Shabaz Khan, during his 20 years of enriching experience, has donned numerous avatars in his stints on television and the silver screen. The most remarkable ones out of them were the characters of Prince Virendra Singh (in TV series Chandrakanta in 1995), Mahadji Shinde (in historical drama, The Great Maratha) and Hyder Ali (in The Sword of Tipu Sultaan in 1991), which he says gave him an identification in the industry, besides a fan following amongst the guys. Ask him about female fan following and he says, “It happened during Chandrakanta, as my guise was quite attractive in the show.”
In Chandigarh at Park Plaza, Sector 17, for the announcement of his upcoming Punjabi flick, Bikkar Bai, Senti-Mental, he talks about his association with and love for historical dramas. “Indian history is very rich, thus, I am proud of the fact that I was a part of these historical dramas,” he gushes.
Given Shahbaz’s career graph, negative roles have ruled his time in the industry. Some of the movies where he was seen playing the ‘villain’ include The Hero — Love Story of a Spy, Ziddi, Arjun Pandit, Raju Chacha and Agent Vinod. “It’s funny that people are scared of me off screen, thanks to my on-screen image. In real life, however, I am totally the opposite. I am forced to play these roles, as in our industry, unfortunately, casting is image bound, which is quite sad. Hollywood, unlike Bollywood, is quite experimental in terms of characterisation,” says the 45-year-old.
The son of famous classical singer, late Ustaad Aamir Khan, owes his love for Indian culture to his father. “I love music, but couldn’t be a singer like my father. But, because of him, I am really attached to poetry and Indian culture. I also love stage performances and would be working in a play soon, which would highlight the poetry of Bulle Shah.”
Talking about his entry into Punjabi cinema, he says, “It’s my first experience on the sets of a Punjabi film, but not with a Punjabi script, as I played the lead role in Punjabi TV show, Sultan Ul Quam Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwali [prominent Sikh leader]. I am not unaware of the Punjabi culture, as people like Yash Chopra and others in Bollywood have kept the spirit alive.”
Comparing the buzzing Punjabi cinema to the industry down south, he says, “The budget is undoubtedly a big problem in the Punjabi industry. In south, however, if the budget is a constraint, hit films like Sadma are shot in a small hill station to save on the money spent on different locations.
In Punjab, I don’t know why is it so important to travel all the way to Canada, when Punjab itself is so culturally rich and beautiful. The focus should be on experimenting with subjects, as it’s important to make a statement. I am, however, quite hopeful for Bikkar Bai, Senti-Mental, as it’s an intelligent script, and also because I have a powerful and positive role for a change,” quips the actor.