GT Interview


behind Haute Form Studio making waves in the fashion industry with their with innovative & unique cut lines, details and embellishments

Zeb & Zeeshan, tell us a bit about your journey so far in the fashion industry and what inspired you both to open a fashion house?

The fashion industry is a dynamic and ever evolving sector that involves design, production, marketing and distribution of clothing and whatever the product is. Fashion designers are the heart of the industry. They create clothing and accessories and setting trends and styles. So far it has been a remarkable experience. People love and appreciate what we create. We focus a lot on design, quality and client’s services. Our staff, labour workers and everyone around also support us immensely.

Fashion entrepreneurship has always been what we have dreamt of since studying fashion and we believe its a dream of every fashion student.

We always had an attitude of being a Boss instead of reporting to a Boss. And most importantly we dont believe in creating fashion under someone else’s name and just keep on working hard for nothing.

What’s your favorite part about being a fashion designer?

Haha, to be honest seeing clients wearing what we create with so much love. It boosts our energy and motivates working harder in future and definitely always creating something which is different from the market and that stands out.

And secondly we love the aspect of looking at all basic common things around with a keen designer’s eye which always helps us in drawing inspirations for collections.

What inspires your personal style?

Fashion starts from home and our parents always inspires us for our personal styles.

Define fashion

We believe fashion is a creative and artistic expression of clothing and accessories. It actually represents your own lifestyle. Fashion is not restricted to events only. It should be followed while going into bed as well.


The designs you created are no doubt good enough, but who and which things were your inspiration while creating such designs?

To be honest we actually keep our eyes shut and keep our mind and heart open. Haha, design is an important process. We think by heart and draw what we like. We strongly believe in authenticity of aesthetics.

How would you describe Haute Form Studio by Zeb & Zeeshan’s design philosophy?

It’s definitely bold, creative and undiluted design. It is something you wont see and experience anywhere else.

Tell us about your upcoming collection

We’re in the process of developing and introducing exquisite bridal couture collection very soon.

The collection epitomise elegance and sophistication. Each attire is meticulously crafted with the finest fabrics and intricate embellishment details to ensure a bride feels not only beautiful but also confident on her special day. Our collection features a harmonious blend of classic and contemporary designs, tailored to perfection to cater to the diverse tastes and preferences of modern bride.

For the upcoming fall/winter wedding season, what colours and trends do you see will be a top pick?

If we talk about fabrics, definitely velvets as always but using it in a more intelligent way. Brighter colors along with ghararas and shararas, lehngas with cholis and definitely Sarees. Longs and shorts, flared and sleek all in trend and will be in trend.

Any advice you would like to give to all the aspiring fashion designers?

We believe that in fashion there are two doors. One is fashion entrepreneurship and the other is just creating fashion.

Being design entrepreneurs, we believe in consistency, quality, following the timelines and definitely working hard for your research and development.

Asma you have been a part of this beauty industry for so long, what inspired you to become a makeup artist & from where did you receive your training?

I began learning the art of makeup when I opened my salon in 2009. At that time I took a number of courses locally to help improve my technique. I’ve always been a creative person and enjoyed working with my hands. Makeup was just another avenue to express that creativity. The more I practiced, the more I loved doing it. Over the years I’ve continued to undertake certifications and short courses abroad to hone my skills and keep up to date with trends and techniques.

Explain how you’d advise a young girl going for a look that’s both trendy and parent-approved.

This is a difficult question but I do think what is trendy would be parent approved. The trend has shifted to a slightly more minimalistic look with lighter makeup in line with the trend. To me as a parent, that is elegant and beautiful in its own way. The perception that either of these things are mutually exclusive is incorrect and you can have both on your big day!

What do you think is the biggest challenge for makeup artists?

Satisfying your customers. As an artist we guide our clients on what will look good based on their face shape, hair style, clothes and jewelry. The hardest thing is getting your client to trust in you and go with what you’re saying rather than their strongly held preconceived beliefs or those of others around them.

Tell me about three makeup trends you’re a fan of.

l the no makeup makeup look
l the inverted cat eye liner
l blush contouring

What are the three best services offered at Asma T Salon?

Despite offering makeup services, I think we are biased in favor of our hair department.

Our favourite services currently are:
– Kerastase Fusio Scrub ritual
– Hair Matters Oiling ritual
– Our classic Blowdry!

Three must have makeup products in your bag?

l Charlotte Tillbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray
l Mac Cosmetics Squirt Plumping Gloss Stick
l Anastasia Beverly Hill Stick Blush

Any advice for the brides of fall/winter season?

Do a consultation before your big day! Meeting up with your makeup artist and hair stylist for trials and consultations can help take the pressure off of everybody and ensure that you get the look of your dreams!

Asma T Salon is known for its glamorous hair transformations and in this issue we asked her pick a hair dye trend for us and our readers!

Low-maintenance and subtle tonal changes are trendy hair color options for 2023. These tonal changes include bronze, cinnamon spice, and ash-brown hues. Enhance your natural hair color with nuanced baby highlights that are finely blended.

2023 is going to be all about subtle but statement-making color that doesn’t require constant upkeep. That means low-maintenance color in extra eye-catching shades.

Founder of community organization, AliPur, where women from rural areas are trained in embroidery, pottery and sewing.

Amina, you are an inspiration for all the women, tell us a bit about yourself and your educational background.

It’s been three years I have been residing in my village, Alipur Kanju in lodhran working towards the welfare of rural women in Pakistan for their economic empowerment in a way to secure their livelihoods and rights.

After graduating from Convent of Jesus and Mary I went to Lahore Grammar for my A’levels. And Later I went abroad to St Gallen University for my Bachelors in International Relations and History. During my time abroad I have been a part of various volunteer programs with United Nations, which I am very grateful for. I love to read and write.I have a written a book, Little Khan and The lucky bugs. Ferozsons published it this year. A children’s series about characters based in Pakistan. When I had my children I always had to hunt for good books based on Pakistan’s culture and values. I am very happy and proud to have written it. I love spending time with my family and travel. I would spend all my money on travelling. Its the best way of learning about so much. Besides that I love Alipur,it’s my favorite home. I always thought I am a city girl and could never live in the country but it has my heart.


What is the whole idea behind Ali Pur and what inspired you to create a safe space for these amazingly talented women.

Innever really got to spend a lot of time in Alipur before it was actually during the pandemic in 2020 I moved here.

I found severe poverty in my village people were distress specially women who most of the times had no money to put food on their tables and their husbands would be away in search of work. The Poor education system, devastating health and living conditions, no well sanitation facilities,these all made me realize of my privileges and I somehow I felt responsible to bring the change. Over the past years I have worked to improve the livelihoods of people. I have held medical camps, has initiated health programs, creating awareness among women of various vitamins deficiency common among the women and thus providing them with free aid. Installed water motors and water filters as women had to travel distances on foot to obtain clean water.


Creating a safe platform for underprivileged women from the rural areas is not easy, tell us how has the journey been so far and what are the challenges that you have faced in the process?

To break the stereotypes and change mindset, it is not easy. It has been very challenging.However I had the support of the best people; my family. My husband Amin Khan Kanju.Who has always encouraged me to do good.What I have achieved today for the people of Alipur is all because of him. He has been my rock. My Mama (mother) and my Amma (Mother in law). I am blessed. My brother. My sisters Rasanat, Fatima and Maryam. And Of course my loveliest BAE Alizeh Kanju. She has been such a big Support and the best work partner! They gave me the strength and courage to give every obstacle. Most of the Villagers didn’t want to send their daughters to school. Girls attendance in school drops to a low during harvest season. They contribute to care work at home, looking after the young and the ill, and stepping in for the mother if she is pregnant, nursing or sick. When there is much unpaid labour to be done, education is a luxury for a young daughter. This is not to say that social norms or parental reluctance are the reasons for low enrolment and high dropouts of girls. Equally, and more responsible is the State. The quality of education is poor, even for rural households, and may appear to rural parents as being not related to their lives. To convince them to believe that basic education is a necessity was a big challenge. Women comprise approximately half of the total population of Pakistan and most of them live in the rural areas. They are mainly engaged in farming and other agricultural activities. They do most of their labour as unpaid family workers. Its very important to educate them and support them for equal rights if we want to prosper as a successful nation. Along comes skill training. I saw this as a way out for women to success. Made in Alipur is a community organization, under which comes skill training centers where women are taught various skills such as embroidery sewing, stitching, pottery. Introducing them with modern technology, which I always believed is very important and had to be done soon.

Tell us about your collaborations with the brands and which campaign is close to your heart and why?

This is not a fair question!
Each and every campaign holds a very special place in my heart. Lama was the first Collaboration. I am so grateful to Amal Khan CEO Lama for entrusting the women of Made in Alipur. It was such a proud moment for me to see the women put their learning in practice and to be able to provide them with a platform to promote their work well. These women do some great work which needs recognition and appreciation. Above all giving the opportunity for them to earn well. Really It’s a pleasure to see them work with so much commitment and love. These collaborations with the renowned brands has got them the confidence and happiness they truly deserve.

What is a typical day at Ali Pur like?

It’s Work,lots of work but is Epic!
It’s fun and happy with lots of chat. As I said earlier, Alipur has my heart. I can’t be away from it for long. The country side, is exceptionally beautiful. Its far from the madding crowd. I love watching over the women encouraging more to learn. Helping them with their problems. Guiding them. Enlightening their minds with positivity and knowledge. At Made in Alipur we teach our women basic education and general ethics for their well being along with skill training. Introduce them with innovative ideas. Target their strength. To help me I have a team who I have prepared over the years.

Where do you see your organisation in the coming five years and what changes you would like to bring
InshAllah we’ll sore higher!

I want to encourage more women to be a part of this community organization. Its very important to empower rural women. They need to be supported in every way specially with the economic recession things have become quite difficult for the rural villagers. The economy grows and employment rate rises when women own businesses. Get more attention of the state in improving their policies for rural women. Giving them the rights and needs they deserve. I want the women to collaborate with international brands in the coming years and have their work appreciated world wide. I am very patriotic and I would work very hard for this aim to be achieved.
Pakistani Artisans their work to be known and desired around the globe.

How did your background as a surgeon influence your approach to running a business like Ron Jewelry and diamond direct?

After doing my graduation in medicine and surgery I went to US and opened six high end luxury diamond stores. After being successful in the US I came back here in Pakistan and opened Diamond Direct a beautiful store on a beautiful location in Lahore, where we are offering Diamond Rolex. Having said that besides that we also have a lot of varieties of beautiful engagement rings and I have also introduced my own line of engagement rings called the Dazzlers by Dr Imran.

Could you share some insights into the unique qualities and features that set Diamond Direct apart from other diamond retailers in the market?

We have diamonds ranging from PKR 20 Thousand to PKR 20 Million, diamond and gold always has a value having said that the value actually keeps increasing. Therefore whoever wants to invest their money this is indeed the best investment to make.

All my merchandise is imported from USA, all the diamonds that we have are from the US, all our brands are affiliated and certified and not even a one single ring is from any other country. The bottom line is, all the merchandise that I carry are from USA.

As a prominent supporter of charitable institutions and a cancer survivor yourself, how does your jewellery business contribute to philanthropic causes and support cancer patients through its operations or initiatives?

Being a member of the American Cancer Association I always believe in charity and also in giving energy to those who are fighting with cancer. We don’t need to call them a warrior what they actually need is hope, a real hope to live and go through to face the challenge as it comes to them. I being a cancer survivor myself understand how it goes, you need faith and hope and that’s what we need to create for those who are going through this difficult time.

How do you ensure that your customers receive excellent customer service and a personalized experience when purchasing engagement rings or making special orders?

