GT People


For fashion model Ayesha Rajput focusing on her goals is the most important thing right now. This fortnight she sits down with Mehek Raza Rizvi to talk about her career, along with serving looks for an editorial by Asad bin Javed.

What inspired you to take up modelling professionally?

I didn’t chose modelling, modelling chose me. I always wanted to become an actress-and God willing, I will be-but for now, I’m enjoying my current profession.

What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses as a model?

Being able to stay true to myself and my steadfastness are my strengths as a model. I’m not sure about the weaknesses.

Do you have a fitness and beauty regimen?

To be honest, I don’t go to the gym. I eat a lot, but don’t gain weight thanks to a fast metabolism. As for my skin, I’m very particular about drinking at least six to eight glasses of water every day, along with moisturising my skin before bed.

How would you describe your personal style?

Bold and beautiful, yet classy


What do you think about the competition in your industry, and the relationship models have with each other?

My biggest and only competition is with myself, and my relationship with other models is really good. I’m friends with all my colleagues; everyone has always been very kind to me.

What do you consider the toughest aspect of your job and how do you overcome it?

Most people think that modelling is an easy job, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many difficult aspects to modelling, but the toughest according to me is when you aren’t in a great space mentally but have to pretend you’re good in front of the camera. However, being sincere to your job helps you deal with such situations gracefully. That’s what works for me.

Where do you hope to see yourself in the next five years?

I see myself improving my craft as much as possible. I believe Allah has big plans for me.

Photography: Asad Bin Javed
Styling: Mahnoor M Ashraf
Hair & makeup: Ayan Amir

Azfar Rehman is one of the most successful actors of his generation. This fortnight he speaks to Mehek Raza Rizvi about his start in acting, exploring new avenues, choosing responsible scripts and more.

Everyone knows Azfar Rehman the celebrity, but what’re you like at home? Tell us about your childhood. 

I’m very chilled out and easy going at home. I had a very wholesome childhood and I’m fortunate to be blessed with the best parents a child could ask for. I was born in Islamabad, but we moved to Karachi soon after, and that’s where I went to school. It was a comfortable and privileged childhood, for which I give complete credit to my parents.

You’re the first in your family to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. How supportive was your family of your passion for acting? 

I’m absolutely the first in my family to pursue a career in show business. It all happened accidently; I had completed a degree in advertising and got a job at an advertising agency that was starting an entertainment channel. Eventually, I was recruited for that channel. My parents were always adamant about their children first getting a solid degree and then choosing whatever path they wanted to take. I had both a master’s and bachelor’s degree in advertising, but I always wanted to be an actor. At that time the entertainment industry was booming and a lot of private channels came into being. My parents were supportive of my decision. They don’t get to watch a lot of my work, because they’re busy with their own businesses and travel a lot, but they respect my job and appreciate my success.

How do you feel the industry has evolved since you joined it and what’s been your biggest learning so far? 

It’s evolved a lot during the past couple of years. We’ve reclaimed the stature of the best drama serials in the subcontinent. The scripts are now better. There’re so many new productions and television channels, along with an abundance of very talented writers and directors. I’m very proud of where our entertainment industry is today; the writers deserve a lot of credit for their insight and depth.

Looking back at your career, would you do anything differently? 

I’d be a little more conscious of the friends I make and be more punctual. If I were to do things differently, I’d not accept projects just to support friends, nor would I give favours to the fickle and two-faced people I’ve encountered during my career. I’d not be as sweet and a little firmer perhaps.

What would you say have been the highlights of your career so far? 

I think I’m extremely privileged and cannot thank God enough. I’ve had one of the best talk shows called “Spotlight with Azfar Rehman”, when I first started my career. From that to doing numerous drama serials and getting several award nominations, hosting one of Pakistan’s biggest reality shows, “Miss Veet Pakistan,” doing feature films like “Chhalawa” and “Punjab Nahi Jaungi” and just staying relevant for almost twelve years—there’ve been multiple highlights.

Out of all the characters you’ve played, which one do you relate to the most and why? 

I did Pakistan’s first web series for Eros called “Enaaya.” My character in that, Jimmy, along with my character, Sheheryar in “Aatish,” a drama serial that aired on HUM TV, are two roles that I can relate to most. Both were easy going and realistic.

Being a public figure comes with immense responsibility towards your audience and fans. How conscious are you of that fact while selecting scripts? 

I think I’m more conscious now than I was earlier. I’ve started leaning more towards scripts with a social message. For example, these days I’m doing a drama serial called “Aakhir Kab Tak,” which creates social awareness regarding predators and harassers and how to report harassment. I do believe, though, that if you’re working on a project that provides comic relief or some sort of entertainment to your audience, that too is a social service. We’re living in stressful times; there’s so much depression because of the pandemic as it is and that’s made worse by constant bad news in the headlines. We all deserve some respite through entertainment.

In our interview with Ayesha Omar she mentioned how her road accident changed her as a person. You were in that accident with her. Did it change your outlook towards life in any way? 

It changed my outlook on life completely. The accident was like an awakening for me, a knock on the door. You know how they say a close encounter with death brings you closer to God? That’s true. I feel I’m a lot more religious now. I also work on being a better, more considerate and humble human being every day.

As of now, you have four drama serials airing on different TV channels. How does that leave behind any time for family or for yourself?

I believe I’m great with managing my time. I make it a point to take out time for family, which is why I don’t work on weekends, unless there’s something very important. I take annual vacations with my family, but people don’t get to see that on social media because I like to keep it private.

Do you think it’s important for actors these days to explore the web and other avenues apart from traditional television?

Regardless of which field you’re in—whether you’re an actor, model, director, or even a journalist—it’s always great to explore different avenues. You should be open to expanding, growing and improving your craft. The web gives you more room to experiment with projects, characters and voicing social issues, so making use of that platform is beneficial for all.

Photography: Yasser Sadiq Grooming: Sajid’s

The biggest misconception about skincare is that it’s to do with appearing fairer. Nothing can be further from the truth. Skincare deals with nourishing and protecting our existing skin tone from changing weather conditions. To shed more light on the issue, Haider Rifaat got in touch with dermatologist Dr Maleeha Jawaid for an insightful conversation about redefining beauty standards, switching to summer skincare and her new role as Pakistan’s official representative of the L’Oréal Paris Skin Expert MENA Dermatology Board


Maleeha, please introduce yourself to our readers.

I am a full-time doctor and a part-time blogger. I practice clinical and aesthetic dermatology in Karachi at a leading private skin clinic located in the heart of DHA. My practice revolves around helping my patients via medical means along with teaching them the importance of self-love and acceptance.

On the other hand, my Instagram blog (@inyourfacebymaleeha) is me in my unfiltered, raw form with content ranging from skincare and makeup advice to smashing society standards set upon us, especially women.

How does it feel to be a part of the L’Oréal Paris Skin Expert MENA Dermatology Board representing Pakistan?

It feels fantastic! It’s such an honour to be handpicked by the L’Oréal Skin Expert team in Paris to be on the MENA Dermatology Board and to represent Pakistan. It’s been extremely overwhelming and I’m extremely grateful for all the love and support I’ve gotten over this.

What core responsibilities come with this role?

Being a part of the MENA Board for L’Oréal Paris comes with a huge responsibility of validating formulae and ingredients for products that’re about to be launched or endorsing products that’re already in the market. The recent launch of the Hyaluron Expert Hyaluronic Acid Serum involved all of us from the board to be a part of a virtual tour of the very lab that developed this product. Learning about what goes on behind the scenes helps build more confidence in the product, and most importantly, helps us impart the right kind of information that’s needed, given the fact that there’s so much misinformation on the internet.

What would the new skincare products achieve differently this time around?

L’Oréal Paris, as a brand, has always been very progressive and up to date with consumer demand. This is something I can say for sure, since I’ve been using L’Oréal products forever. In the current day and age, with very little spare time on hand, everyone wants products that’re effective and can be used easily. Launching a key skincare ingredient like hyaluronic acid in serum form is just the right thing to do. It’s easy to apply, has great results, can be used by all age groups and genders, and does not burn a hole in your pocket in doing so.

As a dermatologist, what can women and men working outdoors throughout the day do to protect themselves against sunburn living in climatic conditions where temperatures are extremely hot all year round? Guide us through the skincare process here.

This is something I repeat so often in my clinic to all my patients. Skincare has to change according to the season and your geographical location. Skincare in summer is all about oil control, sun protection (this is all year round though), and keeping your skin as clean as possible, given the increase in sweat and sebum production.

Summer skincare involves gel-based products, SPF, oil blotting sheets and of course, lots and lots of water. A majority of the L’Oréal day creams contain SPF in them, which can be great for additional sun protection. Just because it’s hot, doesn’t mean your skin requires no hydration. The Hyaluron Expert Hyaluronic Acid Serum helps with this particularly as it retains moisture in the skin without making it feel too greasy or heavy.

In South Asia, appearing fairer than one’s actual skin tone is considered common practice. Light skin equates to beauty, which beauty brands shouldn’t encourage in the first place. What’re your thoughts?

This is something I come across in my clinic and my Instagram more often than I’d want it to. I’m a firm believer of self-love and acceptance and this is something I’ve been preaching through both platforms of mine. Most often, families and societal pressure push people to look for treatments that can change their skin tone, or they’ve been compared to their sibling or cousin who is fairer and that’s what they aspire to look like. Before I started working, I always thought this would be an issue for females only, but I was surprised to see how prevalent this is across genders.

Will L’Oréal Paris follow a similar footprint when it comes to embracing all skin types in their upcoming campaigns?

L’Oréal Paris is already based on inclusivity and empowerment. The products are made for use for all individuals regardless of their gender, colour, ethnicity, or age. I’m a hundred per cent sure that they’ll continue this practice in the future as well.

Hania and Kamil Chima are a dynamic sibling duo with a passion for filmmaking. Their debut film production was the critically and commercially acclaimed “Laal Kabootar”. This fortnight, Mehek Raza Rizvi speaks to them about their creative journey, their future projects and more

How did you get into filmmaking? 

Kamil: There was always a creative bug in me while growing up (I was a part of Ajoka Theater as a child actor), but I was more drawn to sports. It was upon returning from college that the opportunity to make a film and start a film company presented itself. Too naive to reject it, I kind of learnt on the job. These days my response to this question is that I’m an accidental filmmaker. That probably sums it up best.

Hania: My exposure to theatre got me interested in the art of storytelling at a young age. Although I started out as a theatre actor with Ajoka Theatre, I was drawn to working behind the scenes. I was interested in designing the story that gets told and I was interested in telling stories through a medium that can be preserved. But it all started with theatre for me.

Tell us the story behind “Laal Kabootar” and how both of you decided to start working on it together. 

It sounds haughty, but we liken the process of making “Laal Kabootar” to the parable of the ‘Ship of Theseus’ (if you keep replacing parts of a ship one by one, is it the same ship when you’ve replaced all parts?). “Laal Kabootar” was like that. We started off wanting to see what it would be like to see a boy and a girl from different strata of society interact. In trying to find an organic, real basis for such a relationship, we found ourselves making an urban crime caper.

Does the success that came with “Laal Kabootar” put pressure on you regarding future projects? 

