The second season of ‘Suno Chanda’, Hum TV’s much-hyped Ramadan series, wrapped up on Eid with huge ratings. It also created two new stars in Raza Talish and Sabeena Farooq, whose Mithu and Maina became the best-loved onscreen pair since, perhaps, ‘Tanhaiyyan’s’ Sania and Qabacha.
Here are two characters who are diametrically opposed to each other in terms of their mannerisms and family backgrounds — Mithu is a kohl-eyed, taweez-wearing, desi version of mama’s boy, who wears his heart on his kurta sleeve, and speaks with a twisted Punjabi accent; and Maina is the sharp-tongued Pathan girl who is forever struggling with the masculine and feminine genders in Urdu figures of speech. And yet they complement each other in so many ways — a fact that adds flavour to their delightful comedy track.
For Talish, 25, earlier ‘spotted’ in the hit drama serial ‘Tabeer’, ‘Suno Chanda’ ought to be seen as his “acting debut.” He also insists he’ll need to shed the skin of Mithu before he takes up a fresh assignment. This clarity of thought and confidence may be thanks to his film pedigree: his father, Aehsun Talish, is an award-winning director (he also helmed ‘Suno Chanda’ and ‘Tabeer’), while his grandfather, the late Agha Talish, was a renowned actor.
Talish has also inherited his father’s passion. A graduate in filmmaking from the National College of Arts, Lahore, Talish worked as an assistant director on a host of TV commercials and the upcoming feature film, ‘Tich Button’, before he landed an acting part. In an exclusive chat with Gulf News tabloid!, the youngest scion of the Talish family spills the beans on his future plans.
You studied to be a film director. How did you get into acting?
Only about four months ago, I had no clue that I’d be acting. I always wanted to be a director. I did ‘Tabeer’ only so as to expose myself to what actually goes on in an actor’s mind while facing the camera. It was supposed to help me as a director. So, I was happy even though I had a small and insignificant part [in the show]. Then ‘Suno Chanda 2’ happened, and things changed dramatically.
Mithu has peculiar mannerisms and catchphrases. What kind of homework did it entail?
My homework was basically about creating the right lingo for Mithu. The physical appearance was secondary. I was concerned about how I’d say punch lines like ‘Main batata hoon’ [let me tell you] and ‘Easy nai lena’ [don’t take me lightly], and then sustain my delivery style throughout [the serial].
Two comedy actors who create magic every time they are together on screen often don’t have it easy when they venture out. Do you have such apprehensions about your career trajectory, considering how incredibly popular your chemistry with Sabeena Farooq turned out to be?
That’s very true, actually. Today, when I post something on Instagram that is related only to me, it gets a different response from when I post something about Mithu and Maina. I’m glad the audiences loved our onscreen chemistry.
Having said that, of course, it’ll be a challenge for me to be accepted individually, and to be able to carve a fresh identity for myself.
How do you hope to make a departure from a character that became so huge?
I am really concerned on that account. I wouldn’t want to be tagged as Mithu all my life. Done with comedy, I need to discover my other strong points as an actor. I am looking at a few [new] projects, but my first priority is to get him [Mithu] out of my system.
What is the best career advice you’ve got from your father?
He once said to me, ‘Ja putar, jee le apni zindagi!’ [Go, son, live your life]. It can’t get better than that, honestly, because if he was guiding me every step of the way, I’d not be able to create my own journey. Of course, he still guides me in important matters, and I trust his instinct because he’s been in the industry for more than 20 years now.
Who is your harshest critic?
My father, without doubt! He’s never satisfied with my performance.
In the long run, what do you see yourself doing — acting or direction?
To be honest, I plan to devote the next five years of my life to acting. This is something that has given me an identity, letting it all go would be being disrespectful to my fans. Direction can wait.