Another specialty that we have are customized diamond engagement rings, every bride needs to look different because that’s the most beautiful moment of their life. So what happens is that we are specialist in that our slogan is, you dream it we create! We are the first one in Pakistan who can customize a diamond engagement ring according to your ideas.

What are your future plans in terms of expanding the business?
Talking about the next 5 years, I have planned to open a new location in Islamabad and then another one in Karachi. We are also working on expanding towards cities like Faisalabad and Sialkot, whereas we also have our offices in Dubai and HongKong.

Sarosh is the most versatile artist, who started her journey as as a chemist in the USA and discovered her love for painting and calligraphy about ten years ago. She is now running her own mesmerising art gallery in Lahore.

Tell us a bit about your journey and what influenced you to become an artist/painter?

Art has been a part of me since childhood, my mother was a multitalented artist, she created an environment that nurtured art . I am a science graduate, discovered about ten years ago that God has gifted me with this talent sketching and painting, and now it’s my biggest passion!

Your art room is full of paintings of same famous celebrities and singers, it also seems to be inspired by the Mughal era, what is your inspiration and how would you describe your art room?

My art gallery covers life, representing my thoughts in painted colours!

My love for humanity and history has opened areas of Mughal and other historical art besides making portraits of famous people who touched my heart through their hard work and dedication for their amazing work. I researched on them before starting their projects and I have done research work on Baba bull shah and my paintings illustrating his poetry and life is been showcased in my own art gallery in Gulberg Lahore.

Describe your dream project.

Any painting that I start is my dream painting at that time, and takes my full attention!

Describe the best piece of art you’ve created.

I love my latest calligraphy (.Blessings)

How did you discover calligraphy and How would you describe your calligraphy style?

Life is a discovery and through calligraphy we deliver messages of Allah, I call my style just my style, it’s simple straight and clear.

Do you have any favorite tools, types of brushes and pens, or papers you prefer to work with?

I use normal brushes. It’s all about how you display your thoughts through your  strokes.

Any suggestions for aspiring artists in this era of digital world?

One can achieve anything through hard work ,dedication and prayers to Almighty Allah

In conversation with Zunaira Ovais of Picture Perfect; A licensed and certified semi-permanent makeup and micro-blading artist. Zunaira runs a medical spa, first of its kind, in the heart of Lahore!

So Semi-Permanent makeup, that means we have to put less makeup on in the morning, right? What inspired you to become a semi-permanent makeup artist?

“Thank you for asking. While semi-permanent makeup does provide the benefit of waking up with a natural-looking enhancement, it is important to clarify that it is not intended to replace daily makeup entirely. Semi-permanent makeup involves the application of pigments beneath the skin’s surface to enhance features such as eyebrows, eyeliner, or lips. It helps to create a long-lasting effect, saving time and effort in daily makeup routines.

What inspired me to become a semi-permanent makeup artist is my passion for helping people enhance their natural beauty. I have always been fascinated by the transformative power of makeup and how it can boost someone’s confidence. However, I also understand that not everyone has the time or skill to apply makeup daily. This realization led me to explore the world of semi-permanent makeup, where I can provide a solution for individuals seeking long-lasting enhancements.

Being able to create subtle, natural-looking results that enhance a person’s features and help them feel more confident is incredibly rewarding. I enjoy the artistic aspect of the work and the opportunity to bring out the unique beauty in each individual. It’s truly fulfilling to see the positive impact it can have on my clients’ lives.

Additionally, the ever-evolving nature of the beauty industry and the constant advancements in techniques and products motivated me to specialize in semi-permanent makeup. I am dedicated to staying updated on the latest trends, attending workshops, and continuously improving my skills to offer the best possible service to my clients.

Overall, my passion for enhancing natural beauty and the desire to provide a convenient solution for individuals seeking long-lasting makeup led me to pursue a career as a semi-permanent makeup artist.”

Tell us a bit about your journey from learning, practicing and then introducing a medical spa in Pakistan.

Well, it has been a roller coaster ride. Like many of our women folk in the makeup industry today, I started a very humble home-based setup after learning few basic SPMU skills. God blessed me with a decent repute and client trust. That lead me to invest more into enhancing my skills and qualifications, so I pursued SPMU & aesthetics courses abroad.

During my travels, I came across the incredible advancements in the field of aesthetics abroad which we were not having access to in our country. So I decided to introduce the same and by the Grace of Allah I have been able to convert this dream into a reality.

I have a team of professionally trained staff with me having access to latest cutting-edge research in the field. I must say that, for me, the journey has just started as I am always enthusiastic and motivated about my profession since it gains me so much customer admiration and support.

What are the four most in demand treatments at your salon?

Botox & Fillers, Laser hair removal, Lash & Brow procedures & Carbon Facial.

With the wedding season just around the corner, tell us about two most important facials that brides and bridesmaids must get from your salon?

I would recommend everyone to try our Carbon facial and chemical peels for their big day.

What are your future plans and do you plan to introduce some more services at your salon?

I have plans to increase my clinic network throughout the country which I will be doing very soon. With that, I plan to introduce the latest and greatest in aesthetic procedures at my clinics and expand the services portfolio in collaboration with foreign experts and industry icons.

What inspired you to become an artist and tell us about your favorite medium?

I think it is something you are born with even as a kid my favorite thing to do was paint and colour. And since my mom is an artist access to art materials was very convenient.

I love to paint from watercolor miniatures to big wall murals. Favorite medium depends on my mood.

Describe how art is important to society

Art is something that portrays feelings and at the same time influences feelings too. There so much you can bring in a society with art, it creates the mood in society, the trends, the environment around us all depend on artists.

What factors influence the price of your work?

The biggest factor that influences any work is cost of production.


How do you go about creating a collection?

It starts with inspiration leading to the thematic design of a collection. Then the production process starts. Everything in my collection is handmade and sustainable so it’s takes time and patience.

How do fashion designers keep up with the latest trends?

I mostly follow latest cuts and colors of the year rest is our own aesthetic that is ages old and evergreen.

Who are some famous architects that you admire?

Ludwig Mies Van de Rohe and Tadao Ando

Can you walk me through your design process of your label, AMK Libaas from concept to execution?

Sustainability plays the most important part in all the process. Everything should be environment friendly and ethical, pure fabrics are chosen, hand dyed and then embellished by block printing, hand embroideries etc. depicting our traditional fashion reviving theory. Lastly they are cut and stitched according to the collection genre.

How would you describe your design aesthetic & philosophy?

Sustainable, traditional and comfortable. Our mission is to revive handmade traditional artistic clothes that are comfortable yet luxurious.

Philosophy behind are the artisans that do marvelous hand block printing and embroideries but are struggling due to the invasion of digital and mechanical solutions. Sustaining them in all our collections is a vital part of our studio.

How do you think personal style should be expressed?

By being comfortable in your own style.

What Should Be More Important To A Man: Style or Fashion?

He shouldn’t go out of his way to dress to impress , one should only wear what he can easily carry well.

Which styles of acting do you think you’re most suited for?

Romantic and sad.

What do you believe is the most challenging aspect of being an actor?

I think to play different characters and fit in to the character like a glove.

What’s your styling philosophy?

My styling philosophy is to slay with style & class and never go over board.

Which current trends would you incorporate in your clothing selections?

Add more linen for the summers which I already have but I never get enough of that particular fabric , also more pastel colours, more whites more pastels, long flowing trousers. Easy & breezy.

What is your favourite part of being in the fashion industry?

To be acknowledged, and loved by so many also being inspirational is I always have worked hard for.

What is your greatest professional accomplishment?

Mostly now when I am getting recognition on international platform, building the softer image for my country , also it’s a beautiful feeling to be loved internationally. I could only gather that by living in Dubai being the Golden resident.

What do you think are the most critical aspects of the fashion industry?

Well any industry in the world is very uncertain one should not be so sure of it, sometimes they open a lot of doors for you sometimes you make a door for yourself as no one opens a single door for you , saying it out of my experience as I have gone though both the aspects of the industry.

Would you like to tell us about Any new project that you are working on?!

I have been recently awarded by the social media super star UAE awards as the most loved Fashion Influencer of uae and now over the moon by nominated by the one and only Filmfare Middle East awards in the male fashion category. I am overwhelmed by the response here in the uae and soon will be coming with a big show. Keeping my fingers crossed!

How do you think the role of a fashion designer has changed since you started your career?

Replication is one of the biggest challenge for any fashion designer I mean It’s hard to sell original high-value garment when everyone wants cheap knock-offs.

What according to you is a favorite part of being a fashion designer?

The constant reinvention and willingness to try new ideas.

What are your favorite fashion trends?

Shackets and coord sets.

Tell us a bit about your new collection

Our new collection Inspired by the age-old architectural charm that the ancient world has to offer, Ruya Wedding Couture ’23 is an ode to the rendition of heritage and tradition. The arches of the architecture are related to the soulfully crafted scalloped finishing while the classic handwork and embellishments are perfectly representing the craftsmanship that has been practiced behind the artful and historic structure.

Who are your style icons and why?

Personally for me I don’t really have any style icons because I love anyone who is fierce and fashionable.

Tell us a bit about educational background and how you’ve developed your art career so far?

I am a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries and completed my B.Sc. Honors in Actuarial Science and Statistics from the University of Western Ontario. I am a self-taught oil painter and my only formal education in fine art was in high school.

I did my first oil painting three and a half years ago; each subsequent painting was a leap in technique, but my voice has always been unique and has led me to produce original never done before work. Via social media and word of mouth, the paintings started getting collected by art enthusiasts around the world, followed up by publications in lifestyle magazines, professional actuarial journals and podcasts. We recently presented a solo booth exhibit of 9 large scale paintings in New York City and have been showered with interest from Chelsea art galleries, fashion houses and private collectors.

Flowerin’ Audrey at Tiffany’s, c. 2021
Oil on gallery-wrapped canvas
72 x 60 x 2 in.

Describe your dream project?

My dreams are way too big to summarize in this interview, and I do use dreamlike surrealistic visuals to compose my works. However, to answer your question, a dream project would be one in which my stance on secular oneness of humanity without the divide of culture, religion, and prejudices, allyship towards women’s empowerment and de-stigmatization of mental health illnesses is most amplified. All while using  a portion of proceeds from the art career to donate to charitable causes close to my heart.

You know, I want to change the world, by literally painting a picture of a born tolerant Muslim boy’s immigration to North America and to show my peers in the West that people of my skin colour are not closed-minded terrorists. On the other hand, I also want to breakdown the preconceived ideology and resentment against the West that exists in the East.

Boxed Sagrada Familia, c. 2021
Oil on gallery-wrapped canvas
72 x 60 x 1.5 in.

Do your other interests influence your art?

Absolutely! Dance, fashion, film, horticulture, gastronomy. They all play an important role in the imagery used in the works.

Describe the best piece of art you’ve created?

To me all my works are special, and I go through a grieving process to let any one of them go. I think my top favourites, in no particular order, are the Boxed Golden Temple, Boxed Sagrada Familia, Muskokan Dream, the Lotus Temple, Mohatta, Bordeaux, Milan, Mardi Gras Sax Fantasy, Flowerin’ Audrey and Flowerin’ Riri – 2015 Met Gala. The collection can be viewed on our website

Mohatta, Bordeaux, Milan! This is the dream of Mij Rahman, c. 2022
Oil on gallery-wrapped canvas
36 x 60 x 2 in.
Boxed Golden Temple, c. 2020
Oil on gallery-wrapped canvas
40 x 30 x 1.5 in.

Tell us about your techniques for overcoming creative blocks?

Yoga, strength training and my day career as an actuary. Trust me, the problem is not creative blocks on the contrary it is choosing between the countless ideas that I have written and sent to myself via email to serve as a repository. I just fear that I will not have enough days in this lifetime to execute all the dreamy compositions in my mind and the ones sitting in the inbox.

