PRESS RELEASE: Farah Leghari’s big comeback!

Farah Leghari has made a comeback (after four years) with her unique and elegant lawn prints. ImageThe credit of bringing Farah Leghari back into the world of style and fashion goes to Gohar Textiles Mills, a Faisalabad based company.

Farah Leghari’s collection has six distinct designs. Amongst her most popular designs are the ones infused with rich jeweled colours.

“This collection celebrates the femme fatale in all of us. Having designed for Royalty, I aspire to make each one of you feel like a ‘princess’ in my creation,” says Farah.

Farah has also participated in numerous fashion shows around the world and helped organize fundraisers abroad for charities like The Citizens Foundation.

Nabila Changeth!

Published in Slogan (Feb ’11)

Hair has always been her medium of expression. Her clientele changed as she became the most
expensive from the most affordable hair stylist. She is the perfect match for a beauty brand like L’Oreal.

Only one name comes to mind: Nabila Maqsood, Pakistan’s style icon and now also a lifestyle brand. The lady recently launched her first coffee table book “Nabila Changes” at the Commune Artists Colony amidst many admirers, including leading designers Safinaz Munir, Deepak Perwani, Umar Sayeed, Sonya Battla, Amir and Huma Adnan; photographers Tapu Javeri and Amean J; and models Aaminah Sheikh and Tanya Shafi.

Inside the book, which is sponsored by L’Oreal Professionnel, we find Nabila ‘freed from the
shackles of tradition’. Through the images we see a glimpse of who she has been, the people and
physical spaces that have influenced her and mostly, her 25-year journey in the world of fashion.

In this autobiographical account, she appears in different roles – as a young mother, a hair stylist, a creative consultant, a makeover specialist – and experiments with her clients’ looks. But one theme is constant: reinvention.

With time, we see how she and her salon, set up in 1986, evolved gracefully. She proudly writes of the launch of the first independent men’s salon, of the very first spa and eventually the first nail bar in the country, with help and inspiration from Zain Mustafa.

‘Styling for me is beyond conventional prettiness,’ Nabila reveals, mentioning how she created hybrid solutions appropriate for the Pakistani market. This is reflected by several of the photographs – shot by some of Pakistan’s leading photographers like Amean J., Tapu Javeri, Rizwan Baig and Khawar Riaz – that fill the pages. These include prominent faces like Ali Zafar, Wasim Akram, Hadiqa Kiyani, Shaan, Bibi, Zoella, Iraj, Babra Sharif as Marilyn Monroe and so on.

Nabila never advertised and was her ‘own best publicist’. Her success story is simple, yet enticing, with just the right amount of personal details and emotions interwoven with the text and photographs.

With a modern, minimalist look, comprising black-and-white as well as colour images, the book
bespeaks style and sophistication. The transition is smooth, from one chapter to another, though one feels that much remains to be said and revealed – possibly in another coffee table book.

Like Nabila’s styling work, it is evident that the same attention to detail has been given while
compiling “Nabila Changes”. Definitely a collector’s item!

– Ayesha Hoda

The Grand Finale

Published in SouthAsia (November 2010) – Original Link

By Ayesha Hoda

“And the award goes to….”

A moment of silence, pregnant with expectations of victory or gloom for a favorite star or film – it gives you goosebumps. You hold your breath. And then the moment passes, with the silence broken by a thundering applause as the winner’s name is announced.

Any film buff can easily identify with these magical moments. With so many film award shows to watch today and their countless reruns on television, these moments have lost some of their thrill. But not all of it and definitely not in shows like Filmfare, also known as the “Indian Oscars”.

The Filmfare Awards were introduced in 1953 by Filmfare magazine, beginning with just one category and five awards. Over the years they have grown in scope to cover many more aspects of filmmaking and become a much-awaited annual event, glittering with stars. Looking at their success, more award shows have been designed along similar lines, not only in India, but also in other South Asian nations, like Lux Style Awards (LSA) in Pakistan, Nepali Film Awards in Nepal, National Film Awards in Bangladesh and so on.

The awards industry in the region, primarily the Indian industry, is growing in terms of popularity as well as business. Each show has multiple sponsors and impressive advertising support from a large number of brands. And why not? Most of them are star-studded events that involve many months of planning; offering gigantic backdrops, technical wizardry, fireworks, many song-and-dance numbers, light banter by A-list celebrity hosts and post-award parties.