Kamil: Initially, I did feel a lot of pressure if I’m honest. In my case it was also the first film project that I ever did. It seemed like a tall order to follow it up. Now that I look back, I find comfort in knowing that I was actually a part of a supremely talented team. And we made so many mistakes. Luckily we were humble enough to learn from them. As long as we can keep finding that humility, we should be good to go.

Hania: Yes, definitely. I felt freer to take chances before LK came out. After its success I’ve been restricting myself and my ideas. But I’m slowly trying to let that go.

What are the pros and cons of working with a sibling? 

The pros are that you really have your own blood by your side. It’s makes for a strong foundation. On the flip side it gets tough separating personal life from work. We’re still learning how to push each other, but also how to fly solo and enjoy each other’s journey’s.

How would you describe your relationship? 

Aik aur aik, gyaara (1+1=11)

Are there any projects you’re working on currently? 

Yes! We’re working on a couple of very exciting projects. One of them we have to remain a little tight-lipped about, but it’s an international collaboration. The process of working with a studio in LA has been an immense learning curve and we can’t wait to share more details when the project is further along in its development.

Are there any specific actors you wish to work with next? 

Kamil In Pakistan I think Fawad Khan is the gold standard. I’m drawn to brave choices, and his performance in “Kapoor & Sons” is one that I admire a lot. I would love to work with Mansha Pasha and Ahmed Ali Akbar again too. They became their characters, which is something you don’t see too often in Pakistan.

Congrats to both of you on your respective weddings! How has life changed? 

Kamil: We all get but one shot at life, and I’m the luckiest guy in the world that I get to spend it with someone I love.

Hania: It’s a wonderful change. I’m really enjoying this new chapter in my life and hope to live it as fully as the chapters before.

Hania, given your acting experience, can we expect to see you in a film or drama serial any time soon? 

There’s nothing on the horizon right now in terms of acting for me, so the answer is no.

What advice would you give aspiring filmmakers? 

Kamil: I’m an aspiring filmmaker myself, so please share some with me as well. I can share what I struggle with, and that’s thinking that I know it all. I have to be reminded that it’s a constant learning curve.


On her biggest career high, overcoming her weaknesses and love for fashion

What inspired you to take up modelling professionally?

I’ve always had a keen interest in fashion and loved being in front of the camera, so I’d say it all started from there. It’s also a blessing that my friends and family have always encouraged me to pursue my passion.

What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses as a model?

My strengths are my versatility, creativity, flexibility, focus and the ability to take initiative. It’s important to stand up, speak up, be bold and unafraid of judgments.

My weakness would probably be being too detail-oriented.

Biggest career high so far?

I’ve been featured in the song “O Kehndi Na Na” by Navv Inder, who previously sang the popular “Wakhra Swag”. This gave me recognition not only in Pakistan, but India as well.

Do you have a fitness and beauty regimen?

I do yoga and pilates religiously. I also like to eat healthy and stick to organic food products.

How would you describe your personal style?

Quirky and fabulous.

What do you think about the competition in your industry and the relationships models have with each other?

I’m not here to compete with anyone. The other models have their own style and I want them to shine too.

What do you consider to be the toughest aspect of your job and how do you overcome it?

The toughest job is perhaps having to shoot in the heat and the fact that you need to look glamorous at all times, regardless of how you feel. I keep reminding myself that I’m strong and I can do it; nothing can break me!

Where do you hope to see yourself in the next five years?

Come on, I can’t even see far enough into the future to know what’s for dinner tonight!

Words: Mehek Raza Rizvi | Photography: Altamash Urooj
Wardrobe: Euphoria | Makeup: Deepika Dehshta
Hair: Dani | Location Courtesy: Mahesh Tourani


This fortnight we speak to this talented young photographer about her creative journey

Tell us about your introduction to photography.

I don’t remember it in particular, but as far as I can recall, I used to take self portraits in grade 10. Then I started photographing people, since I love exploring new places and meeting new people.

Who are your biggest influences?

There are so many. But I absolutely love Natasha Zubair, because her work ethic is amazing. Apart from her, my sister has been my rock since day one and I’m quite proud of her journey as an artist; it really inspires me.

What is the creative process like when you’re preparing for a project?

A story is very important to me, so I always create an inspirational mood board and share it with my client or model and see if it matches with their vibe.

How do you balance work with your education?

As a medical student it’s kind of hard, but I try my best. Recently, I’ve had to skip some exciting projects, but I guess that’s part of life.

What’s been your favourite photograph or project so far?

A fashion shoot that I did for for Hira Ali. I love it when designers give you creative freedom and trust you with your perspective.

What equipment do you use?

I use a Nikon D750 with a 35mm lens.

How would you describe your photography style?

I love doing portraits and fashion photography. Sometimes I do wedding shoots too, but only if my clients understand my art and perspective. So, my style is mostly comprised of candid, colourful portraits with a play on light and shadow.

What’s a piece of advice you always keep in mind?

Keep going. Never give up. NEVER! And the only person you should compare yourself with is who you were yesterday. You are your biggest competition.


Fresh, young talent always has a place in our pages. In this issue, we speak to upcoming actor Bilal Dar about his auditions and trying to break into the industry

Tell our readers about your background in acting.

I had my first audition in 2017 in the US about a play on partition, which turned into my first acting gig. It was such a memorable experience and I learned so much about my history. It really solidified my interest to pursue acting professionally. I also did a few short films in the US, after which I decided to take a break from acting.

How would you compare your experience acting in the US with your experience acting in Pakistan?

Acting in the US is pretty straightforward. You have auditions which’re posted online or through casting websites for everyone to see and try out for. I saw acting roles online and went in for the auditions. Acting in Pakistan is somewhat trickier to navigate. You need to be connected to the right circles and networks to even know about the auditions. It definitely requires more networking. Acting in both countries is fun, but comes with its cultural challenges.

Where do you hope to see yourself in the next five years?

I’m moving to Los Angeles this year to pursue acting in the US. I’m excited as this has been my dream ever since I started acting. I hope in the next few years I’ll be a professional actor working with some of my favorite directors and actors there.

Which actors inspire you and why?

Leonardo DiCaprio, Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix are some of my favourite actors. They’re some of the most versatile and empathetic actors. Acting is all about empathy for the characters and their stories and these actors have delivered some of the strongest performances in my opinion.

Tell us about your upcoming short film and music video.

I’m currently working on a short film titled ‘Rukhs’ set in 1970s post-partition Pakistan. The story revolves around three characters and how they navigate love in the strict, religious society under Zia’s regime. This film has been guaranteed screening at the UK Asian Film Festival’s 23rd year (London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Leicester), the University of Cambridge, King’s College London and will be sent into multiple festivals across the globe. Khoosat films is collaborating for post-production and the film production is funded from a commission by the UK Asian Film Festival.

Photography: Ahmed Kaleem


Young entrepreneur and investor, Ali Alam Qamar is all set to revolutionise Pakistan’s construction industry with his new venture GT’s editor, Mehek Raza Rizvi, speaks to him to find out more

Tell us about your background in Pakistan’s housing construction industry and where the idea to start came from.  

Pakistan’s construction sector is the backbone of the economy and makes up a huge chunk of the GDP. My relationship with the local construction industry is deep-rooted, since we’re one of the top manufacturers of cement in the country. I’ve always been appalled by the challenges one faces when constructing a house or any other building and have been wanting to provide a solution. The biggest problem is with the procurement of construction materials due to information asymmetry in the market. People are subject to price discrimination by vendors, various quality issues and delayed deliveries, along with other issues.

The reason I started this venture is for people to overcome these multiple issues, simplify the process of constructing one’s dream house or project, empower our customers by minimising information asymmetry and set new standards in the industry by providing the most competitive prices, top quality products, fastest delivery and an exceptional customer experience.

What impact do you hope to make on your target industry through strives to digitise the housing construction industry. intends to redefine the experience of constructing your dream house or project through a hassle-free experience within your budget and in the targeted timeline. We also want to educate our customers on the entire construction process by providing purchasing guides, a cost calculator for materials, informative blog posts and a dedicated customer support team consisting of industry experts available 24/7 to respond to queries.

What are some of the key services you offer? 

Partnerships with top suppliers: has partnered with top manufacturers and dealers of construction and finishing materials to provide the best and highly cost-effective solutions for its customers. provides up to 10% off-market prices and gives 100% quality assurance guarantee.

Dedicated customer support team: has a dedicated customer support team available via its helpline (0310-22-ZAREA) to address customer queries and complaints.

Express delivery: guarantees express delivery, so you can construct your dream house or project timely.

Multiple payment options: has partnered with Bank Alfalah to provide easy and convenient payment solutions for its customers. For the first time, customers can purchase construction materials via a credit/debit card, alfa wallet and online bank transfer.

Full refund: in case of non-satisfaction of its customers, also provides a full payment refund.

Do you feel most people in Pakistan find online marketplaces reliable? 

Pakistan currently has 169 million cellular subscribers along with 85 million 3G/4G subscribers and these numbers are growing at a dramatic rate. I feel a lot of online marketplaces have manipulated their customers by not living up to their commitments; this has left a question mark on their reliability. However, Pakistanis are always on the hunt for more competitive, innovative and convenient solutions, which is why I feel it will be a survival of the fittest and we’re in for the long haul.

What’re some of the hurdles you’ve faced while establishing your startup? 

One of the biggest hurdles I’ve faced is overcoming the conflicting and negative opinions of those who don’t share the vision of a digital Pakistan and are too afraid to take risks. Another hurdle was building the right team of motivated individuals who’re willing to go the extra mile, strive for out-of-the-box solutions and ultimately take to the next level.

Where do you hope to see in the coming years? 

I hope to see as a trusted partner from the very minute a client thinks of constructing their house. In the coming years, we’ll strive for horizontal and vertical integration, and I wish to see on the forefront of spreading and manifesting the vision for a digital Pakistan.

A piece of advice you’d like to give to budding entrepreneurs afraid of taking a risk? 

I strongly believe in the potential of the Pakistani youth; we can really make a difference in the world. To budding entrepreneurs, I’d say, “Believe in yourself; accept failure as a challenge and remember, where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Actor and style star Saim Ali’s visual diary featuring some of the most memorable sights of Istanbul is giving us wanderlust and style envy, all at the same time

Taht Istanbul


Ortaköy Mosque
The Bosphorus Bridge: Keeping it classy with this combo of white tuxedo tuck-in shirt, with a loosely hanging bow tie
Saim Ali lights up Istanbul with this combination of yellow and beige
Designers: Gucci, Zara (men), H&M, Humayun Alamgir & Valentino
Photographer: Ahmet from studio Istanbul photo session
Location: Istanbul
Starring: Saim Ali


To honour Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Haider Rifaat interviewed breast cancer survivor and veteran artist Nadia Jamil about her road to recovery

Nadia, how’ve you been coping with cancer?
The National Health Service (NHS) in the U.K. is wonderful. They took most of the burden off me. Having my mum and son around has been very nice and I have a fluffy little dog who I cuddle a lot. Friends and family keep in touch and cheer me on. My social media family keeps me smiling and feeling so loved and then of course there’s my faith. Allah has carried me through this so gently and with so much love.