Flowerin’ Riri – 2015 Met Gala, c. 2022
Oil on gallery-wrapped canvas
60 x 48 x 1.5 in.

What are you working on at the moment?

Right at this moment answering your questions ha ha. Jokes aside, post the New York show, with the help of my Colombian art advisor, spouse and sister managers, we are evaluating the best gallery and commission offers to advance the art career. We are also working on producing our giclées for charity.

Lotus Temple, c. 2020
Oil on gallery-wrapped canvas
48 x 60 x 1.5 in.

I have a very hectic travelling schedule, visiting 14 cities in the next two months, so I will pick up the paintbrush again in June. I am toiling with either to produce my Flowerin’ Princess Diana – Revenge Dress, Flowerin’ Jackie Kennedy, or starting a new series which, I have been meaning to do for a while, titled Cappadocia Giverny Lotus Ponds. In this new series I would compare, contrast and make political statements on the Muslim cultures in Turkiye with more “liberal” or should I say bigoted ones of France. The imagery would be of the Cappadocia mountains set in Monet’s Giverny ponds with hot air balloons floating about.

New Orleans Sax Fantasy, c. 2022
Oil on gallery-wrapped canvas
40 x 40 x 2 in.

How do you stay connected and up to date with the art world?

By attending major art fairs such as Basel, Scope, Context, Untitled, Nada in Miami, Frieze and the Armory show in NYC, and wanting to add Venice Biennale and Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain in Paris to the list.

I also have well-established art advisors, curators, collectors and board members of the financial world art committees in my personal network who all keep me informed. Lastly, social media and attending local art shows and museum exhibits also add to keeping up with the Art-dashians.

Muskokan Dream, c. 2020
Oil on gallery-wrapped canvas
60 x 84 x 2 in.

What is the biggest challenge of being an artist?

I am very lucky that I have a day career that allows me complete financial freedom to express myself on my terms and be selective with gallerists and other opportunities. The truth of the matter is that art is a business and the middle men/women/them, the career makers/breakers, have a huge financial interest in an artist’s trajectory. Thus, I think for me the biggest challenge is that I am very aware of the financial implication of contracts, and to be able to reason out the different compensation structures the career makers offer.

I guess that it is much better than being financially manipulated/restricted by all the noise that exists out there in the art world. What I am trying to say, is that the biggest challenge for any artist is to ensure the bills are paid and the work is not influenced by compromise.

What Do You Want Your Artwork to Stand for?

I described that in my dream project above!

Any advice for all the aspiring artists?

Keep on going. Find your voice by what motivates you, what makes you angry, what you want to change about the world and then paint about that.

Never compare your work to anyone else’s because art is so subjective that even a painting with one stroke can mean so much more to a collector than a work with 500 hrs spent in production.

A higher proportion of disappointments will come than with any other career, but always remember, when bridges fall, stock markets plunge and medicines stop working, art is the only healer.

What would you say is the most challenging part of being a fashion designer?
Honestly, it’s really fun being an entrepreneur and a creative person at the same time, but sometimes I desire to craft pieces that the data would not support. I prefer to stay away from the typical pieces but my team keeps reminding me to stick to what the research says. The clash of the two and to find the perfect balance can often be a challenging aspect being a fashion designer.

Who are your style icons and why?
Definitely Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan. Her sartorial taste is beyond impeccable. I am obsessed with her elegance in every outfit she wears. The monochromatic color scheme along with the pop of colors is such a breath of fresh air. It’s like there’s fluidity and movement within the flowing fabric that she wears.

What are your favorite fashion trends?
Definitely gossip girl era. Headbands with a Chanel coat and a cute short skirt. Blair all the way!

What is the most exciting part of being a fashion designer?
When it comes to my brand, it’s definitely the aspect where I have a play with my creativity along with my entrepreneurial skills. The perfect amalgamation between the two areas and executing the perfect balance really excites me.

Tell us a bit about your new collection?
My most recent collection “Lilly Affair” is all about movement; there’s a solid flow through the cuts. I wanted it to be a like soft spring breeze dancing through the summers. The floral patterns represent a breath of freshness, representing nature’s pure essence.

Known as the “king of Couture” and after completing almost 29 years in the industry, how has the journey been for you and what is your favourite part of being a fashion designer?

The journey has been very rewarding and I feel incredibly blessed and grateful for that as not many people get to do what they love. I believe I have been given this opportunity by my clients and people around me to continue doing what I love the most and this is where my greatest achievement lies.

“I am basically a kid in a shop, getting to live my dream everyday”

We all know that no one in the fashion industry makes a red classic attire better than HSY and the designs you create are always meticulously crafted with some eye catching intricate details, what is your design philosophy and what is your inspiration while creating such designs?

My design philosophy is timeless elegance and beauty. When someone buys my design from any of my collection they should buy it thinking that it is not something on trend, it will be a timeless classic piece that can be worn and used over and over again!

“The fashion and design industry now has become a space of sensationalism all across the world; I want to the peaceful eye in the storm where there is a guarantee aesthetic and classiness  that will never go out of style.”

I believe men make beautiful clothes for women, as that’s how they like to see them. What sets me apart from ‘men designing clothes for women’ is that I design clothes for true women, in particular my mother and my sister and if my mother and my sister are not  able to wear my clothes then all the other women in my culture won’t be able to and I keep that very close to my heart while designing clothes.

Tell us a bit about your collection, Rehana and the whole concept behind this very special campaign

This collection is very close to my heart as it’s named after my beloved mother. I’m very close to my mother and I talk about her a lot…maybe all the time as I lover her dearly. I believe that if people follow us for the trends then they should also follow us for this particular trend that I want to be there always, which is respecting our parents and our elders as it’s a big part of who I am.

“This collection is for my mother and to establish her name because I want her memory to live on. The memory of her to me is not the glamorous woman I know, my mother represents to me hard work, she brought me up as a single parent, doing multiple jobs to pay our bills”

The only way I can celebrate her is to make collections in her name so that all the single mothers out there who might be raising another HSY or another star to feel empowered and seen! I want them to know that there is a brand (HSY) who sees them, understands them and is making beautiful clothes at prices they all can afford!

The new economy is not getting better anytime soon so rather than complaining about it we should start taking action in regards to how to best service people struggling in this time.

“Even if this means less profit, I can’t ignore my clients who gave me 29 years of success and support and I want them to know that I’m there for them in these testing times”

Women and men both eagerly wait for your new collection, will HSY be launching a collection for Eid this year?!

Of course! This year you will be seeing us working with all the extremely talented celebrities, staying very close to who they are and who we are as a brand!

Stay tuned for some amazing surprises as we are all set to launch some exquisite pieces for both men and women, from Eid to couture we will have something in store for everyone, At Affordable Prices!

We speak to influencer Jehangir Khan AKA Khan Diaries about his goals, his career as a male influencer and more.

How does it feel being one of the few male influencers in the industry?

It was pretty weird at first, but also game-changing. I always wanted to pave the way for male creators and encourage them to take risks.

How have you seen the social media game change since you started out?

When I started blogging in 2015, there were very few people in the game. Now you pick up a rock and you’d find an influencer underneath.

Who are your favourite Pakistani designers?

Munib Nawaz’s outfits are meant for me, they fit like a glove every time. I also love wearing my mothers brand, The Chapa House which is bringing a fusion of organic block printing back into the fashion game.

What do you do on your days off from work?

As a creative person, the mind never rests. I do like to spend quality time with family and friends and Netflix with my dog Odin.

Do you work out?

Yes! The only way I can fight all my demons. I believe it’s the best therapy for everybody.

What are your hobbies?

Traveling, experiencing different cultures, I also love learning languages.

Name three things on your bucket list.

  1. Do a short film as a lead.
  2. Be a successful entrepreneur.
  3. Take mama for Umrah / Hajj (In’sha’Allah).

What advice would you give to aspiring young people who want to be like you?

People will drag you down even if you join the herd mentality, so be fearless & BE YOU. Don’t be like me or anyone but discover yourself and be the best version of yourself. Also, stay humble!

Influencer and model Mustafa Yazdani talks about his career, his bucket list and hobbies

Did you always want to be a model?

I modelled a little bit when I was a kid, but it was never something I aspired to. Most of my work has been with Rastah. I also do the art direction for them and my involvement there has sort of been a happy accident.

What’s it like being a male model in the Pakistani fashion industry?

I don’t think I’m a model worth worrying about, nor am I very deeply entrenched in ‘the scene’. So I don’t know how much authority I can speak with. However, my personal experience has been overwhelmingly positive and I’ve gotten to collaborate with brilliant artists and created beautiful things.

Who are your favourite Pakistani designers?

I love what Rastah is doing for Pakistan’s image globally. I’m obsessed with the craft and playfulness of Kamiar Rokni, and deeply enamored with the sexiness of Muse.

What was your first shoot like?

My first shoots in childhood were with Lajwanti and Leisure Club and I remember feeling like I was better than everyone else at school by virtue of being a model. When I started modeling again, I was lucky because my first shoot was with Natasha Zubair, and she can make anyone look good.

What do you do on days off from work?

I’m rarely ever off work these days but when I do get time to myself, I try to make time for my friends, read what I can and zone out on my phone for an embarrassing amount of time.

Do you work out?

I’ve started working out recently, as I’m starting to age out the whole ‘waif’ fantasy. Someone once told me that if I wanted to book more Eastern I should think about investing in a barrel chest. I like working out for how it makes me feel, but I’ve always really liked my body as it is.

What are your hobbies?

I like to paint, read, write, all of that. But anyone who knows me will tell you my greatest hobby is just being pretentious on Instagram.

Name three things on your bucket list.

I want to throw a drink in someone’s face. Own a pet cow. Write a book.

How important of a role do you think social media plays in a models life in todays world?

Social media is everything. Most people contact me for jobs through Instagram. I took a break from social media for a month or so and lost out on some great work. Inversely, it can also be a bit irritating to feel like you’re being pigeonholed into a certain identity because of your social media presence. I’d like to try everything.

What advice would you give to young models?

Be pretty, show up on time, and don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself.. oh, also get good at waiting. Being on set is mostly just waiting around.

Fitness coach Asfandyar Ahmed talks to us about his fitness journey, the right way to start working out and the importance of a fitness coach

How and when did your path to fitness begin?

I started working out myself when I was 14. Being a big kid, my coach at Metafitnosis at the time put me on the right path which was the correct combination of training including strength & functional training. I worked with a coach initially and then I eventually started training after getting exposure in the field for 8 years.

Tell us about your gym Metafitnosis and the work you do there.

Metafitnosis was started 16 years ago by my coach who couldn’t continue on because he had other plans. My mother who is the backbone of the business took over and has run it ever since. It is a concept never seen in Pakistan before, which is solely a personal training studio. Every client has a coach assigned to them that watches each and every movement of theirs with the utmost attention and detail.

What are some of the challenges of working in fitness in Pakistan?

To start off with, health and fitness does not get the importance it should get compared to how it is in other parts of the world. Whether it is the accessibility to good equipment or finding variety for nutrition. I would say, 50-70% of both things are imported goods which are heavily taxed and quite difficult for a lot of people to sustain over a long period of time.

What are some tips you can give to people who are starting on their fitness journey?

Most people when starting their fitness journey rush into everything at once. They want to start working out 6 times a week and start a super strict meal plan at once. That might work for some but for most is not sustainable. I would recommend first finding the right facility and coach to start you on the right path and then let yourself and your body ease into the routine. There is absolutely no harm in taking baby steps.

What sort of a diet plan do you recommend?

