By Fareeha Qayoom
had never met Ahmed Butt before in my life. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I gave him a call for an interview. He sounded curt – he told me his correct name is not Ahmed Butt but Ahmed Ali Butt. For a minute there I was a little worried that I may have called the wrong Butt after all. He told me to give him a call after 8:00 pm and he would let me know where to come and do his interview. I quickly hunted down my EP CD and looked up his name. I had called the correct Ahmed Butt after all. Thank God!
I had prior appointments but who the heck cared? When this particular celebrity wanted me to jump, the appropriate response could only be how high? So I gave him a call after eight. He told me to get to my neighborhood McDonald’s at 10:00 pm and he would give me the directions from there…hmm, what kind of joint was he running anyway?
I was punctual. He wasn’t. I returned home. He returned my calls half an hour later…so we rescheduled the appointment for the next day. I was supposed to give him a call at 4:00 pm. It was beginning to feel like the middle of twilight zone. Next day, he told me to meet him at his place at 7:00 p.m. I requested directions. Boy, did he give me directions! He made a simple straightforward way sound real complicated.
I was ready to climb the walls by the time I got to his place. Talk about a wild goose chase! First thing he said to me was “all journalists are stupid”. I was amused but I wasn’t about to let him get away with it so I said that he should be careful – I could write real weird stuff about him. He told me he didn’t care. An actor who didn’t care about bad press? This was getting way too interesting.
Well, first impressions – his room looks like a typical bachelor pad cut off from the main living area with its own separate entrance. It’s pretty clean for a guy’s room. The exercise machine takes the pride of the place. Ahmed comes across as a devil-may-care, very self assured kind of person with in your face honesty that can offend. He doesn’t mince his words. I liked it.
He tried to make an effort to be hospitable by telling me to make myself comfortable and called his mom on his cell phone to send over some refreshments. Either he doesn’t talk to his mom all that much or it’s the opposite. Anyway, he still manages to sound like a loving son. Which is it? I decide not to go there…besides, it could all be acting for my benefit anyway.
“I have been acting all my life…I turned professional back in ’94. Before that I did a lot of school plays. I could mimic my teachers and I was the only one who had the guts to do it to their face. One friend suggested that I do a play for a private production while still at FC College, ‘Arsenic and old lace.’ the rest is history as they say. I became addicted.”
He started his own professional theatrical company while still studying at FC College. “I started my own company. I didn’t study for the whole four years – just looked for sponsors and put up theatrical productions. Then I did Maula Jutt and fortunately, Vasey Chaudhry happened to see my work.”
“I have not always been doing comedy roles” says Ahmed. “During my theatre days – I have done serious roles too – I played a hunch back, a mad scientist, even a murderous father who kills his own daughter in the name of honor… I was happy and satisfied with my work considering the limitations. I did about six to seven years of theatre. Then I met Zain Ahmed and we did Jutt & Bond together for television. It was a sit-com. I knew Fawad from the underground scene from before. So Zain as the director, Vasey Chaudhry as the writer and Fawad and I in the lead role – we did the play and it turned out well.”
Ahmed is also currently starring in a sit-com called Rubber Band. “Rubber Band is about serious musicians who get inspired from the local pop industry – it’s a story of a college where eight to ten characters aspire to be musicians – my character wants to be Shafaqat Amanat Ali when he grows up. The play is really about how you start and how you make it in the music scene. 19 episodes have already been aired.”
Speaking about his future aspirations, Ahmed says, “I am more interested in direction now. Rubber band is my directorial debut. I am in the process of reducing the number of acting jobs – I am planning to do more direction but not right now. Another play that I am acting in is inspector Khojee a spoof of various detectives for PTV. The lead character solves crimes. Again, I am working for the same basic team – Zain Ahmed/Vasey Chaudhry. Then, I am acting in another serial in September/October. I’ll take time out to direct my own serial. I also have plans to direct a movie probably will be able do so in 2 years if all goes to plan. I am also considering a movie offer. I haven’t ruled it out – I may end up doing this movie if the script and team turns out ok and people are of the same wavelength.”
Ahmed loves his job, “my social and personal life has become a little restricted because of my career commitments. Fame has consequences. But at the end of the day it’s worth it because I love my work. Anybody can be on Television. People who last are true to their art. I have no hang ups working with new people, the more you work, the more you learn. As long as the director knows what he wants from his actors, things work out. There is conflict sometimes if the director doesn’t know what he is doing. However, I am a flexible person and I have learnt to deal with conflict – rule number one – leave your ego at the door.” ■
This article was originally published in the print edition of “The Knit-Xtyle Fashion Review,” (Tkfr), issue 12, October 2005