How has your experience with cancer and its treatment been like during the ongoing pandemic? 
Pretty normal. Kind volunteers drove me back and forth from treatments. I went and convalesced at my friend’s place in London a few times during treatments. I got really sick at times and was hospitalised, but I survived. I’m left with arthritis and diabetes, which I’m trying to deal with as positively as possible.

How did you muster the courage to motivate yourself during the initial weeks of your diagnosis? Where did you get that courage from?
I was very scared initially. My best friend was with me during the initial weeks; she gave me a lot of strength, as did my kids. Then of course, Allah sends courage to those who ask for it.

What coping strategies did you rely on to pull through this health crisis?
Prayer, meditation, mental health therapy, pet therapy and reaching out to people

What is the most important lesson that cancer has taught you?
That I don’t need anyone else. Allah shields me and I have an army inside me that can save my life.

At what point did you feel most vulnerable?
When my best friend, who was meant to be my treatment partner, left me before chemotherapy.

Who did you turn to for solace?
Allah and the NHS mental health crisis team.

How are you a different person now than who you were before?
I’m more self-sufficient and more patient. I respect pain and heartbreak; they’re my teachers and I’m not scared of being alone now.

Many people don’t normally share their journey with cancer on social media, but you have. Why did you decide to put yourself out there?
I felt alone and scared. I didn’t know how to share all these intense feelings with any one person, because they might run away. So, I shared my feelings in a space where I didn’t feel deserted. The response was overwhelming!

What role has the entertainment fraternity played at this stage of your life?

How do you view life and death?
Life’s a beautiful lesson, a wonderful journey. It’s as positive as you see it and as negative as you perceive it. Death is the one single definitive truth at the end. Death is also the beginning of another journey. Best we prepare for that in this lifetime.

What do you want the readers to take away from your experience?
You’re your greatest friend. Take care of yourself, listen to yourself and don’t think you ever need anyone else. The love of people is a bonus. It might come or go—they might come and go. But you’ll always be there for yourself, so self-partner and self-parent yourself.

How do you want people to remember you?
With a smile.

Hassan Tahir Latif speaks to the duo behind the first-of-its-kind volume on the history of Pakistani fashion, ‘Pakistan: A Fashionable History’

Saad Sarfraz Sheikh Photo by Shuaib Rana

How did the idea of archiving Pakistan’s fashion history originate?

Mehr: It was one of those disastrous mornings when everything goes wrong. I’d had a baby and had to drop my toddler off to school. Panicking over leaving the baby home, exhausted and mentally spent, I sat collapsed in my car wearing a t-shirt and tracks covered with baby dribble, formula and remnants of a hasty breakfast. Looking out I noticed a fellow mum dressed to the hilt—makeup, hair, three-piece suit—at 7am. What struck me was that she looked as miserable as I felt; I wondered: who’s telling us women to dress a certain way and setting these expectations? That triggered something in me about the fashion industry and I knew I had to find out more.

Saad: Mehr and I were always interested in collaborating on a project. I reached out to her and she mentioned that she wanted to do something on the Pakistani fashion industry. The discussion led to the idea of doing a historical book, which emphasised the formation and evolution of the industry.

Mehr F Husain Photo by Ali Agha

Tell us about the development process.

M: It started with us identifying who the ‘original’ designers of Pakistan are. We reached out to them explaining what the book was going to do i.e. document the origin of the fashion industry and its evolution and impact. The next step was collecting archives, which ultimately led us to interview make-up artists, photographers, stylists, models, fashion journalists and publishers of glossy magazines. Honestly, the Pakistani fashion industry is as indebted to them, as to the design pioneers.

S: While Mehr conducted interviews on the phone, I was lucky to tour Karachi as a musician with my band Quadrum. I’d stay back for a few days after the concerts and meet the Karachi based photographers, designers and journalists. I literally went to all the major old bookshops, hunting for old magazines and books on fashion. I was also lucky to have access to Newsline’s Karachi office, where I scanned anything related to fashion. Those rare and exclusive archives now form a major and integral part of the book.

Rizwan Beyg

Was it difficult to dig through the archives? In fact, were there any easily available archives to begin with?

M: A family member, my cousin Irfan, had sent old print ads to me and I was stunned. With his help, I managed to track down the source. The gentleman was most civil and readily shared them. He was a masterclass on archiving history and how to share them. Others such as Asif Raza, Tariq Amin and Tapu Javeri were also very generous.

S: We literally had to start from scratch, as the archives had to be found first; then I scanned and photographed them one by one from myriad sources. The entire process should’ve taken a year, but actually took three, since the research was extensive and the imagery was non-existent. Surprisingly, most of the individuals interviewed didn’t have much of their own archives. In fact, they requested me to pass on any copies that I found of their work.

Nilofer Shahid by Saad Sarfraz Sheikh

What was the reaction from the fashion fraternity when you embarked on this project?

M: They were wary and unsure; the idea that we wanted to document their industry was an alien concept. Pakistan at a national level has a culture of mistrust stemming from instability and uncertainty in the country and that meant we had to keep explaining, writing, emailing, updating and communicating at every stage and step. I kept the entire process transparent and worked really hard in building relationships with the community.

S: Despite the book being about fashion, the initial response from that fraternity was lukewarm. Many were hesitant to grant us required access, as they’d hoped to undertake a similar project on their own. This did make things difficult for us, but the fact that we have a finished book does speak volumes.

Shamaeel Ansari

What do you hope that this book achieves?

M: I hope people feel proud of Pakistan. Having being born and bred in a fashion capital (London), I don’t see fashion as just clothes—it defines culture, generations, mindsets, the economy and makes history as well. Pakistan has suffered so much, lost so much; I want people to feel inspired and to go out and own their social and cultural history in its entirety and document it all via the written word.

S: The fact that this book is the first of its kind makes it significant. I hope this is seen as a tribute to an important industry, which has defined culture since its inception. I feel there is a massive disconnect in our society, owing to the national identity crisis. We continue to battle with our actual roots and seek to adopt foreign cultures. I want this book to be an eye-opener for all those who feel that disconnect.

Sana Safinaz by Newsline archive
Nilofer Shahid

Mehr, what was the most surprising discovery during your research? Or the most memorable one?

Tariq Amin was a Studio 54 clubber, did you know?! I love retro and disco culture, so hearing that blew my mind. It rejuvenated my spirit after setbacks. I swear I heard Diana Ross speak to me during his interview.

Bodyfocus by Iman Ahmed

I believe in free speech and so coming across people like Fifi Haroon with her magazine ‘Xtra’ and Arshad Tareen of ‘Men’s Club’ was terribly exciting. Those kind of publications don’t, and perhaps can’t, exist now sadly, but the way they broke boundaries and opened up new avenues for liberation and expression was heartening to behold.

Maheen Khan
Nilofer Shahid
Nickie Nina by Ali Agha

Saad, what about you? What was the most memorable photograph you took for this project?

It was an utter pleasure to meet Tapu Javeri at his jewellery store in Karachi and photograph him. Directing Pakistan’s ace photographer for his shoot was scary and fun at the same time. I’m glad his photos turned out great and that he really liked them!

Maheen Khan
Umar Sayeed by Visage

What’s next for you both?

M: After seeing how damaged the publishing industry is in Pakistan and the immense talent that’s not finding avenues, I decided to open my own publishing house; I’ve already received submissions for publishing! I want to focus on changing the model of publishing in the country and make it more meaningful for all parties involved. Personally, I want to now cross over to fiction and also focus on my small crafts enterprise.

Kamiar Rokni

S: I’d like to continue building my own archives and author more books on history, culture and art. I have a lot of unpublished visuals, which I would like to translate into books.





Fiery singer Meesha Shafi talks to Haider Rifaat about her road to self-discovery, a grand album in the making and nepotism in Pakistan’s entertainment industry

Why did you decide to pursue a full-blown career in music as opposed to acting and modelling?

Music just came to me naturally at a very young age. I’ve been singing since I was four and kind of went with the flow, once opportunities started coming my way. I’d already been acting and modelling for some years when my music career began. Acting, singing and modelling have continued to overlap over the course of my trajectory, however my biggest passion is music. When I sing, my soul sings too.

Has COVID-19 affected Pakistan’s music industry for the better or the worse?

I know for a fact that many musicians are struggling with depression and financial stress because these challenges have put a halt to live gigs and concerts. These gigs are a major source of income for many musicians. Celebrities can still do television commercials and drama shoots, while following the standard operating procedures, but musicians are really having a hard time this year. The studio work is still ongoing, which is an indication of new songs and albums being written and recorded, both remotely and in isolation.

The culture of online music festivals has grown during a global crisis. How would’ve things been different without social media’s power to entertain mass crowds? 

We’re fortunate to be living in a digital age during a global pandemic. It would’ve been even harder otherwise. Social media and the internet at large have helped keep everyone connected with their fans and loved ones. It’s been a blessing!

Tell our readers about the Global Toronto (GT20) music festival that you recently participated in?

It’s called Global Toronto. Initially, it was going to be live but given the circumstances, it shifted online. A very hefty jury selected 20 artists based on submissions from a pool of 150 entries. Those 20 artists played their music to delegates from around the world. These delegates included directors of various international music festivals, agents, promoters, presenters and talent hunters. As the only Pakistani selected, I was very excited to represent our musical heritage with the global music industry. I’d love to see more of our culture and music being played live globally, at international festivals and on radios across the airwaves.

How do you see the current lockdown affecting artists’ creativity and craft, specifically in music? Any experiences you would like to share?

The lockdown has been a great time for ideas and creativity. Many creative people thrive during these times, because the noise and speed of the everyday grind slows down. This is a fertile time to go inwards and ask ourselves what we want to create. Put pen to paper and go back to the old drawing board, as they say. Artists are extra sensitive and when we feel a rush of emotions, we naturally express what we feel through our craft. In such a way, this lockdown will lead to more honest work, made from a deeper, more personal perspective.

Do you feel that artists in the music business today have trouble finding their own voice?

I don’t. The newer batch of artists looks extremely promising and exciting. I’ve been following and even collaborating with many younger indie artists. Reminds me of my days when I started with Overload. That creative spirit, where music was made for the sake of music, is very much still alive.

What new music can we expect from you? Any album in the making?

Yes, I’m working on a big project that involves all original work. It’s a very personal body of work with me, being my most honest and vulnerable self. It’s a multidisciplinary project; an album but more like a thesis. I’m collaborating with several artists, writers, thinkers and creative individuals and am really enjoying the process. My vision’s at a stage where it’s turning into a reality. This project has been a long-time dream of mine and I think the lockdown has really helped show me that the time for it is now.

Which music composer do you wish to collaborate with in the future?

I’ve been truly blessed to’ve worked with the best of the best in Pakistan and abroad. The only name on my wish list is A.R. Rahman.

What’s your connection with Sufism like? Is it self-healing?

I’m a deeply spiritual person. My connection with the divine has become stronger over time. It’s very essential for healing and has been my saving grace through difficult times. Staying balanced, centered and connected is our number one job. That’s how we become the best version of ourselves.

How have you evolved as a person over the years?

