Movie stars have always fascinated me. We follow their dressing sense, emulate them, secretly envy them and even the most polite among us feel obliged to pass snide remarks on them as if they belong to each one of us.
In this email interview, Pakistani actress Saeeda Imtiaz, who portrays the role of Jemima Khan in the upcoming movie Kaptaan, gets candid about her career aspirations and what it’s like for a newcomer in the Pakistan film industry.
1. What attracted you to acting, other than the obvious glamour?
I enjoyed acting from my university days. I was president of the Desi Students Association in Stony Brooks University, and used to coordinate and organize music concerts and fashion shows along with my brothers. My family however, was adamant that I had to complete my education before pursuing my acting career. So that’s what I did.
We had 6 months of rehearsals prior to shooting. I was asked to observe Jemima Khan through YouTube clips of her public appearances and interviews. I had to emulate the way she spoke, her postures while she spoke in front of the media. In preparation for the role, I also had to get a total make over. I gained weight and colored my hair blonde.
The training included meditation sessions and acting classes. It was unforgettable and I consider it a great base for the start of a career.
4. Have you faced any hurdles from the Pakistani society because of your profession?
I believe that worldwide, actors are subject to undue amount of criticism. While there may be a lot of people who adore you, there will be as many who hate you. We need to accept it, as part of our profession, because we sort of belong to the public. A huge part of society also tends to think that media is an unfit profession for someone with self-worth and do not encourage their own children to be part of it, and criticizes youngsters who are. That being said, I now see this trend is slowly changing and a lot of educated youngsters are entering the media field.
5. How difficult was it for you to get your break in the film field?
Fortunately, I didn’t have a major struggling period before Kaptaan. I was selected to play Jemima, through a mutual friend of the director of the movie, Asad Rana.
6. How does your parents/family feel about your career choice? Did it take a lot of convincing from your end or where they supportive from the beginning?
I am very blessed in this aspect. My family has always been very supportive. I believe it’s a matter of trust. I make sure that I discuss any major decisions with them. This keeps their trust intact. My mom especially has always been by my side supporting and encouraging me. Touch wood.
7. Who is your biggest influence personally/professionally and why?
My mother is my biggest influence and inspiration, she has sacrificed her life to give her children the life we have today. As a single mother, she has undergone a lot of struggles and I admire her strength.
10. I believe you are also part of Pakistani Television. What do you feel about the characters you portray? Are they true to life or caricatures?
Yes, the roles that I have played so far are ones which most people can relate to. TV audiences loyalty to a show always relies on how much they can identify with the character. According to me Pakistani media always portrays TV serials which can be related to by the common man.
11. What are the top two misconceptions you would like to change about Pakistani actresses?
I would like to shout out from rooftops that not all Pakistani actresses smoke, drink, or take drugs. Neither are all of us illiterate nor do we come from uneducated families.
12. What is your opinion about implementing a moral dress code in movies/TV serials?
One shouldn’t be penalizing a form of art through dress code limitations. Many genres of movies, demand a glamorous dressing sense. If anyone has an objection, they shouldn’t even be a part of a film industry. Revealing outfits come with the territory and unless you are comfortable with it, this is not your forte.
13. Are there any social causes that you would like to contribute to?
The cause that’s close to my heart is working for the elderly who are ignored. It breaks my heart to see old people who probably toiled all their lives, begging on the streets, because they aren’t physically capable anymore. Building an old age home is something I hope to accomplish in the future. Fingers crossed.
9. How different do you find life in Pakistan, as against life in New York, where you grew up ?
Pakistan is a totally different world for me. Though I have managed to cope with the changed aspects in life, and try my best to stay focused and accomplish my dreams, there are still times I break down and feel I can never adjust to the ways out here. BUT the fact is I still love Lahore. It’s one of my favorite places on earth, along with Mumbai and New York.
10. And now, for a question every actress is asked. What is your fitness mantra?
I have always been slim, and I think it runs in my family. We all eat a lot and never gain weight. LOL! I am blessed that way. I don’t follow any specific diet regime or workout schedule as of now.