Film awards honor those who push cinematic boundaries, appeal to the audiences’ aesthetics and do well at the box office. However, they have a much wider impact due to the film world’s close ties with fashion, music and other industries.

Today, an award show is not merely about the showcasing of a country’s cinematic vision. A Hollywood-style red carpet bonanza is quite in vogue at these ceremonies, with stars and their spouses adorning designer labels. In addition, costumes have to be supplied to the performers. Stylists and make-up artists need to be present. Those involved with the designing and construction of huge sets, setting up of the floodlights, the sound systems, security etc. are all employed by the booming awards industry.

Quite predictably, Bollywood shows are the ones most widely watched, not only within South Asia or Asia but across the world. Starting in January or February, they generally continue up till June, being broadcast around the world for the entertainment of the South Asian diasporas and now even western audiences.

For tapping international markets, some shows are being held abroad, benefitting the organizers, the film industry as well as the host country. For instance, the Indian International Film Awards (IIFA) was first held in 2008 in Thailand, which significantly added to the country’s popularity amongst Indian travelers. Similarly, Film Awards Bangla – a language based awards ceremony that seeks to promote Bengali cinema through an international platform – took the same route this year. Both India and Bangladesh are emerging markets for Thailand – a popular choice for their cinematic industries due to its scenic beauty and skilled personnel, as a film location for both pre- and post-production work and a destination for holding award ceremonies.

Recent news reports also suggest that the next hot destination for shows will be Singapore, with Zee Cine Awards scheduled to be held at Marina Bay Sands in January 2011. Pakistan’s Lux Style Awards have also been held outside the country twice, once in UAE (2005) and once in Malaysia (2007).

Beyond doubt, the South Asian region has much to offer the world in terms of different film styles, genres, languages and socio-cultural representations. With subtitles, several movies available online and international entries in film festivals around the world, people are getting a chance to watch independent and mainstream movies from Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and even Afghanistan.

However, with the film industry in shambles in Pakistan, the chances of growth of the awards industry here seem to be minimal, at least in the near future. Even LSA is said to be in need of raising its glamour quotient and may not be held this year due to the flood crisis in Pakistan.

Despite the obvious economic and artistic benefits of these annual award ceremonies, they are not always held without controversy. With Bollywood’s links to Mumbai Underworld lurking in the shadows, the funding of these projects comes under speculation. These links are sometimes denied by filmmakers or lost amongst the glitterati. On the other hand, some film stars are openly seen in the company of their mafia connections. The mafia is here to stay, a fact more evident with the introduction of a new genre of filmmaking some years back, Mumbai Noir, dealing with realistic depictions of underworld dons.

There are also other controversies surrounding award shows. Stars, film critics and audiences often accuse them of bias towards commercial success rather than merit, except perhaps some government sponsored awards. In India, stars like Aamir Khan refrain from attending the award ceremonies because of the way they are conducted. To counter such criticism, some Indian shows have introduced a critics’ awards category that often honors the works of parallel cinema. But this sometimes leads to further criticism as the ever-widening range of categories is seen as “designed to please everyone”.

However, the award shows represent an enormous opportunity which advertisers and allied industries cannot ignore. The cult like following of film celebrities is not expected to go away any time soon. Even the relatively smaller film industries in other parts of India or in the rest of South Asia do have some faces that are loved by the masses. Moreover, the award shows offer several hours of entertainment – the chance of seeing the enigmatic persona of stars outside the silver screen and dancing to popular beats. Target Rating Points (TRPs) are high as ever and so are profits. Notwithstanding some criticism, further growth of this industry will mainly benefit South Asian cinema: all those working for it and all those bedazzled by it.

‘NAPA is the only institute in Pakistan which treats music and theatrical arts as knowledge domains’

Published in Slogan (September 2010)

Rahat Kazmi shares interesting anecdotes from his life as an actor, director and teacher, in conversation with Ayesha Hoda.