I am a strong believer in moderation. A lot of people want abs super fast or will starve themselves if they have a wedding or special occasion coming up. That might work for you for the time being only for a limited amount of time but will absolutely destroy your metabolism in the long run. Your diet needs to be a lifestyle. It needs to be something that you can sustain for the rest of your life. Of course it is completely okay to indulge in your favorite foods once a week but on regular days, your meals need to consist of protein, carbohydrates and fats in a balanced amount.

Any advice for the people that cannot find the right motivation?

As I mentioned earlier, a lot of people want to start living a better and fitter lifestyle and they do try to start off with it, but it is all implemented too quickly. It’s important to focus on training before nutrition. A lot of people would disagree but if we don’t move enough and increase our activity, we’re definitely not going to burn anything off. Whether it is starting to increase your activity at home by using the stairs more or running around and playing with your kids, you should definitely start off slow.

How many days per week do you recommend people workout?

If you’re a beginner, I would recommend starting off 3 days a week for 30-45 minutes but it all depends on the endurance and physical capacity of an individual.

How important is it to have a Fitness Trainer?

People think that they can follow Instagram or YouTube pages and train themselves but that could also be a bit risky and result in severe injury. I think it is very important to hire a coach who knows what they’re doing so that they guide you through the process and help you achieve what you want. Definitely invest in an experienced and knowledgeable personal trainer, your body will thank you in the years to come.

Who are some of your inspirations/ fitness coaches that you look up to?

That’s a tough one but to name a few would be Bret Contreras, Scott Abel, Steve Mac, Dr, Aaron Horschig & Nam Thomas.

What do you have to say to people that give up too quickly because they don’t see results?

Patience is key. I think that would apply for almost everything. When it comes to your body you need to give yourself time. Suppose you put on 10 inches on your waist in a year, it took you a year to put those on so you definitely need to give yourself a similar amount of time to take it off in a healthy way as well. Regimentation & repetition is where the party is at!

Comedian and Youtuber Junaid Akram AKA Ganji Swag talks inspirations, struggles and more

What’s the significance behind the title Ganji Swag and how did it come about?

So back in the day, I’m talking 2012-2013, I decided to get rid of my hair because I had a really bad receding hairline. My friend’s girlfriend at the time used to call me Ganji Man just like Spiderman or Superman. Back then there used to be a lot of memes about swag like Swag Wali Topi etc. I used to tell her I have more swag than your boyfriend. This was our silly banter. One fine day, I decided to make an Instagram account. I was confused because Junaid Akram was already taken. I was with that same friend and he said why don’t you go for Ganji Swag? That’s the story. Back in the day I used to argue a lot on social media. When people had nothing left to say to me they would say, “oh you’re a ganja”. When you embrace something like that, I feel like it takes the power away from the trolls. So I thought I should go with Ganji Swag and that’s how it happened.

How did your journey as a comedian start?

I used to be the class clown. I was the friend who was always making every one else laugh. But there is a difference between being funny amongst friends and being funny on stage. There are a lot of people who aren’t able to do both. I had a friend called Steve. Steve and I used to watch a lot of stand up comedy. Youtube was new back then. We were huge fans of Seinfeld and we would share observational comedy. So, Steve said why don’t you give this a shot? He thought I had it in me. I thought about it for two years and then finally decided to do it. I found an open mic night. I went there and I did my set. It was great! I thought to myself, this is amazing. The crowd laughed at my jokes and it felt empowering. I kept doing stand up and from there I ventured into YouTube eventually.

We’ve heard that you’ve struggled quite a bit in your journey. You’ve even waited tables. If you could meet that Junaid today, what would you say to him?

Yes, there has been a lot of struggle. But I guess I’m not the only one. A lot of people go through this. I guess it’s situations like these that really prepare you for the future so I’m really grateful. When I used to do those jobs, I used to hate my life I would complain to God all the the time. But now that I look back, it all makes sense. I had to go through all of those hardships in order to be as thick in my skin as I am today. That allows me to be bold and be the way that I am today in my current line of work. So if I could say something to that Junaid, I would say the same thing that I used to say to myself back then, which is: it’s only a speed breaker in my life. It’s only a chapter in my life. It’s not my whole life. I’m not going to be doing this my whole life. I have a lot of potential and all I need to do is wait. Sar jhuka ke kaam karo. Just wait it out and just be patient. That’s with I used to pacify myself with. And I would say the same today. I was glad I was aware of the fact that this is only momentary. That’s exactly how it played out.

What, in your opinion, are some of the drawbacks of being a comedian in Pakistan?

Lack of freedom, lack of acceptance. Not just being a comedian, I feel like being an artist in Pakistan, there are a lot of drawbacks. You aren’t respected enough. People don’t treat you nicely. But when there’s a lockdown, they can’t survive without us either. Be it YouTube, be it Netflix, be it Spotify, artist ke baghair guzara bhi nahi hota lekin usko gaaliyaan bhi deni hain. So there’s a huge issue of acceptance. If I speak about comedians specifically, there’s a lack of freedom for sure in terms of the content that you can create or things you can talk about. There’s only so much that happens in Pakistan. I also think you can’t talk freely about politics or other institutions. There’s really not much left to talk about. Anything can be construed into mockery even if you’re just making a joke about something. It’s a very slippery slope that you have to tread upon. It’s not an easy job.

Who are your top 5 favourite comics?

This is a very difficult list to put together! But I guess Moin Akhtar Saab is on the top of the list. I really enjoyed Majid Jehangir. He is one of my heroes. A lot of people don’t know about him. I guess people from my generation do but the younger ones don’t. Internationally, I really enjoy Bill Murr and George Carlin.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Well, probably doing much bigger things. There are a lot of dreams that I have had way before I started my journey as a Youtuber. Thankfully, everything is falling into place. I wanted to expand my horizons and my expertise. So slowly but surely those things are happening. This year is going to be big because I’m making a drastic change in my pursuit of success and pursuit of doing wonderful things. Hopefully, I will have a children’s show in the next five years because that’s an area that I’m really sentimental about. Sadly, there is no content for kids in Pakistan. So hopefully, I will have a channel dedicated to kids and science. I would be happy if I’m able to pull this off by then.

What question would you like to answer that never gets asked of you?

I don’t think there has been a question that hasn’t been asked. However, whenever I’m in a public space, a lot of people flock in to grab a selfie. Sometimes, I really wish they would just click one and be off. Or they can talk to me for five minutes and ask me how I am or how I’m doing but people don’t really care about that. They just want their selfie and off they go. Sometimes I really want to talk to people. But that doesn’t happen much. I would appreciate if people asked me genuinely, ‘how are you feeling?’ And that’s something that people don’t really think about.

Cancel culture has become very strong these days. People are very quick to judge and even the littlest things get celebrities in trouble. Does that pressure ever get to you? Are you now more careful about the jokes you make?

There are two sides to this question. First of all, yes the world has become very politically correct. Every morning when I wake up, I access my Facebook memories and see the kind of stuff I come across that I used to write ten years ago. It would never ever pass today. But then again those were different times. Evolving is good. I value that and I endorse that. We need to uneducat ourselves and re-educate ourselves about a lot of things. However, jumping on the bandwagon about every little thing is really toxic. A person is only responsible for what they say not for what people understand. Sometimes people misconstruct statements. I’m not really pressured about anything because I’m only responsible for what I say. Everyone has their own perception. I can’t go up to every single person and explain to them what I meant at every occasion. People do what they want to do. However, being sensitive is something different. I wont make jokes that I did five years ago or ten years ago. I wont do that because I’m careful about people’s sensitivities. But I’m not under any pressure because of these people. I understand what needs to be said and doesn’t. If someone is going to create an issue out of every small thing, then that’s their issue not mine.

Do you have any regrets?

I don’t think so. I’ve been very blessed Alhumdullilah. The only thing I would say is that I could have done a lot of things a lot earlier if only I had taken certain steps. But everything makes sense now. Everything takes it’s sweet time so it’s important not to rush into things. I have no regrets. I guess one has regrets when one doesn’t want to sort things out. I believe in nipping things in the bud and not carrying things further. I work on regret minimization frame work so I take steps in life much earlier, so at 50 or 60 I don’t look back and say, ‘oh man I should have done that’. So I design my life around regret minimization framework. So I do those things that I wont regret in the future.

What do you like to do on days that you’re not working?

I am working every single day. I am working even on my holidays. I just can’t switch off. There’s so much to share with people! There’s so much to talk about. Even when I’m travelling or I’m on vacation with my family I’m always creating content. If I saw a chori foothpath I have to tell people, look how pedestrian friendly this road is abroad. I just want to communicate a lot of things to my audience so that their exposure also increases. Their minds open up. If they can’t travel for whatever reasons like budget or covid, I want them to travel vicariously through me. I’m always working.

What advice would you give to people who look up to you and might be struggling to get a start in the industry?

I would say just do it and don’t think too much. I don’t mean start something without putting any thought into it at all. Work things out of course. But don’t think about what people will say, what sort of comments will I get. Stop thinking about all that. The day I stopped thinking about what people will say my life was peaceful forever. It allowed me to take a lot of risks that I might have not taken if I cared about people’s opinions. I ventured into this community and this field, I excelled and I expanded my business and now Alhumdulillah everything is great. I would say stop worrying about people and just do you. Do whatever you feel like doing, talk about whatever you feel like talking about. Put your content out there. Don’t worry about whether you have equipment or not. For several years I just used my phone to make videos. Equipment will come itself eventually. What’s important is content. If your message is good, if your timing is good, and its concise and agar apka message logon ke dilon ke taar hila deta hai that’s all you need. You don’t need a red camera or any fancy stuff. Just be true to yourself. Be honest to yourself and your work. Don’t think about earning money. Follow success. If you follow success, money will eventually follow but if you follow money, you’ll never get it because money is number. And numbers never end.

Farhan Saeed stole hearts with his singing and then through some memorable roles on television. This fortnight he chats with Mehek Raza Rizvi about his upcoming projects, fame, family and more


You’ve won over your fans both as a singer and an actor, but what would you say is closer to your heart? 

To me being a singer and an actor are both essential forms of entertainment. At the bottom of my heart, I’m an entertainer in every way. Singing is my passion and acting is my craft, so choosing between the two isn’t an option for me. Each of these is a medium of art that I use to express the passion and emotions in me. Through my work I try to connect to my fans on a level that is far deeper. Whether it’s a live performance or an acting project, I believe I take each up in a way that reflects my creativity and dedication. Singing and acting are equally close to me because I tend to put my heart in each of them.

We’re anxiously awaiting the release of ‘Tich Button’. Tell us a little about your role and the equation all co-stars had on set.

‘Tich Button’ is entertainment for the entire family, as it captures the essence of a lively Punjabi-centric household. However, at this point I can’t reveal much about my role. What I can say is that through it we aim to give the audience a full impact of emotions, from some action-packed drama to sweet romance.

Connecting with all my co-actors on set was a great experience. Working with Iman Ali, Feroze Khan and Sonya Hussyn was very refreshing as our chemistry on set coincided in the best way possible. Furthermore, there are many well-known senior actors in it that I finally got the opportunity to work with. I firmly believe that this was one of the main reasons that ‘Tich Button’ was such a joy to work on. The amount of wisdom and support they showed us on set actually guided us through the entire process of making the film.

To sum it up, it’s a labour of our love and hard work. I really hope that people will enjoy watching it as much as we relished making it. 

You’ve worked with Qasim Ali Mureed in the past and he’s a close friend of yours. How different was this project from the others?

Qasim and I have worked together on numerous singing and acting projects over the years. Working with someone who knows you well both in front of the camera and behind it is gratifying in its own way. I strongly feel that it’s much easier to work on the craft of a character smoothly when two minds think alike. The best part about working with him is that he’s familiar with my strengths and weaknesses and understands me well.

