There are actors who are known for their skills and then there are actors who stand out because of their persona. The legendary Ayub Khosa is the ideal mix of both. You can’t miss him at a film premier and he doesn’t let you leave your seat when he is performing on the big screen. Perhaps it’s this ideal combination that has taken him to a new echelon.
Right after giving a far-fetched performance in Operation 021, the actor, quite comfortably eased into his Bollywood debut with Welcome 2 Karachi. “It was a little difficult to explain to Bollywood actors where I come from,” Khosa shares the Bollywood experience with The Express Tribune. “They asked me ‘where do you hail from in Pakistan’, I replied ‘Quetta’ and they said ‘Where is that? We have never heard of this place before’, and then I had to explain them the geography,” he laughed.
But Khosa doesn’t take that too personally. He thinks that if a Pakistani artist knows where Kolkata is in India, it’s because India is a huge industry that heavily relies on importing their culture- which is still not the case in Pakistan.
“90 per cent of people in Pakistan know 80 per cent of the Bollywood actors, including the new and the nobodies. But Indians in general know only about 20 per cent of our industry, which is fine. If we have the skill and craft, then it will eventually shine,” says Khosa.
Welcome 2 Karachi is a comedy film that revolves around two Indian friends who embark on a journey only to find themselves in Karachi without their passports. Amidst the chaos of Taliban and trying to find their way back to India, the two characters create quite a ruckus. With Arshad Warsi and Jackie Bhagnani as the lead actors, the film has been shot in different parts of the UK, namely Wales, Birmingham and Bradford. Although these places cannot replicate Karachi and give it the same look and feel, the sets have been made to resemble Karachi as closely as possible.
“We were mostly shooting at two entirely different locations but still the time I spent with Jackie and Arshad was very pleasant. Though they didn’t know much about my work in Pakistan, they respected me like any artist would respect a senior artist,” recalls Khosa.
He admires how Bollywood treats artists and places them in very high accord – so much so that Khosa never felt out of place on the set of the film. The actor was almost entirely overwhelmed by their gratitude and recognition of his talent and time.
“They are thorough professionals, who in fact know what they are up to and why, which is the foundation of any successful industry.”
Over the decades, Khosa has had a remarkable journey as a performer. He started off by doing a travel show for PTV in the early 90s, moved on to TV dramas and came back with a bang with Shoaib Mansoor’s Khuda Kay Liye and then Operation 021. This is an odyssey that any hero would want in an industry that has gone through consistent highs and lows but Khosa managed to do it without being one.
“I myself get confused when a director appreciates my performance on the set. I say to myself ‘Yeh Lashaoor madad kahan sae ajati hai’ (Where do I get this subconscious help from) and then a couple of things come to my mind,” ponders Khosa.
“I think it’s all because of the grooming I received from my teachers at PTV Quetta and the people of this city. We were trained in a manner that we never looked up to Dilip Kumar or anyone else in Bollywood. For us, the inspiration came from either Hollywood or from within ourselves and our soil.”