By Maliha Rehman
“Yo, yo, that’s not the flow,” Billo Chaudhry utters the incomprehensible dialog that has now become his signature.
He swaggers a bit as he says it, bobs his head cockily, raises his hands in order to emphasize his point. Actor Imran Ashraf Awan has a little son of his own and his past many roles haven’t featured him as a college-going boy – but as Billoo Chaudhry, he transforms into one. Billoo fails repetitively in college – which makes his enactment by Imran make better sense – and he’s the apple of his Dada’s eyes, the titular Chaudhry in 7th Sky Entertainment’s hit Ramzan drama Chaudhry and Sons, airing daily on Geo Entertainment.
Billoo is your quintessential spoilt but good-at-heart hero. He cheats in college – and gets caught, makes tall claims about himself, depends entirely on his Dada for helping him out when he lands into trouble, drives about in a bright yellow open-air jeep and as I write this, he is slowly falling in love with the madcap Pari, played by Ayeza Khan. He wears a lot of denim, paired with brightly colored jackets and shirts – very young, very Billoo.
Had anyone told me that Imran Ashraf would be appearing in a drama where he’ll be enacting a befuddled college boy, I would have wondered if he would be able to carry the role. And yet, Imran does with ease. Billoo grows on you until you start looking forward to watching him every evening all through the month.
The other characters in Chaudhry and Sons are just as loveable, directed very intelligently by Wajahat Hussain and helmed by 7th Sky Entertainment’s Abdullah Kadwani and Asad Qureshi, a duo that is adept at churning out hits.
On the same channel, also under 7th Sky Entertainment’s banner, Imran Ashraf broods and cocks out a gun at his enemies. As Wali in ‘Badzaat’, he’s the tortured hero, suffering at the hands of a villainous cousin, in love with a girl he hasn’t been able to get and struggling with the shadows of his past. He walks around in a crisp cotton shalwar kurta and waistcoat and makes plenty of emotional, dramatic statements every episode. He plays Wali very well – you can barely connect this angry young man with the garrulous, bumbling fumbling Billoo.
Some actors may have had worried that they were leaning towards over-exposure by appearing in two dramas; one with two episodes per week and the other airing every day for an entire month. On the other hand, it is precisely the sharp contrast between Wali and Billoo that has allowed Imran to showcase his versatility.
The actor’s tryst as Wali started a few months after he had played the popular character of Moosa in the drama Raqs-e-Bismil which aired on the HUM TV Network. Suddenly, Imran was now playing two separate characters for Geo Entertainment.
“I lost 8 kgs in order to play Wali,” reveals Imran, “and then I gained 3.5 kgs of weight for Billoo. Both characters were going to be seen on TV at the same time. They had to look different from each other.”
Was he worried at all about over-exposure? “No, I was excited to play two completely different characters. Badzaat has its own fanbase and there are a lot of people rooting for Wali. And Billoo, is a hero through and through. He may have his ridiculous moments but you’ll see, as the drama continues, he exemplifies the true hero.”
Chaudhry And Sons has definitely been a success in the very competitive Ramzan drama ratings race. The drama doesn’t drag and even though there is plenty of comedy and silly situations, there is also an underlying story and well-defined characters who ensure that the narrative flows smoothly. “Credit for this goes to our director Wajahat Hussain,” says Imran. “He has very definite ideas about what will work, how long a scene should be and even the particular time of the day that a scene needs to be shot! Also, Abdullah Kadwani and Asad Qureshi are great producers to work with. They allow us creative freedom and also have a strong sense of how a story should be told.”
Will Billoo get a happy ending with the daft but endearing Pari? Ramzan dramas always do end on a happy note so we can be sure of that. Will Wali end up living happily ever after with Anabiya? That remains to be seen; currently, he’s struggling with his emotions and yo-yoing from being intensely angry to extremely sad.
We’re watching both dramas, though. Two stories, two shades of Imran Ashraf; from a mentally impaired Bhola to a moralistic Adam to the street-smart Moosa to now, Billo and Willoo serving out a double whammy.
There’s another shade to the actor coming up, with his movie Dum Mastam releasing this Eid where he plays the street-smart, aspiring musician Baoo. More on that once I see the movie!
What do you think?