 

Rahat Kazmi at his home in Karachi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a certain excitement that comes from a one-on-one conversation with any actor, especially one who stands out in his field. There is also a strange sense of familiarity; a feeling that you have known this person through the various compelling characters that he has portrayed on screen. You feel nostalgic when you meet him even if it is for the first time.
One of the best and most popular actors of Pakistani television, Rahat Kazmi at first seems not entirely different from his enigmatic screen persona. He, however, instantly makes you feel at ease and begins the conversation effortlessly, even while saying, “I don’t have much to say”.
The way he answers my questions reminds me how many times he must have given interviews. Yet he seems to enjoy the experience or it may just be that he likes to speak, being a gifted speaker and debater since his school days.
Rahat was considered a maverick in his family. His father had a successful income tax law practice and was a prominent Shia leader. But Rahat had different interests – Marxism, poetry, drama, music, etc. And he was an all-rounder.
When he entered college in 1961, he was pushed on to the stage by one Mr Nasrullah Malik, whom he describes as “a delightful eccentric” and the one who taught him “how not to believe in things”. With Mr Malik’s support, Rahat graduated from college not only with a distinction in academics but also as the best actor and debater.
On his father’s insistence, he pursued a law degree at the Punjab University law college and, as usual, did well. He fondly mentions his friends there, including Aitzaz Ahsan and late Asif Sajjad Jan.
Later, he went to Government College, Lahore and continued educating himself in various disciplines, including Political Science, English Literature and International Relations. He laughingly admits that he never wanted to leave college.
Rahat also appeared for the Civil Service exams. He went to the Information Services Academy and served in the Ministry of Information for more than three years. Then he resigned.
“In those days nobody thought of resigning from Civil Service,” he recalls. “I was one of the few. The job gave no scope for creativity or any sense of achievement. The only good thing about the experience was that as a bureaucrat I got a chance to spend one and a half months in East Pakistan. I travelled across the country and fell in love with it. Unfortunately, only a year later it became Bangladesh.”
It was a difficult decision leaving the job as Rahat had to return all the money invested in his training. However, they eventually agreed and allowed him to leave.
Simultaneously with his tenure as a bureaucrat, Rahat also had the chance to act in his first major drama serial, “Qurbatain Aur Faaslay”. Some of his college friends were working in television and remembered him from college plays. So they approached him for a role in the play which had been adapted from a novel by Ivan Turgenev called “Fathers and Sons”. Rahat thinks that for an actor the first play or drama is always the dearest to his heart as it is the first time he is doing it. In his first serial, Rahat tried to copy Che Guevara, the famous Argentinean revolutionary.
Those were the days when there were not many recording facilities. The drama had to be recorded in big chunks and went on air the same week. Two episodes had already been aired and the team had still not found the lead girl. Rahat then saw Saira one day, who used to read the English news. He inquired whether she would be suitable for the part. Eventually, Aslam Azhar (Chairman, Pakistan Television), who knew Saira Kazmi’s father, persuaded him to let her take the role.
That is how Rahat met Saira: “The beginning of our romance was with an argument,” he relates. “We were going to the TV station. Somebody had commented that the camera work was very conventional and she agreed. I said it suited the material; it was neither conventional nor unconventional. So we started arguing and it has continued till date. For the last thirty years, we have had fights on many technical issues.”
The drama serial was a blockbuster and quite typically, people and newspapers started saying they should get married. At first the couple was cynical and ignored it as idle gossip. But eventually they did get married.
“It was a Shia-Sunni marriage, so there was a lot of hue and cry over it. But we had really nice friends like Badar Khalil who helped us get together.”
Rahat’s second serial “Parchaiyan” was recorded in Karachi and was such a huge success that when the actor visited India in 1979, he found film institutes there using it as class material to teach students how to direct and produce plays.