That is a vast question; I don’t think I can answer that so briefly. I’ve become a lot wiser and calmer as I grew from a young woman, to a mother, and now at this stage, I feel like I’m returning to my most authentic self. That was the place I wrote “Mein” from. It talks about returning to your true self. Coming full circle and shedding the opinions of others. Not leading a life so egotistically, but from our higher selves, which is an extension of our source energy.

How has motherhood changed you?

It’s changed me a lot. It’s taught me a lot about unconditional love, being a role model and how important it is to prioritise self-care. Children watch and learn. They imitate you. So it’s crucial to show them how they can stand up for themselves, respect and honor their feelings and lead their lives with dignity and kindness.

I wanted your take on nepotism. I believe it shouldn’t be brushed off as common practice in all major career fields. For an entertainment industry like Pakistan, nepotism remains widespread, leaving fresh faces, with considerable talent, on the side. What do you make of this?

I’ve seen many self-made artists follow their own path to success, so I wouldn’t say that only people with family connections make it in the industry.

Let’s talk fashion. Are you someone who follows the latest trends or sticks to her own personal style?

I’ve always followed my own instincts when it comes to fashion. I don’t follow trends. I guess that is the difference between style and fashion. I don’t consider myself fashionable, but I do have a signature way of styling myself.

Shahzad Malik, the author of Pakistan’s first English language self-help book, ‘Dare To Be You’, sits down with GT to talk about mental health, the importance of self-actualisation and his journey to becoming a self-help author

Please tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to writing this book.

I was born in Toronto, Canada, but I’ve been raised in Lahore, Pakistan and I’m a Pakistani through and through. I have a business background, but I’m passionate about music and noticing the subtleties of the world around me.

I’ve been lucky to grow up with privilege, but even despite that I found myself stuck in a loop of making sub-optimal decisions. Eventually, it came to a point during my teenage years where I was introduced to self-help books and biographies of people who had ‘made it’ like Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, and Jack Welsh. I was instantly roped in and I started seeing a common pattern of behaviour between all of them. Similarly, with the self-help books I was reading (and have been reading since), I found that each author focused on one particular aspect of self-development. There was no book that really constituted a bit of everything—a starter kit for someone who wanted to pick up a self-help book and really understand the basics of working on themselves. Looking back, I think it was the combination of the two that led to the concept behind ‘Dare to be You’. I wanted people to have a basic platform from where they can begin their journey towards self-actualisation.

Do you think Pakistan is ready to embrace the self-help genre?

Of course! There’s no question about it. We, as individuals, are programmed to focus on the negatives. We focus more on our bad experiences, ruminating about them and overthinking about what the future holds. Of course, the news doesn’t help much with it. But, we also see so many Pakistanis who go out of their way to help other people—complete strangers even. After all, it’s the people that allow us to collectively become one of the most hospitable nations in the world. Self-help involves the same principles as helping someone else; it’s just focused inward. Through the process of self-development, we’re actually able to not just achieve more ourselves, but also to lift up the people around us.

Mental health awareness is an increasingly highlighted subject. How do you think ‘Dare to be You’ will help its readers?

While I was writing my book, I was very conscious of the fact that a self-development book should never talk down to its reader. Thus, the book is written more as a conversation with a friend. It builds upon the already familiar sense of hospitality that comes so innately to all of us. Another aspect about the book is that anyone can pick it up and make sense of it. While it addresses heavy topics, the book itself is not heavy at all. Regardless of where you are in life, ‘Dare to be You’ is just the little push you need. It’s a great way to take your first step towards self-development.

How do you hope to reduce the stigma around mental health and seeking therapy in Pakistan?

I honestly don’t understand why the stigma exists in the first place. Mental health is just as important as physical health; they both go together, hand-in-hand. My hope would be that through reading the book and pondering over what the book talks about, more people will become aware that it’s completely human and natural for everyone to have ups and downs in their life. And that we all have the potential to fight through those downs to rise back up again.

If we were to summarise 3 key learnings from the book for our readers, what would they be?

It’s very hard to point out just three key learnings from the book, because it touches upon a number of topics. But if I had to, I would probably say: believing, being grateful and being more forgiving, especially towards our own selves.

‘Dare to Be’ you prides itself to be the first English self-development book in the country. How is your debut endeavour different from Qasim Ali Shah’s urdu writings on the subject in the same genre?

Qasim Ali Shah’s writings have inspired and helped a number of people, as do his talks and trainings. I think it would be unfair to compare his works with this book and vice versa. I think the hope is that all such works end up serving the reader and helping in one way or the other.

What do you hope to achieve from writing this book?

My only hope is that it helps the readers—that anyone who picks up the book finds themselves having taken the first step on their journey of self-development, and that they are able to actualise their passions and their dreams.

How difficult is it in Pakistan for a writer with little to no means and relevant network to publish a book?

There are a number of publishing houses that are now operational in Pakistan, which is a very heartening thing to see. This wasn’t the case even a couple of years ago when the book was in its early stages. Now, the internet has made it a lot easier for all of us to express ourselves and put our thoughts and ideas out there, including through publishing a book.

What is next for Shahzad Malik?

I’ve been involved with motivational speaking and talks, with a recent one that took place in Washington, about how to work in Pakistan and be an agent of change, so I enjoy doing this. People have been asking me about writing another book, but for right now I want to focus on ‘Dare to be You’ and work on its Urdu version.

Any parting advice for our readers?

Never ever stop believing in yourself. You are, without any shred of doubt, capable of much more than you let yourself believe. Never give up!

Photography: Asad bin Javed Hair, makeup & styling: Arbaqan Changezi

First fashion memory?

Observing my mother find exquisite fabrics and style unique combinations into beautiful, wearable art. I get my obsession with fashion and beauty from her. My father, too, has always been very particular about what he wears. When I look at photographs of him from his early 20s, it always feels like looking at my own reflection.

When and how did you decide to become a stylist?

Back in 2015, when I’d just done my intermediate, I decided to go to the Pakistan Institute of Fashion and Design (PIFD), fully aware I wanted to pursue a career in fashion. My degree in Fashion Marketing helped me tap into the industry, learn the technicalities and refine my skills.

Everyone feels great when they look like the best version of themselves; being able to bring a smile on people’s faces through my aesthetic motivated me.

Fashion campaigns or editorials: what do you enjoy more and how different is each process?

I enjoy both equally, but since my approach for editorials and campaigns is different, the process differs too. For commercial campaigns I try understanding the requirements of my client, the target audience and the theme of the collection. I do thorough research, which I think sets me apart—it helps to have a degree in fashion. Also, I don’t believe in putting together aesthetically pleasing looks only. I customise looks according to the model/celebrity I’m working with, because it’s important to not just highlight the product, but also make the person wearing it look good.

Photography: Asad bin Javed Hair, makeup & styling: Arbaqan Changezi

Tell us about the creative process behind putting together looks for a campaign.

It usually starts with a thorough discussion with the client, understanding what they want and what they have to offer.  This is followed by the creation of a mood board that includes references for hair, makeup and the general vibe. Once the mood board is finalised, I start handpicking accessories and discuss my ideas with the creatives I’m working with. The looks are locked in at this point, but a few extra options are kept for impromptu changes.

What’s your approach on mixing luxury brands with more affordable ones?

I personally mix and match anything that looks good. I’d happily wear a designer suit with local footwear, but it’s important to note that there are instances where this can go wrong as well. For example, I’m not a fan of people stacking designer jewelry, designer handbags and designer shades over a lawn jora—lawn literally loses its essence.

Do you ever use items from your clients’ closets?

Not really. I’d only use items from my client’s closet if particularly asked to do so. I’m not against the idea, but am usually prepared enough with my own things.

Photography: Asad bin Javed Hair, makeup & styling: Arbaqan Changezi

Describe your personal style in three words.

Laid back



Photography: Asad bin Javed Hair, makeup & styling: Arbaqan Changezi

What’s a wardrobe staple you can’t do without?

My everyday style is extremely comfy. The staples in my closet include plain, black and white t-shirts, black or blue jeans, a pair of chunky sunglasses (I like the ones that cover half my face), black trainers or sandals and a nice watch.

What would you never wear?

I work as a part-time model too, but have sworn never to wear a turban with a sherwani, even if I’m paid for it. I’m all about a well-tailored sherwani, but you’ll never see me wearing a kulla and posing as a dulha.

Styling projects for Mohsin Naveed Ranjha

If you could only wear one designer for the rest of your life, who would it be?

Locally, it has to be Hamza Bokhari.. He makes the most breathtaking clothes and I’m the biggest fan of his designs. I admire his fresh and modern take on menswear. Internationally, I loved Givenchy under Clare Waight Keller. Currently, I’m obsessed with Balmain, Vetements, Prada and Ralph Lauren.

Styling projects for Mohsin Naveed Ranjha

Which trends are you most excited about right now?

Love how silhouettes are becoming baggier. I’m not fond of fitted garments, so solid colours and lose cuts always excite me. Also, when it comes to Pakistani fashion I love that shararas and khari shalwars are making a comeback.

What is one no-fail styling trick you have? 

Less is more. Sounds unoriginal, but I always like making a big impact by doing as little as I can. Overdoing a look is very easy, I think. It’s nailing the right amount that takes effort, experience and an eye. I’m also a staunch believer in comfort over all else. Even if a look doesn’t seem aesthetically pleasing, if the person wearing it is comfortable and confident in it, it’s good enough.

Arbaqan’s work for Mohsin Naveed Ranjha as their official stylist

What are some fashion mistakes to avoid?

There are plenty, but wearing a choli the length and fit of a t-shirt and overdoing lawn outfits top my list. Also, can we please get rid of cakey makeup? Embrace the skin you’re in, drink lots of water and take care of it.

Arbaqan’s work for Mohsin Naveed Ranjha as their official stylist
Arbaqan’s work for Mohsin Naveed Ranjha as their official stylist


One of our favourite lifestyle photographers, Areesh Zubair, speaks to Mehek Raza Rizvi about his popular new “Duur se Portrait” series launched to document life in the Covid-19 lockdown and how he kept his creativity alive during this time

What inspired the “Duur Se Portrait” series?

I wanted to document people during the lockdown; it all started when a prominent photo-journalist proclaimed on his Insta live that it’s very important for photographers to document this time, as this period will be remembered in the annals of  history. I realised that we as photographers have a duty upon ourselves to archive it. My initial plan was to go out on the streets and photograph the general day-to-day life during the lockdown, however, I came across quite a few talented people that were already doing a great job of it. Hence, I thought I’d do something a bit more unique, so I came up with the idea of photographing people on their balconies. Initially I was only going to photograph my friends and family but now with time it’s morphed into something much bigger than I could’ve ever imagined.

After capturing people dressed up on their balconies, have you considered doing another series focusing on their more natural/realistic quarantine moods?

The idea behind the project was never to photograph folks who were all dressed up, I just wanted to photograph people in whatever way they were most comfortable.  Surprisingly, the series kind of gave people a reason to get up and ready for a change, especially during the early days when the lockdown was quite strict. I seldom give people a brief or reference points—I just simply ask them to come outside on their respective balconies in whichever way they’re most comfortable and from there onwards I photograph them.

