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Rufy Khan was born in one of the most beautiful places on earth, Kashmir. He grew up in Srinigar and later earned a degree in engineering from Aligarh University in Uttar Pradesh state. His real ambitions, however, steered more toward the creative arts, so with his good looks and muscular physique he found steady work as a model doing print ads, commercials, and music videos. He also decided to try his hand at acting, something he had been interested in for a while, taking parts in small, independent productions which helped him gain experience and get noticed.

 

Rufy Khan is featured in this music video for Sunny Saleem’s song JA BAEMANA

 

As an actor, Rufy’s big break came when he was cast in a supporting role in Subhash Gai’s melodrama YUVVRAAJ (2008). He then went on to receive good reviews as Pooja Savli’s philandering ex-boyfriend in the comedy NAUTANKI SAALA! (2013). Since then, he has played mostly leads in films such as the disturbing “based-on-a-true story” feature KALA SAACH: THE BLACK TRUTH (2014) and in the action-packed crime drama DHARA 302 (2016).

More recently, Rufy has taken to working behind the camera, and his hard-hitting short film WHO DIES…?, which he wrote, produced and directed, has been making the rounds, and winning awards, at film festivals in India and internationally. It will next be screened at the Al-Nahj Film Festival in Karbala, Iraq.

Having enjoyed his work as an actor, and having been fortunate enough to recently see WHO DIES…?, I was very curious to know what led Rufy Khan to expand his show business horizons. And although he was quite busy getting ready for the latest showing of his film, the actor-turned-film maker was kind enough to take time out to provide answers to my many questions.

 

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Mike Barnum: When did you first realize that acting was something you wanted to pursue?

Rufy Khan: It happens that when I was doing my engineering degree we went on a college tour to Mumbai. During that tour, I was actually being offered to act in films by some film directors who met us while we visited different locations to see film shoots. But at that time, I couldn’t leave my schooling half way.

MB: Growing up, did you have any favorite films or performers?

Rufy Khan: Yes, I was amazed to see Amir Khan in JO JEETA WOH SIKANDAR (1992) and QAYAMAT SE QAYAMAT TAK (1988), and also I used to dream on Salman Khan’s film songs from JAB PYAAR KISISE HOTA HAI (1998). These things gradually made a place in my heart, but I didn’t know how to actually choose films as a career.

 

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MB: You started out as a model, is that correct? What kind of modeling did you do?

Rufy Khan: Modeling was the perfect thing to start with. In modeling, acting stuff is less, and you keep learning from every small modeling shoot.  I was lucky to get started with modeling assignments, and within one year I had worked with almost every advertisement director and appeared in prominent TV commercial works alongside stars like Priyanka Chopra, Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor, and Hema Malini.

 

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MB: You also have quite an athletic background, as can be seen in your show reel. What kind of athletics are you involved in?

Rufy Khan: I was in all type of sports in my academic life. I also played some sports till national level, like cricket and football. I was also involved with martial arts in my school and college days, and that helps me today to keep fit. Also, martial arts skills help you stand out from other actors because you have a skill to perform as an action character. Athletics and martial arts support you everywhere.

 

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MB: YUVVRAAJ, with its all-star cast, was a big boost to your career.

Rufy Khan: I was a beginner when I did YUVVRAAJ with super-star Salman Khan.  I played his stepbrother in that, and learnt a lot during the film shoots.

 

yuvvraaj poster

 

MB: NAUTANKI SAALA was your break-out film. What was that experience like?

MB: It was a lifetime learning experience! Mr Rohan Sippy, who is the director of NAUTANKI SAALA, took 15 day workshops to all his actors for this film, and that workshop was a turning point for my career. I learned all the aspects of film making during those 15 days. That was the point where I started really thinking that I can try to direct my own film, and then WHO DIES…? happened, which is the award winning short film that I directed and acted in.

MB: Is there more pressure for an actor working on a big picture such as, say, YUVRAAJ or NAUTANKI SAALA, as opposed to working on a smaller budget film?

 

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Pooja Salvi, Ayushmann Khurana, and Rufy Khan in NAUTANKI SAALA

 

Rufy Khan: Yes, the pressure is to keep that trust which the director has shown on you. But once your director is convinced that you can deliver, then there is no pressure, then there is more fun. The director and other crew will be very supportive if you win them over through your acting skills

MB: DHARA 302 put your athleticism to very good use. Was it difficult to do such an action packed film?

Rufy Khan: I was looking for a film which can show my action skills, as I am very good in gymnastics and martial arts, so I grabbed the opportunity through DHARA 302 and I lead the film. It was an awesome and thrilling experience, and we shot in 50 degree temperature in Jaipur, Rajasthan [note: For those of us in America, that is equal to around 120 degrees Fahrenheit!!!]