Despite these successes, Rahat realised that there was no money in the business and decided to go for the big screen. In three years, he did 11 films but with the collapse of the film industry, he and other actors like Nadeem Baig and Shabnam decided to move from Lahore to Karachi.
So life had to start again. Saira was employed in television. She moved towards direction and won many awards for her work. Rahat also did a lot of work for television but with the low incomes offered in those days, he pursued a teaching career as well. Rahat’s academic qualifications and exemplary linguistic skills enabled him to teach A level and university students, in subjects ranging from literature to politics to international relations. He also worked as the Regional Director for Beaconhouse School System for seven years. Currently, he teaches English Literature at l ‘ecole in Karachi.
When the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) was established in 2005, Rahat joined it as head of the Theatre Arts department. He also heads the NAPA Repertory Theatre Company, founded about three years back. This company has been producing six theatre plays each year and is currently working on its fifteenth production – Khel Jaari Hai – a comedy play directed by Rahat.
Speaking on the recent increase in such theatrical productions, Rahat says, “We have certainly rejuvenated theatre in Pakistan. The Arts Council is now booked for two years with performances by various theatre groups. But we have an advantage over others as we are funded by the government and can experiment more plus we have a bunch of well-trained actors – NAPA graduates.
“One institution cannot do everything but NAPA is the only institute in Pakistan which treats music and theatrical arts as knowledge domains; as disciplines to be taught and learnt. Previously there was no such place. The National College of Arts has just introduced a degree programme in theatre.”
When asked if people here will actually consider going for an entire degree in theatre arts, given the low income potential in Pakistan, Rahat is of the view that such passionate people are always there and they will go for it. Those who only want to make money will do morning or cooking shows. He says theatre has a limited audience the world over as it requires a very high level of education for people to appreciate various art forms. That is why here one sees the same faces everywhere, whether it is an art exhibition, a theatre play or a film screening.
Rahat, being a voracious reader, is also disappointed by the fading reading culture the world over. He is sad that students and even teachers rely on notes written twenty years ago, reveals distaste for tuition centres and says it is unfortunate that good education has become so expensive in Pakistan. “Education and arts should always be subsidised,” he says.
Moving on to a discussion on TV actors, Rahat says that they have become millionaires with big cars and big houses, which is a good thing. “Why can’t artists make more money,” he asks.
I ask him why he is no longer a part of the television industry to which he responds, “I am too old to work now. And I think it has all become too commercial, which is really not my cup of tea. It is all about selling shows and how much percentage who will get. Even news is often sponsored.”
When I ask him if he thinks Pakistani serials are inspired by Indian soaps, he defends the industry, “Everyone borrows from everyone else. See, there are only a few formats in the world: (i) cooking shows (ii) general shows (iii) talk shows (iv) soaps and (v) news. What else can you do on television?
“Of course dramas in the 70s were better as they were funded by the state. You will do better work and experiment more when there is no commercial restraint, like BBC is still the best channel. Now on private channels, there are so many commercial breaks with anchors rudely interrupting guests to go for a break. But channels need to decide on their tone: serious or not serious? One second we hear the heart-wrenching news of flood victims and the next second a silly jingle tries to sell biscuits to us. If things are commercialised to such an extent, then you lose credibility and the ability to create quality content.”
Rahat also feels that adapting novels for television serials is very challenging but should be done more often to maintain standards: “Novelists take years to complete their books so their ideas have matured while a usual TV script may only take three months or even less. If you look back, you will see that some of the best work on Pakistani television has been an adaptation of great novels.”
Hope the bigwigs of Pakistani television industry are listening. One can only wonder if the younger crop of TV artists will follow in Rahat’s footsteps and become household names like him.

