We catch up with the heartthrob Farhan Saeed, who was recently seen on screen for his movie Tich Button – now playing in all UK cinemas. Let’s find out what he had to share!
You were the lead singer of the band Jal, How did you get into acting as a singer. How did that all happen?
Well, actually, even as a band, I didn’t choose that field myself. I was just performing in my college event. Someone from Coke Studio called Zulfi whom one would ask folks to do right now he was a senior to me in college. He introduced me to Gohar and as you know, we started recording songs and the first one we recorded was Woh Lamhe, so the same went for acting actually. When I left the band Jal, I was in India recording ‘Tu thori der aur Thairja’ and Naam e Wafa.
I was recording this music video ‘Pee Jaon’, I was on an Indian tour and doing my Indian stuff. When I had come back to Pakistan, I got a call for my first drama serial, so I thought I’m not in the band anymore and the dynamics of the music have changed. I thought it’s taking a lot of your time as an artist and not productive enough, so I said, why not? Let’s go to Karachi and try and see how you do as an actor. The first one I did and then the second one was Udhari. When these dramas came out I was very lucky as an actor actually because very early in my career, I got such good projects that people liked me as an actor because of that I started liking the acting profession, and then when I got so much love from the audience, my confidence built up. So basically, in a nutshell, this field just chose me rather than me choosing them, whether it be singing or acting.
Can you tell me about the movie and the metaphor of Tich Button, who came out with this concept?
It was decided by the scriptwriter Faiza Iftikhar, usually, there’s a working title and they write on it. And then it depends on the makers like us, if you want to change anything about it or something. But honestly when we read the whole script, and when we got the soul of it, so we never want us to change it. South Asian people all over the world would understand that tich button means they just belong to each other and click together like a button. That kind of button basically is a metaphor for friends, also families, and how we stick together as families. You know, two lovers. What part of the world if they are soul-mates? Will they connect and belong together? It’s a metaphor that covered so much of it in one word. We went with that and basically, it was used for two cousins, It was used for a guy and a girl for the love story. It was used for the family so you know a lot of angles were covered under this one name.
In a nutshell, it’s a story of a Punjabi family and there are two cousins that are good friends. One is a village boy who lives in Pakistan and the other cousin goes to Turkey to work.
What appealed to you personally about this storyline and the role?
The fact that all of us can relate to it. You know, half of our families are back home. It’s that kind of family, entertainment. There’s a different rollercoaster of emotions throughout the film, similar to a romantic drama.
If I would go to a cinema to watch a movie with my family, I would definitely prefer this kind of a movie it’s not a total action-packed movie. There are many people who are not only interested in action, it’s not totally romantic, it’s a mix of everything even some comedy that I liked too. But it’s the value of relationships that is derived from their coded messages. I personally think that it is very relatable to families living abroad and also to families living here in South Asia. I thought that people could relate so they’ll enjoy it. They’ll identify with someone in the movie. So that was the whole idea.
What are your personal thoughts about these deep-seated beliefs that a person’s not taken seriously if they’re not a doctor, lawyer or an engineer and this was addressed in the movie, is this belief changing?
Well, you know, it’s getting a lot better but it’s just started. I mean, it’s not even started if you ask me, but yes, still in Pakistan if you This is this is such great writing and you know, the right Pfizer, GE has just covered it’s such a brilliant way. But you know, if this and that guy also doesn’t know that he is gifted if he’s dancing and trying to justify that he also studies but you know, performing arts performed the professions apart from a doctor, lawyer, engineer, you don’t see anybody becoming anything else or their parents don’t want them to become anything else because otherwise, you’re not serious in your life. So, unfortunately, Pakistan is still there. It’s just a start. Very like I have been, I’ve seen this transition. I’ve been one of the few lucky artists of the era. When I started music as Jal band, I don’t know how people even survived in these creative fields, they were very hard times but yes, luckily the internet came in and we are the product of the internet for sure. People started getting educated and with ideologies that are not bizarre, they spoke and thought logically and the thinking logic and cared for the country and how they are portrayed in the outside world.
Being forced to choose your idol. It’s not just the art, profession, or talent. I think it’s the whole package, how you think how you talk, what and how you wear. The internet has done a lot of work for everybody, it’s a youthful society now and Pakistan definitely has shown improvement in that regard, but I think we have a still long way to go.
It’s so true and we as British Pakistani still feel it too as we also had to struggle to fight with our parents over a different career path, I mean my parents didn’t even know or take interest in what my Journalism degree was about, and it still has to be justified to a certain point because every person is driven by different personal values. This goes on to my next question how do you think Lena is portrayed as someone who was born abroad?
You remind me of our heroine Lena who is played by Iman. She’s a girl who was born and brought up abroad. She prefers speaking the raw truth to everything she doesn’t lie, you know, even the people who live outside Pakistan, cousins, brothers, you know, come back and are very upfront and honest. Because they’re born and brought up in an honest society and try to speak the truth and be straight up.
All these messages are there, but they are not in the way we are preaching something but in a very entertaining way. The people will take these messages onboard for sure. I think that the best way of entertainment is that you laugh, cry, and take away something important from the movie.
