Usman Mukhtar needs no introduction, being compared to Che Guevera, Johnny Depp for his mysterious looks..he set the internet and young hearts on fire when his sweetness videos went viral in contrast to his sexy black and white photo shoot. He has countless videos and short film productions to his name. (Listed at the bottom of this interview are some videos directed by the man himself).
W&S: Tell us about yourself
Mr.Usman: Well my name is Usman Mukhtar. I’m an actor/film maker, I’m a DC fan boy, comic book enthusiast. I am a proud mamoon(uncle) to three wonderful, wonderful kids.
W&S: Where is home?
Mr.Usman: Home is where family is .
W&S: If you were to pick one moment that describes your entire past life, what would that be?
Mr.Usman: I don’t think any one moment can describe my entire life, every moment has its own value and importance. These different moments kinda shape up your life. That’s the way it is and I actually don’t think one moment would describe my life.
W&S: Tell us about your childhood?
Mr.Usman: Well I grew up in a house with elder sisters and my grandfather. I was a very naughty kid, took a lot of beating from my sisters and my mother. I was sent to a hostel at a very young age so I grew up in a military school
W&S: What kind of a student were you? What kind of grades did your parents always expect from you?
Mr.Usman: I wasn’t a very bright student and my parents expected really good grades, but I was a very mediocre kinda student, wasn’t very good. A lot of times I would get scolded by my mother, principal and all.
W&S: Most memorable childhood memory?
Mr.Usman: Well I was in boarding school and I would be there for 3 months straight. So when my mother used to come and get me, and I used to go home, I think that would be the most memorable memory of my childhood. You know Go back home and have some really yummy food
W&S: You are known amongst your friends as?
Mr.Usman: I’m known amongst my friends as Joey, that’s what they call me.
W&S: You are sentimental about?
Mr.Usman: I’m sentimental about people who are close to me, who I absolutely, dearly love and care about. I’m also very sentimental about my comic books and good food.
W&S: As a child, you grew up wanting to be?
Mr.Usman: Till about the age of 14, I wanted to be a cricketer but my family felt that it wasn’t the right direction and cricket wasn’t a profession. But I turned out to be a film maker instead.
W&S: Favorite cuisine?
Mr.Usman: I don’t have a favorite cuisine, I can almost eat everything but I can’t stand sushi, I don’t know how people have raw fish and I know its quiet a debate that it’s not raw but I can’t have sushi. I love desi, I love biryani, carrot halwa, I love junk food, love fries, pizza, burgers. I just don’t like really expensive food not because it’s too expensive but because you spend so much money on sushi and it doesn’t even taste good so those are my reasons. I’m a big food lover so I can eat absolutely anything apart from certain things that I don’t like.
W&S: Qualities you look for in people?
Mr.Usman: Loyalty, sincerity, sense of humor
W&S: Would you call yourself an introvert or extrovert?
Mr.Usman: I’m an introvert, a big time introvert.
W&S: What do you do in your free time?
Mr.Usman: Well it really depends, if I’m around family then I like to spent time with them specially with my nieces and nephew. If I’m not with family then I like to spend time playing a lot of play station, a lot of gaming, watching a lot of movies.
W&S: Favorite vacation spot?
Mr.Usman: That would be Dubai. There is one place I would really like to goto, I’ve never had the chance to be there, I want to goto Iceland. It’s one place I really, really, really want to goto.
W&S: Tell us about Janaan and how did that happen?
Mr.Usman: Well Janaan…Imran and Hareem both are really good friends, Imran told me that there was this really interesting role and he asked me to do it, I heard about the character and really liked it. It’s a very different kinda character. So I was really interested in doing it so I said yes I’d love to. The initial script was kinda different, the character ended up being slightly different. So yes that’s how Janaan happened.