‘Our media outlets are completely focused on foreign music’ – Strings

Image © Strings

Published in Slogan (August 2010)

In a lively discussion with Ayesha Hoda, lead vocalist of Strings, Faisal Kapadia comments on his band’s popularity, on endorsing brands and on the factors threatening the survival of music artists.

How did your music career begin?

The same way as that of other bands usually begins. Bilal and I were in Government Commerce College, Karachi and of course we both were inclined towards music. Bilal had a background because of his father, Anwar Maqsood, one of the most popular names in Pakistan’s entertainment industry. So he was raised in an environment that encouraged him to get into music. I became inclined towards music as I was part of Sohail Rana’s programme Sarey Dost Hamarey.’

In college of course we just wanted to have a good time so we used to play music together. But rather than wasting time here and there, we decided it was good to make our own songs and do some concerts and shows. Of course we never thought we would make it our profession but yes today it is our full time profession.

Which national and international awards has Strings won so far?

God has been really kind and we have worked really hard. The band was formed in late 1980’s and we won our first ever award around 1991 or 1992. At that time there weren’t many awards. I remember there was one ceremony – Wahid Murad Awards – held every year and we received the best musician award.

One of the most prestigious awards we have received was at MTV Asia Awards in Bangkok. We were nominated from India as the best band. And of course we have been honoured at the Lux Style Awards, by MTV Pakistan etc. We have received numerous other awards, which is really good because they motivate us to work harder.

What factors have made Strings popular not only in Pakistan but across the world?

Number one is hard work. Luck is number 2. Then, of course, since we sing in Urdu our main base/ territory is always Pakistan but releasing an album from India takes you to other countries like Bangladesh, Nepal; places where Indian / Pakistani music is loved. The Indian industry is huge and its reach is much wider.

Then, when you go international, you go towards different projects. For instance, we were approached by Columbia TriStar Films to do a song for Spiderman 2. And then we also became brand ambassadors for UNICEF, for HIV Aids.

I personally believe that if you focus on something – when you are not trying to actually become someone great – and just working hard, you are eventually recognised because of your work.

What are your views on Coke Studio and what it means for music enthusiasts plus musicians/singers in Pakistan?

Coke Studio is a brilliant concept. I still remember when Rohail Hyatt was starting this project: we met him and he shared the whole idea with us. He launched Coke Studio with Strings, Ali Azmat, Rahat Fateh Ali, Ali Zafar etc. and we all did not know what exactly was going to happen as it was a brand new concept.  Audiences were not sure either. But when we actually recorded, it was a totally new and wonderful experience. We started off by collaborating with Ustad Hussain Bakhsh and it was fabulous working with him.

When the second season came, people had an idea of what exactly it is. Even performers had an idea of what could be done there. A whole new line of singers was included, such as Atif Aslam, Zeb and Haniya etc. and people really, really liked it. I think the best part of the show is live music with perfect sound matched with perfect conditions and musicians. Generally, whenever you see performers on TV, it is a recorded programme and people don’t want to spend money on production quality. Coke Studio is different and Rohail has done a great job. Now the third season is being aired and I think the show will go on for a long time.

Etihad Airways recently signed Strings as its brand ambassador. In what ways do the two connect or complement one another?

Actually, it’s been a long journey. Strings has been the brand ambassador for brands like Pepsi, Warid, Mobilink and Motorola. These brands and their approach focused on Pakistan’s market, even if they were international brands.

With Etihad, it’s slightly different. It is of course an international brand but they do not work internally in Pakistan, meaning that they do not fly domestically, from Islamabad to Karachi, etc. They fly from Pakistan to other countries. So their approach is different. They want to use Strings and their own brand name to promote Pakistani music and culture outside the country, particularly amongst Pakistani communities living abroad. So this time we have to play a very different role than the one we had earlier. We had more work to do in Pakistan. This time we have to do more work outside Pakistan.

What kind of initiatives are being planned to promote music and culture?

We are planning a series of concerts in different countries, mainly in Europe and America. We should be starting from March and before that, we are planning to do some activities after Ramadan also. But it’s still in the planning process because this is the first time we do not have an example – of an airline signing up a music band – which can guide us and tell us exactly what we are supposed to. So we have to brainstorm and come up with new and innovative ideas.

Are there any other exciting projects or albums in the pipeline?

We just did a concert in Houston one in Chicago. Other than that an industry project which has come up is the latest single that we did ‘Khudi kuch karma padey ga’ with Atif Aslam. The video has been directed by Jami and we are excited about this. Of course we have done a lot of collaborations earlier but this is the first time Strings and Atif are working together.

How do you see the music industry in Pakistan shaping up? What challenges is it facing?

Unfortunately, right now, the music industry is going through a very bad phase. Reasons can be many. First of all, the current conditions of our country are such that people are really going through a very hard time. And, at this point, nobody’s bothered about entertainment or music, to be very honest. The layman is bothered about stuff like electricity, gas and petrol prices etc.

Another killing factor is that our media outlets are completely focused on foreign music, that is, Indian and English music. So they are no more trying to promote Pakistani music and they are not even giving much space to Pakistani music, which is really sad because at the end of the day, it’s all about working for Pakistan, in Pakistan. Nowadays if you listen to radio, until and unless it is a paid spot, a paid song or a company like Coke is involved, you don’t listen to any Pakistanis songs which are independent. That is one thing which is rapidly killing the industry.

Have you used your music to forward any cause?

