Tha jis ka intezaar!
Unlike the silly, trite interviews we see on morning shows, thanks to all your questions we get to meet the real Sanam, the warm, lovely person behind the Fizza, Shazia, Yamina, Bibi, Kashaf, Mina, Sania, Payman, and Ruhina avatars. Read through her sincere and candid responses and there emerges a picture of a very committed and hardworking actress, someone who’s constantly trying to improve and better her craft. Along with her professional side we also get to know a bit more about Sanam the individual. In responses to more personal questions Sanam comes across as a very level-headed, confident, and intelligent young lady.
Given her crazy, busy schedule I had not expected to her to respond to so many questions, but hats off to her for taking this commitment very seriously and making the time to respond to as many questions as she’s done, without hiding behind polite niceties and glib, easy responses. Please join me in thanking her and applauding her for being such a fabulous sport and an absolute rock star! *taaliyan*
Written by SZ~
Zindagi Gulzar Hai
Q. Would you consider working on a sequel to Zindagi Gulzar Hai?
A. I don’t think there would be any need for a sequel. But if [there] were an option I’d find it hard to refuse.
Q. What do you think the future of Kashaf & Zaroon will look like, taking into account Kashaf’s insecurities about having daughters?
A. I think it was made clear that Zaroon is more than happy to have daughters. I’d imagine they’d have natural teething problems like any new young parents would. And knowing kashaf she may be a little harder on her girls than Zaroon would like?
Q. Portraying a memorable and iconic character like Kashaf is an advantage as well as a disadvantage. Do you agree?
A. The only disadvantage if there must be one is that it makes it harder to fall in love with and realistically play other characters.
Q. Have you and Fawad Khan been offered any serials together after Zindagi Gulzar Hai?
A. Maybe once, but timing wasn’t matching .
Q. Why do you think Pakistani serials are a great hit in India?
A. Because the drama serials are more realistic and believable. Also the time frame of 20 odd episodes is more easily digested than 100 odd episode soaps.
Q. From Zindagi Gulzar Hai any one cheesy line from Zaroon, that was your favorite at the time?
A. I think he was pretty cheesy when he was initially courting her. But I’m afraid I can’t remember any one line in particular.
Q. Could you share any prank of Fawad’s, or any such qissa or hansi mazaq that he did on the set?
A. I think if you watch out online for the bloopers you’ll see what shenanigans took place like jumping on a hard bed, or dancing to Pashto music that disrupted the scene or making fun of lines we thought were really cheesy.
Q. During Zindagi Gulzar Hai did you and Fawad Khan engage in any singing session together?
A. Nope, no singing.. I’m too shy!
Q. Even without the Kashaf hangover you come across as a very independent no-nonsense kind of woman and a good role model for our young girls. Can we hope that you will filter out some regressive portrayals of women in your serials/ films? For instance, Mera Naseeb did not do justice to your strength of character.
A. Yes you certainly can hope for that.. I try my best. Shazia actually was my first shot at playing an angry young woman who wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she believed in.. She actually is the reason why I took up television acting as a serious career.
Q. Would consider working in movies in India?
A. Yes why not.. If the script is good and the role is challenging why not.. That’s the search of an actor.
Q. One of my friends often tells me that the void left in Bollywood by actors like Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi and Tabu can be filled by Sanam Saeed. Your comment?
A. My goodness that’s quite a compliment.. I’m extremely honoured to be out amongst those leading ladies. I hope one day I can live up to their reputations as actors.
Q. Can we expect to see you in Bollywoodized role in future? Or is it a no no?
Mmm.. That’s not a definite no no.. I’m not sure what exactly a bollywoodised role entails. That’s a very vast category.
