She is undoubtedly the best actress in Pakistan at the moment who loves to surprise the audience more than winning awards. For the last decade, Saba Qamar has been doing an excellent job whereas her stint in Bollywood helped her gain the approval of the international audience as well.
She was not just nominated for the Filmfare Best Actress Award for her role in Hindi Medium but is also currently in talks with people across the Wagah for a Netflix series. We got hold of the Baaghi girl who spoke about a lot of things including her projects, the new lot of actors and the reasons why she doesn’t appear in dramas as regularly as before.
After impressing audiences all over the world, you have suddenly lessened the workload and started being choosy when it comes to projects. Is there a specific reason for that?
Yes, there is and the writers and directors who approach me these days know the reason too. I am an actor who wants to be challenged rather than do the same thing over and over again. Instead of winning me over with a new character like the one in Baaghi, they bring me rehashed versions of characters that I have done and that’s one of the reasons why I have become choosy and careful when selecting projects. My upcoming play Cheekh will feature me in a different role and I am very excited about it.
You are the best person to ask this question – why is the drama standard going down instead of moving up?
We have become servants to the Rating system which somehow decides which drama is a hit and which isn’t. Nobody wants to play a character these days and when a person does, he and she are lauded for the effort. As for the girls, most of them want to play the heroine since they don’t understand the importance of supporting characters or the antagonist’s role. What good is acting if you don’t want to play with your features, your mannerisms, and dialogue delivery to surprise the audience, I ask. An actor should be able to wear a sack and carry it as if it is one of the best dresses in the world!
You have done negative roles in many plays including Baaghi, Bunty I Love You and Maatto name a few; any specific reason for that?
I want to surprise my audience with something new, something that they haven’t seen and something they didn’t expect from me, otherwise, they will get bored watching me play the heroine all the time. I would get bored myself by wearing the same clothes, talking in the same tone, looking the same. Until and unless I am offered something new, I would stay away from projects and rather wait than repeat myself.
Any advice to upcoming writers and directors so that they can bring a change in the drama industry?
We must explore new subjects if we are interested in saving the TV industry because a time will come when people will find new avenues for entertainment and the last thing on their options list will be Saas-Bahuconflicts and plays where one girl has two lovers or two girls have one. People have started rejecting plays where affairs are a norm, divorce happens in every other episode and/or where the story revolves around two siblings for no reason. We must also be subtle in our plays because right now we are too loud and that’s distracting for the actors and the audience. We must understand the difference between romance and lust because dramas impact people and unless and until we use it for good, we will continue churning trash. We must realize that acting is like singing and you can’t master it without understanding the basics of it.
There are a lot of new actors who look up to you as inspiration … any specific actor or actress that has impressed you?
Many, in fact, my co-star is Cheekh Bilal Abbas is a very good actor who is destined for greatness; I am also very impressed by the work of Iqra Aziz and Zara Noor Abbas who are doing a good job and along with Sajal Aly will emerge as the top actresses in coming years. There is another actress I like and her name is Saba Qamar (smiles). The best part about these newcomers is that they are polished and mature before joining the industry whereas we were not and had to learn from our teachers, on the job.
What puts you off while working in a project, things that you would like youngsters to avoid while working?
Most of the current actors are very good but there are those who are least interested in acting and more interested in becoming social media stars. They don’t come to sets on time and don’t respect directors and technicians, and this happens when you don’t reprimand them for their actions. We should impose a fine on them at first and then blacklist them because that’s the kind of language they will understand. Not reading the script, not being aware of their character, not remembering the emotions of their last scene are the mistakes they make and that’s why after a few years people forget about them. In order to play long innings, they should be grounded, humble and always ready to learn from others.
What advice will you give to the Saba Qamar of 2008 if you get the chance?
Don’t be too sweet Saba … that’s what I will tell her if we ever meet. I used to be a very easy-going person back in the day who trusted everyone which wasn’t right. One has to be aware of everyone and keep the radar on at all times. Thankfully, I don’t have any regrets regarding my career because if you are the kind of person who learns from their mistakes, then nothing can stop you.
Web-series seems to be the next step in the entertainment industry where ratings will be the last thing on the producers’ mind. Anything happening on that front?
Oh yes. I have a few offers regarding web-series and I am considering them as I believe that the future of entertainment is digital. You can’t ignore TV but the same goes for digital where the sky is the limit. Every viewer has his own preference and if I may cite an example, my mother watches TV whereas I opt for Netflix. Right now I am in discussion with director Kashif Nisar for a web series that tackles a bold topic for a change while an Indian production house is also willing to cast me in the lead role in one of their shows, preferably for Netflix.
If given the chance, which classic Pakistani film will you like to feature in and why?
Oh, I would love to do Aaina as a feature film, although I had done it for TV with Faysal Quraishi and Sarmad Khoosat. I want to fall down at the counter like Shabnam Ji did in the movie and also work around a couple of songs that are still popular after so many years.
You seem to have worked with the Who’s Who in the industry; anyone in general with whom you would love to work?
Sajid Hasan. I haven’t worked with Sajid sahib as yet and would love to because he has been my favorite actor since Nijaat days, back in the 1990s. That was my childhood and the way his scenes with Marina Khan were done in the play, it impressed the actor in me a lot. I also believe that Marina Khan was one of the most beautiful actresses we had; not many actors can look as beautiful as her from a top angle shot since it’s the most difficult angle but Marina Khan carried it with grace.