It's interesting that we assign the label 'political' to art that doesn't just fit a mould of status quo. Is 'Downton Abbey' not political? That's political! Every piece of art offers a perspective on the world. And what is politics if not a perspective on the world? 'Downton Abbey' is about class. It's also about race.
Rehearsing a scene beds a role into you. But sometimes, if you over-rehearse it without unearthing any new meaning in it, you can suddenly forget your lines. You realise that you are on a stage, not in the real world. The scene's emotional power, and your immersion in it, disappears.
The 'Bourne' films totally reimagined and elevated the action genre.
I'm an actor. Since I was a teenager, I have had to play different characters, negotiating the cultural expectations of a Pakistani family, Brit-Asian rudeboy culture, and a scholarship to private school. The fluidity of my own personal identity on any given day was further compounded by the changing labels assigned to Asians in general.
In terms of negotiating a career - I've always grown up being an insider and an outsider to different worlds, across different classes and cultures, so I have always naturally liked making films or music that puts things in unexpected places.
Sadly, I have disappointed the surveillance capitalists myself by not yet downloading 'Pokemon Go.' But I'm addicted to my phone enough as it is, and I don't necessarily need that helping hand.
First, you have stereotypes, and that will be the black drug dealer, the east Asian kung fu master, the Middle Eastern terrorist in 'True Lies.' Then you have stuff that takes place on culturally specific terrain, that engages with it, but actually subverts assumptions. 'Smashes' stereotypes. That's where I've come into the game.
The only people who have doubts about the sincerity of my music are people who come to it relatively late, off the back of having seen me in a film. Acting is about being other people, and music is about being myself.
'Post 9/11 Blues' is an observational satire about the surreal circus of fear at that time. It's a generational thing.
I get good references from a wide range of music. Something who's been a good influence in the last few years is Qawwali music. If you listen to a Qawwali singer like Aziz Mian - he's like James Brown. Qawwali is like Pakistani gospel-jazz. It's emotional, but it's also improvised, and it's all about that sacred-and-profane tightrope.
I think that in an Internet age, content is content. As long as you can stand up on the merits of what you're doing right at that moment and aren't just relying on your success in doing something else, it's all good; people will respect you.
Whether you look at 'Glee' and its normalization of gay identity or you look at the work of Martin Scorsese and the Italian-American community, American culture is able to take these stories, which are seen as marginalized, and just turn them into American stories. And you don't think twice about it.
As a minority, no sooner do you learn to polish and cherish one chip on your shoulder than it's taken off you and swapped for another. The jewellery of your struggles is forever on loan, like the Koh-i-Noor diamond in the crown jewels.
The reality of Britain is vibrant multiculturalism, but the myth we export is an all-white world of lords and ladies. Conversely, American society is pretty segregated, but the myth it exports is of a racial melting-pot, everyone solving crimes and fighting aliens side by side.
Nothing will turn you into more of a 'Star Wars' fan than being on a 'Star Wars' set. When you see how lovingly that world is rendered by the set designers, costume designers, props department, art department, they genuinely build an actual world. That is not an exaggeration. They build a world.
The camera or the microphone in the booth is merciless. If you don't believe what you're saying, it hears it. If you don't believe it, it sees it in your eyes, it hears it in your voice that there isn't the conviction there.
Being South Asian in the U.K. is like being Latino in the U.S., I would guess. It's a bit more hood. You see things; things happen. I was bouncing between worlds. You're acting from a very early age, when you have to code-switch like that. I'm a hybrid, a mongrel. I think many people live that life.
The multiculturalism of Britain is one of our greatest strengths in music, literature, and visual art, but the TV and film industry doesn't tap into the multicultural talent pool in the U.K. as much as they do in the U.S.
Multiculturalism isn't just a buzzword; it's not just something to debate - I am multiculturalism.
Growing up in the mid-to-late '90s in London, you start seeing the explosion of drum'n'bass and then the birth of U.K. garage and grime. I decided to focus a lot of my energies as an aspiring MC. It was a very natural way to express yourself as a kid from a certain kind of neighborhood.