while working and what we can look forward to in the future.
Your current dramas, “Inkaar” and “Jaal,” have you playing two very different characters. How do you choose and prepare for a role?
Yes, Inkaar and Jaal are two different roles, so I have only one formula, one method to prepare and that is that I start thinking about the role. Zaid (Jaal) is an FA pass and works at a shoe store. So you have to think that you are Zaid: this is how educated you are, this is your mother, this is your father, you work at a shoe store…you have to feel this. You must understand the role that you are playing first, this is who you are and tell yourself this lie to the point that everyone believes it to be the truth. What is written in the script is who I am and that’s the extent of my preparation.
When portraying an involved character like Bhola, how do you disconnect when you go home?
See this practice of “switch on, switch off” is something I have done a lot. As such, if you ever see Noman Ejaz Sahab at work, before and after “action” is called, the way he jokes, the way he laughs and the way he behaves with others, it’s 100 kilometers away from the character he is playing. But after “action” is called, you cannot recognize that this is the same man I was just talking to. So this “switch on, switch off” button exists, but yes, a part of the character does remain inside you. After playing Bhola, Bhola did remain somewhere inside me and even his body language did carry into my life, but as such, I did “switch off” with Bhola. To be honest, I put so much effort and energy into Bhola that by the last spell, I was exhausted. I just wanted it to be over, because whatever energy I had inside me, I had put into that role and I had finished the last 10 days of shooting with a lot of difficulty.
Inkaar is being praised as the best show presently on television. Why do you think audiences are drawn to this story? What compelled you to sign it?
Absolutely, “Inkaar,” you’re absolutely right. People are telling us that it’s different and better than the rest in terms of content. And that content is really good, most importantly there’s a message. If people from the drama industry watch and follow, then we should give a message. The topic here is consent, which is a necessary message to give. After that, there is Kashif Nisar Sahab who is a wonderful director, along with Zafar Mairaj who is a wonderful writer. The message is the staple – I didn’t do this play to prove my acting or to increase the bar of my popularity. I properly did this drama for the message.
Having won and been nominated for awards, do award shows carry a lot of weight, in your opinion? What has been the greatest award in your career so far?
Yes, absolutely, awards are very important and an award is big happiness. When you’re nominated and you win, it’s a very happy moment and when you’re nominated and you don’t win, you do feel badly about it. But sometimes deserving people do not win and when people who deserve it don’t win, you feel badly for them as though you didn’t win. The greatest award in my life for me has been the duaas of others, that people love me and keep me in their duaas. The audience will like you and will even make a place for you in their hearts, but you do not get many duaas and so those are my greatest awards. Everything I have is God-given - I have my family, my wife, my beautiful child and my career is going very well, all of this is an award for me.
What’s next in terms of future projects? Have you signed anything?
These days, I am working on only one drama. Its name has not been finalized yet, but it is directed by Saima Waseem, who has directed “Aatish” and “Gumrah.” The writer is Qaisra Hayat, who wrote “Alif Allah Aur Insaan” and “Kun Faya Kun.” I’m in it along with Neelum Munir, Saba Hameed, Ali Abbas…I’m having fun, InshaAllah, I’m putting in my full focus and effort on this and whatever happens is God’s will. It will air on GEO and is a 7th Sky Production. This is the only drama I’m working on and I haven’t signed anything else yet. I feel that I’ve become superstitious in terms of scripts now.
Considering Imran Ashraf’s body of work, his stellar performances and his interesting choice in scripts, we’re sure that we can expect to see Imran in exciting projects in the future. A natural that has succeeded based on hard work and talent alone, he has proved that slow and steady truly does win the race.