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Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you need to look presentable ASAP? You might have to go to a meeting with your teacher or coach or go to last-minute dinner plans with your friends or family. The last thing you want to come across is disheveled! You want to reflect that you care and value this time. In this video, I’m going to teach you some quick fixes that are essential if you want to look your best despite being in a time crunch. These tips include grooming, picking the right outfit and presenting yourself as polished and put together. If you put these simple tips into practice, you’re guaranteed to turn heads wherever you go!

Article by Nuria Al-Ahmad

Personal Grooming:

Personal grooming is the first step to looking fresh and clean and it really improves your self-confidence too. Grooming yourself properly doesn’t have to take hours — all you really need to do is brush your teeth, put on some deodorant and make sure your hair isn’t too greasy. Ideally, you should freshly shampoo and condition your hair but if you’re in a really tight time crunch you can simply use dry shampoo and hair perfume to refresh your hair.

You should also wash your face and moisturize it thoroughly to get a glowy complexion. Massaging your face while you moisturize is a great habit because it immediately rejuvenates your skin and removes any signs of tiredness. Even if you only massage your face for a minute or two you’ll achieve a youthful and rosy look. No matter how much you need to rush you should never forget one crucial step — sunscreen. This will protect your skin from sun damage and your future self will thank you.

After you’ve done all these basic steps you can move on to styling your hair. This is arguably the most important step because no matter how glowy your skin is, if your hair looks messy and matted you can never achieve a polished look. The best quick fix for your hair is to brush it and put it up into a slicked-back bun or ponytail. This way it’ll snatch your face and give you a put-together look. If your hair is too short to put up you can just pin it behind your ears and this will give you a similar neat look.

When it comes to looking good, the devil is in the details so you should focus on everything including your nails. If your nails are looking jagged just go over them quickly with a nail file. Cleaning under the nails is a must! Invest in a nail brush and scrub away at the grim that wedges in there! This takes two minutes and your fingers and hands end up looking a lot cleaner. Chipped nail polish is a big no so we suggest removing your nail polish altogether since applying a fresh coat on a time crunch is never a good idea. You could end up staining your clothes andthat’s the last thing you want! Clean short nails are the details you want to pay attention too! While you are riding in the car, you can use a nail buffer for an added shine!

Choosing The Right Outfit:

When it comes to transforming from messy to marvelous in a short amount of time choosing the right outfit is crucial. Knowing “when to wear what” will save you countless hours of frantically searching through your closet for something to wear. There are some key rules that everyone should follow while getting dressed and the most important rule is to start with basics. Instead of looking for a statement top, you should opt for a classic white button-down or t-shirt depending on the occasion. Having a good collection of basics in your wardrobe will make getting ready quickly a whole lot easier. If you have a closet full of neutrals then all the clothes you own will go together and you won’t have to worry about matching different colors. A favorite accent color can jump in and create the head turning buzz you are going for! Colors like black and white and different shades of brown complement most skin tones and always look timeless. Bright colors can change the mood, draw attention and attract people to you! Invest in timeless pieces since they stay in style longer while also picking up on the latest trends to stand out!

While curating the perfect outfit you should be mindful of your body shape and height since certain styles of clothing don’t compliment certain body shapes. If you don’t want to spend time worrying about this then the best thing to do is stick to tailored clothing. This means you shouldn’t wear anything too baggy or too tight. Tailored clothing helps you accentuate your unique body shape and gives you an elegant look.

Always remember that a perfect outfit is totally useless if you don’t pay it the attention it deserves. This means you absolutely must iron or steam each article of clothing that you wear. Even simply hanging a wrinkled shirt when you are showering, it will be wrinkle-free from the steam by the time you are done! This simple task takes no more than a few minutes and it makes a huge difference. Paying attention to your outfit also means accessorizing it well and the key to this is remembering that less is more. A simple necklace or bracelet is all you really need to pull your entire look together. When it comes to shoes you should make sure yours are polished and well-maintained and most importantly that they’re appropriate for the occasion. You obviously don’t want to show up to a fancy dinner wearing sneakers or walk into a meeting in flip-flops. If you keep all these tips in mind then dressing in a hurry should be no problem as you’ll already know exactly what to wear.

Presenting Yourself To Others:

When presenting yourself to others it’ s important to look great but you should make sure you smell great as well. Apart from basic hygiene, you should always have a signature scent. When picking the right perfume it’ s important to find one that isn’t too overpowering. You definitely don’t want a scent that’ll make people sneeze or cough when you enter a room. Something subtle yet distinct is the way to go and depending on your personality you can choose any kind of scent whether it’ s floral or musky.

Another tip that’ll help you turn heads when you enter a room is staying mindful of your posture at all times. Walking with a straight back and relaxed shoulders is the key to looking graceful and confident. You should never slouch or hunch up your shoulders as that will ruin the effect of your outfit and diminish your confidence. You should also avoid crossing your arms as that makes you look less approachable to others as does keeping a straight face at all times. Smiling will make you look more approachable and people will perceive you as polite if you smile often.

