Asim Raza returns to his directorial roots with the highly anticipated romantic movie, â€œParey Hut Love.â€ Haider Rifaat sat down with the A-list leads Maya Ali and Sheheryar Munawar to talk about their roles and more
How would you describe yourself?
I trust people easily. Iâ€™m a caring and loving person.
You have a Masters degree in Mass Communication. Has that helped you in your field?
Not really. I began my career as a host and eventually got into acting. However, my education did make me more confident. I always say itâ€™s crucial to get a degree before pursuing a career.
Did you always want to be an actress?
Not at all. I could have never imagined I would end up where I am today. When I started out, I had no family support, especially from my fatherâ€™s side. My journey started as an intern for a newspaper, after which offers snowballed for hosting. Up until that point, the idea of becoming an actor was unthinkable. Haissam Hussain took a chance on me with â€œDurr-e-Shahwar,â€ my first drama serial. After shooting the first scene, I realised I was born to act.
Despite all your professional accomplishments, do you feel youâ€™re still struggling as an actor?
Obviously â€” the process of learning never ends. When people call me a star, I always correct them saying Iâ€™m only an actor.
In a recent interview of yours, you spoke at length about your relationship with your father. How has his absence impacted you?
Iâ€™m no longer the same Maya who was carefree and uninhibited. Iâ€™ve definitely become a more mature person after his passing. Iâ€™m more aware of my responsibilities now.
Tell us about the plot and your character in â€œParey Hut Love.â€
â€œParey Hut Loveâ€ is a classic romantic movie. I play Saniya, a strong-willed, confident, young woman who knows exactly what she wants from life. The best part about this project is that the characters are realistic and relatable. Youâ€™ll get to see many weddings in the film, from Parsi, Kashmiri, desi to destination.
What was the most enjoyable part about shooting the film?
The whole journey was a blast. From the first day till the last, we enjoyed the shoot as a family, especially in Bahawalpur. There were no tantrums or disagreements. The vibe on set was always very positive because of Asim Raza, the father of our little family.
What was it like working with Sheheryar Munawar?
I havenâ€™t met anyone like him. He performed brilliantly, both as an actor and a producer. No matter how bad his day might have been, Sheheryar would always come on set with a smile. Being humble and patient are a few things Iâ€™ve learnt from him.
How did you prepare for your character in the movie?
After Asim explained my character to me, I worked hard to embody her. During rehearsals, Iâ€™d sit and talk like her. I became soÂ absorbed by her that once the camera started rolling, it all came naturally.
Whatâ€™s next for you?
I havenâ€™t signed on to anything yet but there are a couple of scripts Iâ€™m considering.
Actors usually progress from television to film, however, thereâ€™s a new trend ofÂ moving in the opposite direction. Why do you think that is?
In our industry, television is a bigger medium than film. I ventured into films because of my performances in drama serials. We produce four to five movies a year. If Iâ€™m not in any one of them, what else would I be doing? I, for one, can never leave television behind.
Do you still get nervous before going on camera?
In my first scene for â€œParey Hut Love,â€ I told Asim Raza that my heart was racing. He reminded me that itâ€™s a good thing, as itâ€™ll help me perform better. For me, every scene is like my first time.
Have you ever felt pressured to live up to peopleâ€™s expectations?
Yes. Iâ€™m constantly worrying about what people will think if I let them down. But, sometimes we need to do things for ourselves.
Growing up, who did you idolise?
My mother, as sheâ€™s a very strong individual. Whenever I feel weak, I envision my mother and how sheâ€™d deal with the situation. What advice would you give to your younger self?
I had many dreams growing up, but had to give them up due to lack of support. My passion forÂ sports was one of them. If I could, Iâ€™d tell my younger self to have more faith in her dreams.
How do you want people to remember you?
In good words. I try my best to make others feel happy.
Whatâ€™s something that most people donâ€™t know about you?
