I just want there to be less hate: Mooroo aka Taimoor Salahuddin
He could have been just another person accepting what life threw his way, but Mooroo – who is not popularly known by his real name, Taimoor Salahuddin – is no ordinary guy.
People may recognise him from his online parody videos and comedy sketches for a beauty brand, but there’s more to Mooroo than meets the eye.
To get the low-down on what drives him and how he began his journey, we decided to do the ultimate personality test – ask him the first 20 questions that came to our mind.
Here’s how it went:
1. Your Twitter bio says that you are a musician, comedian, actor and filmmaker. How do you think you ended up with so many skills?
I guess it’s a combination of what life throws your way and what you want to be yourself. As a kid, I only wanted to be a musician but I didn’t come from a family that had musicians in it so I ended up studying filmmaking. Also, I was naturally funny like I’m just saying that I used to make my friends laugh.
Outside of me, people encouraged me to be a comedian and inside I wanted to be a musician and for moneymaking I studied films.
2. You mentioned elsewhere that you were bullied while growing up...
[Laughs] Who hasn’t been?
3. What are some of the things that got you past that and where you are today?
It was a combination of having to accept and refuse some things. When I first started doing comedy, my parents used to tell me, “Don’t do comedy. You’re making funny faces. You’re a musician.”
And I was like, that’s what you said when I was making music. You said, “Why are you doing music when you’re a computer scientist?”. So the sort of person that I am – the more discouragement I get for something, the more motivated I become to prove that I can do it. If someone says, “Oh, you can’t do that”, I go like “I will show you.”
4. Karachi or Lahore?
Karachi for the work, for the professionalism, and for independence. Lahore for the love, the family and the beauty.
It’s so hard to work in Lahore. I grew up with the people there so they are very unprofessional and nobody’s ever on time. Nobody’s passionate enough. Going for a holiday to Lahore is great because it’s relaxed.
5. What’s your take on Patari? Do you think it can be a game-changer for the current Pakistani music scene?
I’m very hopeful about it. I don’t want to bash other services but all of the services that came before Patari were so hard for me to use. They would continuously ask me to upload my songs on my own. Patari didn’t ask me to do anything. I just went there when it was in beta. They had my collection there and it was easy to operate. The whole thing gave the look and feel of a global website.
So far I have had a very fluid experience with Patari. I haven’t made any money out of it but I’m hopeful that I will be able to. They seem to have a good business policy.
6- What do you think about job interviews? Have you ever given one and what was it like?
[Laughs] I have never given job interviews but something similar to job interviews, which are auditions. It’s more stressful because when you’re giving an audition. It’s far more personal than reading your CV to someone. So when someone listens to your song and genuinely doesn’t like it, you feel it way more than when you’re being told “Oh your CV is no good.” In an interview you can go like “whatever, you don’t even know me,” but not so much in an audition.
7- What are some of the difficult things that have been said to you in an audition?
The worst thing I hear is “oh maybe you should try something else.” [Laughs] “Oh maybe you should try something other than music.” I have gotten that one.
I have given acting auditions too and worst is when they say, “Oh no no, why don’t you do something like Fawad Khan or be charming.” And I go like “I’m not that guy. I’m not a good looking guy. I’m a funny, weird character.”
8. Is it awkward meeting your critics afterwards?
There are critics who actually wrote reviews of my songs. My first song came out and this blogger wrote a horrible review, titled “Miss this one, Mooroo.” I think that was the title. Through my whole music video, he went in and found the bit where I was making the oddest expression and he took a screen-grab of it and he put it on the blog. However he could, he tried to make me look bad. Later on, he came to me and asked if we could do comedy sketches together and I was like “I have heard this name before.”
9. You’re currently working on a new music video. What is that about?
We’re working on this really cool music video for my song ‘Mariam’. SZABIST graduate Salman Noorani is directing it. It’s a stop-motion video. We have already been shooting it for 10 days. We have a super-talented art director, Eruj Hadi. She has worked on Ho Mann Jahaan. We’re doing the entire animation of the video on a chart paper. It’s quite an ambitious undertaking.
10. Are you involved with the music video in any other capacity apart from appearing as a musician?
I’m producing the video and partially financing it. I don’t interfere too much. I don’t control too much when someone else is working on their thing. I have been in this position as a music producer. If someone’s cursing in a song, I won’t tell him “Yaar, gaaliyan na diya kar.” (Don’t swear). I let everyone do what they want. I think our society has way too much censorship and it’s already diluting the work we do so I try not to be too controlling.
If my director wants me to be naked in the video, I would have said “OK, I will be naked in the video.”
11. What’s a day in the life of Mooroo like?
There’s no cycle to Mooroo.
12. Do you do a double take when people call you Taimoor now?
No, it’s fine but Taimoor is something that I don’t feel I am. My friends have called me Mooroo all my life and Taimoor feels like somebody else. Someone who says “Han ji ji, Assalam o alaikum.”
Mooroo is not formal and says whatever’s on his mind.
13. You use quite a bit of “rishta” references in your 'Mariam' video. Is it something that you find funny?
It’s something I have been through personally. My mother constantly keeps asking me, “Beta get married now.” She sometimes calls people over and she knows I’m against it so she doesn’t tell me and I walk into the room and there are people sitting there.
And I would get questions like “Beta kitnay bajay sotay hain?” “Kitnay bajay uthtay hain?” “How much money do you make?” The mother would be asking questions and the daughter would be sitting a little farther off.
I find this really funny. It makes me uncomfortable and awkward and I try to use that in my video.
14. Are collaborations something you really enjoy? If there are creative differences, how do you go about resolving that?
There’s a part of me that wants to write my own stuff, sing my own stuff and the song should be about my own problems. For instance, 'Kahani Purani' and 'Tasveer'. I wrote these songs alone and that’s something I need to keep doing otherwise I will go insane.
At the same time, to explore new horizons I like to collaborate. With comedy, I definitely don’t mind collaborating with people. I’m pretty relaxed about it. But if I have written a song and someone comes and plays a guitar piece on it, I’m controlling. It’s much closer to my soul and I want it to be about me.
15. Are you #TeamChai or #TeamCoffee?
16. What is one example of an international collaboration that you really want to happen?
I have so many heroes I want to collaborate with. Ali Azmat is one. He is a superstar. Collaborating with him on a song or anything would be really cool.
17. As an artist, what is one thing about Pakistan that you want to change?
I just want there to be less hate. I recently made this video called “Mooroo bin Ameer”. It’s definitely not my name. I’m playing a character but people see that video and they start cursing me. I was like I’ll let them be. When they do discover that it was just a character, they’d feel stupid. They would think, “what’s wrong with me?” “Why am I so judgmental?” or “Why can’t I take things lightly?"
If I see a Qandeel Baloch or a Veena Malik video, I won’t be annoyed but entertained. People get so angry at them, they start spewing hate. That’s just bad.
Some people are just sitting on the edge waiting to be offended.
18. Less money with more art or less art with more money. What situation would you prefer?
I know that money doesn’t bring you happiness, so more art and less money definitely. When projects have more money, there are also more people sitting behind the camera whom you have to please. It’s far more enjoyable when you’re in control and getting to do what you want to do.
19. What’s next for you after the video?
I have 4 or 5 projects that are simultaneously running. I’m doing a comedy sketch for Sprite. 4 of my songs are in production. We’re doing the music video for 'Mariam'. I will be doing a few more sketches for Garnier. So lots of music and comedy is what’s going to happen next.
20. On a scale of 1 to 10, what would you rate biryani?
[Laughs] I don’t really like biryani all that much. I think 5. mic drop