In order to continue the series, o ne thing I’m certain of is that I’m looking to photograph people from more diverse backgrounds, certainly outside my friends, family and industry circles.

How do you see the creative industry altering during Covid-19?

Covid-19 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon—that’s a given. Our industry, like all others, needs to adapt to the current situation by developing SOPs and working with them. This is the best time to improvise and be as creative as possible.  We have access to some of the best technology at our fingertips; I’ve seen some brilliant shoots done via Facetime. It’s time to use our cell phone cameras more appropriately. I believe we need to make the most out of what we already have, as art created under limited circumstances is always special.

Has the current global uncertainty had an impact on your aesthetic and vision as a photographer?

Obviously! Like any other person it has had a serious impact on my work. Before this series, I didn’t really have much experience working with zoom lenses. Truth be told I don’t even have my own zoom lenses; it wasn’t exactly my style. But the lockdown compelled me to use them. For the project I borrowed the zoom lenses from my friends and colleagues. I’ll definitely be investing in my very own pair soon.

For most people, having a creative outlet is more important than ever now. We know you’ve conducted online classes in the past, so can we expect more in the future to help anyone seeking guidance free of cost?

Definitely! Having a creative outlet or any outlet for that matter is very important during these days. I did one photography workshop in the early days of the lockdown—it was free of cost. I’m always open to the idea of sharing and guiding as much as I can and now that you’ve asked I think it’s time for another workshop.

Other than that, I’m always available to offer my guidance or answer any photography related questions; my DMs are always open.

Have you discovered any other secret talents of yourself in quarantine?

That I am really bad at Ludo Star!

What’s something you’ve learnt from this crisis that you hope to keep with you long after it’s over?

That nothing can stop you from doing something that you really want. You just need to make sure that you’re doing it the correct way. The excuses we make every day are honestly speaking just lame. I just had an idea to start with—I didn’t even have the right equipment to get it off the ground. But look where it’s gotten me. I can’t complain.

We need to work together more, collaborate, help one another and find positivity in every possible situation.


Pakistani couturier Nauman Arfeen has preferred to stay away from the spotlight and always let his work speak for itself. Last year, he garnered worldwide recognition for crafting a timeless teal sherwani for Prince William during his visit to Pakistan. Haider Rifaat was in conversation with him about his thoughts on the fashion industry, dressing royalty and more

You’ve created something special with your label ‘Naushemian’ that resonates with a lot of people. To what do you attribute your success?

It’s been a blessing and the result of the boundless support I’ve received fromthose around me. I was more interested in the field of medicine, but my father wanted someone to look after ‘Hat Villa’, his millinery business. I was the youngest in my family, so my father expected me to assume this role. It was a struggle for sure, but I was able to persevere and it culiminated in the launch of ‘Naushemian’. My first fashion show, Fashion Pakistan Week, was in 2009 where I presented my collection ‘Raven’; this was a turning point in my career. The designing of shoes followed and the rest, as they say, is history.

What drew you to fashion in the first place?

There was always a gap—a missing piece in men’s fashion that needed to be addressed. When I heard that Fashion Pakistan was on the lookout for new talent, I registered for a slot. Presenting my first collection was daunting, but I credit Rizwan Beyg and Raheel Rao, as their their critique and encouragement led me to be lauded on the ramp.

I recall making turbans for almost every label in the mid and late 90s. They ranged from Aitchison College turbans to traditional Rajasthani ones, so thinking about eastern wear all the time inspired me to launch ‘Naushemian’, which essentially translates to ‘bridegroom’ in Urdu.

What is a core component of your fashion ethos?

My embroidery and craftsmanship; they make me a different designer. Men’s sherwanis are my forte, but I have also ventured into womenswear and men’s western formal wear.

Have you ever experienced a creative block? 

I don’t believe true artists face creative blocks. Creativity is innate and inspiration can be found from myriad sources. I’m inspired by nature, the world around me and the people I meet.

Why has Pakistan’s fashion fraternity not been inclusive of all shapes and sizes? 

Maybe designers find it a hassle to cater to mass crowds and designing for a range of sizes. Not everyone can think on a macro scale. For me, fashion is for the masses. I don’t understand why garments are designed for a specific size or body type. I’m everyone’s designer. If you visit my atelier, I have four sizes that range from small to extra-large. I drive satisfaction from providing people with custom-made products that they want to wear.

What’re your thoughts on sacrificing personal creativity over trends? 

Fashion changes by the minute; it’s about how you perceive an attire and make it your own. Fashion is what makes you feel attractive and confident. So I believe it’s silly to follow trends. Sadly, many contemporary designers are working strenuously to follow trends, rather than creating them. True fashion should be that which is a true reflection of onself.

How is androgynous wear changing the way we look at style? 

Style is something we are comfortable and confident in carrying. Androgynous wear is harder for men to swallow than women. Then again, if you’re confident, you’re stylish.

What’ve you planned so far for the summer and fall 2020 collections? 

Our entire team is working to devise a collection. I have matching separates and soft pastel colours in mind for the summer season. They can work well for Eid festivities too. We’ll surely come out with dark, vibrant colors for this fall.

What’s a more creative substitute this season for overdone floral prints? 

Checks and stripes

Who do you cite as your fashion icons?

Tom Ford—I admire how he made a name for himself in fashion after having studied architecture. After finding success with Gucci, he went on to give the world one of the best brands there is.

What draws you to his work ethic? 

I met Tom once. His products are well thought out, beautifully designed and incredibly practical. These factors attract millions of people towards him, me included; I even love his fragrances. He is an all-rounder.

Last year, you were the only male couturier from Pakistan to have designed for HRH Prince William while he toured the country. The teal-coloured sherwani was stellar. How were you approached for this and why did you specifically choose the colour teal? 

I’ve been stocking in London for a decade now. The royal team reached out for my designs there, got my contact details and closely reviewed my credibility. As you may know, royal managers handle things with precision. They initially required a classic blue sherwani with green buttons. I designed according to their demands and had an extra sherwani as an option as well, which they loved.

They strictly scrutinised my design and made sure no calligraphy was embroidered on the piece. On complete satisfaction, they opted for my garment for His Highness.  It was my personal vision to see the prince in teal for the occasion. Teal is an upcoming hue in fashion. The colour sends out a message of solidarity and peace.

What went through your mind when you saw HRH Prince William wearing your label?

It was a memorable moment for me as a Pakistani designer. I was honored to be selected as the only male couturier from my country to create a garment for the future king of England. This was the first time he’d worn another country’s traditional attire on tour and that was a tremendous feeling in itself. He overshadowed Duchess Kate on that day, if I may say so. That sherwani will remain a timeless piece for decades to come.

Did this achievement garner your label immense recognition across Pakistan and the world? 

Yes—not only this but an attire that had lost its identity globally returned ferociously as a new trend in fashion. Those who consider it a long buttoned jacket now know very well that it is a traditional sherwani.

Of all the public figures you have dressed, who has been the most special?

Although I’ve designed for many dignitaries, I believe that every client we cater to is a prince and princess. They are all not just my clients, but my family. I’ve witnessed happy tears in the eyes of mothers when they saw their sons wearing the complete ensemble at my stores. Such moments often humble you.

Who has mentored you in your craft? 

Time and experience have been my best mentors. I learn in my everyday life. I don’t follow people in our industry, because they’ve hardly guided me. Learning from time to time, however, has given me the confidence to reflect on what I’ve accomplished so far.

What important lessons has your profession taught you?

Many—the best would be to never show your cards. Showing off is a fool’s idea of glory so if you’ve noticed,m not a fan of sharing my ideas.



On selecting roles, discovering secret talents and family

The versatile actress has become a household name as she conquers our television screens with powerful performances one after the other. Mehek Raza Rizvi sits down for a candid chat with Saboor to find out more about her aspirations and life in quarantine

Outfit: Farah Sanjana at Vesimi

You seem to be indulging in old passions in quarantine, including cooking and painting. Are there any talents of yours people may be unaware of?

I make sure I keep my fans aware of my activities during quarantine, so any talents I may discover are shared with them. This is a nice time to explore one’s abilities and indulge in hobbies there wasn’t time for earlier.

Outfit: Farah Sanjana at Vesimi

Congratulations on Sajal’s wedding. How has you relationship with your sister evolved after she tied the knot?

Everyone knows Sajal and I’ve always been super close, but preparing for her wedding together has strengthened our bond even further. They don’t exaggerate when they say sisters are irreplaceable. Family is everything.


What are the pros and cons of having a sister in the same industry as yours?

The pros are evident: you have constant, unconditional support. We comfort each other during tough times, are each other’s number one fans and cheerleaders and always have free, honest advice to offer. On the contrary, I can’t think of a single con. There is no concept of competition amongst family.

Outfit: Semsem

You recently posted a note on depression on Instagram. How important is it for public figures to speak about mental health and why is the topic close to your heart?

I think mental health is an important issue everyone needs to take more seriously. There needs to be more conversation centered around it, particularly by individuals of influence to create awareness amongst the masses. We need to break the taboo, because depression is something anyone can experience and the consequences can be extremely detrimental if not dealt with care.


You’ve proved your mettle as an actress by playing a wide number of characters. What kind of roles and genres excite you most?

Characters that have the potential to leave an impact on my audience excite me the most. I try to take up different roles so I can explore and better my craft with each project. My intention is to bring something different to the table every time I perform. I’m not too fussed about playing a protagonist or antagonist, to me what’s important is that anyone watching my performance should leave with some sort of positive message.  I believe engaging art forms like drama have the unique ability to shape society like no other.

Outfit: Semsem

Have you ever found it hard to detach from a complex/intense character?

I’m someone who gets very involved in and immersed into the roles I portray. In order to do justice to my job, it’s important for me to feel each emotion the character may be experiencing, so yes, sometimes it does get difficult to detach from a particularly intense scene.


The fame and influence celebrities enjoy, puts immense responsibility on them to use it wisely. Do you ever feel burdened by the constant spotlight?

While the love we receive from fans is extremely heartwarming, it’s also true that being in the spotlight constantly can be taxing at times. At the end of the day, we’re as human as anyone else. From each word that comes out of our mouths, to every occurrence in our personal lives, any decision we make and even the food we eat and clothes we wear—everything is always being judged. As a celebrity it’s important to be careful about how you conduct yourself, because a small mistake can give people a false impression of who you are as a person.

Outfit: Bazza Alzouman

Tell us about your future projects.

There are a lot of interesting projects in the pipeline, but you’ll have to wait and find out the exact details.


What was the last photo you took?

Of a painting I made

What was the last lie you told?

Told someone I was “on my way” while I was still in my PJs

Last impulsive buy?

Outfit: Bazza Alzouman


Your personal style in three words?

Trendy, stylish, minimal


A habit you have that annoys your family?

Listening to very loud music

Favourite costar?

Kinza Hashmi

Best friends within the industry?

Sadia Ghaffar, Kinza Hashmi and Rubab Ali

Outfit: Bazza Alzouman

Theater, film or TV? 

TV, always

Alternate career choice? 


Favourite dialogue from a project of yours?