Q. Your favorite Bollywood Khan?
A. Amir Khan.
Q. A Bollywood actor you would like to work with?
A. Amir khan, Farhan Akhtar, Irfan Khan.
Q. Your comment on Fawad Khan’s Success in India and Mahira working alongside Shahrukh in Raees?
A. I’m very happy for them and proud of them. I wish them all the best for their future endeavors.
Q. Would you ever consider working in Indian TV serials /shows?
A. Not Indian TV serials I have my plate full and happily with Pakistani TV dramas.
Q. Why didn’t you accept the Raees offer? Didn’t you like the character?
A. I did from whatever little I read. I was getting married those days.. I wasn’t able to go for a physical audition to India.
Q. Your all time favorite Bollywood movie?
A. Queen these days. Pk, Highway, Bombay, Roja, Lagaan, Barfi, Dil Chahta Hai, there are many.
Q. Do you think there is shortage of good roles for you as actor because many of roles for women are more about just looking good specially here in the Indian film industry?
A. Hmmm I’m not sure. If that is the criteria then it can’t possibly be a good role necessarily. I think every actor is in a league of their own and has their own strengths and weaknesses.
Fans in India
Q. How do you react to the fact that there are so many of your fans in India after Zindagi Gulzar Hai ? Did you ever think you would get so famous in India?
A. No I had no idea that the work I had done would get such an extraordinary response from India. I am overwhelmed with joy, I am proud and extremely grateful to everyone for their love and appreciation.
Q. Any special message for Indian fans?
A. Just keep watching Pakistani dramas, there are so many stories to tell and characters to fall in love with. And you can relate to everyone of them because ye and I are one blood we are!
Q. When will you come to India?
A. When the time is right and when I’meant to.
Q. After marriage do you think your career will take backseat or will continue working like you’re now?
A. Why would it take a back seat when I have my biggest support by my side. I will continue to do what i love.
Q. Names of future drama serials?
A. Nothing yet after Diyar e Dil.
Q. Which genre of dramas/movies would you like to work in the future?
A. Comedy, feel good films..
Q. Do you have a wish list of actors and directors you would like to work with in the future?
The director of queen[Vikas Bahl] and Vishal Bhardwaj.. Sarmad Khoosat, Haissam, Saba Qamar, Noman Ijaz.
Q. Given a good script, would you accept offers for television in the US?
A, An HBO or Netflix series.. Id love to!
Q. Is there anything you can tell us about Rehan Sheikh’s film which you’re starring in?
A, It’s a lighthearted film about a radio jockey played by Rehan himself.
Q. Bibi is one of the most heart- wrenching character you have portrayed. How would u describe Bibi and how would you rate her as a mother? And have u read The God of Small Things?
A. Yes I read the book many times. I think she was the best mother she could be. Bibi was a romantic, stubborn, protective, loving and proud woman amongst many other things. She was lost, confused, looking for something but not sure if what it was herself. Her strong upbringing and experiences make her a very headstrong woman who was very sure of who she was.
Q. Your Bibi is by far my most favorite character of yours.. which phase of Bibi’s life was the most interesting for you?
A. I loved her relationship with her children. How she raised them loved them and disciplined them.
Firaaq & Shukk
Q. I know that dramas are dragged these days to increase rating but both those dramas started off so so well and were a treat to watch and then kind of went haywire which was disappointing to see?
A. You answered your question yourself.. Ratings
Q. Re: Firaaq and Shukk: Were the stories that were narrated to you and final product the same or were you just as disappointed in both like your fans?
A. I was a bit disappointed and argued quite a bit when halfway through I discovered what the ending will be.. But by then it was too late!
Q. Your personal favourite Zaroon or Imroz?
Q. During Shukk promotional interview you said you rode a bike!! So do you like driving/riding on your own??
A. I can ride a bicycle and incidentally did a 50k track which was lots if fun. I love riding on motorbikes but can’t ride one myself.