I learnt swimming late. I remember I was six or seven years old when I was about to drown, but my elder brother saved me. Within a month, I taught myself how to swim. Thatâ€™s a random story, I know. I donâ€™t know why I thought of it but it was the first thing that came to my mind when you asked me that question. That must be very undisclosed!
From production to acting, you seem to juggle both duties really well. Does it ever become hectic for you?
Iâ€™m a stubborn person. If I want something, Iâ€™ll do everything in my capacity to achieve it. I enjoy high stress situations and for some reason, I perform better under pressure.
Give people a reason why they should watch your film â€œParey Hut Love.â€
There are many reasons. Itâ€™s a wholesome family film with multiple layers. Youâ€™d want to watch it more than once because it has so many intricacies, visually and story wise. More so, itâ€™s a star cast of fourteen members and consists of director Asim Raza, Hina Dilpazeer and Ahmad Ali Butt. These are huge names. Musically, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Jimmy Khan are associated with this project. Each department had a big name working on this film. Itâ€™s a rare phenomenon when prestigious names come under one roof and produce something stellar.
How has Asim Razaâ€™s creative vision impacted this project?
Asimâ€™s creative process includes involving all the performers. Even a supporting character has a backstory under Asimâ€™s supervision.
Describe Maya Ali in one word.
The chemistry between you and Maya central to the film. How did you both kindle that spark on screen?
Weâ€™re both very competitive individuals. We became good friends during rehearsals and built a comfort level with each other. Iâ€™m surprised we never got the chance to work before.
Do you think the industry is emphasising more on comedies and compromising on effective storytelling?
Letâ€™s first separate commercial and alternative cinemas. For commercial cinema, one has to factor in the interests of the audience; what their pulse is and what they respond best to. People frequently ask us why we only produce rom-com films. Sadly, thatâ€™s what you want to watch. Do you think that we as artists are hesitant to make films on important subjects? Of course not, but an investor is not going to greenlight any such projects.
You put television on hold and worked behind the camera for a while. Were there any personal reasons behind your decision?
When my elder brother passed away, my family and I went through a terrible experience. I decided to put television on hold and started to work behind the camera with Asim. It was a tricky year. There was a lot happening emotionally and professionally. My nerves were tested during that time in my life.
What rules do you live your life by?
I live my life based on that philosophy that life is short and every moment counts. My parents often get upset with me when I push myself too much, but I tell them that you only live once and what you do in this lifetime, echoes through eternity.
How do you unwind?
I donâ€™t really get time to do so these days. The past year has been tough, but my family is amazing. When Iâ€™m not working, I like to travel. I enjoy outdoorsy activities such as trekking and cycling. I also love reading.
What does a day in your life look like?
Iâ€™m a very restless person. I canâ€™t stay in one place, so Iâ€™m always on the go. You wonâ€™t find me at home doing nothing.
What attracts you in other people?
Confidence grabs my attention.
A spiritual conversion, a change of heart, a chance to look deep into your soul and see what it is thatâ€™s holding you back from your own true self
Photography: Hamza Baande
Makeup: Madiha Qaiser
Styling: Seyham Vahidy
Models: Cybil Chowdhry & Abdullah Ejaz
Featuring: Â Amaniaiha zahid
Concept / Art Direction / Styling: Â Maha Rehan
Photography / Post: Â Rehan Khan
Hair / Makup:Â umer aziz
Have you ever felt that youâ€™re not good enough? Itâ€™s a creeping feeling that slowly tries to engulf you as you convince yourself that despite all your achievements, perhaps people can see through the cracks in the facade. This uncertainty with oneâ€™s own self gets amplified as soon as we factor in the digital interference in our lives. Given social mediaâ€™s strong hold over our daily lives and the way we project them to the world, itâ€™s no surprise that we fall further down the rabbit hole of self-deprecation and an almost nauseating sense of inadequacy.
Youâ€™re not alone in this though. This odd feeling has been given a name: the imposter syndrome.
