Mikaal Zulfiqar spills the beans

In a recent interview with BBC Urdu, renowned Pakistani actor Mikaal Zulfiqar opened up about his groundbreaking performance as Sherry in the TV serial Jaise Apki Marzi. The actor delved into the complexities of his character, the challenges of portraying intense roles, and his candid thoughts on the dynamics of the Pakistani entertainment industry. On a separate note, the actor also spoke about India exploiting Pakistani artists.

Mikaal began by shedding light on the unique character of Sherry, acknowledging the rarity of characters like him who are unapologetically honest about their toxicity. He credited the scriptwriter for crafting a compelling narrative that deviated from the conventional female-driven dramas.

“Toxic people never admit they’re toxic. But we need to credit Sherry for at least being who he is on your face. I would also like to credit the writer for this great script. I said yes to Sherry because it was a driving character. Usually, our dramas are female-driven and the female character is pushing the narrative forward. But in this case, it was the other way around.”

The actor admitted to a certain level of selfishness in accepting the role, driven by the belief that Sherry’s complexity would allow him to showcase his acting prowess. Despite Sherry’s dominating and overpowering demeanour in scenes with Alizeh’s character, Mikaal found a margin for artistic expression, and the positive reception from the audience affirmed his decision. “To be honest, there was nothing good about Sherry, in all the scenes he is dominating Alizeh’s character, he is overpowering, and so, it didn’t inspire me in real life. But as an actor, I saw a lot of margin. You could say, I was selfish while accepting this script because I felt I could shine. And I did so, that’s wonderful.”

When asked if he had encountered individuals like Sherry in real life, Mikaal drew inspiration from society, personal experiences, and interactions with narcissistic personalities. Reflecting on the challenging scenes, Mikaal highlighted his commitment to maintaining a natural flow in his performance. “I tried to keep things natural and that’s what I’m getting compliments for as well. I didn’t try to force anything. I could’ve taken pauses, delivered my dialogues with emphasis on certain words but I wanted to deliver everything fluently. People are calling it my best performance till date; I wouldn’t disagree with that.”

The conversation shifted to the impact of intense characters on an actor. Mikaal acknowledged that the roles an actor plays can leave a lasting mark, prompting him to be selective about the characters he portrays. “Even if you’re acting, you’re still performing an act (real or not) that that character would. I understood this seven years ago and I became very careful about the kind of characters I play. When I was offered the character that Ahsan Khan plays in Udaari, that of a child molester, I rejected it because I didn’t want to play that out. I have daughters of my own.”

Discussing Jaise Apki Marzi, Mikaal highlighted the drama’s focus on red flags in relationships. “Jaise Apki Marzi is about the red flags we tend to overlook in relationships earlier on and its consequences later in life. Mostly women can relate to it because they feel their husbands or their ex-husbands were exactly like this. It saddens me. I think, if this drama can help people spot these red flags earlier on, it’s served its purpose. And this isn’t just for women, but men too. Women can be toxic as well.”

In a candid revelation, Mikaal also addressed his experiences working in India, noting that while he has received positive feedback from Indians, he believes Pakistani artists have been exploited in the Indian entertainment industry. He clarified that his comments weren’t fuelled by animosity but a call for a levelled playing field. “I said what I said based on my own experience and everyone knows the history behind this working relationship. Not just me but a lot of artists have been exploited in India. Deep down, Indians are great, so much of my feedback I get from Indians and I have a lot of interaction with them. But some parts of India or some people, especially the Indian establishment, whenever they get the chance, they paint us in a negative light. To be clear, I don’t have any enmity against them, but the playing field needs to be levelled.

Mikaal concluded by discouraging Pakistani actors from thinking they need to work in India to be successful. “It’s also wrong for Pakistani actors to think that they need to work in India to be superstars.”

Watch the complete interview here:

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