Aijazz Aslam

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Aijazz Aslam, TV star, model

The optimist in Aijazz

By Uzma Mazhar;

Photography: Rizwan-ul-Haq

Aijazz Aslam

‘I like playing characters which give me the scope to develop them. I was a model and erasing that image from people’s minds was tough and took a long time. Now, I am finally out of that mould and considered a serious actor,’ says Aijazz Aslam

From his role of an underworld don in the drama serial Kismet to the recently concluded serial Na Tum Jano Na Hum in which he played a writer, and the on-air sitcom Mein Aur Tum, Aijazz Aslam has proved his mettle as a diverse actor. “As an actor, my priority now is to choose challenging roles where there is room for performance. I have the confidence and know that I can do any character that comes my way,” he says.

His portrayal of bootlegger, Zahid (prodigy and confidante of one of the main characters, Shahid, played by Shahzad Nawaz) in Botal Gali received raving reviews in the press. “The overall experience of working in Botal Gali has been wonderful. At the premiere and afterwards, the appreciation that I received from the media, friends and the audience was absolutely wonderful. My phone has not stopped ringing since.”

His achievements in acting aside, Aijazz has actively been involved in fashion for the better part of a decade now. As a professional in the field, he has steadily climbed the ladder of success, first as a model and then a designer. But having evolved significantly in both genres, he is perhaps at his superlative best as an actor, playing a variety of roles and shunning the image of a single dimension performer.

Aijazz Aslam

Coming back to Botal Gali, I ask him how he prepared himself to don the character of a bootlegger? “It was certainly a different and difficult character to work on. The advantage of working with Shahzad Nawaz is that he is so involved in his work and exudes so much positive energy that one is bound to work hard. There were many points where Shahzad guided me as he had thoroughly researched the subject.”

Aijazz says that together ,they came up with the exact look they wanted for Zahid in order to create a convincing character. “I wanted the long hair and paan-chewing tapori look; we devised the walk and the way that he would talk. I even had my complexion changed to a darker shade. Irrespective of the fact that taking off the make-up used to take about an hour each time, I must say Zahid came out really well,” he says.

The bootlegger is a far cry from Aijazz’s glamourous avatar, but he says it doesn’t matter to him at this stage in his career as his initial days of acting were full of glamourous lead roles with little scope for performance. “To tell you the truth, I don’t enjoy doing lead roles anymore. Initially it was fine, but today, I like playing characters which give me the scope to develop them. I was a model and erasing that image from people’s minds was tough and took a long time. Now, I am finally out of that mould and considered a serious actor. When you land compliments, it actually encourages you to do better. At this point, I am fortunate that I am working with good directors to the effect that I have decided that I will only work with the best of the lot.”

A performance-oriented character involved in an interesting storyline with skillful camera angles, there are two hitches in Botal Gali — the film is too long and Aijazz’s character is cut short and ends rather abruptly. Why? “If you watch the film, the central character is that of Babu Bhai (Akther Qayum) and the rest of us are the supporting cast. But still, my character is present in the story for quite a long time, even though it ends abruptly.” He says that had his character been unfolded further, the film duration would have lengthened even further. “But whatever frames I got were all performance-based and I have tried to give it my best shot.”

Aijazz Aslam

With confidence in his acting abilities, Aijazz has also ventured on to hosting events, something which he considers virgin territory. “I have gained more confidence in myself as a host. My best experiences so far have been The Musik Awards and live transmissions over the past two years. I also hosted the Botal Gali premiere which was an interesting experience. In short, I am enjoying and loving every aspect of my professional life as a host, actor and fashion designer.”

Having worked in the field of designing for over a decade now, specialising in grooms’ wear and western suitings, Aijazz’s design philosophy is simple: “A flattering cut with flawless finishing and above all, good quality.”

With his label recognised overseas as well, it was surprising to find his name again missing from the Sony Ericsson Lux Style Awards 2006, despite being nominated in the designer category in the first LSA. “With the passing of time LSA has become bigger and better, but this year there were many people who have been closely associated with the event since its inception and many who have won an award but were conspicuous by their absence. The way I see the situation is that the judges involved are the same from day one. Hence, they inevitably tend to favour their own choice of people and are biased.”

According to Aijazz, there is a dire need for the judges involved to be neutral and observant of a fashion designer’s work throughout the year, with regular input from the market. The award should then be given based on these judgments.

Aijazz says that he is now working towards the expansion of his label. “I am targetting the international market by opening outlets. When and where, only time will tell, but I must say that when going international, you should project a positive name for yourself as well as your country. All successful people have spread their knowledge and their name has gone forward and lived forever. I have reached a level where I want to give back something to my country and the younger generation,” says Aijazz, bringing an end to our conversation on a positive note.

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