Pakistani actor makes appearance in blockbuster Hollywood spy thriller

Pakistani fans of American spy thriller series “Homeland” had in its last season a special reason to rejoice, as the production featured Pakistani star Adnan Jaffar. (Photo courtesy: Social Media)
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Updated 14 April 2020

Pakistani actor makes appearance in blockbuster Hollywood spy thriller

  • ’Homeland’ has been seen controversial due to its often biased portrayal of Muslims and Pakistanis
  • Usually, roles that originate as Pakistani characters end up going to Indian actors

KARACHI: Pakistani fans of American spy thriller series “Homeland” had in its last season a special reason to rejoice, as the production featured Pakistani star Adnan Jaffar. The actor known from “Parwaaz Hai Junoon” shared with Arab News some moments from his recent Hollywood experience. 

“I was contacted by a casting agency last year in May, through WhatApp,” Jaffar recalled, “They asked me to record a few lines and send them back for audition. In the beginning, I thought it was a prank, but later, after giving it a second thought, I sent them my video.”

A few weeks, the agency got back to him. “I was really amazed when I was told that I had been selected for the role of a Major Aziz. Then in the last week of June I traveled to Casablanca, the largest city of Morocco, for four days,” he said. The set in Casablanca was built to act as Rawalpindi.

A screenshot from "Homeland" shows Adnan Jaffar playing Pakistani officer Aziz.

Jaffar appears in the ninth episode of the series eighth, playing Pakistani officer Aziz. What is important, he said, is that for the first time a Hollywood production took a Pakistani actor to play a Pakistani character. Usually, roles that originate as Pakistani characters end up going to Indian actors. Even in “Homeland” itself, Pakistani intelligence agent Tasneem Quraishi is played by Indian actor Nimrat Kaur.

Jaffar has earned fame through theater, television and film productions. He played an air force pilot in “Parwaaz Hai Junoon” (2018) and a navy admiral in “Laal,” a telefilm available on Amazon Prime. His other two Pakistani films — “Intezaar” and “Money Back Guarantee,” where he appears along Fawad Khan — are ready but their release has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Jaffar’s “Homeland” role is of additional importance at home, as its earlier episodes were seen as quite controversial due to their often biased portrayal of Muslims and Pakistanis.

Jaffar said he had inquired about the nature of his role before he agreed to take it. He wanted to make sure it would not contribute to giving his country a bad name.

The spy thriller series, produced by Fo21 Television Studios and aired on Showtime, started in October 2011. Its main character, Carrie Mathison — played by Claire Danes — is a CIA officer on covert missions across the world.

In his “Homeland” debut, Jaffar appears with British-Pakistani actor Art Malik, who played a retired Pakistani official. They rehearsed the scene on the same day it was shot. Everything went smoothly and it was recorded in just four takes.

“We sat together and discussed our scene, scrutinized it and memorized our lines,” Jaffar said, “I was already very overwhelmed by going there and was very cautious and observant too that how they were going about things but at the same time, the production team and other staff were also very encouraging and supportive. They are extremely professional.”

Working with the “Homeland” crew was wonderful, Jaffar told Arab News.

“It is a fact that they are in a very resourceful industry and treat all their cast and staff very well, as they want the best out of them, but it was beyond my expectation. They accommodated me in a plush hotel and provided with a chauffeur driving a Mercedes car for my entire four days there. I was given a vanity van only for my six-hour shot.”

The Hollywood experience on the set in Morocco made Jaffar think that Pakistan with its picturesque tourist destinations should also consider opening up for foreign film crews. This would also help develop the industry at home, giving opportunities to local artists and film students.

“I saw during the shoot in Morocco that many local students, who were studying film, were there on set to learn film making through practice.” 

When he started his acting career, Jaffar never thought he would work for a Hollywood team. While he does not know if similar opportunities will come his way in the future, he said he hopes the “Homeland” role will somehow pave the way for Pakistani artists into the international film industry. 

Pakistan opposition draws thousands to capital to protest ruling party’s ‘foreign funds’ case 

Updated 19 January 2021

Pakistan opposition draws thousands to capital to protest ruling party’s ‘foreign funds’ case 

  • The Pakistan Democratic Movement urged the election commission to promptly announce its verdict in the case
  • The interior minister said the opposition alliance failed to attract large number of people to the protest demonstration 

ISLAMABAD: An alliance of Pakistani opposition parties, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), held a protest rally today, Tuesday, outside the election commission which is hearing a case involving alleged illegal foreign funding for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. 

The case was filed in November 2014 by a founding PTI member, Akbar S Babar, who claimed massive financial irregularities in the handling of foreign funds by the party that amounted to about $3 million. 

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has still not adjudicated the matter, making the PDM leadership criticize it for “the inordinate delay.” 

“Neither is this government elected nor has it any right to rule the country,” the opposition alliance chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, said while addressing the participants of the rally in Islamabad. 

He accused the prime minister of contesting the 2018 elections after taking “funds from Israel and India,” adding that the foreign funding case was pending for the last six years even after a revelation by the State Bank of Pakistan that the PTI had 23 “hidden accounts.” 

Rehman said the ECP had held about 150 hearings in the case, noting that the PTI filed 50 applications for its deferment and that the nation was still awaiting the judgment. 

“Some powerful institutions had occupied the election system and brought an incompetent person to power,” he said. “They are now running the government from behind the scenes.” 

Criticizing the ECP, he said: “If this weak election commission provides them [the ruling party] protection, we won’t be able to trust it in the next elections.” 

Rehman said that no country in the world, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, was willing to trust Pakistan due to the government’s “poor foreign policy.” 

“We will continue our struggle [against the government] within the legal and constitutional ambit,” he added. 

The opposition alliance has frequently accused the PTI of coming into power by manipulating the 2018 elections and promised to dislodge through public support. The government denies the charge of election rigging. 

Addressing the protest demonstration, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Maryam Sharif also accused the prime minister of getting funds from India and Israel and using for his 2014 sit-in to overthrow an elected government. 

“Do you know who funded him from India? Bharatiya Janata Party member Inder Dosanjh. And the Israeli who funded him was Barry C. Schneps,” she claimed, adding that “countless” such people and companies from Israel and India had funded the PTI. 

Mocking the ruling party’s statement in the foreign funding case in which it blamed its agents in the US for any possible illegal funding, she asked the prime minister should also reveal the names of the “agents who brought you into power.” 

Lambasting the ECP, she said the election commission was “part of the crime of selecting an unqualified person and bringing him to power.” 

Pakistan Peoples Party’s senior leader Faisal Karim Kundi said that the PTI had admitted that its agents accepted the funds from foreign countries and companies. 

“If the agents had done something wrong, it means that the PTI is involved in it,” he said, urging the ECP to give its judgment in the case. “The verdict will prove which enemy countries had funded the PTI,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Islamabad’s local administration had beefed up the federal capital’s security to avert any untoward incident during the opposition’s protest demonstration. It had deployed over 1,800 security personnel to maintain the law and order besides identifying alternate routes to ensure smooth flow of traffic. 

Responding to the opposition’s protest, Federal Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmed termed it a “disappointing and poor” show and claimed that the opposition alliance had failed to attract a large number of protesters to its demonstration. 

“We welcome your long march [toward Islamabad] after this today’s show, and that will be your last show [of power],” the minister said, admitting that the opposition had all the right to address public gatherings. 

He also rejected the opposition’s accusations regarding Israel and India. 

“They [the opposition] were given a free hand [to protest outside the ECP], and they have been exposed,” he said. “We are waiting for their long march now.”