Bushra Ansari is a true living legend who has continued to dominate the entertainment industry for over five decades. From acting, to singing, hosting and writing, she has done it all and aced each undertaking. This icon has received all major Pakistani awards, including Pakistan’s highest civilian award, the Pride of Performance. She is celebrated in particular for her impersonations of Madam Noor Jehan, Tahira Syed, along with her impeccable performances in Fifty-fifty, Angan Terha, Raja Ki Ayegi Barat and Udaari. Sana Zehra sits down with Ansari to have a candid conversation about life and work.

You’re celebrated as one of Pakistan’s living legends. Do you think your success has put pressure on your children to live up to your name? 

I’ve never put any kind of pressure on my daughters. I worked in media because that’s always been my passion. When it comes to my children, they’ve been free to follow their own dreams. My husband and I have been strong advocates of female empowerment and I’m glad my daughters are carrying on that legacy.

My husband and I have been strong advocates of female empowerment and I’m glad my daughters are carrying on that legacy

Tell us about your relationship with your daughter Meera.

Meera and I are best friends and spend a lot of our free time together. I enjoy our conversations, as neither of us enforce our ideas on the other. Despite my hectic schedule, I ensure I’m in touch with her via calls or WhatsApp. We cherish our relationship and that’s why we’ve balanced and managed it so well.

How did you manage motherhood with your professional commitments?

Being a mother of two beautiful girls, a full-time housewife and working in showbiz wasn’t easy at all. My family lived in Lahore, while my in-laws lived in Islamabad, so I never had the privilege of leaving my children with their grandparents. Despite this, I was always there for them — from school pick-and-drop, tuitions, parent-teacher meetings and all other activities. If I were travelling abroad, I’d take them along. So, I feel content knowing that I never neglected my girls because of work.

A lot of working mothers feel guilty while at the workplace. What’s your advice for them?

My best advice is to try to appreciate time for what it is. If you’re at work embrace your time without the kids, where you can focus on your own ambitions and goals. When you’re home, have fun playing with them. The trick is to find the silver lining in the chaos.

How have your notions of what it means to be a woman changed over the years?

I’m so proud that I’m a woman. Surviving in a man’s world is not easy for us. But then what is life, if it’s not tough and challenging? And I love challenges. I’ve never compromised on my principles and moral values and have received so much respect, love and acceptance for just being who I am, which is an achievement in itself. Women today are empowered and a lot more open to the curves life throws at them.

Surviving in a man’s world is not easy for us. But then what is life, if it’s not tough and challenging? And I love challenges

Out of all the characters you’ve portrayed on screen, which one do you relate to the most? 

I’ve always chosen my characters mindfully. However, my role in “Udaari” as Sheedan is closest to my heart, because the concept is completely different from typical Pakistani drama serials. Sheedan doesn’t embody the common ‘log kya kaheinge’ (what will people say?) mentality; she has a heart of gold, but is also undiplomatic and fears no one. It’s about a woman who earns for her family by singing and dancing at weddings and is fiercely unapologetic about it. She’s rather proud of it.

Tell us about your video to promote peace between Pakistan and India. 

My inbox is filled with viewers’ feedbacks who say the song is the voice of their soul. The idea was to promote peace and harmony and to make everyone know what a common man from both ends of the spectrum wants. The general public from both sides of the border genuinely wants peace, but politics and warmongers create distances between them.

Have you ever felt the pressure of being an influential figure for the masses?

Not pressure but responsibility I would say. When so many people look up to you and follow you it becomes your responsibility to raise you voice for issues that are important. It’s no less than a privilege that God has bestowed you with and one should definitely strive to make a change by taking a constructive advantage of their position in the society. When you’re a public figure you generally have a heavy influence and impact on individuals and society, as many people follow you and you can change people’s perspectives and beliefs in few minutes. Therefore, you have to act responsibly because you’re accountable for your words.

You’ve seen the entertainment industry evolve since its early PTV days. How do you think it’s changed you as an artist? 

As compared to yesteryears, television in Pakistan has grown dramatically. The production of satellite channels and cable TV networks has made it possible for a large number of Pakistanis to have access to TV entertainment. Today, the content is completely changed from how it used to be in early years.  To be honest, it hasn’t changed much for me as an artist, because I’ve always been open to roles with substance — I never shy away from challenges. Yes, the audience’s approach is different towards the content today, but one thing that’s remained constant in my career is that I believe in quality over quantity.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t hold back on doing what you really want, because it won’t bring you far in life. Correct yourself, empower yourself and most of all love yourself.


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