So hard to pick just one


Photography: Jaffer Hasan

Styling: The Emergency Room

Hair & Makeup: Adnan Ansari

Wardrobe: Siddhartha Bansal, Farah Sanjana & Ridhi Sanjana at Vesimi

This fortnight we speak to Maham Amjad, the founder of PR and events enterprise, Cediure and fashion reporting company, Fashion Police Pakistan. At just twenty-six years of age, she has a number of achievements under her belt that include hosting red carpets for corporate events and on behalf of sponsors at fashion weeks. She has also been Master of Ceremony for brands such as Samsung Pakistan and Philip Morris. She also represented Pakistan in this capacity at the Business Excellence Awards 2019 for FCCI in Baku, Azerbaijan, as well as the PSL tournament in 2019.

As of now, Maham resides in the United Arab Emirates and works for Aqua Properties in Dubai, a leading real estate venture. Within six months of joining the company, she launched ‘A Real State of Mind’ with the CEO Ali Tumbi. This latest project of hers is a TV show shedding light over the property and investment market of Dubai, where she gains insight from various CEOs.


Who is Maham Amjad?

A dreamer, a go-getter and a very proud daughter. I’m a very simple person at heart who cherishes the small joys of life. For me success isn’t defined by how much one has achieved in life, it’s the ability to sleep soundly at night, knowing that you haven’t wronged anyone. So I would like to think that Maham Amjad is constantly endeavouring to be a good person and that’s her biggest accomplishment in life.

Women are often at a disadvantage in the professional sphere of our country. Yet, you’ve continued to tackle each challenge with integrity. Do you think your upbringing has a role to play in that?

I won’t say it was my upbringing necessarily; dealing with tough situations successfully is something I learnt with experience. However, the way I was raised did allow me to stand out. My parents have invested a lot of time in teaching me to remain steadfast in what I believe in.

As a female, standing out is not something that’s always perceived well-you get a lot of criticism for it. But that’s where the resilience I learnt from home kicks in.

We got a chance to ask Dr. OBT about his experience of working with Maham, while she was the Marketing Manager for his clinic, Halcyon, for two years.

“Maham is a wonderful personality, who has been pivotal in helping create a solid brand that depicts quality in healthcare. Her ambition and persistence to be the best at what she does reflect in the way she fulfills all her responsibilities. She’s a team player and gets the job done with a positive mindset and attitude.”


Tell us about the inherent prejudices you’ve faced as a working woman?

It’s been a really tough journey. To begin with, just getting the permission to work was quite a task, as that wasn’t the culture where I come from. Once I stepped out and defied the norms of my home, I felt a tremendous amount of pressure to prove myself to my family. Due to this, I often saw people trying to bring me down whenever they could. I always had to be extra careful.

In your opinion, how challenging is it for married women to maintain a healthy work-life balance?

Honestly, maintaining a work-life balance is only challenging if you think it is. I’m taking care of my house, while working to achieve my professional goals. I enjoy cooking and fulfilling all my domestic responsibilities. Yes, when you’re married, you have another person to take care of, but you also have a person to take care of you.

If you ever win an award, who would you like to thank in your speech?

I’d thank all the people who wronged me and I don’t mean this in a negative way. Every time I was hurt, I got the courage to prove myself to the world. The deeper the scar was, the bigger my achievement was. Apart from that I can only thank God for blessing me with everything that He has.

Who’s your role model?

My father, Muhammad Ahmad Amjad. He was a self-made man but despite being quite successful professionally, the traits he’s most fondly remembered for are his warmth and kindness. That’s the kind of legacy I aspire to leave behind as well. I recall being overwhelmed because of the droves of people who showed up to his funeral, simply because he was a decent human being towards them. He used to say, “Live a life that can be celebrated and die a death of a person who is truly loved.”

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I’ve been working for almost eight years now and have achieved most of my goals. Whatever I wanted in life I worked my way towards it. In the next five years, I want to invest in starting a family and raising kids. No matter how successful you become, at the end of the day you want to come home and share your success with those you love most. Having said that, in the future I’d want to be in a position where I can help and support others in need.

Beirut-based couturier Georges Chakra has created a niche for himself in the fashion business with the likes of Helen Mirren, Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez spotted in his designs. Hailing from a country where freedom has suffered, he launched his new line at the Petit Palais in Paris, conveying a political message to safeguard liberty in Lebanon. Find out more about Chakra and his vision in this exclusive interview with Haider Rifaat

You’ve been in the fashion business for over three decades. What’s the key to your success?

Passion—my team and I love creating haute couture. I like surprising people each season, without repeating any of my designs, even if an idea has proven successful already. My work is detailed; I’m not sure if that’s a good quality to factor in so often, but I try to deliver perfection. I’m never satisfied with what I do, which pushes me to do better.

Fashion capitals of the world—New York, Paris and London—drive mainstream consumers to their markets. As a designer from Beirut, do you not find yourself lagging behind?

I don’t think most designers who showcase their lines originate from these major cities only. The world has become a melting pot of cultures and I haven’t found myself lagging behind. Many designers from the Middle East, including myself, contribute creatively to the world with our collections. Lebanon may not have its own fashion week, but our designers have certainly held their own in the international market.

Have you considered moving to these cities to compete with the best in fashion?

In 2001, we opened a showroom in Triangle d’Or, Paris, to entertain our clientele and have a strong base during fashion weeks. My head office is in Beirut and will remain there indefinitely. With a network of people and our teams in Los Angeles, New York and Paris, we’re able to create an extensive system that can handle anything.

Why should consumers choose Georges Chakra?

We create pieces that are timeless and can be passed down with ease. This has happened several times. Our consumers appreciate originality, experimental fabrics and our one-on-one relationship with them.

You recently debuted your exquisite collection at the Petit Palais, campaigning for freedom in Lebanon. Why did you choose such an occasion to relay a political message?

Fashion has always acted as a barometer of attitudes in society, reflecting moods and thoughts, expressed through the length of hemlines and cuts. Following the recent revolutionary movement in Beirut, I wanted to portray to the world Lebanon’s frantic energy, its youth’s desire for freedom and the complex reality we were living.

Walk us through your S/S 2020 collection. What have you done differently this time?

My inspiration for the 2020 collection is Lebanon. It has my heart. Couture is art and art is the core component of its surroundings. The country’s ongoing situation is exactly how I see my brand. We’re constantly evolving and incorporating fresh ideas, so my vision for this year took off from here. I can proudly say that my efforts have proven successful again.

After the show, my team and atelier walked for the first time on the Parisian ramp to symbolise unity. We gave each guest a white organza rose as an embodiment of support for peace in Lebanon. I collaborated with renowned jeweller and good friend Fawaz Gruosi on a necklace. The sales we generate from it will be donated to Beirut‘s Children Cancer Hospital and the scholastic scholarships of St. Vincent de Paul School. All these measures are a part of the positive change we wish to see.

Artistic expression is essential in your line of work. What encourages you to create garments that are a reflection of who you are?

The generic answer would be culture, but I wouldn’t say it’s my only source of encouragement. I think the hardest battle for me is to draw inspiration from my surroundings and to condense ideas that can translate well into a couture collection.

Is fashion a stigmatised profession for men in Lebanon?

It was, but the trend has changed now. Success stories of Lebanese designers have become more common in the past decade. Fashion in my home country has garnered immense recognition around the world. The induction of fashion design programmes at many Lebanese universities has also helped the cause. Despite these efforts, the government should support our industry and the private investors involved.

Have you encountered any mishaps during fashion weeks? If so, how did you bounce back?

Sometimes, yes, but things work out in the end. We’ve had issues backstage that required us to swap the sequence of models.  We’ve also had to have a few of them removed before shows. I suppose the most shocking moment for us was when a habilleuse (dresser) had dressed our model unsuitably. The clients responded surprisingly well and we ended up re-creating and selling the garment as it was.

Which other Lebanese designer do you like and find underrated?

I admire the work of our new generation. They have a long way to go, but as clients we should believe in their talent and support them despite limited resources, execution techniques and socio-economic challenges in the market.

The first time I heard of your work was through the Oscar-nominated film, “The Devil Wears Prada.” Tell us of a memorable moment you shared on set with the cast and crew?

The film producers emailed us, asking for our S/S 2005 collection in a movie starring Meryl Streep. However, we never knew that our gowns would make it to the final cut. When we saw our label alongside Valentino and Azzaro in the fashion sequence of the film, we were over the moon! Woody Allen’s “Café Society” and “Gossip Girl” also featured our brand.

Professionally, who do you cite as your source of strength?

My business partner, Jocelyne Abdel Malak, who has been by my side through thick and thin and my daughter Jennifer. She joined our team a few years ago as an Assistant Creative Director and is heading our ready-to-wear line. Above all, my ateliers who make the impossible possible and translate my challenging ideas and designs into beautiful garments.

Meet Natasha Noorani and Zahra Paracha, forces behind the Lahore Music Meet (LLM), an annual, two-day extravaganza, featuring live performances, masterclasses and interactive talks with some of the country’s finest musicians. Continuing with LMM’s tradition of nurturing the local music landscape, this talented duo is gearing up for the fifth edition, scheduled to take place at Alhamra Art Center in Lahore. Mehek Raza Rizvi finds out more

What do you hope to achieve with LMM?

LMM exists as a space for the ever-evolving music industry to get together, celebrate their talent, share their stories and connect with Lahore’s growing audience. The idea is to create cohesion in our music ecosystem.

Apart from the live music, the audience at LMM gets an opportunity to witness interactive sessions with musicians. How important is establishing a culture of musical awareness to the essence of the event?

Interactive sessions are crucial to the LLM experience. Most of us have grown up without an opportunity to understand the musical process and while this may be changing, the progress is slow. There are multiple styles and techniques well-suited to potential artists; if they get to see and hear something that sparks an idea or interest, it would be a huge win for us.

Many believe the genres celebrated at LMM are western and therefore not relevant to our culture. How do you respond to that criticism?

Sure, genres can be defined by geography, but if musicians stayed within those limitations, the world would miss out on a lot of great music. People who enjoy different genres at LMM have already made them a part of their daily playlists. Most of these, now termed, ‘world genres’ are easily applicable everywhere they’re heard. It’s what makes them popular, desirable and easy to spread. Having said that, LMM also strives to create a growing interaction with indigenous South Asian genres of which there are innumerable subsets and breakdowns. Like we say, there is room for everyone.

Being musicians yourselves, do you feel LMM provides valuable exposure for rising talent?

We’d like to believe having a platform to perform and sharing the stage with artists you admire should give any up-and-coming musician a great sense of accomplishment.  Our hope is that this opportunity translates into confidence and motivation for them to carry on the hard work.

Recently, Pakistan has seen a lot of ukulele/acoustic guitar wielding underground indie rock bands. Rap and EDM have begun to find their footing. What western genre would you like to see Pakistanis take on next?

It’s all growing so naturally and organically, honestly, we wish for more of everything.

The more the better, the farther it reaches and the more people it moves, the better. We’d also like to witness the preservation of our indigenous styles and instrumentation; that’s something we’d love to contribute to.

There seems to be a certain mindset present in the country that looks down upon music and art. How can LMM counter that narrative?