The song I just mentioned, ‘Khudi kuch karma padey ga’, with Atif this is basically about today’s situation and conditions in Pakistan. Apart from that, we are working for UNICEF for a cause so we do a lot of other stuff besides singing. For instance, we go to schools and sing with kids over there. We also dedicated a song and paid tribute to all Pakistani legends called ‘Titliyan.’

‘I have always been a dreamer’ – Sidra Iqbal

Published in Slogan (Jan 2009)

Crossroads with Sidra Iqbal

She loved to communicate even before she learned to speak. It was quite inevitable that she would excel at public speaking one day.

Sidra Iqbal has used her natural ability wisely and made use of every good opportunity that life has offered. As a public speaker, youth trainer, brand consultant, PR practitioner and media anchorperson, she is an inspiring example for the young generation.

Exuding tons of confidence and a charismatic spark, with a dream of becoming someone whose opinion mattered, Sidra Iqbal instinctively took to debating and public speaking while she was still in school. She rose to prominence in college (DHA, Karachi) when she became the youngest finalist of the Prime Minister’s Shield – a competition put together by the Higher Education Commission in which over 132 universities participate from across the country.

Luckily, DHA College was also invited to participate in the English Speaking Union’s competition that year (1999). Sidra was first selected from Karachi and then from Pakistan to represent the country abroad. She became the first Pakistani to win the prestigious English Speaking Union’s International Public Speaking Championship in London. Emerging as a winner from amongst 58 participants from 28 countries, she was honoured with a visit to the Royal family at the Buckingham Palace and awarded the winner’s certificate by HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Sidra participated in many other such competitions later and had the privilege of visiting several countries for this purpose, such as Japan, Australia, United States and Cyprus. Youth forums, conventions and training programmes happened concurrently with the progress she made in her academic life – completing her BBA and MBA from the College of Business Management, Karachi.

Sidra also got a training opportunity at the British Council, Karachi in 2000. She designed and executed the summer public speaking workshops called Speech Craft. In 2003, she was asked to use the same concept and launch TCS Hyde Park Juniors. This was a popular training programme and championship series in which over 200 young participants enrolled to receive training in public
speaking and personal grooming.

After graduation, Sidra’s first job was with City School Network as the marketing head. She then took a brief sabbatical and wrote for a journal published by Boston University. For one of her pieces on advertising, she interviewed Taher A. Khan, Founder and Chairman of Interflow Group. He was launching TV1 at that time and asked Sidra to join.

“I started off as a marketing person there but even before the channel was launched, I also became the producer of a show and finally, when the personality of the show had to be selected, I ended up hosting it,” says Sidra.

After that, Sidra also worked as the Content Head at ARY. In summer 2006, she was awarded a full scholarship to attend the International Relations Summer Programme at the Oxford University, UK.

“Interest in International Relations developed at a young age,” says Sidra. “For example, when my friends were discussing which college they wanted to go to or when I participated in international competitions. In 1999 and 2000, everyone was talking about the Millennium Development Goals; about what was happening in the country and how we can have a more equal place in the world.

“Moreover, as a debater and public speaker you need and want to generally know about what is happening around in the world; hence the course in IR.”

On her return, she pursued anchoring, hosting shows like Corporate Coffee on PTV News. This show is still running.

“When we designed the programme, we thought we would reach out to the corporate world only but a major chunk of our viewership comes from management students all over the country.”

Some of the other notable shows she has been a part of include Baaton Baaton Mein (ARY Digital), KIVA Circle of Wisdom (TV1) and Red Talk with Sidra Iqbal (Radio1 FM 91).

While hosting and producing shows, Sidra was once again approached by Taher A. Khan; this time to work at Ogilvy & Mather, Pakistan. From November 2007 to October 2008, she served there as Vice President, Public Relations. This is when Sidra also got a chance to train and work at the Ogilvy Hong Kong and Singapore offices.

Now Sidra works freelance as a consultant and a media anchorperson. She has recently returned from an official visit to the US. She had been invited for the 16-part drama series, ‘Khuda Zameen Sey Gaya Nahin.’

“We were invited by the Ambassador of Pakistan to the US, Mr. Hussain Haqqani. He put together a media show at the Embassy of Pakistan inviting the most prestigious media representatives from CNN, BBC, PBS and others.