But there has been a whole shift in society. I mean, I remember playing cassettes side a side B and I remember turning to CDs. I remember turning to the Sony walkman. Then came the iPod. iPhone., The Internet came in and I remember using Yahoo and MSN Messenger when I was like in seventh or sixth grade, we have seen a whole shift in society and things are changing, but the basic values should remain the same.
How have the people of the village been portrayed then?
The village life we showed, we are not showing that they don’t know anything or aren’t upto date with technology. They know everything. and it’s not that they are unrelatable either. If you show there’s a boy from the village from the remote corners of Pakistan and he doesn’t know anything about Facebook, that doesn’t happen. Obviously, it’s from today’s age. It’s as good as any city but you know, it’s just that they live in a joint family system. So the fun is in the little aspects like touching the goat before you begin something and that probably people who have moved out of Pakistan will remember and will find it funny and very cute. It’ll remind them of their soil.
I am sure they will love it when it’s all about relatability. We all loved Dilwale Dulhaniya le Jaye gain too back in the day, and I loved the character of Amrish Puri too as a strict father, even being an urban city girl if we can relate to certain aspects of it that’s when the magic happens. But anyway, what’s your favourite memory when filming?
I can’t say it was a favourite memory because it was really hard work and for so long. But now when I think back it’s all very memorable and it was a life-changing experience. It’s something that didn’t change one thing in me, it changed the whole of me. I think differently. I act differently. Especially when you’re producing, you’re not just doing it for yourself or just taking care of yourself. You’re actually running a crew of hundreds of people every day for months. You start feeling like you’re ahead of something and then starting it from scratch again and then wrapping it up till the movie is released, you come across a lot of challenges and see a lot of people’s hidden faces. You also find a new friends and you’ll find about the people who actually really care about you when you’re down. It’s a great process to go through and God has been really kind during the pandemic.
Why do you feel that the Pakistani movies are the next best export from Pakistan and why now?
I think it’s all long overdue. Our dramas are praised all over the world. Our music is praised all over the world too. So that makes two-thirds of the movie anyway. You know, the only third left of that is it’s the technique and the technical part of it. You know, it is just matters of time before people start putting their money in this and investors believe in our cinema industry. Because of any anything else? We’re doing it already. Music is there and it’s been appreciated all over the world. The dramas, the poetries, the emotions, it’s all over the world. There are no better dramas than Pakistani dramas.
They are definitely getting better day by day because I never used to. have any interest in any type of drama serials before as I am a documentary series type of person but I think someone is doing something finally right and I have to admit too I have started to watch a couple of them too just for educational reasons but damn they are getting daring too which is refreshing to see whilst still keeping it decent to watch with family.
The best part is they’re being followed. They have an audience of their own. So that’s what you want. They don’t come on Netflix. They don’t come on any other channel but they are still on YouTube. They are reaching millions and millions of people in India and Pakistan. Investors will find confidence in this business model and I just know that it’s just a matter of time.
So shall we say that tourism could be Pakistan’s next best import then?
You know what Tahira, I was laughing with friends the other day that we are so unlucky that the year we were declared the best tourist destination in the world was the year that Covid hit but very honestly if you ask me because I don’t live in a fool’s paradise. Right now Pakistan is politically going through a tough time and the tour will also take some time. But that’s also a matter of time but I think one thing that can change tourism very soon is the sporting and cricket events taking place.
What cultures really inspire you and where would you like to travel to next?
Well, I really like travelling since childhood traveling overall for people can be very exciting but for me it always was for work purposes. However, I love going to the beautiful northern areas of Pakistan and I am dying to Switzerland also.
Omg why did you have to mention Switzerland out of all the countries in the world, you’re going to hate me now because I’ve just ironically come back from there (laughs).
What do you do normally for Eid? Have you celebrated eid abroad?
Well, I have actually my brother who stays in London, and the other brother is in Dallas. I have I’ve celebrated it with them and also have seen all the Eid’s in Pakistan. Interestingly enough, I think you know the people who stay abroad they’re more excited about Eid even more than the Pakistanis. Most of the Pakistani if you ask them, they take it as a holiday. They just you know we have we pray in the morning, come back have our lunch and most of us go to sleep. One of the best attractions of Eid now is going to the cinema and watching the new Pakistani movie released in time for Eid.
So, what can the UK audience expect from you in the near future regarding your new roles and projects?
I am doing so much that I’m becoming worried that if I will be able to give my best. Very soon ma single is coming out in the new year. I am in talks with a filming team so am going to be going to the film set again. I also have a couple of drama scripts too, so I have my arms legs and head in so much.
Are you looking to get into serious roles or more fun -loving characters?
The projects I am doing have an element of everything in them. So it really depends. Mere Humsafar I did a very serious role. And Suno Chanda was a comic role and people loved me in both roles. I almost did a negative role in Baadshah Begum for Hum TV. I’ve tried my hand in everything. The people have confidence in me as an actor and I’m not in that space where I’m afraid I’ll be typecast for something. I’m open to anything and I will be trying everything so watch this space. Thank you to everybody who listens to you and everybody who’s following you everybody who’s reading this right now please go watch Tich Button in the cinema.