Pro­file: Faisal Qureshi

Faisal Qureshi is show­ing no signs of stop­ping.

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‘Aap ne jeeti ek 800 cc car!’ His voice echoes across the stu­dio as the au­di­ence ap­plauds and the win­ners scream in ju­bi­la­tion. The ef­fer­ves­cent Faisal Qureshi then pro­ceeds to hand over the win­ners the keys to their brand new car all the while gal­va­niz­ing mem­bers of the au­di­ence to cheer away in a man­ner that has be­come some­what syn­ony­mous with his rather unique, yet en­dear­ing, style. Come the seg­ment of the show where he dis­trib­utes gift ham­pers all around, one can find peo­ple prac­ti­cally fall­ing over each other just so that they can get their hands on them. Faisal, on the other hand, plays it cool and does not even fur­row his brows as he moves from aisle to aisle, tire­lessly, hand­ing over gift af­ter gift to out­stretched hands.

Such is the at­mos­phere at one of Pak­istani tele­vi­sion’s new­est game shows, ‘Jeet Ka Dum,’ de­signed to en­gage peo­ple in en­ter­tain­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and ul­ti­mately win a prize. Faisal Qureshi gives the pro­gram an added zing with his can­did style and heart­warm­ing ges­tures, con­vert­ing many a viewer into an avid fan. Of course, all this pop­u­lar­ity comes when he sac­ri­fices his com­fort and the op­por­tu­nity to take things easy as the en­tire trans­mis­sion for Jeet ka Dum is broad­cast live in front of a live stu­dio au­di­ence. Chal­lenges abound as Faisal is re­quired to be on his toes from 9 pm un­til late at night. How­ever, it seems as if he does not even break a sweat; in fact, if any­thing, his new­found sta­tus has hum­bled him to the point that he does not shy away from ap­pre­ci­at­ing other con­tem­po­raries in the field. “Aamir Li­aquat is a phe­nom­e­nal host,” says Faisal. “I salute him for his energy with which he car­ries out his ex­tremely lengthy trans­mis­sion ev­ery sin­gle day.” He stops to re­it­er­ate his stand­ing among what he la­bels as talk show/game show host greats. “His forte is host­ing while I am an ac­tor. For me, host­ing is all about hav­ing fun and spread­ing hap­pi­ness.”

The 41-year-old ac­tor-host-pro­ducer is cur­rently swamped with projects which in­clude drama se­ri­als Jao Tumhe Maaf Kia op­po­site Mawra Ho­cane, Mol for Hum TV, Aashiq Hus­sain for Geo TV and up­com­ing sea­sons for Jeet ka Dum which is on twice a week, Thurs­days and Satur­days at 9:10 pm.

It is re­ported that Faisal has even re­ceived sev­eral of­fers to act in In­dian films but he has had to turn most of them down ow­ing to the kinds of scripts he re­ceived. “I have had 2 to 3 of­fers from In­dia; how­ever, the scripts were not to my lik­ing.”

Faisal has proven, time and again, that his act­ing prow­ess is some­thing not to be taken lightly.

Known to be a great per­fec­tion­ist, Faisal cited his fans’ ris­ing ex­pec­ta­tions of him as the cause for his de­ci­sion. “I don’t want to dis­ap­point my fans by do­ing some­thing that does not live up to their ex­pec­ta­tions. I want to do some­thing that they would like to see.” As an ac­tor, he is a great ad­vo­cate for the need to shed spotlight on taboo is­sues via tele­vi­sion se­ri­als and aims to con­tinue tak­ing up such projects. “I think we should con­tinue to talk on is­sues that plague our so­ci­ety. By high­light­ing them, we can come up with ap­pro­pri­ate so­lu­tions,” he says. “Frankly, I be­lieve that drama se­ri­als such as Mann-oSalwa and Manay Na Yeh Dil have changed the land­scape of the Pak­istani drama in­dus­try.”

Born to Abid Qureshi and pop­u­lar film ac­tress Af­shan Qureshi in La­hore, it is ev­i­dent that showbiz was in Faisal’s blood. In fact, his fre­quent vis­its to the tele­vi­sion stu­dios in La­hore with his mother are what led him to be dis­cov­ered. His first role ever was as a child ac­tor in PTV’s Emer­gency Ward fol­lowed by And­hera Ujala. His first ma­jor act­ing role as an adult was in the 1992 film Saza. Faisal went on to star in 19 other films be­fore quit­ting the in­dus­try al­to­gether and go­ing for full-time tele­vi­sion act­ing.

He per­formed in a few mi­nor roles be­fore he landed the now leg­endary role of Boota in Toba Tek Singh which pro­pelled him to in­stant fame. “I never wanted to be­come a hero,” says Faisal. “I’ve al­ways wanted to be, above all else, an ac­tor. The thought of be­com­ing a di­rec­tor or a pro­ducer never quite ap­pealed to me. I feel I still have quite a long way to go as far as act­ing is con­cerned.”

Ever since then, Faisal has acted in nu­mer­ous TV se­ri­als that have helped him carve a niche for him­self in the in­dus­try. Whether it is his crit­i­cally ac­claimed char­ac­ter of Ayaz in Roag, his im­mensely mov­ing per­for­mance in Meri Zaat Zarra-e-Ben­is­han, to his ex­cep­tional comic tim­ing in Kis Din Mera Vi­vah Hoay Ga, Faisal has proven, time and again, that his act­ing prow­ess is some­thing not to be taken lightly.

Where his pro­fes­sional life soared, how­ever, his per­sonal life re­mained on the rocks. His first mar­riage was at the ten­der age of 18. They had a daugh­ter, Hanish. The mar­riage lasted nearly 7 years be­fore the cou­ple de­cided to di­vorce. His sec­ond mar­riage was at age 28. Once again, he was met with fail­ure as the cou­ple, af­ter bear­ing a son, di­vorced merely two years af­ter mar­riage. He cur­rently lives with his third wife, Sana, whom he mar­ried in 2010, along with his mother, his 18-year-old daugh­ter Hanish and new-born daugh­ter. In spite of all that he has been through, Faisal is grate­ful for the sup­port given by his fam­ily. “I con­sider my big­gest achieve­ment to be my fam­ily’s faith in me. I am ex­tremely happy that they are con­tent with what I do.”

When asked where he sees him­self in the next few years, Faisal is open to change. “I am not an astrologer so, I can­not pre­dict any­thing! God knows bet­ter as I never plan things on my own.”

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