Acting/Drama Related Questions
Q. Please do more romantic and comedy roles, you have best timing!
A. Thank you. I do enjoy comedy.
Q. Would you like to star in a) Comedy, or b) Horror?
A. I’d love to do more comedy, I’m not such a fan of horror.
Q. What’s more difficult comedy or serious roles?
A. Comedy used to come naturally to me, my improvisational comedy routine and troupe really brushed up my comic timing and expanded my imagination. But I think the habit of serious roles has tainted me a little and I find it hard to let go and shake off all inhibitions for comedy.
Q. Looking back at all your work, which character did you enjoy playing the most?
A. Bibi and Kashaf for sure. Although Kadurat’s script was a disaster I did also enjoy playing a negative role!
Q. Do you have a “do not” list, like something you will never ever do?
A. Rather a prefer not list.. obviously intimate scenes, that require more than a gentle touch. Slinky clothes, dancing for the sake of male entertainment.
Q. Do you watch dramas other than your own, if so, which one is your favorite?
A. Of course I do!! I loved Dastaan, infact Dastaan is the reason why I even gave TV acting a shot. Maat, Aun Zara, Bunty I Love you, Digest Writer... I’m a huge Saba Qamar fan, Mera Saieen, Sadqay Tumharay, Humsafar. I’m yet to see Pyare Afzal!
Q. We know you love kids and have worked with kids in many of your dramas. How has your experience been working with them?
A. Kids and me get along like a house on fire. They feel comfortable and secure around me. I come down to their level to become more approachable and for them to understand better, particularly when it comes to explaining scenes and situations to them and what is required from them at that moment and why.
Q. Do your characters leave mark or impression on you/Does on screen character ever affect your real life demeanor?
A. No not so much. I’m able to separate reality from my characters and leave them behind as I move on to the next one.Whilst working you do get caught up in one character and personality for a long period of time, but I’ve noticed as soon as I leave the set I’m back to myself. Also there is a big part of me in all my characters as opposed to a part of them in me!
Q. Who do you think as your competitor in Pakistan drama industry?
A. I think all of us have our own strengths and weaknesses and are therefore in a league of our own. Some can portrays characters in ways I can’t and vice versa. I would love to work with the other actresses I admire and learn from like Aamina Sheikh, Saba Qamar and Mahira.
Q. Why is it that you are often given lines that seeks to imply that other women in show are prettier than you?
A. I see it as a common complex most girls face. It’s a typical insecurity that girls battle for the wrong reasons. The repetitive dialogue symbolizes that this is a superficial and immature complex. I see them as lines that hit home with young girls and make them think twice about any shortcomings they may think they have.
Q. Who has been your favourite co-star till date?
A. Fawad, I love the challenge, Sarwat and Mohib for their support, and I’m yet to work with the others that I’d like to.
Q. Toughest character you’ve played so far?
A. Roohi in Diyar e Dil
Q. Your favorite role so far?
A. Bibi and Kashaf
Q. The best (drama related) compliment you’ve received till date?
A. “you changed my life”
Q. Of all the characters you have played in various dramas which is the one you can relate to the most?
A. Shazia and Kashaf a bit
Q. Any one character of any drama/movie which you would like to play?
Q. Any recent Pakistani drama or movie you wish to do or could have done the better than the person doing it?
A. No I haven’t felt that way about any role. Not yet at least!
Q. Rate your chemistry with Adeel Hussain, Fawad Khan and Mikaal Zulfiqar?
A. I can’t rate that.. that’s your job!
Q. How hard or easy is for you to absorb the character and also to keep the body language different from each character?
A. It’s very difficult and I really need to study more characters and people and observe them because I’m running out of options! I need to change it around more, be more specific find interesting and unique nuances in personalities and body language.
Q. Theatre, drama and now films… each medium have something different to offer but which according to you gave you more freedom to express yourself or to experiment something?
A. Definitely theatre, but I think film will give me that freedom too now.. . I’m slowly getting comfortable with the camera.
Q. When you’re offered a role, what’s the first thing you see about it?
A. The script, how my character is woven in to the story and what kind of impact she leaves and relationships she builds. Then the director and cast.
