The Crown’s Humayun Saeed as Hasnat Khan and the controversy that followed

Humayun Saeed received the offer of a big audition—play Hasnat Khan, Pakistani surgeon who dated Princess Diana shortly before her death, on the fifth season of Crown. But Karachi, Pakistan-based Saeed is stuck at home, quarantined with COVID, and so nervous reading over Zoom that he can’t help but light a cigarette. “I was in my basement and I guess the Wi-Fi signal was not good because we kept breaking up,” he said with a smile. “When my manager found out that I was smoking during my audition, he said, ‘Why would you do that?’”

Saeed explains that it’s true that he’s always been a bit introverted. Before taking the throne of Pakistani cinema – the 51-year-old actor has starred in three of the country’s five highest-grossing films of all time – he was the general manager of a garment business in downtown Karachi. “I became an actor completely by accident,” he said. “Allah has been so kind to me—I don’t even know if I have any talent because I still feel like I’m learning.”

Dr. Khan, who first appeared in episode seven, is not a likely candidate to fill the intimate void in Diana’s life. In this episode, she meets him while traveling with her friend at a London hospital, still unresolved after her breakup. Prince Charles. There’s something profound about his emotional reticence when they first meet, but he’s a serious man with a demanding job and neither the time nor the energy. appeal for meaningful romances. Thus, on the show, it is Diana who initiates the seduction, which she manages by auditioning for the role of a heart patient and having the silent doctor mend her broken heart.

Saeed noted his co-star’s encouragement, Elizabeth Debicki, for helping him conquer his nerves on set. “From the day we met, I felt her warmth and sweetness. I told her how I was completely out of my comfort zone, the atmosphere was so different from anything I’ve ever experienced that I felt as if I was [acting] for the first time,” he said. “She was the one who calmed my nerves by telling me she enjoyed our rehearsal. When someone tries to put you at ease, it just adds to your on-screen chemistry.”

At the same time, Saeed believes that his innate caution and anxiety about working on a work of this magnitude helped him associate the character, a surgeon who was hesitant to step into the relationship. relationship with the most famous woman in the world, and who was rarely say with the press about her. “Just the other day I told someone that I found Hasnat really like the person I am in real life. I also became famous by accident… and I think that helped me understand him,” Saeed said.

Khan’s anxiety surfaced in the eighth episode, when he watched Diana’s infamous BBC interview on television in the hospital common room. Since the reenactment of the interview was not filmed, Saeed was asked to respond to the original footage. overview broadcast it Prince William said so never aired again. “There’s no dialogue in that scene and there’s only about 10 seconds of screen time, but I felt it was important to convey that this is this really private man, and he’s wondering if he’s going to do it.” whether or not he has a very personal romance with this woman. Saeed said. “It’s hard because while I want it to sound like he’s realized that he won’t be able to cope with public scrutiny over this relationship, I don’t want it to seem like he’s made up his mind. intend to terminate. it.”

The depiction of a cross-cultural relationship between a British woman and a Pakistani man has been received quite differently in their respective countries. In the West, Saeed’s performance has sparked interest in the often overlooked relationship between Hasnat and Diana; however, in Pakistan, coverage focuses on kissing scenes, which are banned by the Electronic Media Authority of Pakistan and are almost never seen in Pakistani cinema and television.

Humayun Saeed as Hasnat Khan on Crown.

Courtesy of Netflix


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