W&S: Tell us about the incredible team
Mr.Usman: Team is absolutely amazing, they are one of the most genuine, brilliant, amazing, funny, caring people on this planet. They are very, very, very talented people. I’m very fortunate to have worked with such an exceptionally talented lot. It was a lot of fun working with them. We have fun now too, we talk to each other once in a while. Amazing people to work with!
W&S: Who amongst your team was always up to mischief during the shoot?
Mr.Usman: I wasn’t there a lot at the set but I think Ali Rehman would be the one guy who was up to mischief.
W&S: Who are some people that have inspired you throughout your journey?
Mr.Usman: Firstly my grandfather, he is a big, big inspiration for me throughout my childhood. He is one of the reasons I am what I am. After that errrr…I have been inspired by so many people Martin Scorsese, Anurag Kashyap, and a lot of other people.
W&S: How did you get your start in the industry?
Mr.Usman: It was a very long time ago, there was Kara film festival happening, I was really young and I wanted to make a film and send it to Kara so I made the film and that’s ho I got into the industry. To be honest I don’t think that was how I started but it just somehow happened very organically, I wanted to make good movies in Pakistan because we had a film industry that was almost dead and you know, I just wanted to do my own work so it all just happened. I started doing one project after the other.
W&S: Tell us about “The ten ways to sweetness”
Mr.Usman: Actually Ten Ways to Sweetness happened afterwards. I was working at Kuch Khaas. God bless Poppy’s soul, she was the owner of Kuch Khaas, what a gem of a lady, I really, really miss her. She is not with us anymore but she was very supportive. She wanted to support every talented individual and help them come forward. I was heading the production department of Kuch Khaas, we had the task of completing the back log of events that we were doing that took place there and it was very long and boring as were constantly editing and compiling those event videos and updating the library of events. It was a very boring job and I wanted to do something fun so I had this idea and shared it with Poppy and Shahana (Deputy Director at Kuch Khaas). They both really liked the idea. I wasn’t supposed to be that guy who plays the sleezeball, it was someone else but they couldn’t make it on time as we were running out of time to get back and finish the back logs so I acted myself and we got done with the first video that was called sweetness, we uploaded it and the next morning we had about 25,000 hits, it went viral and everybody thought that we have to make this a regular thing and that’s when we started Ten Ways to Sweetness. It was an accident, we were not expecting it to go viral but it did!
W&S: How was your first experience on stage/infront of the camera?
Mr.Usman: Man it was really scary! I’ve realized that the nervousness, and that feeling you get which makes you feel really scared going on stage for the very first time, its still there! If I’m doing a play today, I would still feel the same way, it hasn’t changed. But that changes as soon as you are on stage, 5 minutes down and you start loving the energy that you get from the crowd. I think stage is one of the most amazing mediums for an actor. I’ve always had fun on film and never been nervous and I’ve always had a very natural approach when I’m doing a scene, it’s fun! But theatre/ stage is a completely different experience. It’s exhilarating, it’s more real, I don’t know how to explain it.
W&S: Favorite director of all time?
Mr.Usman: I have a few Anurag Kashyap, Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, Quentin Terantino.
W&S: A website or blog you often visit, or a magazine you swear by?
Mr.Usman: I’m an addict to reddit.com. I visit it a lot, there is a lot of rumors and spoilers and stuff about the upcoming superhero pop culture, all those films and stuff. So that is a website I often visit.
W&S: How would you describe your signature look and what is it about your style that sets you apart?
Mr.Usman: My signature look would be the homeless guy look. I’m just kidding! I’m very comfortable with my shorts and t-shirts. I’m very happy with a grown beard, medium length hair. I’m not very big on fashion and I try to stay casual all the time. When I have dress up as per the requirement of any occasion I do but otherwise I’m very happy being comfortable and easy in my shorts and my t-shirt. Looking like a homeless guy sets me apart.
W&S: Your favorite song of all time?
