With his designer stubble, penetrating gaze and sculpted jaw, Fawad Afzal Khan is difficult to miss in a crowded room. He is undoubtedly one of the most charming actors around whose female fan base is expanding by the day - but what is Fawad really like? Referred to as the sexiest Pakistani import in Bollywood, Fawad stole our hearts as Zaroon in 'Zindagi Gulzar Hai' and he's had us hooked ever since.
Fawad, who makes his Bollywood debut with 'Khoobsurat', is familiar with the impact his looks have left on his female supporters. In an exclusive interaction with IBNLive.com, Fawad tells us he is extremely flattered to know how much women adore him.
"What do I say? I'm really flattered. It is amazing. I feel grateful, surprised and also speechless by how things are unfolding for me. I like the warm reception I have received in India." And does he know he is also envied by men for obvious reasons? "Men are jealous of me, really? I think I had heard the opposite! If men are jealous of me because I'm able to get massive attention, which they can't, then I don't think I can do much. But I thought I was able to encourage them to express their opinions without any qualms. I thought, via my shows, I was motivating everybody. Now if they all are jealous, should I be flattered or shocked? Will something terrible happen because of this?" he quips.
Born in 1981 at Lahore, Fawad spent his early life in Greece, Saudi Arabia and United Kingdom, and returned to Pakistan when he was 12. And as he says, adjusting to the new life in his hometown was a bit difficult. "It was as difficult as it would be for anybody else. Since I had visited different countries, I came back to Pakistan with varied experiences. So yes, I too had my share of difficulties. But with time, I made friends. So now, I don't remember what happened during the first 11 years of my life. When I came back I was called a bargar bachha (the foreign returned kid)," he laughs.
And had Fawad not met his wife, he could have actualized his dream of becoming an astronaut. "Even as a kid I was very ambitious. My choices would often change. But after I completed High School, I decided to become an astronaut. Since I was determined about it, I even applied for aeronautical engineering degree. But dropped the idea when I got to know I had to stay away from my family. I'm so attached to my family that I get home sick very easily. Since this was also the time I met my wife Sadaf, I wasn't convinced with the idea of traveling away from home," he recalls.
When asked about the political mess Pakistan has been caught in, with PM Nawaz Sharif confirming his decision not to resign despite the protests against his rule, Fawad says, "Honestly, I don't know how people would interpret this but I'm very ill-informed when it comes to politics and current affairs. And I also make an effort to keep away from it. I think we all can bring in the change only if we change our attitude. I was quite heartbroken to hear what happened recently. There was a peaceful protest and suddenly retaliation happened which injured 400 people and left 20 dead. Yes, all this is very saddening. But I'm sitting miles away from home so how can I say anything? Being there, knowing the ground reality and then talking about it is different from sitting here away from home, seeing the footage on TV and discussing it. I'm sad if it was a peaceful protest and people had united for a cause. I pray for the best because I think the power of change lies in people. I'm a very non-violent person and prefer those who aren't argumentative."
In his show, 'Zindagi Gulzar Hai' he wants a wife who is self-dependent and capable of taking her decisions. While it is interesting to see how TV empower women, Pakistani shows also plays a role in showing how local women are liberal and don't adhere to stereotypical ideas. "It feels great to see how women-centric subjects are being used in TV shows. Yes, the person who directed the show is also a woman. She has big stakes in the channel and that goes on to say a lot. She is the one who calls the shots. She is responsible, respectful and commands authority," he says, adding, "Efforts are also being made to send out the same message to rural areas in Pakistan. So yes, with the help of NGOs, counseling sessions and programs, we are trying to change people's mindset. You'd be surprised to know that there is a whole village in Pakistan where every house carries a board that reads, 'This house is free of domestic violence'. So yes, that's what such attempts do. And I feel happy to be part of the entertainment industry as it is the biggest medium to educate people."
Happy with the appreciation that has come his way for being part of 'Khoobsurat', Fawad chooses to ignore those who have only negative comments to make. "So far I have only been encouraged by everyone - fraternity, family and friends - back home. And if you are referring to negative comments that were made against me on social media, let me tell you, social media is a very tricky place. People create multiple IDs and breed hatred. So I avoid and ignore such pointless criticism as it has no base. You won't believe that my information on Wikipedia is also not accurate. The page has been created by someone else with false information."
With such a positive outlook and determination to achieve his goals, how can he not make it big in Bollywood too?