Now that ‘Prem Gali’ has ended, are there any new drama serials in the pipeline?

Yes, I do have a couple of new projects lined up that I’m currently working on. One of them is a web series that we’re shooting these days and I also have some new songs in the works that’re going to come your way real soon.

Both your parents are doctors; what inspired you to pursue a career in music and acting? 

I truly believe that music was (and is) my destiny. Despite belonging to a background of doctors, music always held significant value in my life. It’s been an integral part of our household since I was quite young. I remember my entire family would sit together and enjoy jamming sessions on our favourite melodies. Seeing the true calling in me, my father told me that I just needed to be sincere to whatever I chose to do and do justice to it. Here I am today, doing something that’s very close to my heart and I hope I’ve done justice to it so far.

Out of all the characters you’ve portrayed, which one do you think is closest to your personality and how? 

Every character that I do more or less has some shades of me. I feel whenever you choose to do a character, there’s always a part of yourself that reflects in it. This is the main reason that attracts you to a particular role. Be it my character in ‘Udaari’ or ‘Suno Chanda’, each of them has a sense of being quintessentially me. Each character is special to me and I try to infuse what I am into every one of them. If I really have to choose, then maybe the closest character twould be Arsal from ‘Suno Chanda’.

Before saying yes to a script or character, how mindful are you of the impact it will have on your audience? 

I always try to analyse all the connotations that my characters are going to project onto the audiences. Whether it’s a light-hearted character or a headstrong one, I ensure that I give thought to how the audience, and especially my fans, will interpret it. It’s quite important to me that whatever character I choose delivers a message for people to learn from.

What would you say have been your biggest learnings as a public figure so far? 

One of my biggest learnings from this profession has been that gratitude is the right attitude. I’ve also learnt that as long as you’re patient and strive to work hard, things work out just fine. Being thankful to God, your friends, family and fans in all circumstances is the only way that you can move forward; many doors open if you’re true to yourself. However, I also feel that being a public figure in today’s day and age is not at all easy. With the social media era, the level of negativity has somewhat amplified to a point that it’s hard to stay focused and persistent.

You’ve spoken about memories from your childhood. Tell us more about those years.

Well I’ve been lucky enough to experience a childhood that has to be one of the best, with a constant balance of family gatherings, cousins, musical evenings, festivities and cricket. I truly lived every moment of it with my loved ones. We were blessed to have parents that supported us in every way. If I could sum up my childhood in one word, then that would have to be: beautiful.

What is Farhan Saeed like at home? 

A mix of everything: I’m an artist, a musician, an actor, a dancer, and anything else that I want to be when I’m at home. I believe I’m a simple man and mostly enjoy my time with my family, close friends and some good food. On the whole, a little ordinary and a little fun-that’s what Farhan is at home.

Photography: Rehan Khan

Wardrobe: Fitted

HMU: Ateeq at Toni & Guy

Stylin: Arbaqan Changezi

Art Direction: Maha Rehan

PR: MINT PR and Image Consultancy

Mohsin Saeed has a heartfelt conversation with the Tekken World Champion and first Red Bull athlete from Pakistan, about his harrowing journey to EVO Japan 2019 and overcoming borders and legends.

Describe how you felt after becoming the Evo 2019 Tekken champ?

It was a very emotional moment for me. I always had faith that I could win at the world’s biggest stage, but when it happened I was at loss for words. It was overwhelming as I had a flashback of my whole journey. I felt like I’ve finally achieved something great. Winning two EVOs in the same year is no small feat.

What do you think about the professional esports scene in Pakistan?

I feel my success has brought Pakistan under the spotlight. Our country was an unknown territory in terms of gaming, but now a lot of local players are getting sponsorships to go abroad.

Which other video games do you like to play?

Many people don’t know this, but before switching to Tekken, I was a national champion of The King of Fighters (KOF) XIII. I also enjoy playing Hearthstone, it’s a card game played on mobile.

How does it feel to be the first-ever Red Bull athlete from Pakistan?

Red Bull athletes are a group of the most elite athletes from around the world, so it was always my dream to become one. More importantly though, I’m happy because Pakistan is getting representation at such a high level.

What do you plan to accomplish next as a Red Bull athlete?

I’m looking forward to the Tekken World Tour Finals scheduled for December. I wish to continue my winning streak because it’ll make me the first player in the world to win two EVOs and a world championship in the same year.

What would you say has been the biggest challenge you faced in your journey so far?

I’ve never had it easy. There were countless obstacles, but the most challenging and frustrating one was getting a visa for EVO Japan. It’s very unfortunate that despite having talent, many Pakistani players don’t get sponsorship or a visa. However, in retrospect, I feel such hindrances only increased my drive to win.

What message would you give to aspiring gamers in Pakistan who wish to pursue professional esports?

Confidence is the key to success. Never be afraid of taking risks if you believe you have talent. When I took up gaming as a profession I had to put a lot on stake, but I didn’t let my fears stop me from dreaming big.

In an industry inundated with rom-coms, Baaji  is a drama that’s making its mark. The project is the directorial debut of Saqib Malik and the return of Lollywood icon Meera to the big screen. Haider Rifaat sat down with the ensemble cast to talk about the essence of the film


“Meera was my first choice. I thought of her when I conceived the concept”— Saqib Malik

Baaji is your directorial debut. How does it feel to have made this film?

It’s a dream come true for sure, as I’ve wanted to direct a film for forty years. Now that Baaji has been released, it almost feels surreal. I hope that our hard work as a team pays off.

Are you content with the product you’ve created?

Yes — we are very happy. I had a terrific cast, a good storyline and screenplay, accompanied by excellent music. When everything combines, it certainly makes a good film. As a director, I’m satisfied that we’ve made a product with honesty, integrity and something different from the norm.

Was Meera your initial preference for the project?

Yes, Meera was my first choice. I thought of her when I conceived the concept. I had requested Irfan Ahmed Urfi to keep her in mind while writing the script. Meera is a great actress and has so much more to offer. She fits the role like a glove.

Most current Pakistani feature films are geared towards rom-coms. What prompted you to choose a different route and make a dramatic movie?

I’ve always liked drama and had always hoped to work on something that would engage the audience and be a compelling story at the same time. Baaji is different from a television drama, as it’s a feature film, in its purest form.


“I had planned to leave this industry permanently. I wouldn’t have made a comeback without Saqib Malik and his team”  — Meera

Do you find that people often misunderstand you?

My statements are often misunderstood; I say something but people take it out of context. Many of my edited videos and speeches are out there for public viewing. People would morph my face onto someone else’s body and leak fake videos. I just condemn it all.

Why did you decide to make a comeback with Saqib Malik’s debut film Baaji?

I had planned to leave this industry permanently. I wouldn’t have made a comeback without Saqib Malik and his team. They wanted me to stand firm with the industry and that reason alone convinced me to take up the role.

What are your thoughts on the Pakistani film industry?

We don’t make films in Pakistan. We recycle television and theater scripts for the big screen. Film is the largest medium and that needs proper understanding. Why are Hollywood and Bollywood such stable industries and not us? Why is the term, ‘revival of cinema’ widely used here and not there? Because they can comprehend filmmaking and its principles. The stars of television appear best on the small screen, and film actors are most compatible with the silver screen. I believe Saqib Malik is a perfectionist and a sincere filmmaker, just like Mahesh Butt, Yash Chopra, Asim Raza and Nadeem Baig. Saqib, Asim and Nadeem are the three Pakistani directors, who in my opinion, know what filmmaking is all about.

Do you think it’s the responsibility of directors, producers and senior actors to introduce new faces on screen?

Definitely — it’s our responsibility to help young talent get visibility. I support new faces and would like to learn more from them,  while also teaching them all that I’ve learnt over the years. Talent is overlooked in Pakistan and people are given preference because of their personal relationships with others. Our film industry is in dire need of reform because of unprofessionalism and behind-the-scenes tussles. It’s necessary to hold people accountable for their actions, so those who genuinely deserve a chance can come through with their acting ability.

One thing you wish to clarify about yourself.

You will always see me with a paper and pencil. I’m a good learner and like to engage in discussions.

A word of advice for film industry aspirants?

You can’t make a good film with arrogance. Demonstrate stardom in your work, be punctual and stay committed. Forget about earning a single penny for two years while working on a quality project. Our industry requires restructuring and we can achieve that if we protect our producers’ investments. Our celebrities refuse to promote their films internationally because they charge a hefty price. A good film is like an open book. You get to learn from it. If you’re a true Pakistani, you will visit the nearest cinema and watch Baaji. Otherwise, I won’t consider you one.

How do you want to be remembered?

Through my work. I don’t want to be remembered as a materialistic person. I hope to continue living my life with purpose, not as the old Meera. I got the chance to reinvent myself and strengthen my thought process with immense support from Saqib and my friends.


“Our generation has not seen the best of her yet and this fact has caught me by surprise too” — Amna Ilyas on Meera

Three words to describe yourself. 

Humble, talented and confident.

What compelled you to be a part of Baaji?

Initially, I was only supposed to appear in the song Gangster Guriya. Saqib Malik called me one day out of nowhere and asked, “Amna, will you be a part of the cast?” I was already aware of the film’s plot because of my involvment in the project and couldn’t say no. I was very shocked, yet excited to play Neha.

Did you experience any vulnerable moment(s) during the film shoot considering Baaji’s serious themes?

There are many points in the movie where my character, Neha, breaks down completely. One particular moment when Shameera  dismisses and pushes her away for no reason made me feel vulnerable because of my own past.

A valuable lesson you’ve learned from Meera?

When on set, Meera completely forgets about her personal life and just focuses on her work. I really admire that about her.

The trailer shows a power struggle — the quest to outdo someone else. Does the theme resonate with our film industry?

Of course — a new face replaces an old one. It happens. A person out of sight is out of mind. It’s the sad truth about any industry for that matter. Experienced actors, who devote decades of service to this profession are easily forgotten, if they dare to take a break. Why is it a requirement for senior actors to prove themselves from scratch? It’s just unfair.

How would you sum up your co-stars Osman Khalid Butt and Meera in a few words?

Osman: Very professional.

Meera: Brilliant actress. Our generation has not seen the best of her yet and this fact has caught me by surprise too.

What’s your take on the fashion world?

It’s cutthroat; a different universe from television and film. When I was new to modelling, I felt people treated me poorly, more like a mannequin. After transitioning to acting, I’ve realised the sad reality that models are not revered.

Was performing arts a more conducive work environment for you as compared to modelling?

Performing arts has its own challenges, but yes, I feel more comfortable in the film world.


“We’re a very forgetful nation, unfortunately. Our old stars fade into oblivion and we fail to recall why they’ve won national awards”
— Osman Khalid Butt

Describe Baaji’s premise.

The film is set on the backdrop of a dying traditional Lollywood, with the new wave of Pakistani cinema and a fading superstar caught at the crossroads.

Does the story have any realistic bearing on Pakistan’s entertainment industry?

For sure. It’s one of those art imitating life situations. The lines between reel life and real life are blurred. We belong to a patriarchal society, where artists are not regarded for their work. We don’t believe in creating idols. There’s a stark difference between how we treat our artists and how Indians glorify their own. We’re a very forgetful nation, unfortunately. Our old stars fade into oblivion and we fail to recall why they’ve won national awards.

What do you want us to learn from this project?

To respect stars, especially those who have done good work. The film addresses ageism and sexism. As prevalent as these issues are in our society, one hopes that our thinking changes.

Acting is considered an unstable profession. Is it important to keep a backup career plan before you step into this industry?

That’s a very interesting question. If you’re going into this industry thinking you would have a backup career plan, you will never succeed. Show business demands all of you. Your passion becomes your work. There’s no point being in this profession, or any other, if you’re not willing to invest your heart and soul in it.