Mr.Usman: I can’t stand electronic music, I don’t know what that is about. I’m a very big fan of ACDC, Rolling stones, Iron maiden and all those timeless bands which we grew up with. Two of my favorite songs are not from these bands though. One of the songs that I absolutely love is called Pioneers by Bloc Party and the second one is World Spins madly on by the Weepies.
W&S: What did you grow up listening to?
Mr.Usman: I grew up listening to Junoon, Awaz, Vital Signs, Jupiters, other bands like Iron Maiden, Sting, Metallica. There was a phase in my life where I would listen to a lot of Nsync, Backstreet boys so I listened to all of this when I was growing up.
W&S: Your favorite movie of all time?
Mr.Usman: Well there isn’t one, the Godfather trilogy is one of my favorite trilogies, Scarface, Superman the first one with Christopher Reeve. Schindler’s list is another film I really like. Raging bull and the Rocky series is also on my favorite’s!
W&S: Director that you would like to work with?
Mr.Usman: Mehreen Jabbar, Jami, and I would really like to work with Shoaib Mansoor sahab. I would love ti work with Anurag Kashyap if he ever keeps me in any of his projects.
W&S: What’s your take on selfies?
Mr.Usman: I think once in a while its fine just making it part of your daily life, making sure that your life revolves arounds seflies wherever you go is kind of weird..to me..I feel it makes you really superficial, I cannot relate to people who do that a lot. Feels like you are living in your own little bubble, the way you think that this is it. So I agree with taking it once in a while but not otherwise.
W&S: What do you think is vastly overrated?
Mr.Usman: I think sushi is vastly over-rated. One of things that I don’t understand, it shouldn’t be so popular amongst the young generation and also the middle aged people but they tend to love sushi these days. Its more of a fashion statement than anything else. I’m pretty sure that people don’t like sushi but they just have to have it because they are under peer pressure. I think sushi is really overrated and that’s well my opinion.
W&S: Most memorable moment during your Janaan journey?
Mr.Usman: Actually the most memorable moment during Janaan’s shoot wasn’t when I was acting, I actually shot one of the scenes in Janaan which was an entire fire sequence where the school is on fire. That was the most memorable moment for me because it was done on such big scale. We lit everything on fire. Other than that the most memorable thing during Janaan’s journey were the promotions and the time we all got to spend with each other. That was a lot of fun. I think that is something that we will keep with us for the rest of our lives. The bond we shared, the fun we had during the promotions, it was completely out of purity of our hearts, it was just a very natural chemistry that all of us shared. That is very special to me.
W&S: What is that one thing you wish you had designed?
Mr.Usman: Green arrows costume in arrow the series, I think I could’ve done a much better job than the people who did it. Its just that he is not like that in the comics and tat really annoys me.
W&S: Any particular assignment you would have wanted to take up?
Mr.Usman: I would have loved to be a part of Dobara Phir Se. I saw the film and I really liked it. I even told the directors Mehreen and Hareem people that I really wanted to be a part of it. Such a good movie, a new wave of cinema coming out of Pakistan. It’s a very good film. I wanted to make a film on this character “bloody Nasreen” who is a Pakistani super hero created by a very talented guy Shahaan Zaidi. I really wish I would’ve gotten a chance to direct the movie. But unfortunately someone else is making the film and I wish them best of luck.
W&S: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Mr.Usman: Hopefully above the ground.
W&S: Tell us about your upcoming projects/work?
Mr.Usman: Well I’m not allowed to say anything right now. I’m doing two features which I’m not allowed to reveal anything about. One of the shoot starts in Mid-Feb and the other one starts later
W&S: Final words of inspiration for upcoming talent?
Mr.Usman: I want to say this to everyone who is reading this that believe in yourself and surround yourself with people who are going to lift you higher. Do what you want to do, don’t come under peer pressure, society’s pressure, doing something that they want you to do. Do what you feel like doing. Do what you want to do. You don’t want to look back 30 years from now and think that you could’ve been someone else but you chose the wrong path. Just be who you are!
You can find Usman on:
Thank you very much!
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