It is always a delight talking to Ahmad Ali butt, but this time, the topic is not “comedy” that has always been associated with the star. We will be talking about his personal growth, the spiritual side of him, the 90s, some old and new projects, social media, mental health, and a lot more.
The actor reveals some untold stories in conversation with Daily Paperazzi.
Q) Initially when you started, how hard was it for you to survive in the industry?
I started from the theater in the mid-90s. Yes, it was hard in the beginning because nobody was casting anyone at that time and everyone was doing their own thing so, I had my own productions. In the 2000s, my luck started to change; I got into TV for our play Jutt and Bond. Zain Ahmad cast Fawad Khan, Vasay Chaudhry, and me. You can call it our humble beginning. There were no social media back then however saying that, we got lucky because the sitcom and battle of the bands happened at the same time. We did some excellent work in the TV and Music Industry. So, yes the popularity came in a way, and that gave us a boost among the youth.
Q) Can you share some mean comments that you heard from people around you in the industry, any particular incident?
In the corporate world, it does happen because I have hosted a lot of corporate shows. Like, what car you drive, what watch you are wearing etc., people notice such things. But no one has ever said anything mean to my face.
Q) When did you realize that Comedy is your genre?
I guess I never realized it. It was inherent. My parents had a great sense of humour. My father was known to be the man with the best sense of humour among his friends and he had a way of telling stories and he had a way with humour. So, I think I picked it up from them. The art of delivering jokes came from my father. I have always been overweight. So, when you see an overweight person, you will say “Oh he is the token comedy guy”. The same was the case with me. Comedy came to me naturally. It was a way of making fun of my own self before somebody else could. A lot of comedians do that. If you see any famous comedian, you will find him odd. They are not your typical “tall, dark and handsome” heroes. Comedy gave me sort of a shield and it also became one of my superpowers to make people laugh. The more I learned, the more I started to realize how much power it has. It made me comfortable in my own skin and it made me extremely aware of how to transform my flaws into my advantages.
Q) People have always seen you performing comedy, is there any other side to Ahmad Ali Butt?
In Pakistan, there is minimal film production. For the longest time, I have struggled with this image that he is overweight; he will be a great comedy guy. I think Jhooti gave me a very different platform to showcase my acting capabilities as a method actor. It gave me a completely different environment to work in. Yes, in theatre, I have done serious roles in different Urdu and English plays but on television, I didn’t get such a chance.
Q) Anything that you want people to know about this profession highlighting the mental grind an actorcomedian goes through according to your point of view especially?
Yes, acting is a very odd profession to be in. You will struggle in every field, no matter what you choose. But this is the field that puts you into the limelight especially when you get famous instantly and it goes to your head. There are incidents where people achieve so much and suddenly, they feel the ground slipping under their feet, which is a worse scenario. Acting demands a lot. It has odd hours. It has odd locations. It is not a fixed job. You are roaming around in different cities and you are only as good as your last project. You have to constantly prove yourself. This is the profession of vanity and it’s tougher for women because we judge on looks a lot. We need a fresh, beautiful face every time. For men, it is tough because there is an age when you are in demand, and then comes an age where you shift from lead to supporting roles. This is something that challenges your vanity, social life, and personal life. But I think people who are in the longer game focus on maintaining the quality because they know it’s not about the quantity but the quality of work they produce. And, I think only such people succeed.
Q) Your advice on accepting your mistakes/negligence and flaws and working on it
When you start, you make a lot of mistakes. Your failure is your biggest teacher. Don’t be afraid of mistakes and failures. You will have all kinds of projects but take this as a learning curve and only then you will survive. This will challenge you mentally, physically, and financially. But the biggest thing is to accept your mistake and learn from them.
Q) What has been your thought process about a healthy lifestyle and self-acceptance?
It has been a long journey because I have always struggled with that. It never really bothered me too much but obviously, there comes a time when your body stops favoring you and you have to make some changes in your lifestyle. This has been a tough journey but my wife was extremely helpful. You have to strengthen your thought process. These things will bring depression but you have to keep thinking positive. I pray. My wife and I have a very strong spiritual side that has helped me a lot. Set a routine and keep your priorities right. I cannot say for everyone but these things work for me.
Q) On one side, we all talk about “Self-love” and on the other hand, many brands (almost all brands) prefer fair skin, perfect sized-actors. What is your take on that and what is your advice/guide for someone who wants to start from scratch?
“Jo dikhta hai, wo bikta hai” – This is showbiz. I don’t have any issue with people improving their looks, this is self-grooming. But yes, in our industry, there is pressure. In films, we have stereotyped the looks, and this way, we promote many beauty brands because they are selling what is required in today’s time. So, I don’t have a say but at the end of the day, this is entirely your choice where you want to indulge yourself.
Q) People think “Ahmad Ali Butt is always laughing and cracking jokes. He is not a serious person” – Let’s break this myth about you.
People see you and smile they know he will crack a joke. But there is a serious side to me as well. I am very serious about my work. There should be a serious attitude because if you don’t take acting seriously, people are not going to take you seriously. Obviously, people register the image that they have seen of you but during work, you should be serious. In life, you shouldn’t be very somber. Already, there is a lot to worry about so take things lightly.
Q) How hardeasy was it to switch your humorous persona into a serious one that you played in “Jhooti”?
Jhooti came at the time when I just got done with the films. So, Abdullah told me about this role and I really liked that- a husband who loves his wife so much but she is a compulsive liar. I did my homework for this role and I studied Humayun Saeed. I took some time to work on this role, on dialogue delivery, on the look and it was a slow process to develop that character. But, it was an extremely important character for me.
Q) Social Media plays a major role in affecting someone’s mental health, your take?
When we started, there was no social media game. But for today’s generation, it is important. The brands need to understand that it is not just about the number of followers, it is about the work that someone has done. If you give more importance to your work, you will get what you aim for because such things as social media are just like a trend. Today, they have a presence, tomorrow they won’t. People, who take their work professionally and seriously, will have followers automatically. Social media is for those who are here for the quick stardom. Remember, today you are famous and tomorrow someone else will have that glare of publicity.
Q) We heard that you were initially a part of Maula Jutt and was removed from the cast after 3 months of shooting, would you like to comment on that?
While I was shooting for “Punjab Nahi Jaungi”, the prep work for Maula Jutt was going on. We just came to a point where we could not make it work anymore. Things would have been worse for me had I been a part of that project. It happens that some projects are not viable for you. But, Maula Jutt is an amazing production, Bilal has done a great job and you will see once the film is out.
Q) Supporting roles are as important as the main lead but in Pakistan, they are not given the limelight they deserve. Is this true or have you faced this yourself?
This is the issue of the whole world. Supporting roles are the backbone of the story. In some movies, supporting roles are more important than the lead role, and in some, the lead role is the only important role. In our industry, we don’t give much heed to the supporting role because we think it’s the “side” role. Sometimes supporting roles make a film hit. Alhamdulilah, I have worked with people who give importance to the supporting roles. I think directors, producers, and writers need to understand that team effort is everything. So, you are lucky if you get a good producer who understands the importance of each role.
Q) So, you are totally fine with the title “Fatman” of your upcoming movie, but there are people who get fat-shamed and it can trigger their insecurities, what would you say to them?
When it was introduced to me, I loved it. I do accept that obesity is a disease. The movie is actually about a father and a son where the situation of obesity is being discussed. It discusses the mental health and the problems like body-shaming a fat person goes through in his life. It is a very honest and brave movie if we make it because this discusses very delicate and important issues.