“Each character is relevant to the premise. It never came to the point of asking, who’s the lead actor?” — Mohsin Abbas Haider

Everyone in the film has a different story to share. What’s yours?

My character, Aji, is an ambitious young man with big dreams. However, when a girl, Neha (played by Amna Ilyas) comes into his life, his priorities change.  Neha’s drive sets Aji on a different path, as he tries to match up to her. The project essays his journey to achieve his goals while pursuing her.


What struck you the most about this project?

Saqib Malik — he had planned to cast me in his film years ago. Secondly, the story was intriguing. It’s not your typical movie with one main lead. Each character is relevant to the premise. It never came to the point of asking, who’s the lead actor? Who else is in the movie? Once we read the script, we realised everyone had an equal part to play.

Have your personal experiences helped you play on-screen characters even better?

Yes — I acted in the drama serial Meri Guriya for my daughter. I could relate to the script because I know how hard it is to lose someone so dear to you.

“If you’re a true Pakistani, you will visit the nearest cinema and watch Baaji. Otherwise, I won’t consider you one” — Meera

Photography by Tapu Javeri
Styling by Anila Murtaza
Makeup & Hair by Depilex

Describe yourself in three words.

Actor, producer and optimist.

When did you start acting?

I started roughly ten years ago while I was in college. I fell in love with the craft and knew this was what I wanted to pursue.

How was your experience with your first film?

Absolutely amazing. I loved every moment of it.

You have a background in theatre, but now that you’ve moved onto films and television, has the transition been difficult?

It’s different, can’t say harder or easier, just different.

Do you intend to make time for theatre alongside films and television?

Yes, I do intend to. Theatre was my first love and my introduction to acting, so I don’t think I’ll ever leave it entirely.

How do you spend your spare time?

I try to spend it with friends and family, as I really am a people’s person.

You were recently nominated at the Lux Style Awards for Dar si Jati hai Sila. How do you feel about that?

Surprised and humbled.

Who is your favourite co-star?

Ali Junejo, Nazar ul-Hasan, Mohammad Ahmed, Nauman Ejaz … the list will go on. I respect all my peers and continue to learn immensely from all of them.

Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?

Hopefully, as someone who plays an important part in the growth of the entertainment industry.

What one piece of advice would you give aspiring actors?

Work hard. If no one takes you seriously, prove to them that they’re making a huge mistake.

Interview: Sana Zehra

Wardrobe: Deepak & Fahad

Location: Esquires Pakistan

Shoes: TSM & Co

Photographer: Fahad Rajper

Multi-talented star Amna Ilyas had been one of the most prominent faces in the Pakistani fashion world before transitioning towards the silver screen. Sana Zehra sits down to have a candid conversation with this model-turned-actress on her journey thus far

“Stereotyping models as non-actors is a fallacy. Of course they can act and anyone who claims otherwise has been proven wrong globally”

There’s a common misconception that models don’t make good actors. Did you feel any pressure trying to prove your craft?

Stereotyping models as non-actors is a fallacy. Of course they can act and anyone who claims otherwise has been proven wrong globally. Acting is a skill anyone can acquire. You just need to be passionate and dedicated to the craft.

When I first transitioned into acting, I don’t believe I was good at all, but I remained committed to my job and started exploring the layers my characters had. I started picking up more work and gave each performance my all. I learn new things every day and feel my understanding of drama improve.

How do you think your modelling career prepared you for films?

Changing multiple looks every day means being in different character each time. From eastern wear to western wear and from wearing tons of makeup to being barefaced, I did it all as a model. This routine taught me how to build a character visually; just a slight change of lip colour can make a huge difference on camera. Modelling also taught me how to face the lens, a long with other aspects of direction.

The trailer for your movie “Ready Steady No” is out. How would you say it’s different from typical rom-coms?

“Ready Steady No” is a comedy and it’s very easy for people to label lighthearted content as cliché. We’ve tried to keep our performances as close to reality as possible. Having said that, the audience is the best judge, so I’ll let them decide for themselves.

“Working with Meera was like a dream”

Another upcoming movie of yours, “Baaji,” has fans excited. Tell us more about your role and your experience working with Meera.

“Baaji” revolves around a girl who works at a beauty salon. Just like every other working woman, she has many dreams and aspirations. She wants to provide a life of comfort for her family and grabs every opportunity that comes her way to fulfill that goal. The big turn in her life comes when she meets a popular star called Shamira. To see how their relationship evolves, you’ll have to see the film.

Working with Meera was like a dream. Sharing screen space with a senior artist like her, who has done over 200 films has to be a great learning experience. She’s truly an icon.

When choosing scripts, are you mindful of the impact your character may have on the audience?

I don’t necessarily choose to play a character based on what the audience may think of it. My priority is assessing what I can bring to the table and whether or not I can leave people with some sort of awareness.

In 2015, you lifted the Lux Style Awards trophy for Best Female Model, with an acceptance speech on the lack of inclusivity in the fashion industry. Do you think things have changed since then?

Conversations on inclusivity are definitely gaining momentum on social media, so I’d say there’s been improvement since then. However, there’s still a long way to go.

“My priority is assessing what I can bring to the table and whether or not I can leave people with some sort of awareness”

What is Amna Ilyas like at home? Tell us about your childhood and family.

I’m super chilled out. At home, you’ll always find me in my pajamas, with a cup of coffee in my hand, spending time with family, or catching up on a good show.

I’m the youngest of five siblings. As a child, I remember being shy and liked keeping to myself most of the time. The one person who enriched my childhood with her unconditional love and support was my mother. She taught me the importance of hard work and faith. I truly believe that’s what’s kept me going throughout my career.

“Growing up, I had a very clear vision for my life and it always revolved around the arts”

Your sisters Uzma and Salma were both successful models. Did growing up in their shadow leave you intrigued by the media?

Growing up, I had a very clear vision for my life and it always revolved around the arts. I’m grateful for having my sisters as inspiring role models. They influenced my decision to foray into the industry and excel at what I do.

What does the future hold for you?

Hopefully many fruitful ventures for my career. I pray the coming years are kind to those I love and they remain happy and healthy. I can’t be certain of where life will take me, but I sure hope the journey is exciting.


Film screens or fashion runways?

Film screens

Biggest pet peeve?


What should every woman do at least once in her life?

Take a solo trip to an exotic land she hasn’t explored before

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

“Keep quiet and speak only when it matters”

Favourite Pakistani celebs to follow on Instagram?

Mehwish Hayat and Mahira Khan

What irks you most about social media?

How time consuming and addictive it is

What are the last three items on your credit card statement?

A few things from the grocery store

What was the last photo you took?

It was a shot of my salad

What’s the biggest fashion faux pas you’ve committed?

This is quite embarrassing, but I tripped on the red carpet recently. I hope nobody noticed

Who would be on your guest list for an ideal dinner party?

Drake, Rihanna and Meena Kumari

What was the last lie you told?

I told my sister I returned home at 9PM, when in reality, it was much later

One habit you have that annoys your family?

The fact that I don’t make it to family affairs because of my hectic schedule

Do you have a nickname?


What one thing would you like to change about the entertainment industry?

Favouring light skin over dark skin

What’s your favorite movie quote?

“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

Interview: Sana Zehra
Coordination: Umer Mushtaq
Styling: Aneela Murtaza
Hair & makeup: N-Pro
Wardrobe: Deepak Perwani
Photography: The Rohail
PR: Catalyst & Mindmap Communications

Ace fashion stylist EhtEsham Ansari styles Mishaal Khan, a world affairs enthusiast, human rights & environmental sustainability activist and budding photographer, in a summer staple every woman should own — flared pants


“the three looks are youthful and minimalist with a touch of extravagance. Keeping the scorching heat in mind, I chose weather-friendly colours and fabrics. These outfits are perfect for a weekend brunch”

M U S E : M I S H A A L A F Z A L
H A I R & M A K E U P : A R O O J @ S T U D I O Z S A L O N & S P A
S T Y L I S T : E H T E S H A M A N S A R I
W A R D R O B E : Q U I Z P A K I S T A N
J E W E L L E R Y : A L I J A V E R I
C O O R D I N A T I O N : S A N A Z E H R A
P H O T O G R A P H Y : A R S A L A N B I L G R A M I @ A . B I L G R A M I S T U D I O

Model-turned-actress Zubab Rana has garnered acclaim for her role in the recently concluded drama serial “Bandish.” Haider Rifaat sat down with her to know more about the rising star

What drew you to acting?

I knew I wanted to act since I was a child. The way actors are able to portray different characters and bring them to life has always fascinated me.


Tell us about your role in Bandish.

I played the character of an innocent bride-to-be, who happens to be a victim of black magic.

Are you open to experimentation with roles? 

Of course, I would like to play versatile characters. I feel doing justice to a challenging role is any actor’s biggest achievement.

Will you consider signing a film anytime soon? 

Definitely! If the right script comes along, I’d be game.

Who has been the biggest influenc in your life?

My father. The values he’s instilled in me and the way he’s lived his life continue to inspire me daily.

Do you think a career in acting makes it difficult to spend time with your loved ones?

I can’t speak for my colleagues, but I make sure I take enough time out for those who matter.

How do you stay fit?

I strongly believe a healthy body ensures a healthy mind. I don’t necessarily follow a set diet plan, but I try to make healthy choices whenever I can.

Define beauty.

I don’t think there is anything more beautiful than confidence. A confident person wins half the battle before even drawing his sword.

What makes you smile and what scares you the most? 

My mother’s happiness makes me smile. What I fear most on the other hand, are my loved ones going through adversity.

Your thoughts on marriage? 

I’m open to the idea of marriage, when the time is right, with the right man.

What brings you the most satisfaction?

I’m a very family oriented person. Whenever my family is happy and content, I’m satisfied.

What’s the best advice you’ve received?

“Just have faith in God.” It has always helped me.

“The way actors are able to portray different characters and bring them to life has always fascinated me”

What’s on your bookshelf?

I’m not much of a reader. All I ever read are the scripts I receive.

What’s on your to-do list for the coming months?

I’m planning to travel and Europe is most definitely on the list.

Your greatest indulgence?

Freud said, “To be happy, all one needs is love and work” and I would define that as my indulgence.

If you could, what one piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

I wish I had understood the importance of self-worth. Therefore, I’d advise my younger self to be proud of who she is and to stay true to her beliefs.

Versatile actress Sarwat Gilani has become a household name through her powerful performances and advocacy for special needs children.Mehek Raza Rizvi sits down for a candid chat to know more about her work and life at home

Your movie, JPNA 2, was the first Pakistani blockbuster to cross the Rs 70 crore milestone. How does it feel to be part of the industry at a time that may be written down in history as its most transformative phase? 

Yes. Commercial cinema is the need of the hour, most certainly the safer bet, while independent cinema is slowly but surely catching up. In order to elevate our craft the pioneers of the industry must collectively open an institution to educate newcomers about film. It’s important to invest in and groom our talent, so they carry the torch forward. We’re witnessing the re-birth of Pakistani cinema and I’m extremely lucky to be part of this transformation.

With the conversation on gender equality and feminism on the rise, how important is it for female actors to choose their roles carefully and avoid playing the damsel in distress?

Most of our drama serials are about weak women who eventually turn into strong ones. So one could say there’s a kind of feminism involved, but obviously a little twisted since it’s drama. However, I believe as actors we shouldn’t judge the characters given to us.

We’re witnessing the re-birth of Pakistani cinema and I’m extremely lucky to be part of this transformation

As a woman, have you experienced any inherent prejudices in your line of work?