The only effective way to counter such narratives is to create space for another. We’re not here to tell someone that their mentality is flawed, we just want to create an alternative for anyone who’s looking for one. Giving people the freedom of choice is the strongest statement to make.

Now that LMM has established itself as an important cultural phenomenon, what’re people’s expectations of the event? Do you feel the pressure of meeting expectations year after year?

We hope and try to keep growing every year, but with that come growing expenses and sadly, not so much growth in sponsorships. Keeping LMM free for all is an essential feature of what makes the festival the phenomenon you say it is. We really hope we can continue to keep it that way. The curation and musical line up is another aspect we’re very particular about; everything we put out needs to be well researched so our audience can enjoy themselves.

I am here to be free and to strive for justice

Mainstay of documentaries Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is celebrated for exhuming untold stories grounded in different parts of the world. The Academy Award and Emmy winning filmmaker has persistently advocated the legal rights of the voiceless. A graduate of the prestigious Stanford University, she’s had quite an illustrious career, beginning with “Terror’s Children,” her acclaimed debut film. In an exclusive interview, Sharmeen talks to Haider Rifaat about her vision as a storyteller, her new series on
child abuse and the Netflix short, “Sitara: Let Girls Dream”

How did your graduate programme at Stanford University enable you to emerge as an influential filmmaker?

I call myself an accidental filmmaker, because I never studied it. My education has armed me to tackle the subjects I’ve been making films on for nearly twenty years. At Stanford University, I completed my double Masters in International Policy Studies and Communication. Both degrees taught me the value of journalism and importance of geopolitics and the international players involved. I base my work on the integrity of interviewees, citing of sources, research and ethics. My stories are rooted in the principles of journalism and my graduate training has been incredibly helpful in that respect. My work is local, but it’s also international. The stories I choose to tell resonate with the local citizens and concurrently engage the global community.

Describe the ethos of your films and how they’re geared to engage the audience.

I’ve made more than a dozen films outside of Pakistan. The series I’m about to launch is also from five countries. Usually the subjects that people have a hard time confronting draw my attention. I hold up a mirror to society, so people can see a reflection of themselves and those around them. I look at the issues first before evaluating their geographical relevance.

Many believe that you solely portray the dark side of Pakistan and negate the positives we have to offer. Is the criticism justified?

I’m a journalist and a filmmaker, not a publicist. My job is to unearth the truth. I seek out anomalies in a society and relate it to the judicial system. I see what ordinary people experience in their day-to-day lives; I’m not here to win popularity contests. I am here to be free and to strive for justice.

How would you assess the practice of modern-day journalism in Pakistan?

We have a few incredible journalists in Pakistan who fact check and refer to multiple sources. The commodification of news channels not only in Pakistan, but around the world has changed journalism as a profession. It has established young journalists, who are interested in making headlines and not researching news. A majority of them rely on sensationalism and hyper-nationalism to communicate stories. The new cadre of so-called journalists has threatened the job for what it stands for.

Tell us how your animated short “Sitara: Let Girls Dream,” in collaboration with Gucci’s “Chime for Change,” will help young girls around the world.

We’re introducing an international campaign in schools in Cameroon, Pakistan and the United States to ask why parents aren’t investing in their daughters’ dreams. What’s holding them back in this day and age? “Sitara” is a short film about a girl named Pari, who wishes to be a pilot, but society disapproves of her aspirations. It’s a starting point for parents and children to have a conversation. We’ve already screened the film in over a hundred schools around the world and plan to screen it in thousands more.

Your documentary series titled “Aagahi” encourages Pakistani women to be aware of their constitutional rights. How does the series plan to engage with conservative mindsets?

“Aagahi” has already initiated substantial change. We’ve taken the series to mobile cinemas that have travelled the length and breadth of Pakistan, going into small villages and towns across the country in over four hundred locations. We’re screening the series at the grassroots level in schools, colleges and community centers to inform people about socially relevant issues.

At Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (SOC) Films, hundreds of young women inundate us with their requests on topics we should be covering. Having Aamina Sheikh collaborate with us has been enormous too. She’s been using her voice to spread the message of “Aagahi.” This is not a campaign of creating films, but of disseminating important messages to those who need to hear them the most. At the Aurat March, many women came up to us and told us watching “Aagahi” informed them of their rights. Despite coming from a privileged class, many families cage their daughters. Thus, the series is for everybody, not just marginalised women.

I was curious to know, why you’ve shifted your gear towards animation?

I’m a storyteller, so I want to test alternative mediums of storytelling, say virtual reality and animation. I’m continuing my journey in documentaries and feel that I should challenge myself persistently to utilise such mediums and tell global stories.

What other themes do you plan to tap into?

I’m working across countries trying to understand their social issues. In Brazil and the United States, income marginalises women. Similarly, Kenyan women lack access to reproductive health services. I’m exploring such themes internationally.

What’s next for you?

A series on child abuse is underway. There’s another international project in the pipeline as well. We also have the launch of “Sitara” coming up.

Your project “Freedom Fighters” made it to the World Economic Forum and the documentary “Armed with Forces” won an Emmy award. What positive changes do you wish to invoke with these films?

It’s necessary to show women as survivors, fighters and role models. Very few films in Pakistan have achieved that kind of impact. Our focus at SOC FILMS has shifted in the same manner. We hope to find women in Pakistan who can share their tales and help others see them as heroes and nation builders.

Speaking of freedom fighters, Kashmir is a hot topic that needs an action-oriented solution. Do you plan to make a documentary on this? What’s the way forward according to you?

The way forward for me is what the governments of India and Pakistan decide. I’m not responsible for proposing policy changes when two countries are at the forefront of a mutual issue. As for a film, I’m unsure how I’ll achieve that, since it’s quite difficult for Pakistanis to travel to Kashmir.

A grave, often overlooked, social evil in Pakistan is same-sex child abuse. Do you hope to shed some light on this?

We’ve just finished creating an animated series that deals with child abuse. We’re now focusing on a documentary that will explore the issue at length in Pakistan. As a team, we’re considering the stories of young boys and girls and eyeing a system that perpetuates abuse for protecting criminals.

How do you address the male narrative in your work?

I address their narrative in all my films. I’ve had male doctors, lawyers and police officers who have facilitated women.

Looking back, how did you succeed in capturing personable moments with the victims while the cameras were rolling?

Filmmaking is about building trust with the people you work with. My team and I spend months, if not years, with the victims. It allows them to open up and disclose things they wouldn’t otherwise. Mutual respect and faith are crucial components in my profession.

Your ability to mould perspectives and encourage openness in our society through storytelling must stem from a good support system at home. Who shaped you?

I’ve always had a supportive family. My parents encouraged me immensely when I began writing investigative pieces for DAWN. It’s important for young women to have their parents invest in their dreams and inspire them. I hope to inculcate that value in women around me and my family as well.

In a tech-savvy world where interactive screens and dynamic content are dramatically changing every city’s landscape, using hand-painted murals to communicate a message may seem counter-intuitive for a brand. Why then, would a company that can easily afford to spend millions in tech-based marketing, choose something that has a fairly uncertain shelf life, particularly due to it being susceptible to the hazards of weather?

Ever since I saw the ad for “Sarsabz Canvas Wall” on Instagram, my inquisitiveness developed. As an attempt to satiate my curiosity, I found myself standing outside the vicinity of Pak Arab Plant by Fatima Group in Multan. In the tail end of November, a two-day wall paint activity had just kicked off. The “Canvas Wall” situated outside the plant’s gate, facing the main Multan-Khanewal road, acted as a creative outlet for young, enthusiastic painters. They used street art where words failed to pay tribute to their subject – the farmers of Pakistan.

At the wall, I ran in to Mobeen, the brand manager for Sarsabz. Upon my keenness, he expounded the theme, “Salam Kissan – Sarsabz Pakistan” in the following words:

“Growing up, we often heard that agriculture is Pakistan’s backbone. Let’s admit though, no one gives farmers due importance; they’re rarely a priority. You hear stories of the losses they face, of protests and sadly, suicides as well. However, when you asses our country’s agriculture policy it’s negligent even towards a crop as important as cotton. I mean, look behind you – you’re standing outside a plant that’s been shut down since three years, despite the fact that it produces fertilisers that give 10% more yield than conventional ones. Our government is forced to import those order to meet the shortfall.

It’s unfortunate to see farmers at the bottom of the economic and financial pyramid. As a brand, we believe we can change that and are committed to the cause. These students have come from all over Pakistan to join us in this initiative. This is the start of something beautiful.”

It was after hearing these words that I understood why this activity managed to bring together youth from all over the country for a moving tribute to farmers. Its impact was far greater and meaningful than a pretty ad on a billboard.

The competition, which featured over 40 teams and almost 125 students from cities as far as Karachi and Islamabad, started at 11am on the first day and ended at 5pm on the second day. During this time, splendid pieces of art were created. The organisers provided every facility to the participants – from paints and brushes to accommodation for the night. The partakers seemed quite happy with the event and remained engrossed throughout.

The digital and electronic engagement of the event was also commendable. RJ Sophiya Anjam was present at the scene, interviewing contestants and giving shout-outs in support of farmers. A time-lapse video of the key visuals being painted by an artist for Sarsabz fertilisers was also recorded and shared on social media by leading influencers, making others curious enough to visit the site. Multiple TV channels showed up as well to broadcast this unique effort.

Taking advantage of the number of participants, the management provided 300 saplings to be planted along the borders of the vicinity, an act that is in line with the company’s vision of caring for the environment. The spirit of togetherness was further strengthened with the participation of representatives from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment Protection Department in the tree plantation activity.

The first day ended with dinner, followed by an entertaining stand-up comedy show put together by a young group called “Pakistan Tehreek-e-Comedy.” Just when I thought I had experienced it all, the event touched its highest note with a drum circle organised by Haider Jamil around a bonfire. Everyone joined in to create rhythmic beats and learn the amplified impact of working as a team for a cause.


On the second day, the artwork was completed and after careful consideration, three groups were shortlisted as winners by the judging committee. The criteria was based on:

1)            Effective portrayal of the theme “Salam Kissan, Sarsabz Pakistan”

2)            Level of skill employed by the artists

3)            An out of the box approach

The first position was bagged by a team of two people, Waqas Ahmed and Waseem from Sialkot – a duo who claim to be Pakistan’s first 3D artists. They impressed the judges with their skills and earned themselves a PKR 250,000 reward. Maryam Rana, Sumaira Munir and Waseema Khalid from Multan won PKR 100,000 at second position, while Abu Bakar, Mamoona, Maryam and Muqaddas took home PKR 50,000 as winners of the third position.

All contestants were given certificates of participation, along with hi-resolution prints of their artwork. The prizes along with trophies were handed out by Mr. Inamullah Naveed, Head of the Fertiliser Plant at Fatima Group. Throughout the activity, he kept dropping in at the Canvas Wall to encourage students.

As I networked with marketing team members of Sarsabz on the final day, I was told by the Digital Brand Manager, Hassan Amjad, that this Canvas Wall Paint activity was just a kick off for the “Salam Kissan” campaign. It will continue to gain momentum in Sukkur, Multan, Hyderabad and Sialkot to engage local communities and equip farmers to voice their concerns at a policy-making level. The essence of this campaign lies in a recently released music video which pays an ode to the small-scale farmers in the most beautiful way, depicting the hardships they go through to provide food and clothing for the whole nation while living the hardest lives themselves.

