Interview with Austin Sayers, from the movie “Khuda Kay Liye”.
Interview conducted by Ahmad Babar
The Pakistani Cinema Scene recently saw a wave of change led by Shoaib Mansoor’s first endeavor in movies, “Khuda Kay Liye” [In the Name of God]. The movie is an interesting (read controversial) take on some of the hot issues in our society. The movie also is the first Pakistani film that featured an American artist in a major role. The character of Janie, a musician whom Shaan’s character Mansoor meets in the U.S. while he is there for advanced music classes, is played by Austin Sayre for whom this is interestingly a film debut. I had a small chit chat with her regarding her experiences related to the movie.
Ahmad: Starting with the basics, how did your acting career begin? School stage plays or later on?
Austin: I auditioned for a play in high school and every since then I’ve wanted to act
Ahmad: Do you have a genre preference or do you believe in versatility of roles?
Austin: I like to do everything. I think I would get bored if I just did one kind of role. I like the challenge of becoming different people.
Ahmad: How did you get involved with “Khuda Kay Liye”?
Austin: I just auditioned. I didn’t know anything about the film. My agent in Chicago told me about it and so I went, read the script for Mansoor and got the part the next day.
Ahmad: Did you have any reservations about the film at any point during the filming? As in, the movie is sort of controversial both from the US point of view and the Pak point of view
Austin: I was just so excited to be in the movie at first!
Ahmad: I believe this is your first feature film, right?
Austin: Yes it is! I was in some student films at school but this is the first big one
Ahmad: Have you done Television yet?
Austin: No, not at all, just a lot of stage, that’s why I was so surprised to get the part
Ahmad: A question from your fans side, have you been to Pakistan yet and if no, when are you planning a visit?
Austin: *Laughs*, well no I haven’t been to Pakistan. I would love to come and visit but it is a very expensive ticket…
Ahmad: How about getting Mr. Mansoor to sponsor it?
Austin: *Laughs*, well we tried for the premier but it didn’t work out. Maybe if I get to make another movie I will come
Ahmad: InshAllah… we all will be waiting for that. Moving on, are you a music fan?
Austin: Yes! I am a big fan of music. I play the cello so I love classical music
Ahmad: That’s nice. I was wondering if you have had the chance to listen to some Pakistani music?
Austin: I love the music from Khuda Kay Liye but I don’t know much Pakistani music
Ahmad: ok, you have already answered my next question 🙂
Ahmad: Your favorite track from the album?
Austin: Bandeya Ho – I love her voice!
Ahmad: Faiza is a great singer
Moving on, any projects in the pipeline?
Austin: Well, I’m not a big name in the U.S. so I’m auditioning and trying to find an agent. But no offers so far. That’s an actor’s life though, audition, audition, audition
Ahmad: True. Have you seen the final version of the movie?
Austin: I’ve some footage but not the final version. I’m very excited to see it.
Ahmad: I hope and pray that it gets launched in the US soon
Austin: I think that is what they are working on, The US, the UK and some festivals
Ahmad: How much of “Janie” was inspired by “Austin” and how much of “Austin” has now been influenced by “Janie”?
Austin: That’s a good question. – I think I tried to put my passion for music into Janie. I also tried to use relationship from my own life to understand her relationship with Mansoor. As far as Janie influencing me- I only hope I can be as brave and strong as she is
Ahmad: That’s a sweet thought :).
Did you get a chance of learning Urdu during the whole filming process?? 🙂
Austin: *Laughs*! I barely had time to learn my lines in English! I was cast and the very next day we started filming. so after shooting every night I would come home and learn my lines for the next day.
I listened to Shaan and Mansoor speak in Urdu sometimes but because all of our scenes were in English they mostly spoke English I would love to learn some though. I really enjoy languages
Ahmad: Ok, now this question is for “Janie”
Why didn’t she go to Pakistan with Mansoor?
Austin: Well her life in the US had moved on and Mansoor had been so hurt by his experience in prison that they were both different people. It would be like chasing a ghost. But perhaps apart they have a chance at a new life.
Ahmad: Can’t argue much with that now. Probably I know the answer to this one but just for reconfirmation, given that Shoaib Mansoor continues with his tradition of making sequels of virtually all of his projects, will you be up for Khuda Kay Liye 2?
Austin: I would love to!
Ahmad: So would we all.
How are you taking in the response of the Pakistani people who have already seen the movie?
Austin: It’s crazy to hear everyone talking about it when I haven’t even seen it!
Ahmad: And if you have had the chance of going through the different discussions on the movie on facebook groups, what’s your opinion on that
Austin: But it seems like a lot of people are seeing the film and that’s amazing
Austin: I’m glad people are discussing the movie. And I’m so glad it’s a success and making a difference to the people who see it.
Ahmad: Coming to a different side…
How was your experience with Shoiab Mansoor – the person, – the director?
Austin: I think he’s a wonderful director and a wonderful person!
Ahmad: and Shaan – the actor, – the person?
Austin: I liked working with Shaan, he was very helpful on the set, always willing to offer advice and help.
Ahmad: Before I end this interview, any message for your thousands of fans here in Pakistan?
Austin: *Laughs* It feels weird that I have fans! Today I worked in an office stuffing envelopes!
I guess just- Thank you for seeing the movie. I hope you continue to enjoy it!
Ahmad: And from everyone here, thank you for being a part of it 🙂