Every profession has its prejudices, but since the entertainment industry is at the forefront it’s very easy for people to create preconceived notions about those who are part of it. It used to bother me initially but eventually I realised it was only a reflection of a limited mindset. I remember a girl walking up to me while I was performing Umrah to ask why I was there and who looked after my children when I was at work. It’s very sad when women pull other women down because of their own insecurities.

Out of all the memorable performances to your credit, which one character portrayed by you remains the closest to your heart? Why? 

Linta from “Khasara” because it portrayed a strong woman who stood against the odds. She faced difficulties with grace and strength, which is an admirable quality. I enjoyed embodying her character as there were various dimensions to it.

We hear you may be producing a film soon. Is that true? 

Yes, it’s a secret right now, but when I’m ready I’ll talk about it.

You were recently awarded for your tireless efforts to promote Special Olympics Pakistan. Tell us about your work for the organisation and why it’s close to your heart. 

Being part of the SOP family has been an honour. I’ve witnessed these beautiful individuals transform from children with special needs into power house athletes, owning and embracing their differences. The rewards weren’t just restricted to medals, but also translated into every aspect of their lives, enabling them to realise their own potential. Belonging to the media, I had the advantage of reaching out to the entire nation for this noble cause.

What’s the secret to a happy relationship with your partner, especially when both of you have demanding careers?

More than anything else you need to accept that your partner’s an individual first and then your spouse. To be in a healthy and happy relationship it’s essential to appreciate and encourage each other. What I love most about Fahad is that he listens to my wildest ideas and gives me genuine advice. On the other hand, if something is troubling him I sit down and try to resolve it for him. This makes us realise that we’re both involved and interested in each other’s lives. Also, I feel it’s crucial to keep reinventing yourself in order to keep the fire burning, especially when you both are working individuals and barely get time to spend with each other. My mantra is: be a friend before a lover, a lover before a companion and a companion before a spouse.

As a working mother yourself, what would your advice be to women struggling to strike the work-life balance? 

Mothers are superheroes — they’re multitasking all the time. I manage my kids and work by being super organised with everything. For example, I have a set weekly menu for them so no time is wasted on thinking what to cook every day or what groceries to buy.

I’ve witnessed these beautiful individuals transform from children with special needs into power house athletes, owning and embracing their differences

It’s important to keep certain days of the week free for family and have one activity that you do with them everyday. It could be a quick game or reading to them, either while dropping them to school or putting them to bed. These are the things they will remember most when they grow up.

In the world of social media, the ruthlessness of trolls is something all public figures are subjected to. How do you respond to them? 

Everyday I get numerous comments and sometimes they can be very hurtful. Since there’s no limit to what anyone can write on social media, it’s up to us how seriously we take it.

At the end of the day I realise they come from people who see me as public property, so I remind myself to not give them undue attention. Whether it’s me jumping from the sky, smoking, wearing unconventional clothes or climbing K2, the trolls will always have a comment that comes from an unexposed mentality.

My mantra is: be a friend before a lover, a lover before a companion and a companion before a spouse

What is Sarwat Gilani like at home?

I like everything clean and in order. I’m often found organising mine and the kids’ wardrobes, the pantry or the kitchen. I love gardening, so I manage my plants with the gardener as well. He thinks I treat my plants as my own children and that’s actually kind of true.

I’m very chilled out with close family and friends and enjoy entertaining at home.


Theater, film or TV? 

Film and now web-series

Three changes motherhood brought in you?


Empathy for special needs children


Your guilty pleasure?

Watching ‘Sex and the City’ every chance I get

One thing you would want to change about the entertainment industry in Pakistan?

Unhealthy competition

Alternate career choice? 

Interior designer

Favourite ‘90s jam?

“Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve

What was the last photo you took?

Of my sons playing in the sand

Your personal style in three words?




Last impulsive buy?

Shoes for the kids in Poland

Most prized possession?

My father’s antique watches

What was the last lie you told?

“The dessert was great”

Do you have a nickname?


A decision you regret?

Not a single one

Favourite movie quote?

“Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t look around once in a while you’re going to miss it.” From “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”


Photography, hair & makeup:

Akif Ilyas


Soraya B, Nitya Bajaj & Vesimi

Styling & Coordination:

Ella Hussain — Emergency Room 19

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.


A lot goes into making a house a home. Daniya Q, mother of two and founder of Elite Fashion, worked painstakingly with architect Salman Jawed of Coalesce Design Studio to construct a space that’s contemporary, functional and innovative in its design. Sana Zehra finds out more

Was there a specific theme you had in mind while designing your house?
I always thought about having a home with a contemporary feel. Being able to have a space that’s simple and comfortable for my family was the idea behind our house.

Who was the architect and who did the interior?
Salman Jawed was our architect. Our discussions with him ensured us that he would deliver a masterpiece. Each and every area was taken under consideration, including minute details such as privacy for the family if someone is entertaining guests. The interior was done by Samia Khan.

What part about setting up your space did you enjoy the most?
I loved doing the basement. Having a complete view of trees was important to me and something I’ve enjoyed creating thoroughly.

What’s the best compliment your house has received?
Most compliments centre around how spacious and well-lit our house is and in spite of an open plan construction, the place has complete privacy. This last bit was definitely a challenge.

Which room in your house do you spend the most time in and why?
The ground floor around the kitchen area is where most of my time is spent. This area is the heart of the house and is easily accessible.

How often do you entertain?
Every now and then. We’ve hosted multiple brunches, lunches and dinners.

Describe a perfect day in your house?
A perfect day is spent watching my girls dance around the house.

What do you think makes a happy home?
Everyone in the family having their own space and enjoying it would make any home happy.

You have a lot of bright rugs in every room. Do you enjoy collecting them?
Yes. The house has lots of natural light and I knew bright rugs would add character and give a more curated feel.

Photography: Ahmed Shajee


Kamiar Rokni is one of those few coveted designers who can do no wrong.  His new collection, titled Moonrise, has women swooning over the outfits. Mehek Raza Rizvi talks to him and Eman Suleman — the face of the campaign featured in our pages — about fashion, business and diversity

Why did you choose to become a fashion designer and how has The House of Kamiar Rokni aesthetic evolved over the years?

I find that question hard to answer because I feel this profession chose me and not the other way round. I was a very artsy child who was always interested in creating things. I had an early eye for clothing so my mother and aunts would ask my opinion about the colours and prints they should wear. As a result, I found the one thing I’ve remained focused on for two decades: designing clothes.

My aesthetic has been quite defined from the beginning, but yes, it’s certainly evolved. I started off as a young and funky designer who was intrepid and high-spirited but over the years that aesthetic has become more serious, yet retains a certain boldness.

What has stayed with me from the very beginning is the use of colour. I’ve always been very comfortable with putting together colour combinations that are beautiful but unexpected. An element of surprise is always important in design and over the years I’ve grown to appreciate that more and more. I also believe my sense of quality and refinement has improved with time. I’ve learnt a lot from our local artisans, so my embroideries have become a lot better.

I’ve definitely grown as a designer but it’s mostly been the honing of an aesthetic. I’ve learnt how to mix different mediums together and create harmony in design, but essentially I’m the same creative mind who loves different cultures, history and nature.

Does being a creative person mean you ever struggle with the business aspect of your work?

Being creative and being good at business don’t necessarily go hand in hand. I think it’s definitely something I’ve had to learn and pick up over the years. I haven’t been the most astute businessman but you live, you learn and you grow. After spending so many years in the industry, I’ve finally come to rely on myself in this aspect as well. Age and experience teach you a lot.

What’s the inspiration behind Moonrise? Tell us about the collection.

Moonrise is very close to my heart because in my twenty years in fashion, this is the first collection my team and I have put together entirely on our own. I have a collaborative spirit and have enjoyed teaming up in terms of design from the beginning of my career, but it was a differet experience doing everything myself. The collection itself is represented by the moon, which is a feminine symbol. It’s an exploration of the different aspects of femininity, the Pakistani woman and how she expresses herself. Our country’s modern age woman is contemporary and relevant but also respectful of tradition. My slogan for Moonrise is “brace your inner rock star as well as your inner princess.”

I tried to put myself in the headspace of the girl of today and create what she wants to wear. The idea was to provide multiple options suitable for anywhere in the world and for any wedding affair. Also, like every collection of mine, art, culture and imagination were elements I put together into the garments, bearing in mind what I want to say about shape, form, silhouette and also embellishment.

How does your muse, Eman Suleman, personify the vision behind Moonrise?

Muse is a word that gets thrown around a lot. While Eman definitely personifies the current Pakistani woman and is very inspirational to me, I’d like to clarify that my all-time muse has always been my childhood best friend, Maleeha Naipaul.

In some ways Eman reminds me of her. She has this ethereal beauty and always looks like there’s something going on inside her head or that she lives in a world of her own, which I really like. She’s very professional and gets into character extremely quickly as a model. That just worked well with Moonrise.

We did two shoots for Moonrise, one which you see in this feature by Umar Nadeem and Azka Shahid (the duo photographer and stylist who are extremely young and talented) and the other at my beautiful family home in Bahawalpur, featuring Farwa Kazmi, Rubab Ali, Maham Ali and Eman Suleman.

I love working with new people but over the years, everybody from Noor Bhatti, to Aaminah Haq, Tanya Shafi Khan and Vaneeza Ahmad have become friends and muses. I generally enjoy the company of women — they inspire me. However, Maleeha Naipaul, my grandmothers, my mother, my aunts and friends, Sanam Taseer, Juggan Kazim, Meherbano Sethi and Zara Peerzada have influenced me the most with their beauty and grace.

The word ‘muse’ has been misused in fashion. How do you respond to the belief that its excessive use objectifies women?

Yes, muse is indeed a tricky word but essentially a muse is a conduit. It’s someone you look at from afar and get inspired by or somebody who is a collaborator — who you can talk to, work with and bounce ideas off. As I mentioned earlier, Maleeha embodies both those things for me. She acts like a sounding board. In fact, I often ask all my female friends if they would wear a certain garment I’ve made. If yes, where and how would they wear it?

I don’t know whether or not it’s sexist to have a muse. We live in a very charged climate where everything can be politicised. Social correctness has become a little extreme. As far I’m concerned I love, respect and admire all women.

“Moonrise is very close to my heart because in my twenty years in fashion, this is the first collection My Team and I Have put together entirely on our own”



How do you react to fashion being called frivolous, wasteful or indulgent?

I think it’s very silly to call a multi-billion dollar industry frivolous. It just shows a limited mindset.

Three skills one needs to survive in fashion?

A thick skin, talent and a certain amount of flamboyance

Your favourite design created by you so far?

It’s like having a favourite child; everyone has one but you never say which one it is.

Favourite models from the current lot?

I love the influx of new models. Rubab Ali, Farwa Kazmi, Mushk Kaleem, Roshanay, Eman Suleman and Zara Peerzada

A veteran model you wish made a comeback?

I would love to see so many of my old friends make a comeback on the ramp: Aaminah Haq, Tanya Shafi  Khan, Iraj Manzoor and ZQ—the models of that time were just incredible, it was when I was growing up and had just begun my journey in fashion. I have very fond memories from those days.

Worst experience with a client?

Some people can be quite rude but when people are getting married it’s a stressful time. I always try staying calm.

Apart from yourself, which Pakistani designers do you think are doing admirable work?

I’m a huge fan of Faiza Samee, Nilofer Shahid, Bunto Kazmi, Maheen Khan and Rizwan Beyg.  They’re pioneers who paved the way and created a space that we now embody. From the younger lot, I admire the work of Misha Lakhani, Sania Maskatiya, Mahgul, Khaadi, Noorjehan Bilgrami, Hussain Rehar and Feeha Jamshed.

A line from a movie that best describes you?

