Saba Ahmed talks to the queen of Pakistani comedyÂ
Of late, there has been a rush of new blood in the entertainment industry: pretty young things, male and female, exploding on the screen on the most-watched channels in the country. But how many of them can we truly call artists? Production houses enlist whole teams of specialists to primp and prep their stars in order to make them appealing public figures. Hina Dilpazeer, however, is in a fierce league of her own, a beloved television star who has earned every drop of the respect she is accorded.
Hina ji is probably best known for her role as Momo, Ayesha Omar’s absent-minded saas in the megahit TV comedy, Bulbulay. She is equally famous for having played multiple characters in Quddusi Sahib Ki Bewa (QSKB) and as Saeeda in Burns Road ki Neelofar. These have been critically acclaimed dramas that I have particularly enjoyed. This multi-talented star is so incredibly versatile that she has been able to pull off everything from dark to laugh-out-loud comedy.
With her latest drama now on HUM TV, “Mithu Aur Appa,” I called up Hina to ask the many questions on my mind since I first saw her act. Her process is fascinating. Being a painter, poet, and musician â€” all in addition to being an actress â€” allows her to glide across various artistic disciplines. Her interplay of characters in QSKB is incredible to watch: she performs seven completely different characters in one episode. Not only that, she also does the clothes and makeup for each of these characters, some that are much older and some that are even transgender. She tells me, “It’s important for characters that are related to look like one another. So, for example, Rooh Afza’s mother should look like her.” With QSKB, reading the script made Hina laugh, not an easy thing, she says, for a script to do on its own. She loved the fun lines and all the old Pakistani songs in the drama. “When I was younger,” she told me, “I would watch films in the cinema, I didn’t really even understand at that age, but Shabnam’s close-up always remained in my mind and once I remember asking my mother why this lady was doing all these antics on screen and everyone quickly shushed me up to let them watch the film. But the image stayed with me.”
Bulbulay was a riot, not just for us, the audience, but also, Hina tells me, for those making it. “There is one sitcom which we produce and show to the public and there is another one going on behind the scenes!” says Hina of the hilarity that ensued behind the camera. For comedy, it is very important for the comedian to not be laughing themselves, she says. “When there is something really funny, I have to request the team to let me laugh first, to let out all the giggles, or else I am unable to perform!”
She does all the clothes and makeup for each of her characters, some that are much older and some that are even transgender
The delightfulness started with the script she was given by director Mazhar Moin and writer Fasih Bari to whom she credits the success of QSKB. “It’s totally a writer’s effort,” she says. Given the deeply intelligent nature of the dialogue, at once dark and humorous, I would have to agree withÂ her. As Hina read the script for QSKB, she began developing a series of sketches. As she drew the sketches of each of her characters, she began enacting their respective dialogues. In a field where actors are given lines to rehearse minutes before the camera rolls, Hina’s meticulousness stands out. She is lucky, she says, to have such a melodious syncing of frequencies with her friends and creative collaborators Fasih and Mazhar.
“I think Fasih Bari is the one writer from the whole subcontinent whose writing I like to work with,” said Hina.Â His stories, his characters and their back-stories are all cohesively linked, she says. Then Hina Dilpazeer comes along and possesses these characters to their fullest, I say, to which she laughs.
â€˜When there is something really funny, I have to request the team to let me laugh first, to let out all the giggles, or else I am unable to perform!â€™
Having got her start writing for a newspaper, Hina was immersed in literature and the arts while growing up. After coming to Karachi, she went first to Radio Pakistan. She acted as a program director for a special transmission where she wrote and conducted shows.
Eventually, she was accosted by Fasih and Mazhar, and magic began to happen. But it wasn’t as effortless for Hina as it seems to us on screen. “Initially, it was difficult for me to face the camera,” she says. “I wasn’t used to it, and when I was in front of so many big names, it gave me fever. It was difficult to remember one’s lines.” She debuted with Burns Road Ki Neelofar, a charming yet sad take on the trials and times of young girls living on Burns Road in Karachi. Since then, there has been no looking back for her.
Hina performs seven completely different characters
in one episode
The key to success is enjoying what one does, she says. Whether it’s painting or acting, Hina throws herself into her work. Lucky for her, she gets paid to do what she loves. She is currently working on a book about the various experiences she has had playing a host of roles on QSKB. As our conversation was winding down, she told me, “Love is the greatest energy in the universe. If you don’t love what you do, you can’t pursue anything creative.” Wise words from a real artiste.