The phenomenon of feeling like a fraud or an outsider, i.e. someone whoâ€™s faking their way through life, despite evidence to the contrary, has been under study for quite some time now. The term was first introduced as â€œimposter phenomenonâ€ back in 1978 in an article by Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Dr. Suzanne A. Imes. However, at the time it was primarily used to study the feelings of phoniness that high-achieving women felt. Recent studies have shown that gender doesnâ€™t seem to have any major effect on this feeling and that men are as susceptible to this syndrome as women.
Itâ€™s important to note that this isnâ€™t a mental disorder per se, but more of a psychological pattern and informs behaviours such as anxiety, stress and even depression. Everyone who has undergone such a behavioural pattern obviously reacts differently. Now, Iâ€™ll leave the scientific nitty-gritty to more capable and informed minds (and I honestly suggest setting up a meeting with a therapist if you think youâ€™re going through something along these lines).
Here, though, Iâ€™d like to discuss how this syndrome plays out in our daily lives and how Iâ€™ve seen it affect many of those around me.
â€œIâ€™m not good enoughâ€
â€œI donâ€™t think Iâ€™m doing enoughâ€
â€œI finally achieved my goal, but I donâ€™t think I really deserve itâ€
â€œWhat more can I do?â€
â€œMy own clock is ticking and I still havenâ€™t accomplished all the things I wanted toâ€
These are phrases Iâ€™ve heard repeatedly around me and at times have been caught saying them out loud myself. If not out loud, then theyâ€™ve always been on the back of my mind for sure. Just a couple of weeks ago when I turned twenty-eight, I thought to myself, â€œI only have two more years till I hit the big thirty and thereâ€™s an entire list of things I still havenâ€™t even embarked upon, let alone accomplish.â€
All the while, I keep completely ignoring everything that I have done so far. Any time someone brings up milestones in my life, it seems I take the route of minimising my wins and focusing more on the losses â€” because how can I actually be deserving of such triumphs. Similarly, those around me are plagued with this malcontent in various aspects of their lives. People I know to be really good writers have shied away from publishing anything because of their fear that no one will read their work and theyâ€™ll be caught for their fraudulent behaviour. The fraudulent behaviour being simply to pick up a pen and write. Interestingly enough, writers such as Maya Angelou and Neil Gaiman have reported feeling this way about their own work.
This feeling extends to denying your own self-worth. In Pakistan, I see this largely in women (perhaps itâ€™s an effect of our deeply embedded patriarchal system). Women feel as if theyâ€™re inadequate wives, or not worthy of dating, or despite heading major organisations and being in leadership positions their achievements need to be belittled, else someone will uncover their (false) truth and expose them as frauds.
For me, it was heartening to read that people like Tom Hanks, Michelle Obama and even Emma Watson have reported feeling this way. Such people who are in the limelight and their accomplishments are there for the world to see shouldnâ€™t feel this way, right? But they do.
The more I learnt about this concept and the more I dug into it, the easier it became to accept it. I began noticing how for some itâ€™s visible discomfort if theyâ€™re publicly praised, while for others itâ€™s avoiding compliments by turning the conversation towards goals that still need to be achieved.
As a millennial, Iâ€™m occupied with various projects at the same time, however, it feels awkward telling people about what I do. The creeping feeling comes back and I want to just avoid the spotlight and move on.
My research yielded some basic ways to avoid this feeling: donâ€™t minimise your accomplishments, separate feelings from facts and accentuate the positives in your life. Obviously, this is just what works for me. Itâ€™s highly recommended that you see a professional to assuage your concerns and find out the route thatâ€™s optimal for you. Remember: imposter syndrome is something that isnâ€™t restricted to age, gender and other factors. You might see it more in one group than the other given your personal surroundings, but everyone is susceptible. The purpose of this article was to highlight this issue so you donâ€™t feel alone or as if youâ€™re losing your mind feeling inadequate. Till then, be kind to those around you, as you donâ€™t know what their struggle is.