He used to come home from school to find the grand master of Urdu poetry seated in the lawn reading a newspaper. “I used to play chess with him every day after school. He was a terrible chess player, probably because he couldn’t conspire; not even in a game,” Adeel Hashmi reminisces about the golden days he spent with his grandfather, Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
Growing up amidst a literary powerhouse – son of Moneeza Hashmi, and nephew of Salima and Shoaib Hashmi – Adeel had tremendous exposure to art, history, music and people. “So many great artists, thinkers and writers used to visit our house,” he expresses, while immediately stressing, “It comes with a price though – pressure of expectation – I have felt it all my life; though that is a fair deal.”
Was it luck simply that made this performer land in the world of stars?
“I can’t serve the nation by doing anything noble like curing people, practicing law, fixing engines or selling fruit,” he says.
Talk about being candid, and meeting this fellow you will actually realise that there are individuals in the sphere of glamour who do not have the slightest air to their gait or self.
For someone who doesn’t know how to verbally sketch himself, Adeel did admire many individuals because of whom he is stationed where he is. “We all ‘idolise’ not one, but many people. I idolise countless people including artists, poets, activists, inventors, leaders, and above all, good people.
This entertainer is not seen doing many plays or dramas; which made me inquire what in a script particularly speaks to him?
“I have never been attracted to scripts that’s why I started writing myself.”
Every time Adeel hits the sets he envisions to play a character that he has never met or seen. Inspiration to act a role always lies in “to be able to create a ‘moment’ that did not exist before”, he speaks his heart out.
To all the watchers of the state’s entertainment channel, the mid 90s had a comic treasury in store, which is very much talked about till now for the characters in it seem to define this wisecracking thespian. The drama that is being referred to must have already struck the grey chords of the decade’s viewers. None other than the iconic piece of dramatic art, Teen Bata Teen which was penned by this very house of comedy store which featured the age-old ‘Lucy’ – a character that the audiences mostly remember him by.
Talking about the resplendent days of yore, Adeel discloses the paltry budget and what made his character unforgettable. “We had a budget of Rs. 2,000 and no actor would agree to do the role! So I ended up doing it. It was much later that the realisation came – one way or the other, we are all Lucy.” As we continue our discourse on the distinguished character, Adeel recalls an incident that has been engraved in his memory.
“Once I met a man at an airport who insisted I visit his family home in Islamabad. I politely said yes. He said, ‘I’m serious I need your help. My son is so inspired by you that he has changed his name to Lucy. Please come and convince him to change it back to Jamshed’.”
Holding a degree in film-making from San Francisco, Adeel has his hands in various mediums – be it acting, writing, directing or performing. What speaks to him the most? “I find it hard to differentiate between all three for they are all part of the same universe.”
As for good looks and their utmost necessity in playing a role in any thespian’s life, Adeel is up front and as equitable as he can be. “If it were only looks, I would be out of job long ago. I think you should be able to observe and study ‘people’ and then when the time comes, ‘play’ that part with some degree of believability. If you are hardworking and honest, that certainly helps.”
For Adeel it’s more about the team rather than the role that he’s playing; soon he will be seen debuting in a romantic-comedy feature film, Bachaana. As from the trailer of the flick, the comedy maestro can be seen wearing the garbs of an antagonist. Speaking to him about his role in the film, wit strikes; “It is Bachaana’s best kept secret so far.” It seemed the trailer was enough to spill the beans for when he was asked if the audiences can see him in a completely different look, he seemed to hesitate or maybe wit was playing its part, again; “I’d tell you but then I’d have to… never mind.”
From a period when the Pakistani film industry was at a standstill to the time when movies are being premiered twice every month, mostly, is this motion picture a notch above every other that is being produced? “I think after a few dark decades, the Pakistani cinema has finally turned the corner. The term Lollywood is now a thing of the past. Bachaana belongs to the new age of film-making. Like many other Pakistani films, it is for today’s audience.”
Was it any different for him to make the plunge from the small to the silver screen? “I got a degree in film, but worked on TV. Both are radically different; a film is forever, whereas television is called a ‘medium’ because it’s neither rare nor well-done.”
Adeel feels the best way he cools off is when he’s travelling. And travelling he was recently when he was on the sets of his upcoming movie, which is shot in Mauritius. His adventurous self resurfaces when he recalls a tablet from his memory.
“I can share a memory off-set. One day I had a free morning so I went kayaking. It was a beautiful day. And it wasn’t long before I closed my eyes and wondered what Leonardo DiCaprio had once wondered ‘what turns have I taken in life to deserve this good fortune?’. Moments later I felt a jolt and I woke up. The weather had changed and the waves were high. The wind and rain were pushing my kayak towards the open ocean and I had drifted very far from the shore. When the gravity of the matter hit me, my life flashed in front of my eyes. There were no rescue boats and no tourists with the power of the ocean relentless and unimaginable. And I was fighting it. I remembered my kids, and imagined the next morning’s Facebook status of friends. What a pathetic way to go, I thought. I fought the waves. My arms cramped. It was no use, but I kept fighting and the misery wasn’t ending. Luckily, a boat spotted my agony. And I was rescued. The happiest person on the island was – the producer.”
This humorist has a unique list in the pipeline; “to change the world – inside”.
When asked if he’ll be venturing into the eastern neighbour’s ravishing industry or right across the globe to Hollywood, he puts into words, “home is where the heart is”. Let your mind wander into what goes into the keyed up wires of this jester’s grey cells.
He’s the reason for spreading many smiles through his television commercials. What is in the catchy advertisement pieces that they end up entertaining so many without failing any time and Adeel reveals the secret: “It’s only because of our good looks.”
The thespian isn’t seen doing many serials. What is it about acting that he’s so choosy about his projects and he discloses, “I act all the time; ask my kids”. As we wrap up our conversation, I ask him about the bond he shares with his cousin, Mira, and the play on words is spot on – “we have a quiet solid bond because we hardly talk!” •