 

dhara 302

 

MB: What can you tell me about KALA SACH?

Rufy Khan: KALA SACH was a film based on a true story. It was mostly made for festivals, but we did a release in theatres in Mumbai and all over India. It was a low profile release as the film was on a social awareness.

 

kala sach poster

 

MB: As an actor, do you have a preference between comedy, action or drama?

Rufy Khan: I love comedy and humor. Action is my favorite subject, and drama has to be there whether it is action or comedy. Actually, I prefer films of any genre, but it should create curiosity in its screenplay

MB: You wrote and directed WHO DIES…? What made you choose to work behind the camera?

Rufy Khan: I had a few ideas which I turned into film scripts; WHO DIES…? was one of them. So, after NAUTANKI SALA I started working on my ideas and trying to put them on screen. It took me 1 ½ years to create 10 mins of short film for WHO DIES…?, but when I received the accolades and awards for my film, internationally and nationally, then I felt that the 1 ½  year’s work was worth it.

MB: Who or what was your inspiration?

Rufy Khan: My inspiration is Mr. Rohan Sippy. He was my teacher when we took those 15 day workshops for NAUTANKI SAALA. There I was groomed as an actor, and as well, I kept a close eye on the making of the film. So, Rohan Sippy is my inspiration. I love his films also, which he has made. Apart from him, I get inspired by Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino; both are the cause for me to be a director. I also want to be like them, inshallah.

 

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MB: You also act in WHO DIES…? Was it difficult to juggle acting and directing at the same time?

Rufy Khan: Yeah, it was, but I did my homework for this film, so everything was kept in mind. I couldn’t skip anything which I was supposed to direct in WHO DIES…? But if the pre-production is weak, then it is very, very tough to do both things, directing and acting.

MB: What did you learn, working as a first time director and producer?

Rufy Khan: I learnt economy as a producer, and as a director I learnt how to take advantage of the situation and get the performance done. A director has to be selfish sometimes for what he wants from the artist.

MB: WHO DIES…? has been making the rounds at film festivals worldwide. How has the reception been?

Rufy Khan: When I completed the post production of WHO DIES…? I kept showing the film to people. I showed to every section of people, whether it be a film guy, businessman, student, teacher, laborer, watchman of my building, doctor, house-wife, illiterate person, film critic, senior director, army chief …I showed it to everybody, and the reply I got from them was “Wow, what a film!” and that was the moment I felt good about my efforts.

 

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Rufy Khan in a scene from his short film WHO DIES…?

 

MB: Have you had the opportunity to meet other film makers at the festivals you have attended?

Rufy Khan: When I showed my film in festivals I used to get a standing ovation and audiences used to say to get the director on stage, as they wanted to ask questions about the film. Then I’d get a flood of questions from all the film makers, which I would answer. Those questions also matured me as a film maker.

MB: Long before you made WHO DIES…? you were cast in a short film titled THE PINK MIRROR. Did working on it help at all when you made your own film?

Rufy Khan: That was my first short film with director Sridhar Rangayan. At that time I was a newcomer and I had no idea of acting and performing. But it was Mr Sridhar who extracted that skill in me, and for a film which was on a very sensitive subject. But at the end, it was an awesome film. You can watch THE PINK MIRROR on Netflix.

 

the pink mirror

 

MB: Do you have any other projects coming up?

Rufy Khan: I am working on a script for a feature film which I want to direct or maybe act in, also.

MB: So you plan to continue with directing?

Rufy Khan: I love directing! I have a lot of wonderful ideas which I want to put on the screen, but at the same time I am doing modeling and am still open for acting assignments.

 

Rufy Khan and Simran Kaur Mundi in scenes from the television film PICTURE PERFECT.

 

MB: What film makers or performers do you most admire?

Rufy Khan: Christopher Waltz is my favorite actor, especially in INGLOURIOUS BASTARDS, and Quinton Tarantino is my most admired film maker.

MB: What hopes do you have for your film career?

Rufy Khan: The film business is a very creative thing. The more you are involved in this business, the more you grow. So, my future depends on my creativity, like with WHO DIES…? It was a piece of creativity, so it works all over the world, and still is performing in many parts of the globe.

 

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Rufy Khan and director Mayank P. Srivastava on the set of KALA SACH: THE BLACK TRUTH

 

MB: Is there anything else you would like people to know about Rufy Khan?

Rufy Khan: Rufy Khan is an engineer by profession, but sacrificed his profession for his passion. I thank the almighty for this and that I chose what I loved.