Interviewed By: Asif Khan
“Artists are God gifted. They are born and not made,” says Pakistan’s most distinguished and renowned name in choreography, Zahid Hussain who is yet another self-made artist blessed with formidable talent. He worked diligently hard to attain the success that he has garnered today. Courtesy to his natural and God gifted talent Zahid Hussain transformed into an ethereal being with his pure love for his craft, dedication, hard work, passion, as well as candor. Zahid is known for his penchant for perfection, adhering to the highest work standards. That’s precisely why most of the top actresses owe their success to Zahid who has made them learn how to bring attitude, oomph, and confidence to their act with dignity and grace besides looking sensual within the traditional mold. The originality, dignity and excellence make Zahid a brand and his journey continues unabated. Here’s getting to know more about this vibrant and energetic ball of energy who continues to pursue his work with passion and enthusiasm.
SD: What does the word “Dance” really mean to you?
Zahid: Dance is an expression of love. For me, the most important thing in dance is how one narrates something through the use of eyes. Using hands and moving legs and feet fall in the physical category but “raqs tu woh hai jo nazar se byan kiya jai” so that the recipient understands everything.
SD: How did you make it to showbiz?
Zahid: My heartfelt salute goes to Farrukh Darbar who brought me to this field when I was still in my teens. He was himself a renowned choreographer and he took me to Ptv, which I refer to as the first runway from where I actually took off. Under his tutelage, I worked very hard on my craft and emerged as the number one young artist of his team. It was the start of a long struggle but also a process to find my own feet as a solo professional. The incalculable work that I have been able to deliver to my audience is due to the things that I learnt from him. Later I moved to Indus television and eventually started doing freelance as I wanted to be slave of my own command as art is nothing without improvisation and artistic freedom.
SD: Who were your childhood inspirations?
Zahid: Internationally it was Michael Jackson who used to be my idol. Despite all the odds stacked against him, I found his journey to be very inspiring as he ruled the whole world through his iconic style in dancing and immaculate singing. He was indeed a revolution in contemporary dancing. While in Indo-Pak history there could be no other artist than unrivaled queen Madam Noor Janhan. Her style, persona, expressions and powerful singing has no match.
SD: Who do you give the credit for your exceptional skills in classical form of dancing?
Zahid: That goes to Sir.Faseeh-ur- Rehman. I attended his workshop and got myself fine-tuned in Kathak.
SD: Who are the people you dedicate your success to?
Zahid: I have the privilege of working with internationally acclaimed and pioneer of the Fashion Industry of Pakistan Shaiyanne Malik who is currently CEO SamanZar Designs. With her I travelled almost the entire world doing shows and international events. She is the one who organized the first ever Fashion Week of Pakistan, introducing young talent and new designers. I learnt a lot from her and she helped me with getting a strong foothold in the industry to consolidate my position.
SD: How things have changed in the industry in terms of work aesthetics?
Zahid: Today dance has become an integral prerequisite no matter what we show the viewers. Even in ads, it has penetrated so much that you won’t see any commercial not using dance in some way or other. So it’s the big requirement of time that it should be treated professionally with the kind of attention that goes to other fields. Formal institutions at government level should be established where training in every yaundra be given to the students.
SD: Why do our award shows fail to draw that much attention that others get?
Zahid: When stereotypes are broken new worlds emerge but unfortunately we are not ready to come out of it. We have certain formulas for certain projects and that is what we have been blindly following since decades. We don’t experiment with the scripts, content, sequences or even dances to be able to cater to bigger markets and larger audiences.
SD: Who are your favourite stars that you love to work with?
Zahid: Mahira Khan and Sohai Abro are the true dedicated artists I thoroughly enjoyed working with. Among directors, Yasir Nawaz is the best as he refrains from entering other people’s domain and it gives him ample margin to deliver his best. Asim Raza is an institution of professionalism and he loves his job and that replicates in his work. I am also running my dance school and it is my small contribution and my mission is to produce good talent for the country and help people understand dance in all its manifestations.
SD: Whose work do you admire the most across the border?
Zahid: Sarooj Khan, sans any doubt !! She was the one who gave Bollywood its true colors, through memorable songs she choreographed for. Sri Devi, Madhuri and later Kajol and Aishwarya attained their super stardom from the songs that Sarooj made eternal through her dances.
SD: What are your favorite projects and the upcoming ones?
Zahid: Choreography for Mahira Khan’s Balley Balley in Bin Roye , and for Sohai Abro’s Nachay Mann, Selfiyyan and Kundi in Wrong Number . I have worked for many serials and award shows like Lux, Hum, ARY, PPI etc. as far as upcoming projects are concerned a number of movies are lined up and most of them are going to be released on Eid including Chakkar, Ghubrana Nahi hai, Peechay Tu Dekho.
SD: How much improvisation goes into your work?
Zahid: It’s mandatory to keep a margin for improvisation and it plays a key role in choreography. If something is not fitting into framing then we need to change it then and there.
SD: Your message to those trying to pursue a path in this artistic field?
Zahid: Artists are pure souls. All they need is appreciation and acknowledgement of their talent and support so that they can channelize their endowed skills in meaningful manners. I have great love for my country and whatever I am today I owe to this land which has allowed me to pursue and gain so much in the process.