There’s a movie called All That Jazz in which the main protagonist wakes up every day, looks in the mirror and says, “It’s show time folks!” That’s my attitude towards life too.

Alternate career choice?

A writer, director or actor

Describe the Pakistani fashion fraternity in three words

Like any family—some people get along, some can’t stand each other, some fight, some make-up and some break-up. That is our fashion fraternity, just like any other family.


Why did you choose to become a fashion model and how has your understanding of the fashion world altered over the course of your career so far?

It wasn’t really a choice, it just happened. I continued for many reasons; it pays well, you get to explore places you wouldn’t have otherwise and you get to meet talented and interesting people. It can be exhausting too, all of it. Modelling is hard work, requires a lot of time, sweat and sometimes, even tears. I never could’ve imagined it being so laborious.

“I think the fashion fraternity needs to start being more inclusive of genders and body type. We need to deviate from the conventional standards of beauty”

You’re not one to shy away from social issues most people are afraid to address and that always leaves room for backlash. I’ve always wondered where the fearlessness comes from.

I don’t understand why these topics (oppressed genders, harassment etc.) are always labelled as controversial. They’re not. They shouldn’t be. And I’m not fearless, the fear is always there. I think ten times before I post something that might generate online abuse. In the end, I’d rather speak up than remain complicit.

You recently gave up your nomination for the Lux Style Awards. Does declining an accolade from such a prestigious platform not worry you that you may lose support?

Possibly, but it’s all right. I can either remain complicit, or lose support and I choose the latter.

How do you personify the vision behind Kamiar Rokni’s new collection Moonrise?

I think this answer has to come from people who planned and envisioned this shoot, Umar Nadeem and Azka Shahid. My two favourite people to work within the industry.

Tell us about your relationship with Kamiar Rokni and why you enjoy working with him.

Kamiar and I have worked on two projects thus far. He’s one of the finest designers Pakistan has produced. I truly believe that he’s incapable of disappointing and one can see the hard work that is invested in his designs. Pictures have become so deceiving nowadays, but I feel that pictures don’t do justice to Kamiar’s creations. Not only that, he himself is a professional and a very pleasant man.


How do you react to fashion being called frivolous, wasteful or indulgent?

The textile industry is one of the biggest and most successful in Pakistan, so it’s none of the things mentioned above. However, I do feel fashion brands can take an initiative to be more ethical, but that seems like a long shot.

Three skills one needs to survive in fashion?

Very honestly, self-control in many regards is very important. As a model your body language counts for a lot.  It’s not just about your face, and creativity, you need to have an ability to move, which is quite lacking in Pakistan’s fashion fraternity.

Your favourite campaign so far?

Shaadi wala ghar shot by Umar Nadeem for Zara Shahjahan.

A veteran model you wish made a comeback?

Iraj Manzoor, of course.

Apart from Kamiar Rokni, which Pakistani designers do you think are doing admirable work?

Zara Shahjahan, Rano’s Heirlooms, Fahad Hussayn, Misha Lakhani, I can go on and on.

Do you have any mentors within the industry?

Fahad Hussayn taught me a lot and so did Zara Peerzada. Outside the industry, I have my brother, Kayhan, to keep me sane.

If you could, what would you change about your job?

I think the fashion fraternity needs to start being more inclusive of genders and body type. We need to deviate from the conventional standards of beauty. It’s starting to become boring — everyone and every campaign almost looks the same.

Describe the Pakistani fashion fraternity in three words

Exhausting, competitive and talebearing.

A line from a movie that best describes you?

I have absolutely no idea.

Alternate career choice?

A bartender.

Model Emaan Suleman
Photographer Umar Nadeem
Stylist Azka Shahid
Hair and Makeup Ayaan Khan at Nabilas

Share five fun attributes about yourself

I’m an introvert

I can be moody

I love video games

I love animals

I’m a hoarder

How did you start your career?

I started with commercials three years ago. The rest as they say, is history.

Why do you think your drama serial Kaisa Hai Naseeban has drawn so much attention?

No woman chooses a life of pain. The drama serial sheds light on an issue that is close to many Pakistani households. Since the day our first promo aired, people began sending me messages and sharing stories on social media of women with experiences similar to my character Mariam. It’s the realistic portrayal that has captivated audiences.

You’ve receieved criticism for playing a victim at a time when females are in dire need of strong, powerful roles. How do you respond to that?

The drama serial narrates Mariam’s journey. She’s a typical, middle-class Pakistani girl who involuntarily agrees to her parents’ decision of marrying her first cousin in Malaysia. To her, this marriage signifies a picture-perfect future. However, that’s not the case. Many young girls are brought up with the belief that marriages are forever and it’s incumbent upon them to always please their husbands and in-laws. It takes time for my character Mariam to fight back and find her footing. If you watch the drama serial, you would see how she manages to save herself from a horrible marriage. If that’s not showing a strong, powerful character, what is?

What intrigued you about this project?

It was a no-brainer, considering it’s a real story and sends a strong message to everyone about marital abuse. It’s wrong of parents to marry off their daughters without knowing the other family properly, especially if they’re abroad.

What’s next in store for you?

I’ve just signed a rom-com opposite Ahsan Khan.

How do you choose scripts?

I base my decision on whether the script appeals to me or not. If it excites me, I go for it and let the team know.

I only sign scripts that speak to me personally. God has been very generous with the kind of projects I’ve landed so far and how the audience has received them.

What are your thoughts on the emerging concept of web series in Pakistan?

While I haven’t signed a web series project yet, it’s a great platform to share alternative stories that the television audience is not ready for. Even our conventional drama serials have massive following online. Almost every episode of Kaisa Hai Naseeban took YouTube in Pakistan by storm and received millions of views. As actors and content creators, it’s to our benefit if we are accepting of this change.

What secret can you share about the entertainment business?

There isn’t any secret. Everything is out there.

Do you find today’s media invasive?

To a certain extent, yes. However, one needs to know where to draw the line. The media is inept to figure out everything on its own. It also depends on how much you put out on social media for people to see and talk about.

How do you approach a rough situation?

I try to forget about it, so it’s easy for me to move on.

Describe your personal style.

I enjoy sticking to the basics. Fashion needs to be personal and comfortable in my opinion.

Is marriage on the cards?

Right now my only priorities are family and work. Life’s good!


Raza Jeff


Kami Bhatti by AList Salon


A List Salon

Let’s go back to the beginning. How did you both meet?

We met ten years ago at a party and it’s been a joyride ever since. We’re best friends united by music and it’s our aim to spread love and happiness through it.

What kindled your passion for music?

Victorien: It’s a long story. I began performing and mixing music at the age of eight for my parents because they’re fond of it. Gradually, I began playing for larger audiences at private parties. It was then that I met Florent and together we hosted bigger events.

Tell us about your collaborative work.

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We’ve worked with people from Chicago, Cape Town and France and now plan to team up with Pakistani musicians. We’ve performed a transition with ten artists where we merged traditional Pakistani folk songs with house music. So far it’s been well-received.

How do you define your music?

In our DJ sets, we transition from melodic, ethnic to more powerful house music while keeping the tunes light. By the end of our performance, everyone is in full swing and our job is done.

Which music genres are you most drawn to?

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Florant: Techno, French rap and pop.

Victorien: It’s a broad variation of folk and funk. I listen to a lot of tribal music from Africa too. I feel it’s important as producers to open ourselves to a wide variety of musical genres.

What instruments do you like to play?

We engage with many musicians who play different instruments. They bring their own creative energy to the table. We really enjoy the guitar, piano and brass instruments.

Are you planning new music?

We have remixes and a few original songs that we plan to release soon. We’re also remastering and re-releasing our old track ‘Pale Sun Rose,’ a project we’re very excited about. It was the first song that got us international recognition.

How do you cope with blunders on stage?

Mistakes are a part of life and we need to learn from them. It’s less about mixing and more about the vibe we create in bringing people together. As long as the vibe is there, mistakes don’t matter.

As a duo, it must be difficult to reach a decision, especially considering you have slightly different musical inclinations. How do you reconcile?

Good question! We learn to surrender and trust each other’s judgement Worst-case scenario: we will call our manager to sort things out.

Were your families supportive of your decision to pursue this line of work?

Florent: Not initially. My family was sceptical of me playing music for a living during my early days but they’re very happy for me now.  Victorien: They were supportive of my career choice, but were concerned about me attaining success.

How do you strike a balance between work and personal life?

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We’re doing our best. Music is our passion, so for us, it doesn’t feel like work. However, we make sure to spend time with family and friends while on tour breaks.

How was your experience performing in Pakistan?

Florent: This is my first visit here, so I was excited to see how the local audience would respond to our music. Many Pakistanis are familair with us, but it was time for us to get to know Pakistan.

Victorien: We love Pakistan. I visited in November for a private event as well and everybody welcomed me with warmth and kindness. It was special.

What advice would you give to aspiring music producers?

The best advice is to always follow your heart. Being a DJ is not about simply playing or producing music. It’s managing finances, marketing and communication. If your passion is strong enough and you want to pursue music, do it. You need to be ready to take risks and remember that even if you fail, at least you tried.

What inspired you to explore online connectivity as a serious career?

I’m passionate about creating scalable positive impact and moving the needle for millions of people. The internet, through connected mobile devices, provides an ideal canvas for improving lives at scale.

“Pakistan is transforming and leap-frogging many western countries. All it needs is bold imaginations and fearless entrepreneurs who take risk and make things happen”

When I moved back to Pakistan in 2003 from Silicon Valley, I saw the tremendous potential online connectivity was about to bring as a positive disruptor. With massive investment in telecommunications infrastructure made fifteen years ago, it’s no surprise that today we have sixty million people in Pakistan with smartphones and high-speed internet access. That’s 60% of the country’s adult population. I saw the potential of internet in Pakistan when few took it seriously and thus, invested my career in it. I’m passionate about digitising key use cases to maximise scalable impact.

ROZEE has had a considerable impact on the job market. Tell us about that.

Pakistan has one of the fastest growing middle classes in the world, who are now all online. My jobs platform, ROZEE.PK, is used by over nine million Pakistanis to find jobs. Over sixty-five thousand employers post jobs and receive more than forty thousand job applications a day through this platform. ROZEE.PK has helped over one million people find jobs, which has had a ripple effect in improving the lives of people around them.

You’ve been involved in multiple other projects. Can you walk us through those?

After the State Bank of Pakistan formally launched branchless banking regulation, I saw an opportunity to financially include those who didn’t have bank accounts into the economy. This was when I co-founded Finja, which has partnered with Finca Microfinance Bank to launch SimSim, Pakistan’s first one-minute digital bank account. Through SimSim, anyone with an ID card can open a bank account in about one minute — a huge contrast from the two-week long traditional process. SimSim has over three hundred thousand customers sending money to each other with zero transaction fees.

As someone who hates carrying cash and standing in lines, I also built to digitise ticketing. EasyTickets lets you buy movie, bus and event tickets on your mobile phone. The convenience is addictive.

Looking back, how does the impact your businesses have made make you feel?

I’m proud to have helped over a million people find jobs in just a decade. Several hundred thousand others have found financial inclusion through the mobile bank accounts, so it’s been pretty rewarding. Our digital ticketing platform gives direct access to consumers allowing business models that weren’t viable previously to evolve. Pakistan is transforming and leap-frogging many western countries. All it needs is bold imaginations and fearless entrepreneurs who take risk and make things happen.

What was your childhood like?

My father worked with the United Nations while I was growing up, which gave me the opportunity to live in many different countries. I greatly value the diversity that I was exposed to. I did my middle school from Saudi Arabia and then moved back to Pakistan, where I was enrolled at the Karachi American School. My undergrad was in Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I did graduate studies at Stanford, while working at Intel in Silicon Valley.

Photography: Raza Ali

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