From Pakistan to Hollywood

Faran Tahir, in an exclusive interview talks about the pride he feels as a Pakistani while appearing in Hollywood blockbusters

Pakistan has made remarkable headlines in the global media over the decades. Time and again, we come across examples that have brought glory to the nation. While we praise professionals from influential fields like education, philanthropy, science and technology, and current affairs, it’s worth mentioning those who have brought good name to the country through the fields of lifestyle and entertainment. Faran Tahir, a prominent actor in Hollywood, through his work has projected a positive and peaceful image of Pakistan.

​Son of veteran Pakistani actor Naeem Tahir, Faran Tahir, is best known for his recurring role as Rhys Bashir in American Crime. Alumnus of University of California Berkeley and Harvard University, he made his film debut playing Nathoo in the Disney's 1994 live-action version of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. Among the famous blockbusters he’s known for appearing in Star Trek, Pitch Perfect, and TV programs Grey’s Anatomy and Once Upon a Time.  ​

Faran Tahir in Escape Plan

Faran Tahir, in an exclusive interview talks about the pride he feels as a Pakistani while appearing in Hollywood blockbusters

How has been your journey from Pakistan to Hollywood?

It has been an amazing journey – not necessarily always easy, but then where is the fun in that. We all choose our own paths, and once I decided this is what I want to do, I worked on my craft by getting all the necessary training and tools that I could to face these challenges. Along the way, I have had the honor and privilege to work with some of the best in my field.

We are all ambassadors of our national identity. How do you feel presenting Pakistan through your work?

I feel immensely proud. I am aware of the fact that I am representing my country when working abroad, which is why I make a conscious decision to choose balanced roles. I don’t believe in stereotypes myself, which is why I opt for roles which have different shades to it that justify the character’s actions.

What kind of responses do you get when people abroad discover you’re a Pakistani?

Surprising and happy. Usually the questions are about food, customs and history of the country.

Faran Tahir in Iron Man

In June 2015, you were invited by former President Barack Obama for annual Iftar. How was your experience?

It was indeed an honor to be invited to the White House for their annual Iftaar. It was an incredibly special experience. We were greeted by being shown copies of the Holy Quran that Thomas Jefferson kept at The White House – that was extremely memorable. What struck me most about The White House itself was that every corner is filled with history.

Have you faced any challenges in your career life because of who you are?

Entertainment is a tough business, especially in the West. Each person has his or her own obstacles to overcome. I too have had my fair share of struggle, but I never consider others’ plights and challenges any less than mine.

Faran Tahir in Star Trek

What cultural influences can Pakistan offer that will appeal to the global movie-going public?

There is so much that Pakistan can contribute to movies globally. We have a unique way of storytelling which is evident through our television as well as theatre plays. While our overall setting is very Eastern, our way of capturing human emotions is simple and relatable. We also don’t shy away from touching upon various socially relevant topics. In the last couple of years, we have witnessed some outstanding films coming out of Pakistan. I am sure things will only get better in the coming years.

As a Pakistani, what is it that you’re most proud of?

I think our hospitality is something we all should be very proud of. Every foreigner who visits the country cannot stop raving about it.

Your message to the youth of the nation?

Stay true to your roots but don’t limit yourself. Aim for shattering glass ceilings and breaking stereotypes. The world is your oyster!

Faran Tahir's video message for the nation recently shared on Pakistan Resolution Day:

Marian Sharaf Joseph is an independent journalist. Her work for local and global publications focuses on culture and community affairs