Pakistani actor Adnan Siddiqui is known for his TV work, but he also holds the distinction of having worked in three film industries – Hollywood, Bollywood and Lollywood, the name given to his country’s movie sector.
While he has been acting for over two decades, the 48-year-old model-turned-actor made his big screen debut only in 2007 in A Mighty Heart, a Hollywood drama that starred Angelina Jolie.
In 2016, he acted in the Pakistani war film Yalghaar. And his first appearance in a Bollywood movie, last year’s drama thriller Mom, is significant because it was the last to star Indian screen icon Sridevi, who died of an accidental drowning in February 2018.
In a phone interview from Pakistan, Adnan says he has mixed feelings about playing Sridevi’s husband in the film, which was a critical and commercial success. “I’m happy that I worked with her, but it’s a sad moment as well because it was her last movie,” he says.
Not many Pakistani actors have managed to cross into the lucrative Bollywood industry, notes Adnan. “When you are working abroad, you’re an ambassador for your country, so the impression you are giving about your country is important.”
The bulk of his work takes place in Pakistan. He has also taken on producing and directing, and recently started a production house, Cereal Entertainment Company, that makes drama serials.
The avid sportsman who is part of a charity fundraising cricket team made up of Pakistani celebrities, Adnan says his career in showbiz was never planned and that he takes each day as it comes.
“I just plan for the day, I don’t plan for life. Life is very unpredictable, I’ve been taking life as it goes by, but thank God, so far so good,” says Adnan, who is married and has two daughters aged 13 and 10, and a son aged eight.
“I started my career as a model, then I came into acting, then I went into production, and then made movies. Maybe in the future, I want to do more movies, do more big productions, open a film school.”
You have acted in films that feature two popular and influential actresses, American star Angelina Jolie and Bollywood icon Sridevi. What were the experiences like for you?
All these actors such as Angelina Jolie, there’s always a reason why they are big actors. And what I found was that they are very nice human beings. Working with Angelina Jolie, I found her down-to-earth, humble, hospitable, friendly, and that makes her a big star.
Sridevi was a woman of few words but what I remember best was the way she took care of me and my co-star from Pakistan. She made sure we were taken care of properly, that we were kept in the best-of-the-best conditions.
What was it like to make the jump from television to cinema?
It’s every actor’s dream to be on the big screen. There is a vast difference, when you see yourself bigger than life – it looks beautiful. Unfortunately, the silver screen scene is not so big in Pakistan – television is considered to be the bigger medium. But the film scene is growing in Pakistan and we have what we call the new cinema being made here. Eventually, it will do good. We are making some good movies.
How do you decide which roles to take on?
Acting is about challenges. I’ve been acting for almost 28 years, I’ve done all kinds of roles. If you’re not passionate about your role, then I think you shouldn’t be doing it. When I read a script and feel it is good enough for me, that it has a lot of meat for me, I accept that role. If the script is strong, the role will be good.
Besides your acting work and cricket, what else are you busy with?
My new hobby is riding horses. I recently bought a horse, she’s called Ladoo. I realise it’s an expensive hobby. Before every ride, I have to pamper her a lot first – feed her apples, take her around, massage her.
Do you foresee your children following in your footsteps and entering show business?
If I’m doing something, how can I ask them not to do it? If I’m doing something, then it’s not bad. I just say that every field has some good and some bad. I tell them, “Be honest, be nice to people, be humble and be dedicated to your work”. Whatever they do, they should do it with honesty – whether it’s acting or studying.
How would you like to be remembered?
I want to be a good example to the next generation. If I’m not bringing a smile to their faces or happy moments to their lives, then I haven’t done good, I’ve wasted my years. So whatever I do, I want it to bring a smile to their faces whenever they remember me. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network