“This media show was related to the launch of ‘Khuda Zameen Sey Gaya Nahin,’ in the US on PTV Global with subtitles. The story is based on operation Rah-e-Nijaat and how the people of Pakistan are fighting against extremism.

“We received an incredible response in Washington. People there were moved by the stories, the music and the characters.”

Sidra has started hosting a new show called ‘Crossroads with Sidra Iqbal’, on PTV News. It covers socio-political subjects. In the show, Sidra addresses the civil society about anything major that is happening. She aims to bring viewers at a juncture where they have to determine the way forward.

Speaking in general about her achievements so far, Sidra says, “I have always been a dreamer. Television, communication in general and corporate communications are subjects of passion for me. My philosophy in life is to keep growing and keep learning.

“I wasn’t always sure about what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. But God has always been kind and given me so many opportunities. I try my best to take advantage of them. It doesn’t matter whether the opportunity is small or big.

“The work I do has to be exclusive. I give it my heart and soul because my name is attached. I firmly believe that whatever I have achieved is all because of my mother’s appreciation. Without her support, I wouldn’t have been even one percent of what I am today.”

– By Ayesha Hoda

Giving back to society

Published in Slogan (Dec ’09)

Celebrities owe their fame and success to the society they belong to. Their support of a cause can have a profound impact and make a big difference. Some philanthropic celebrities stand out for their true commitment to a cause or an issue – they make time to speak out and influence people.

Ayesha Hoda catches up with television actress Samina Peerzada, who has recently been working hard to raise awareness about breast cancer amongst women in Pakistan – a country where incidence of the disease is very high.

Samina Peerzada needs no introduction. She is definitely a role model for many Pakistani women, not only because of her looks and style but also because she comes across as a strong person, both on screen and behind the camera.

As it was hard to find time for a one-on-one chat with this talented and beautiful actress due to her busy schedule, she was kind enough to settle for a telephonic interview.

Samina is campaigning for breast cancer these days and was happy to talk about her activities, “I was part of a formal campaign but that has not been fully executed so now I am working on my own to raise awareness. Whatever opportunity I get to talk about this issue, I avail it. My mother had breast cancer so I know what she went through and that early detection can make a huge difference

“Breast cancer can be detected at an early stage if women keep track of changes in their body and resulting
mood swings. They should get a check-up done every six months and go for self-examination when taking
a shower, etc.

“It is important to raise awareness that cancer is curable. When women discover that they have cancer,
they become scared because they think that it is always a matter of life and death, which is not true in every situation. They can get better with treatment and live for many years. People with any type of cancer can have comfortable and happy lives and do a lot despite the disease.”

 On being asked which class she focuses on for her campaign:

“There is no class for disease. There is little awareness overall and it is not always about awareness. Women from underprivileged classes have no accessibility to tools or medicines and doctors in hospitals. Many such women don’t even realise that they are ill even when they have more common diseases like malaria or typhoid. Poor women don’t have the money to pay for treatment; I’ve seen so many cases where cancer has reached an alarming stage and still they do nothing about it because they don’t have the means.”

On celebrities and philanthropy:

“I believe that anyone who is recognisable should contribute positively towards society. Stars, celebrities
and politicians especially have a responsibility as they can influence people. They have so many followers
who look towards them for inspiration and the right directions.

“Celebrities earn the love of their fans over the years and so it is their duty to give back to society by
engaging in some kind of social work or community development projects.”

On hosting TV shows:

Currently, Samina Peerzada can be seen hosting two exciting television shows. One is ‘Sunday Lounge’ on PTV, which she co-hosts with her husband and actor Usman Peerzada.

“On this show we celebrate people who have achieved something in life. They may be handicapped or special people but they have not allowed these factors to become a hurdle. We appreciate the efforts of such people and anyone else who has contributed to the country in pursuit of his or her dreams in any field, be it ecology, architecture or anything else.”

On a recent episode, Samina paid tribute to our national poet, Allama Iqbal and commented on how she had gradually understood and been influenced by his poetry over the years.

Samina also hosts another interesting show on Indus TVcalled ‘Baat Say Baat Samina Pirzada Kay Sath. ‘This is an issue-based talk show which covers various problems faced by the people of Pakistan in their daily life.

“In the future, I will introduce and explore more issues in-depth,” says Samina. Beyond doubt, her fans will be looking forward to it! ●