I Never Opted For Shortcuts To Achieve My Goals, Says Mohsin Abbas Haider
In an exclusive candid session with HNH Style, Mohsin shared some interesting insights about his success story.
He has come a long way forward in his career and is a serious inspiration for all those people who aspire to join showbiz. All of his projects are high on content and that is the reason why they are almost always a hit. His multitalented ability has played a huge role; be it acting, singing, writing or hosting. With his unconventional choices and endearing performances, Mohsin Abbas Haider is regarded as one of the most bankable stars of the industry. His fearless approach towards taking risks and ability to challenge stereotypes is what separates him from the rest.
In an exclusive conversation with HNH Style, Mohsin shared some interesting insights about his journey, his success, his breakthrough projects, his upcoming ventures, and much more. Excerpts:
HNH Style: Tell us a bit about your early days.
Mohsin Abbas Haider (MAH): I started my career as a copywriter with an ad agency in Faisalabad. I wrote copies for commercials, did voiceovers for jingles, etc. For some time, I also worked at a newly launched radio station. I was the president of the music society at GCU University Faisalabad, therefore to hone my singing talent I moved to Karachi and joined the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA). I went through a struggling phase; faced many hurdles, was all alone, at times had nothing to eat but Allah Almighty eventually rewarded me with his infinite blessings. To sum it up, I feel I am a character in a video game where I have to surpass all the stages to get rewarded.
HNH Style: When did you realize that you were meant for acting?
(MAH): I was highly impressed by Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan. I remember being a child; I used to bring color from a nearby fabric shop, diluted it with water and preserved it in a bottle. During family gatherings and functions, I used to put that color on myself and enacted the intense scenes of Shahrukh’s film ‘Pardes’. I had explored myself as an actor since my childhood, my interest in signing developed much later.
HNH Style: You've been a part of big banner films, popular dramas and TV shows. What according to you has been your biggest achievement so far?
(MAH): For Television, ‘Meri Guriya’ was a silver lining in my portfolio. In my filmography, ‘Na Maloom Afrad 1’ will always remain close to my heart. I consider ‘Uddi Ja’ from Coke Studio to be a huge milestone in my singing career.
HNH Style: Is it hard to get work in this industry?
(MAH): No, it’s not difficult! If you are talented, you can go places. Especially today in the age of social media it’s easy to get work. How? It’s very simple, just make a random video, and if gets viral, you’ll start getting work (chuckles). Earlier, we used to hear stories from our seniors of the PTV and STN era, where people would stand in long queues for months to get work. It’s not the case anymore, with the emergence of TV channels and OTT platforms; the industry has expanded its horizons. Resultantly there is work for everyone.
HNH Style: At any point in your career, were you exploited?
(MAH): No, I haven’t experienced such issues ever. I never opted for shortcuts to achieve my goals. I’ve been in the industry for sixteen years; I have excelled purely on my talent. For me the blessings of Allah Almighty and my family are adequate.
HNH Style: ‘Muqabil’ and ‘Meri Guriya’ developed your image of being a socially conscious actor. What other issues are closest to your heart that you may like to portray onscreen?
(MAH): I would love to be part of dramas’ that highlight social evils. But you don’t get such scripts all the time. One has to do commercial projects not just to entertain but most importantly to earn bread and butter. For instance, my upcoming digital short film ‘Khabardar’ deals with the anger hidden in the subconscious of our nation. We have this flaw embedded by default that we always tend to do things which we are specifically warned of not doing. It wasn’t possible to showcase a bold and beautiful subject like ‘Khabardar’ on TV or cinemas even today. We opted for the digital platforms as the relaxations over censor policies gave us the liberty and freedom to delve deep down into the narrative.
HNH Style: Do you think that dramas today have become progressive?
(MAH): It’s a mixed feeling. At times, it looks that the industry is producing great content. Sometimes it gets monotonous with the same kind of scripts and acting style. Adding more to the horror is the rating game and TRP race that hampers the creative factor. When the makers, production houses, and TV channels cast actors based on their Instagram following and not on their talent, the craft will eventually fade away. Even a veteran like Anwar Maqsood mentioned in one of his interviews that “he isn’t satisfied with the drama being aired today”. That means, there is something seriously going wrong.
HNH Style: Have you turned down a project due to the regressive script?
(MAH): I have been very fortunate to get good scripts. There are a lot of projects that I couldn’t do due to date issues which went on to become huge successes and flourished the career of the actors who featured in those projects. Having said that, I don’t have any regrets about anything in life.
HNH Style: How important is it for an actor to be on-trend? Or do you leave it to the stylists entirely?
(MAH): We work in a visual medium so it is important to a certain extent. But every trend shouldn’t be followed; neither all trends suit everybody. With time, not just the looks or styling, the acting methods and singing patterns have changed for the better. I do my styling myself; I love to experiment with my hairstyles. Earlier, my closet was filled up with black apparels only but with time I realized to wear different colors to stand out. I aim to go beyond the ordinary and embrace the unconventional. All the stylists and designers plan and come up with interesting ideas, as they are well aware of the fact that I can carry off anything with grace.
HNH Style: How do you react to social media trolls?
(MAH): They simply don’t exist for me. I have a simple formula i.e. block, delete and move forward (smiles). I don’t read them so reacting is out of the question. I don’t allow trolls to deteriorate my peace of mind.
HNH Style: What is unique about your upcoming short film 'Khabardar'?
(MAH): ‘Khabardar’ is a unique take on the dos and don’ts of the society. Everything from the concept, execution, OST, poster to the core message makes it stand out. The audience in Pakistan hasn’t developed the habit of digesting unique local content. On the contrary, they shower immense praise when they watch Indian content that is out of the box. Keeping this mindset in view we have designed the premise of the short film with a twist. As they say, ‘Jab Ghee Seedhi Ungli Se Na Nikle Hai Toh Ungli Tedhi Karni Parti Hai'. We have chosen the language that the masses will understand.
HNH Style: How would you sum up your journey until now?
(MAH): I believe Allah Almighty has planned the best for all of us. My journey so far has been beautiful yet perfect both personally and professionally.
HNH Style: Tell us about your projects in 2021.
(MAH): I have my calendar full in 2021, there is music, drama and films (incase if cinemas re-open). I can’t reveal much due to the channel policies. I am happy and excited that the audience will get to see a lot of new and interesting stuff.
HNH: The craziest diet you have been on?
MAH: My diets vary according to the projects or photo shoots. The craziest diet experience was the one in which I had to eat egg whites. After a point, I was swallowing them with water.
HNH: How would you describe yourself in one word?
HNH: Childhood Crush?
MAH: Shahrukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit from India and Mahnoor Baloch from Pakistan.
HNH: A book character you would like to play on screen?
MAH: I am an old-school soul; I would like to do any character from Bano Qudsia and Ashfaq Ahmed’s novel.
HNH: Last web series you saw and liked?
MAH: I have this habit of being impatient while watching long series. However, a friend of mine recommended me to watch Mirzapur. It turned out to be a good watch.
HNH: Your favorite holiday destination?
MAH: I would love to go anywhere by road. My ultimate happiness is when I drive and explore by a road trip.
HNH: A quote that inspires you?
MAH: "I don't hate people, I just feel better when they aren't around." by Charles Bukowski. The other quote is written by me “I am not here to make friends; I am here to make money, let’s play professionally”.
HNH: The adventure sport you are dying to try?
MAH: Formula 1
HNH: To you, success is?
MAH: Success for me isn’t just about money or fame; I have experienced it already. The best success is ‘peace of mind’.