Osman Khalid Butt: So you think you can laugh?
A special thanks to Riffat Rashid for designing this questionnaire.
This man cracks jokes and cracks them well. He acts, but only so that it leaves you spell-bound and wanting for more. If that sounds inappropriate, you should head over to his vlogs. Youth Correspondent brings to you Osman Khalid Butt, the actor, writer and the man himself.
How has making vlogs brought a difference in you as a person, if any? Do you perceive anything differently now?
It has made me more confident, especially in expressing an opinion. Also, given that I practically broadcasted my personality to the world, I suppose I am now prepared to laugh off any verbal attacks made on the quote weird white [translucent?] – skinned dude who’s incredibly fahaash and who rumor has it may not even be Pakistani. Aside from that, no major changes in me as a person. I’ve always been this absurd, and this inappropriate. I’m just happy to see the crazy is strong within all my subscribers too.
What is the most underrated benefit of being famous?
When you read a letter or a message by a complete stranger who thanks you for the impact your work had on them – I find that gratitude extremely humbling. Yeah, that and free Red Bull.
Why The Living Picture for a company name?
It’s a direct translation of the art-form ‘tableau vivant’ [If you’ve seen the recent season of Modern Family, refer to the 23rd episode where the entire family ‘poses’ to Norman Rockwell’s Freedom from Want.] The company was formed primarily out of a pure, obsessive love for the performing arts – with an aim to breathe life into a culturally static capital. The name just fit.
Do you think you are giving anything up by doing what you do?
My… integrity? The ability to be ever taken seriously? Naah, on a serious note, I don’t think I’m giving up anything. That’s the beauty of doing what you love to do. All the setbacks, heartbreaks and minor coronaries are worth it.
Have you ever thought of things to say if you ever run into Meera after parodying her so extensively?
Naturally. I’d ask her to guest-star in my vlog. Or beseech her to do a bharakta hua dance number with me. It shall be a pleasant intercourse. Discourse. Discourse.
While audience’s reception of theatre has been fluctuating at best, the feedback for vlogs is generally deemed to be positive. Do you think there’s something to it?
That’s a rather unfair comparison. A theatre audience is limited – and conditioned. Vlogs reach a much wider audience, so you’re bound to find more people who subscribe to your content – whether they’re regulars or first-time watchers. Also, YouTube videos are more accessible – you don’t have to make an event out of watching them.
For a number of people, you have really done it all – choreographed, directed, wrote and acted. What is one thing that you really suck at?
I have a singing voice that even Auto-Tune fears. The tragedy is that I’ve always wanted to sing – and while I’ve worked on my voice with workshops, practice and taking on singing parts in musicals, I’ll never forget the first time I sent a home-recording of ‘Amazing Grace’ to a friend and when the lyric ‘How sweet the sound’ came she wrote: ‘How ironic.’
As clichéd as it sounds, what would you like to see in local audiences that you experienced abroad (Globe Theatre)?
Respect for the medium. Most seem to think theatre is some kind of privilege; the concept of buying tickets is all but lost. How is theatre supposed to thrive without that kind of support? Also, an open mind. As I mentioned before, theatre audiences are kind of conditioned now. Every play to your average audience must have over-the-top humor, plunging necklines, dances galore – I get that escapism is a major reason why people go out to watch plays, but there are other genres that often get neglected because they seem too ‘dry’. Give them a chance, I say.
Is making vlogs a commercial venture currently? If not, where do you see it in the future?
No, it’s not commercial. But that’s mostly because I have this fear that if I ‘commercialize’ it, it’ll lose its outrageousness/authenticity. So even my vlogs do find a sponsor, it’ll be on my terms. The content cannot suffer.
How important is positive feedback to you as an artist? Do you think you could work without it?
Of course not. Every artist craves attention, and for the kind of work I do, it’s important to know what material worked and what didn’t. Ordinarily I would say any kind of feedback is important, but given that criticism [read: trolling] comes so easily to us as a nation [see: Twitter, Facebook etc], it’s always refreshing to read a positive message – makes you remember why you’re doing what you do in the first place, and keeps you going.
A lot of people watched Humsafar after watching your vlog even though that was on a mainstream channel. How do you feel about that?
I feel great. It must have made them appreciate the parody more! Also, whatever the reason be, I’m glad we’re back to watching local television – now that the demographic has broadened, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more out-of-the-box scripts with a presentation that was as… fresh as Humsafar’s was.
How do you think Orlando Bloom would react if he gets told he looks like you?
I hope and pray that he decides to do a switch-up, prince and pauper style [that is, he gets to live my life for a day, and I his]. Two words: Miranda Kerr.
Is there anything you look forward to experimenting with in the future, with respect to your work or otherwise?
Definitely. I want to make this madcap masala Lollywood film: the song, the dance, the melodrama, the over-the-top comedy. So essentially, these vlogs are an experiment – to see what brand of humor works with viewers.
You have addressed trolls and haters in your recent vlogs. Is there anything else you would like to say to them?
You had me at haramkhor.
Who is Osman Khalid Butt? [one line]
You’re asking the wrong person. Okay, that’s perhaps too obscure. I’m a character unfortunately written out of a Douglas Adams novel.
How would you define your experience with Youth Correspondent?
Satisfying. (Laughs) Sorry, sorry – the most bizarre answers popped in my head. It was fun – I liked the questions… very nonstandard. Well researched!