Gameshow host and actor Fahad Mustafa's show Jeeto Pakistan is nearing a decade in running and we're as curious as you about the details of Mustafa's journey and the show that's got all of Pakistan hooked. In a conversation with Images, he got candid and revealed it all.
"It has not been a while, it has been nine years so it's a lot of time and I get tired, I get excited, I get bored, I get excited again so it's a whole rollercoaster ride and you don't understand how Jeeto Pakistan is still going," said the Load Wedding actor. "If you look at the dynamics of other shows, they usually die [out] within two to three years but this is a different kind of show that we believe every year may die [out] this very year or the next but it only comes back stronger."
Calling it the "the biggest experience" of his life so far, Mustafa said the show has done more for him than what is apparent. "Jeeto Pakistan is one of the things that's kept me sane for the longest time, which is why I'm able to do all the work that I want to in life. I think if this wasn't there, I wouldn't be either."
The gameshow host may start his day wanting to bolt but something always pulls him back. "I have wanted to quit every day since the very beginning. Whenever I show up for any kind of work, my heart just doesn't want it to start until it does. Then when I do start, maybe it's Allah's doing or there's an energy that enables it to work out."
He added that his adoring fans give him life. "And I believe people love me so much that sometimes you can't say no to a lot of things. So when you see so much love from others, it sort of gets transferred in you — that energises me because of course you get tired."
Mustafa revealed that the Jeeto Pakistan League (JPL) was an idea that resulted from the consequences of Covid-19. When the PSL was cancelled halfway in 2020, the host decided to take matters into his own hands and arranged a continuation on his show. He invited stars such as Humayun Saeed and Adnan Malik, and it all ended up working out. "Now it's even more fun. I did not have an idea as to how [we are] to engage an entire country with one show since we do this in Karachi. So this was quite beneficial, every person gets attached," he added.
Building on the PSL's idea, JPL comprises of six teams from different cities competing against each other to win the League. The teams are headed by celebrities and new contestants are drawn for each episode. The top two teams would qualify for a final play-off.
The team dashboard includes Adnan Siddiqui as Lahore Falcons' captain, Shoaib Malik as Multan Tigers' captain, Shaista Lodhi as Peshawar Stallions' captain, Sana Javed as Islamabad Dragons' captain, Ushna Shah as Karachi Lions' captain, Aijaz Aslam as Gujranwala Bulls' captain and Sarfaraz Ahmed as Quetta Knights' captain.
The actor also explained why he believes his game show has a special spark. "Jeeto is completely dependent on people. Ordinary people are what make the show because I pretty much do the same thing, it's people's reactions that make the entire thing different every time you watch."
The Jawani Phir Nahi Ani actor said he watches his competitors' shows and really likes them. "There was a time where I was told I shouldn't do gameshows, they end stardom. Then I was told I shouldn't do a certain commercial or [endorse] a certain brand," he recalled. "So I created my own way of working — I did not work according to the formula so many of our people have created. My way worked out and now I really like watching people who did not want to do [shows], doing them. I think more people should do them because when competition is created, it becomes more fun."
Commenting on the annual changes on the show, he said they're "organic" and he does not change the script or the show's flow. "I think I'm good with people so I just catch a vibe off of them [and] know what I should talk to them about. You cannot plan [live shows], you need to be spontaneous and quick. So changes you cannot plan, they never work out that way."
The host stressed on the importance of respecting your audience. "Respect people and gain their respect in return. We have a great public, they have big hearts. They'll accept any kind of joke you make as long as you don't insult them. So if you laugh at yourself, you can laugh with them. As long as you respect them, they'll respect you back."
Cricketers Shoaib Malik and Sarfaraz Khan also had a chat with Images about their experience on the show.
Calling Jeeto one of the top shows in Pakistan, Malik explained he's the sort of person who tries to explore different ventures, especially ones he enjoys and having been on the show the previous year, he knew the drill. "I was looking forward to coming back, I waited for this show. I really enjoy it because in it it's not just yourself who's involved but also other people — they bring their own luck. I enjoy it so much, even when you go watch a movie, at some point you feel it's getting dragged but this show is all about fun. Two and a half hours pass the same way you bat really well in the T20s and then you're fielding."
The cricketer's post-retirement plans are not set in stone. He is "very open to other ventures" and claims to have "dropped some hints in the market as well." There is not a particular venture he's focusing on, whatever he feels like doing, he'll trust it and go with it.
When questioned about his upcoming Urduflix talkshow with wife Sania Mirza, he said, "It's still in the process, not done yet but let's see how we can execute it in the upcoming times."
To his fans he wants to say, "Keep supporting me, I won't let you down. Whatever I [choose to] do in life or in [the] future, I'll try to do the same thing [that] I've been doing in cricket, InshaAllah."
Ahmed had also been invited on the show before this. "This is my second experience, my first was in 2020 and I really enjoyed it. We enjoy cricket but with him, this is an amazing experience and this game is superb, I personally enjoyed it a lot."
Ahmed only had good things to say about his experience at Jeeto. "I would like to thank Fahad bhai, first of all, for inviting me and then the entire team. I've had a great experience, the same is going really well and I'm really enjoying it. I enjoyed it quite a lot the year before the last as well. They have the top actors there, Shoaib bhai is also here and others too — everyone's really nice and cooperative."