Talent focus: Ahmed Ali Akbar; Actor and Phenomenon in the Making

Actor Ahmed Ali Akbar in Siyaah
Screen-grab from Siyaah's official trailer

Some days ago, the trailer for Parchi was released, and I was smitten. Pakistani cinema has been churning out a lot of product recently. Most of it is forgettable. But every so often, something wonderful happens. The trailer hit all the right notes and showcased a local squad that I can finally get behind. And while they are all obvious winners, I want to direct some love towards one actor in particular.

Ahmed Ali Akbar burst onto the local film scene by way of a 2015 romantic comedy. The film was forgettable; this actor was not. There is a saying about there being no small roles, just small actors, and this man is the literal rendition of that. Give him two hours or two minutes, he will leave you captivated.

I have loved a lot of what he has done over the years. But to keep this post short and sweet, let’s look at three of his brightest shinning moments.


Hello Darkness

Pakistan’s horror scene is a bit niche, and often a bit lacklustre. But we have had some definite wins. And I love it, faults and all. In fact, we did a whole video commemorating it. As far as I’m concerned, the small budget indie film Siyaah will always be one of the best horror films to come out of Pakistan.

Screen-grab from Siyaah

While most local fright-fests overdo prosthetics, often at the expense of genuine terror, Siyaah kept things simple. In large part, it was successful because it was understated. And Ahmed Ali Akbar’s performance fit into the nuanced ambiance of the film like a missing puzzle piece.

He is so good in fact that you forget that he is only in the film for a few minutes. If you haven’t watched the movie, I won’t spoil it for you. I’ll just say that without his presence, the ending wouldn’t have had the same bite.


Some Cabaret to Brighten Your Day

Style awards bother me. Local or international, I cannot see the point of award shows that are built on fanning vanities. Which is why this little opening number still amazes me. It’s good; like really, really good.

Taking inspiration from stage musicals, the opening performance for the Hum Style Awards was fresh and funny, even to the point of being savage. But it was also surprisingly charming. Award show humour can get really uncomfortable really fast (when I say “Karan” you say “Johar”) as so much of it revolves around making fun of the guests. And so many of the guests have egos that eclipse K-2.

Yet, Mr. Ahmed Ali (minus the “Butt”) was able to make this palatable for the country’s glitterati. I fork this down to his charm. He isn’t just a jack of all trades, he’s a loveable jack of all trades.


An Actor Finds His Movie  

A great actor can shine in any role. But to create something truly magical, you need to pair them with a project that showcases their talent. Like Gohar Rasheed and Rangreza, or Suhaee Abro and My Pure Land, Ahmed Ali Akbar’s rendezvous with Parchi is that magic moment.

From Parchi’s official trailer

His comic timing is faultless, but in the past it has had to work in spite of a film. But Parchi looks like a genuine good movie in its own right. The humour is pointed, the stakes sufficiently high and the cast clearly shares chemistry. Because of this, it offers the already proven actor a chance to truly wow his crowd.

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