How often do you stumble upon tales of a rising star hitting the jackpot in their debut TV series? Well, when raw talent takes center stage, it demands attention that’s impossible to brush aside. This is the captivating journey that brought Feroz Kadri into the spotlight, catching the discerning eye of Pakistan’s storytelling maestro, Sarmad Khoosat. Khoosat, impressed by Kadri’s prowess, cast him in the intellectually stimulating and critically lauded series, Gumn. Diving into a distinctive role with unparalleled conviction, Kadri has not just set the bar; he’s become the benchmark. As fans eagerly await his next move, join SD in a candid conversation with the emerging sensation to uncover the real Feroz Kadri and what groundbreaking role he’ll tackle next.
SD: Let’s get to know the real Feroz- shed some light on your childhood
Feroz: Well I’m from Lahore and I’ve had a pretty normal childhood. I grew up in a joint family system and was specifically close to my Nani’s side. I went to Lahore Grammar School, and it was right next to my nani’s place, so I would just walk to her place after school. It was a wholesome environment. Financially we had been well-off and I can only recall great times in my close-knit extended family.
SD: When was the first instance you felt you wanted to venture into the world of acting?
Feroz: You could say I got the nudge when I started working in advertising and was following a monotonous routine. However, a strong link existed between these two fields as we would go for ad shooting and would be on sets. Also since childhood, I’ve had a habit of showcasing perfect mimicry. I would do performances for my family members, even imitating actors and the voices of cricket commentators. This would make me the center of attention and I quite enjoyed it! What’s interesting is I would watch Bollywood movies, but wasn’t hooked onto Pakistani shows and films.
SD: Were there any setbacks you had to face in the process of making your mark?
Feroz: Plainly put, I was an outsider and had to make my way through hurdles. First off there weren’t many possibilities in my native Lahore so I resigned from my job and went to Karachi. I had to face severe toughness. Also, I had unrealistic expectations- I assumed I’ll go in and get the job. I did- I went to HUM TV offices and they said they’d call me as it seemed I was signed for a role. That never happened. Despite getting no work, I stayed in Karachi for two years and dabbled in some telefilms. My big break came from Sarmad Khoosat. I was asked to give an audition which I presumed was a modeling gig. I thought it was for an ad however once I was selected, I got to know it was for a serial. There is no specific streamline or proper process to make your mark. Everyone has their own story to tell.
SD: Did you get to experience nepotism firsthand?
Feroz: I can’t say I have experienced it firsthand but I know it exists, and I am okay with that. Every story goes through its certain phases. And how your life’s journey inspires someone is what defines your success. While I may not have something as dramatic as Shahrukh Khan’s story, nevertheless, mine has been interesting in its own way. When I was doing a serial on HUM TV, around the same time, Azaan Sami Khan and Zaviyar Nauman Ijaz were being launched as well. I felt the odds were against me, however, my struggle and attaining Gumn is what makes my happiness rank in a different dimension. To be honest, I feel child stars may have a certain level of insecurity to them as they will always be recognized through someone else’s work.
SD: Gumn has been creating major buzz and excitement. Did you expect this is the kind of response you will be getting?
Feroz: I gave my 100% to it and I know Sarmad caters to a certain niche market, where the masses would probably prefer something mainstream like ‘Tere Bin’. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t having a strong audience. I had my confidence in this production and I know when you work hard, you get the fruit and yes I’ve worked really hard.
SD: What was it like working with Sarmad Khoosat?
Feroz: When I moved to Karachi, I hadn’t watched a lot of dramas. However, I was familiar with Humsafar as it had set a benchmark for excellence in storytelling. This is why I had made up my mind that I had to work with Sarmad and Mahira Khan. Well, I’m halfway there already! When I met him for the first time in a meeting in Lahore, I was a nervous wreck. I’ve watched his genuity in Shere Zaat, Manto, etc so I was super anxious to meet him. But the man’s down-to-earth persona put me at ease. A humble artist with not a single boastful bone in his body, he allowed me to feel right at home. I feel drama is more of an actor’s medium and less of its director, as the screen is small; how much can a director add? But when you act with a good director, he keeps every sensibility in mind. Sarmad is well-read and made me extremely comfortable focusing on the dynamics of realistic acting.
SD: Considering the kind of bar you’ve raised when it comes to depicting prominent and strong characters, would you consider taking on conventional roles too?
Feroz: It’s very important in this field for an actor to build equity. Because I have an advertising background and worked with brands, I would call myself a product. So I need to become visible in the public’s eye- I need viewership, need eyeballs.
And be it fortunately or unfortunately, an actor has to do conventional roles, so to be part of what is selling in the market. For me to establish myself in the field, I have to take a step back from Gumn, because you can get something as good as that once in a while. I would even say it’s impossible to top that role as many would get something of some stature only years after working in the industry. My initial role was challenging and was from a male-oriented script. But I have to look at what the masses want and building equity means diversifying. Hence it comes down to creating a healthy balance between conventional and creative.
SD: Have you taken on any conventional roles yet?
Feroz: No, not yet. Because while I am willing, I have to be careful with what I do next. I won’t just take on whatever first offer I get. Even if it takes time, I’m okay. I won’t mind as long as in the end I’m choosing the right project.
SD: Would you consider the film industry and any roles/genres you want to hit?
Feroz: Our film industry works in a systematic and controlled format. There are just a few movies under a few banners that take on artists they have always had a comfort level with, be it the Fahad Mustafa clan or those who prefer Humayun Saeed. And then there are maestros like Bilal Lashari who takes on one project in 5 years. Hence realistically put, I won’t get the chance I rightfully deserve. The other issue is there aren’t enough screens in Pakistan. And we don’t have single screens- we only have multiplexes in malls. You would buy a movie ticket only if you have time after getting done with your shopping. Films in Pakistan are a luxury activity and it cant get much eyeballs; how many people can purchase Rs.1000/1500 tickets often? This is why you can’t build equity with movies. The stardom and craze when movie stars like Shaan and Reema ruled the screens is over.