Q. Are you a director’ actor or do you improvise a lot on your own during scenes?
A. It depends on the medium and the role. I take more liberties on stage and prefer a little more direction for screen.
Q. Do you think acting can be taught or is it an inbuilt talent?
A. An inbuilt talent for sure.
Q. Would you ever direct a drama or movie if given a chance?
A. I’ve been asked to a lot but I have no desire to as yet. Maybe a childrens play, a school play at best.
Q. Which of your contemporaries do you admire the most?
A. Saba Qamar and Aamina Sheikh. They are beautiful, confident and versatile. They take on any role with such gusto and passion. They have excellent work ethics. Two of the most humble and professional women in the industry who are passionate and honest with their work. Confident about who they are and what they want.
Q. Are there any specific Pakistani writers that you like? Would their scripts convince you to take on a project?
I love Umera’s scripts. Samira Fazal too, and Khalil sahab.
A. I’d like to say never, but maybe once i have.
Q. How would you feel about a reunion with your co-stars from Daam?
A. I’d absolutely love that. Adeel is a fantastic actor, and I’ve always wanted to work with Sanam and Aamina again, I didn’t get enough time with them.
Q. Do you feel there is a lack of fresh stories and characters on television?
A. Absolutely, we are always on the look out for something new and interesting.. but kia kahain, producers aap viewers per daal day thay hain… logon ko nahee pasand ai ga na… or, logon ko nahi samajh aie gi, they want the masala and the rona and the drama and the romance.. etc etc. Maybe you guys should write in asking for new content and promise to be supportive!
Q. Any advice you would give to drama producers and writers given the current situation of television?
A. Show more solutions if you must show the harsh realities of life. Continue to use this medium as a way of telling stories, expressing yourself and giving hope and showing positive outcomes to the viewers. Dont get lost in ratings and making this a money making business. Be more socially resposible and sensitive.
Q. Did Sanam’s Shazia (Mera Naseeb) ever had the urge to tell her self-proclaimed ‘pretty sister’, “Bas bohot hogaya! Ayein bari Khoobsurat!”?
A. No never… I dont think she had a jealous bone in her body, nor did she ever feel insecure of her beloved sister.
Q. If you ever get a chance to play ‘Cleopatra’, would you? I find you have the features to pull it off and if anyone from Pakistan plans on a theater adaptation, I hope you play the part.
A. Why thank you, yes I’d grab that chance in a heartbeat
Q. (Re: Diyar-e Dil) How does it feel to play a character so easy to hate and yet be able to convince your audience why Behroze fell in love with Roohi, something the novel doesn’t explore?
A. I hope you still love Roohi by the end of it. Its hard not to love her in the begining. It did get very challenging for me to keep going with her. I really had to concentrate and put myself in her shoes over and over again to understand the level of her hatred for her father in law. I had to constantly remind myself of what she feels about Agha jaan and why to justify her behavior through out the play.
Q. Is there someone you are desperate to work with, male or female, with whom you haven’t already?
A. Sania Saeed, Nadia Jamil and Noman Aijaz.
Q. What genres would you like Pakistani film & drama to explore?
A. A bio pic and some docudramas.
Q. How do you get ready for emotion scenes that require crying? Are they difficult for you?
A. Sometimes sad music helps, sometimes imagining the pain the character is going through, and sometimes going back to an emotional time in your own life helps… but that often gets too heavy so I avoid doing that most times.
Q. Is there a preferred amount of work you’d like to do on a yearly basis or do you decide as offers come?
A. I’d like to do 2 serials a year at the most. Ideally one theater play and one serial.
Q. Do you ever prepare for a role through research etc?
Q. If you weren’t an actor what would you be?
A. Child development and education specialist.
Q. Recently you were in Mauritius for a film shoot .. How did you like Mauritius?
A. I loved Mauritius!
Q. Have you tried South Indian/Indian foods? Which is your favorite?
A. Yes I have. I love papad and khati dal and coconut fish curries.
Q. You were a back up singer in coke studio, would you ever consider singing as a solo artist?
A. Maybe one day.. After I have a few years of proper training and practice. But that’s still a big maybe!!
Q. Do you love pets?
A. I like animals.. but I cant keep pets… can’t give them the time and attention needed.
Q. Do you like to read? If yes, who are your favorite authors?
A. I do, but I don’t have any specific favorites. I like reading autobiographies, old classics and books on the spiritual journey.
