When I was offered this role by K9 Productions, I had just decided to stop playing female characters, as I was doing such roles regularly. But in life you have a plan, but life turns out to be something else. At one time, when I was doing Comedy Circus, I played a female character in 14 out of 17 episodes in that season - saas, bahu, gaonwali. When I resisted, the writers said, ‘bhai, you do it so well’. So there I was! And then I was doing it everywhere. As an actor, I was enjoying it as I was getting to play many roles, but I was certainly getting typecast. I had decided that even if I stop getting work, its fine, but I won’t play a woman any more. Even when I started playing the lead in Jeannie Aur Juju, my character was restrictive. I was feeling constrained, so when the offer to play dadi came, I took it. I figured, it’s just 26 episodes, so it will get over quickly. I never realised it would become a hit from the first episode. In my 25 years of acting, I have never seen anything become an overnight hit.
Ali Asgar as Dadi
My producers told me that I had to play a grandmother’s role in the show. Though I was not briefed about the role, I thought to improvise the character of dadi that people usually see in serials and films. So I decided that this dadi would drink, flirt, dance and make merry on the show. She will enjoy every moment of her life...someone who is zinda dil. I play this character based on inputs obtained from observing real women who actually behave like this. And my break dance step in the show is something that the elderly generation would relate to reminiscing their youth; and this is the only Western dance move I know.
Training in Acting
I started acting when I was in tenth standard but I was not sure whether I wanted to do it all my life. So I did BA in Political Science and then pursued hotel management. My friends know that I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. The only vice I have is that I eat a lot; that is where the hotel industry comes to picture in my life. In fact I got a job in a hotel in the US. The condition was I could not leave the country for the first five years. As I am the only son, my parents didn’t approve of it. Meanwhile, I got interesting offers from the entertainment industry, so I decided to stay on. But believe me I have not spent a single rupee on me to become an actor. I didn’t even get a portfolio done.
My life has been a series of unplanned events. Sometimes the things that I planned for years didn’t work out, but other things took shape unexpectedly. Though I had been acting since 1984-85, Itihaas, a serial aired on Doordarshan between 1997 and 1998, helped me grow considerably as an actor. Though it became popular, it didn’t achieve much appreciation. The serial director Gogi Anand, taught me a lot about acting. The turning point for me was the long-running soap, Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii which launched in 2001. It was a huge commercial success and it threw me into the limelight. I played Kamal, the ideal brother-in-law, and the role got me lot of recognition. It was just the kind of role that I had been waiting for. Till that time I had just done comedies like Teri Bhi Chup Meri Bhi Chup and Do Aur Do Paanch. But comedy as a genre was not too popular at that time.
Milestones in Life
During the course of the eight years that I worked in Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii, my character evolved and I got the chance to play comic, serious and even negative roles all in the same serial. The reality show, Comedy Circus, too elevated me to a different platform. When Pakistani comic, Kashif, and I won the title as a team in 2007, we were dubbed as Humour Kings. The birth of my son Nuyaan, now eight, and my daughter, Ada, six - changed me a lot. From the carefree Ali of yore, I became more responsible. They brought stability to my life and from being a very bad planner I changed around completely. Ever since they’ve come along I have come to appreciate my father much more for all the big and small things that he did for me.