The entire event was very well managed, especially in comparison to other street art competitions. It managed to successfully make people like me, who live in the comforts of their urban homes, realise the importance and struggle of farmers, for a better, stronger and Sarsabz Pakistan.



How would you describe your signature bridal look? 

My signature bridal look features natural looking and fresh, yet contoured skin with soft bronze eyes, a smokey eye liner and mixture of soft peach, brown and nude lips.

Which bridal makeup trends are you loving the most this season? 

Dewy skin and natural lashes.

Are there any makeup trends you’d like to see brides leave behind? 

Heavy lashes, caked faces and red lips. It’s 2019, time for a change girls.

What are your secrets for gorgeous skin makeup? 

Less is definitely more. Keep a light hand on foundation and concealer. Most importantly, focus more on skin care rather than cosmetics.

Do you have any staple makeup/hair products to use?

I have so many. I absolutely can’t live without my beauty blenders and concealers by NARS. They’re sheer, yet cover all imperfections. I also love the Shade + Light Contour Palette by Kat Von D  — can’t imagine finishing any makeup look without it.

What’s the most requested look brides come to you with? 

I’m known for my bronze eyes, so that’s the most requested bridal look at my studio. Some also ask for gold glitter eyes. I’d say about 90% of my clients come to me for my signature traditional baraat makeup.

What piece of advice would you give to brides as they prepare for their wedding day?

Please focus on your skin. The more you invest in skincare, the better your makeup will look. Drink plenty of water. Keeping hydrated really does help more than most of us realise. Also, moisturise regardless of your skin type. Exfoliate regularly to remove dead skin, especially on the lips and get extractions from a professional, once a month, to remove whiteheads and blackheads for that smooth finish.  Lastly, relax and get adequate sleep.


How would you describe your signature bridal look? 

Every bride wants to look and feel beautiful on their big day. I always focus on enhancing their best features, keeping their likes, dislikes and preferences in mind. I don’t impose what I like on clients, instead I optimise what the client wants and make it as eye-popping and fabulous as possible.

Which bridal makeup trends are you loving the most this season? 

I’m seeing a growing trend for subtle looks and less makeup. No blinding highlights and no foundations three shades lighter.

Are there any makeup trends you’d like to see brides leave behind? 

Three tone lighter, caked up foundation that cracks when you smile and a prominent white eye pencil in the water line. Our beauty industry has evolved a lot in the last five years, with trends changing dramatically. Modern brides want to look like the best version of themselves, instead of a completely different person. There’s a much greater emphasis on natural makeup and a desire to look more beautiful in person, not just in photographs.

What are your secrets for gorgeous skin makeup? 

Skin preparation is the key to beautiful glowing skin. Always moisturise before applying foundation. This is one of the most important steps.

Do you have any staple makeup products to use?

I’m a huge fan of the highlighters by Becca and Illuminating Bronzing Powders by Bobbi Brown.

What’s the most requested look brides come to you with? 

Sabyasachi fever has drastically changed bridal hair and makeup trends. As a result, many designers have been styling their campaigns in a similar fashion. A lot of brides now want the same subtle and understated look.

What piece of advice would you give to brides as they prepare for their wedding day?

Moisturise skin as much as you can and wear sunscreen religiously. Staying hydrated and getting at least eight hours of sleep every day is just as important. Avoid excessive makeup, keep the face clean and let your skin breathe.


How would you describe your signature bridal look? 

I like very neutral looks. I enjoy playing around with the eyes, but since most of my clients don’t like a lot of makeup, I avoid it. I don’t believe in caking up the face or using too much powder.

Which bridal makeup trends are you loving the most this season? 

I love the sleek hair look. I think it’s very classy and modern.

Are there any makeup trends you’d like to see brides leave behind? 

Yes — hair bigger than the bride’s head.

What are your secrets for gorgeous skin makeup? 

I take my time to prep the skin before applying foundation. You shouldn’t rush it.

Do you have any staple makeup/hair products to use?

Not really. I keep switching my products. The only one product I always use though, is the Porefessional primer by Benefit.

What’s the most requested look brides come to you with? 

Sleek hair. I feel whenever someone wants the sleek hair look, they come to me. Also, brides who don’t like a lot of makeup opt for me.

What piece of advice would you give to brides as they prepare for their wedding day?

Please get sufficient sleep so you don’t end up with dark circles and eat clean to avoid pimples. Also, drink lots and lots of water.

Stressing out is natural, but don’t let it get to a point where you don’t enjoy your wedding. Focus on having fun — it’s your big day!

Text by Mehek Raza Rizvi
Coordination by Sana Zehra

Nasir Zaka met Abdur Rehman at a singing competition. After the two linked up, Nasir spent a week with Abdur Rehman working on his technique and honing his skill. Thereafter, Nasir introduced Abdur to his band ‘Crackdown’ and it is at this point that they came together and formed a new band — ‘AUJ’.

Auj comprises of Nasir Zaka, Syed Hasnain Ali, Muhammad Kashif, and Abdur Rehman Sajid. The word “Auj” means the epitome of height – it is the limit of all feelings and senses – and as there isn’t any quantifiable limit to them, that is what music means to the band members of Auj. It is clear how dedicated they have been in their decade long journey by the fact that the members had to sell off most of their equipment to pay for the studio recording of their first original song, “Lafz” back in 2009.

After performing numerous original songs in Pepsi BoB, and ultimately winning the contest, Auj has been reaching new heights in their journey. Pepsi BoB has helped them amass a huge fan following and has indeed made them the new rock giant on the horizon of the Pakistani music landscape. Auj is currently recording their original album and shooting a music video, all with Pepsi BoB as a pillar support.

Most of us have the urge to get fit, but very few have the motivation to follow through. What drove you to adopt a healthy lifestyle? 

The moment I turned thirty, I realised being overweight made me susceptible to multiple health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure and knee/joint pains. The thought of having to deal with any of the aforementioned ailments or letting the quality of life I lead get affected is what scared and motivated me to get into shape.

How often do you work out and what exactly do you do at the gym?

For the first six to eight months I used to workout five days a week, but now I’ve cut it down to three days a week. My training includes a combination of everything and I seriously never know what my trainer has planned for the day. I trust him completely and he decides what exercises I should be doing.

Did you make any major changes in your relationship with food? 

Diet is the main element if you want to shed weight. I strongly believe 80% of the process includes monitoring nutrition, while 20% is exercise. I didn’t follow any specific diet plan but changed my eating habits completely. I’ve shifted to healthier options and avoid carbs. You need to do something that’s sustainable and make it a lifestyle.

What’s your take on fad diets like keto? 

I haven’t tried keto myself, but know people who have and the results are phenomenal. Personally, I don’t think fad diets are for me though; they just don’t make sense or appeal to me. I feel there are no shortcuts if you want long-term results.

Drastic transformations involve a change in your lifestyle for good, so it’s better to adopt eating habits that are realistic and maintainable.

Your transformation is incredible. How long did it take you to get to your current weight? 

I’ve been working out regularly since two years and started watching what I eat a year and a half ago. Weight loss isn’t an overnight process.

Do you still have any fitness goals to achieve? 

Yes, of course. I want to lose another ten kilos.

Have you managed to drop a steady amount each month or were there times it got frustrating?

It gets frustrating every now and then. For example, my weight hasn’t dropped in the past five months. It’s like I’m stuck. One can’t lose hope and give up though.

How do you manage to remain consistent? Are there days you lose motivation? 

There are definitely days when I feel lazy. However, if I end up skipping a day at the gym, I try to make up for it by controlling my diet more than usual and not eating carbs at all.

How do you think your life has changed after your transformation? 

I was always very comfortable in my skin, even when I was overweight. So I wouldn’t say my confidence got a boost, but I’ve seen an immense change in how people view me now.

What advice would you give to those struggling with their weight?

You need to be consistent and ready to work hard. There’s no magic potion or shortcut to losing weight. Change your entire lifestyle and make peace with it.

Interview by Mehek Raza Rizvi

The twenty-four-year old fiery actress, Yashma Gill, sits down with Haider Rifaat for an exciting chat about her thriving career and new drama serials “Alif” and “Chungal”

Tell us something about yourself that your fans don’t know.

I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Melbourne, Australia.

What are your three defining traits?

I am intuitive, good at counselling and combat negativity well.

When did you realise your love for acting?

It’s been there for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I took part in almost every school play and recorded myself on a flip phone to assess my skills. I remember there was a time when I stopped watching films completely, because it made me sad that I wasn’t the one acting in them.

What’s the most frightening part about entering the entertainment world?

My work is seen throughout the world and that terrifies me. Even my personal life is under scrutiny by the media. I felt conscious at times, not knowing if I was doing things the right way. Thankfully, people have accepted and loved me. The glamorous side to this profession is pretty superficial though. It’s honestly a tough job!

What advice would you give others who’re starting out?

Don’t trust everyone you meet. People will confuse you regarding the choices you should make. Befriend a few reliable people only and they’ll genuinely help you get through tough times.

Is life in the public eye easy or difficult for you to navigate?

It’s never easy – your life becomes public knowledge, but by God’s grace, I take it positively and try to set an example for others.

What empowers you to give the best to your work?

Allah and my family. My fans give me confidence and they empower me immensely. I have come so far and have a long way to go. That knowledge instills confidence in me and allows me to persevere.

How do you plan to make a difference for women in your role as a performer?

We need to put an end to scripts that use the “vicitmised woman” narrative for ratings. I think subconsciously our society finds violence against women socially acceptable. Our dramas subliminally send across that kind of message. The lesser you depict women in a negative light, the more we can put an end to such practices. Eventhough the female protagonist emerges as a warrior in the end, it defeats the purpose of responsible storytelling if her character suffers throughout the series.

Tell us about your role as Shelly in the new drama serial Alif.

Shelly is an actress and a supermodel. She is the quintessential performer in Momin’s (played by Hamza Ali Abbasi) films. Shelly likes him a lot but is under the false impression that he admires her as well. Momin intends intially to only cast her in his films, but Sajal Ali’s character ends up replacing her.

What other projects are in the pipeline?

I’m shooting for my new drama serial “Chungal” which will be aired on Hum TV. Directed by Farooq Rind, it stars Yumna Zaidi and Bilal Abbas as well.

What’s your dream role right now?

I would like to play an air force pilot or anyone in a symbolic military uniform.

Actors you would want to do your next project with?

Yumna Zaidi, who I’m currently working with and Feroz Khan.

Who are some of your inspirations from the media?

You learn something new from everyone. I admire Bilal Abbas for being consistent in every scene, while also providing me with much-needed cues during our shoots. My experience working with him has been the best so far.

Sum up your personal style in three words.

Casual, improvised  and comfortable.

Biggest pet peeve?

Lies and diplomacy.

Lahore or Karachi?

Lahore has my heart; Karachi has my family.

Best thing about your job?

It gives me a platform to express my creativity.

And the worst?

I don’t get to spend much time with my family.

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