by Kaukab Jahan
Pakistani-American actor Shazli Hafeez Khan, better known as Shaz Khan, has quickly made a name for himself in the intensely competitive film industry. From his debut film Moor to his latest offering, blockbuster film Parwaaz Hai Junoon, the flight seems unstoppable for Shaz Khan! Along with his acting projects, Shaz has also stepped behind the scenes and recently completed co-writing a script for a film titled The Martial Artist. Get to know the dynamic artist better in this conversation with Pakistan Today.
How did you enter into the showbiz world?
I was working in a bank after my business studies in US. But I had caught the acting germ when I did a film in my college days. And from then, I knew I wanted to act. I tried my luck by auditioning for the local theatre plays and started getting small roles. A few positive reviews boosted my confidence and I decided to quit my banking job and moved to New York for better options. There I studied acting at Actors Studio Drama School, Pace University. I also gave hundreds of auditions, did numerous plays and independent films and ultimately got cast as a cancer patient in a short film, Flutter, which ultimately gave me recognition.
How did you land a role in your first Pakistani film Moor?
I was on a break and hanging out with my friends in Pakistan when this happened; I call it pure luck. Jami was auditioning for his film Moor in those days and I went for an audition and despite my broken Urdu got selected. And then for the next two weeks, I immersed myself in preparing for the role of Ahsaan.
But before Moor, you also did a very small role in a television drama. Tell us about that.
Yes. In those days, I was playing a cancer patient and for that I had shaved my head and eyebrows. When Mehreen Jabbar saw me like that in the audition, she offered me a small role of a lawyer Vicky in her Pak-US project Mata-e-Jaan Hai Tu.
In Parwaaz Hai Junoon, how was your experience of working with your co -stars?
It was a wonderful experience working with Hamza Ali Abbasi and we’re good friends now. In our free time on set, we would discuss subjects like politics and philosophy of life. I don’t have any scenes with Ahad Raza Mir in the film but I’ve had a good experience working with him in Yaqeen Ka Safar. My better half in the film, Kubra Khan is also a great person and we got along really well.
You have worked at the air force base and had have had close interactions with officers of the Pakistan Air Force. Did any officer in particular inspire or you made general observations and developed your own thing?
Both! When you spend time with someone for a certain period, the osmosis process begins and you start learning from them and adopting their mannerism. I myself also read a lot about air force and even flew a jet.
Playing an airforce officer, did you struggle with the romance in the film?
Believe me, I observed them like that. They actually have an unrealistic romance. If I had put in too much drama, the air force officers might have gotten offended. But I think I pulled the character truthfully.
What was the most difficult scene in PHJ?
Unfortunately, that scene was chopped off from the film and it was the death scene of Hamza [Abbasi].
What about dancing?
In PHJ, I danced as well. I would love to dance in the films as it comes naturally to me. I am very comfortable with dancing, as my mother is a dancer.
Who is your favourite actress from Pakistan, Bollywood and Hollywood?
I wouldn’t like to name one particular Pakistani actress as my favourite but I would love to work with Saba Qamar on screen. From Bollywood, Deepika Padukone is my all-time favourite and from Hollywood, Halle Berry, who was also my childhood crush. She really is a beautiful actress.
You have worked with big names in Pakistan like Jami and Haseeb Hasan. Who else you would like to work with now?
I would love to do films with every good director of the Pakistan film industry. Nabeel Qureshi and Nadeem Baig have given us big hits and are getting better with every film. I would also love to work with Bilal Lashari.