Q. What is, in your opinion, the best thing about being a woman?
Her natural maternal instincts which makes her strong, sensitive, caring and nurturing.
Q. What is your guilty pleasure?
Q. What is the best thing you like about our South Asian culture?
A. The food, and respect for our elders is a very prominent aspect of our culture which I appreciate.
Q. Do you have any habbit which you dont like but you cant leave it?
A. If I have a bad habit, then I choose to have it, there is nothing I cant leave if I want to.
Q. You said that you couldn’t audition for commercials, but recently, you’ve acted in two commercials. How did that happen?
A, Both times the directors called me for the ad.
Q. Pick one:
Work or Family
Beauty or Brains
Love or Respect
Beautiful Eyes or Gorgeous Long Hair
Tea or Coffee
Mountains or Oceans
Feedback & Fans
Q. Do you read reviews and feedback from viewers when your shows air? How much of an impact does it have on you?
A. Of course I do, how else will I know where I’ve gone wrong or what I’ve done right. People’s feedback pushes me to do better and encourages me to go on. Thank you for all the feedback and all the reviews and debates, I love reading them!
Q. What are the aspects of celebrity- hood you like and what aspects you don’t like? Does it become difficult for you to do basic things such as travelling or going to market…how do you handle it?
A. I appreciate all the love and respect I get from people. The perks of being a celebrity are nice too: free upgrades, designers to dress you, special treatment pretty much anywhere you go. And as I always say, I like the facet that as a celebrity we get to be role models, and I like using that to my advantage to be a part of different causes. The downside is your life becomes public, you become public property almost, you are expected to behave a certain way be a certain way. I like to keep my life private, and I prefer to stay out of the limelight as much as possible. I don’t like the pressure of people’s expectations. I understand being photographed and signing autographs comes with the territory but I wish people would respect personal space a little more and not treat us like objects they have the liberty to do as they please with. I really appreciate fans who ask first or who just come to say hello or apologize for inconveniencing you rather than those who don’t ask you before they do a number of things I wont rant about! But I don’t think I’ve ever refused anyone, you just smile for the camera and your fans… and even when its not the best of days, just put on a smile.. it costs you nothing and makes someones day!
Q. Any piece of advice you wish to give to your fans
A. The age old advice.. follow your heart. Listen to your gut instincts, they will never fail you. Dont forget who you are and where you come from, be honest and true to yourself first, the rest will follow. Have faith, dont lose hope.. try to always see the brighter side of things because there are always two sides. Learn to forgive and move on, have a big heart and focus on becoming a better person and bettering the envronment around you.. pay heed to the ripple effect. Try not to judge other people you dont know their story. Dont do anything that makes you unhappy, you only have this one life.. make the most of it. xx
Q. A message for your fans… in Urdu
A. Main aap sub ka bohot bohot shukriya kehna chahti hoon. Aap sub nay mera naam banaya hai, roshan kia hai or mujhay bohot izzat di hai. Aap jo likh tay ho main parhti hoon. Aur beech main kabhi kabhi aap ko kuch message bhej kar yai ehsaas dilana chahti hoon kay main idhar hi hoon. Bus har aik ko har cheez ka jawab waapis daina nahi ata. Shukkur hai ab aap sub ko pata lag gaya kay main boloongi jub boloongi tung nai kartay ab mujhay!! Aap log na hotay to internet pay meri presence shaid bilkul na hoti. Thanks to your love and support I am able to be in touch with the rest of the world and the fans. Thank you all so very much!!