This goes hand in hand with the next tip which is to always remember your manners regardless of who you’re talking to. Even if you’re just hanging out with your friends, never forget to say please and thank you. Always remember to maintain eye contact during conversations and never interrupt someone else while they’re speaking. When it’s your turn to speak you should do so with assurance and avoid stammering. These subtle changes will make you seem more confident and people will end up respecting you much more.

Glow Up From The Inside Out:

While all these tips are very helpful when quickly fixing your appearance to impress others you should always remember that the real glow-up comes from within. Looking polished and put together isn’t just about following a set of strict rules, it’s about feeling confident in your own skin and making sure your appearance matches this inner confidence. If you feel comfortable and confident in how you present yourself to others only then will you be able to be the best version of yourself. While changing our eating and thought patterns may not lead to immediate changes, they will be helpful in the future and your future self will thank you!! Eating healthy and getting the right vitamins and nutrients from food for our skin, hair and nails will help us look our best! Remember if nature didn’t make it, don’t take it!! Try to eat a “rainbow” of colors from fruits and vegetables and spices in nature. Our thoughts affect our mindset. Engaging in positive self-talk and minimizing our harsh inner critic will also help our confidence and ultimately our appearance!

These tips should help you transform from messy to marvelous, turn heads and attract what you want in no time! Always remember to adapt them to your own personal style and be consistent for the best results.

Rashid Rana’s name has become synonymous with contemporary Pakistani art, having made headlines for his work fetching the highest price (Red Carpet for 623,000 USD at Sotheby’s New York) amongst all Pakistani artists, living or deceased, at international art auctions (the late Sadequain’s work comes second in price). Rashid takes Mahlia Lone through his journey of becoming such a renowned and best-selling artist

Rana is the first living artist in the world to have had a “survey solo exhibition” at the prestigious Muse Guimet Paris. Rana’s work is in top international collections, including the venerable British Museum in London, Metropolitan Museum in New York City and Fukuoka Museum in Japan, among many other private and public institutions.

Just some of the awards the master artist has received include the Asia Art Award by Asia Society and Game Changer Asia Art Award by the Asia Society in 2017 (the only Pakistan based artist to have received this honour). In addition, he continues to inspire and educate students by playing a pivotal role in the field of art education in Pakistan not only by having taught at the NCA and PIFD but also as founding faculty of the School of Visual Arts and Design, BNU, and heading it as its dean.

You have the distinction of being the Pakistani artist, living or deceased, whose art fetches the highest price? Tell us about that. How does it make you feel?

It does feel good; it also gives me more opportunities to make more exciting, ambitious work. Let me clarify here that I’m not the beneficiary of all these sales of millions of Rupees that you often hear on the news from international auction houses. When collectors who had acquired my work many years ago for very nominal prices send some works to auction, they sometimes do fetch these ridiculously high prices. Even if I’m not the direct beneficiary, it does feel gratifying momentarily but money is not the ultimate criteria. It’s the other achievements and milestones that have a longer lasting effect.

“Money is not the ultimate criteria”

I never thought initially for people buying my art that it would make such a good investment.  I’ve learnt how the art market functions over the years but I’m always a few steps behind. It feels good to know that other people are benefitting from my work. I personally have done well enough that I can afford to make more ambitious and challenging works.

“All ideas that have an intellectual worth acquire material and financial worth as well”

Your work is quite a lucrative investment then isn’t it?

We live in a capitalist world so all ideas that have an intellectual worth acquire material and financial worth as well. It’s something you and I can’t control in the larger economic system that we operate in. There are a few steps that one can take, which I’ve followed. When my work first started selling for huge prices, I decided to step back and check myself to see what I was producing, neither to play to the gallery nor to the market and give it a break and not to overproduce

“It’s good to surround yourself with creative out of the box ideas in your environment”

Rashid Rana in his home surrounded by his collection of thought-provoking works of young, contemporary artists

Don’t a lot of Indians collect your work?

Yes, initially my work was well received in India when I exhibited there in 2004 but since then many notable international collectors, public and private, have acquired my work as well.

“Whoever you are is your identity and whatever you do is your culture”

GQ India included you in their list of 12 Pakistanis of all time who have influenced Indian pop culture, including Imran Khan, Nazia Hassan, Nusrat Fateh Ali and Fawad Khan. How did you become such an icon there?

Art and artists are not as famous among the masses as people from show biz or cricket but in terms of the journey my career is perhaps similar to my counterparts from other disciplines whose names you have mentioned. Perhaps this is owing to the fact that, since the late 1990s after my initial abstract works, I started using visual strategies that were more appealing to the wider audience; I started collecting and incorporating imagery from popular and broad visual culture, including Lollywood and Bollywood (you would find Sultan Rahi and Shahrukh appearing in some of my works from that period).

Your work hangs at the British Museum. That’s quite an achievement.

Yes, they have a work of mine titled I Love Miniatures in their collection. They included this work in the Treasures of the World from the British Museum travelling exhibition that went to the Singapore Museum of Art. The aim was to bring together selected objects from entire human history in one exhibition – hence a newspaper labeled the exhibition as “Human history in 239 objects from the British Museum.” I felt proud and humbled at the same time to have my work featured in this unique context.

“Tradition is an illusion of permanence”

And as many as 27 of your works were displayed at the Musee Guimet (France’s national museum of Asian art) in Paris as well.

Yes, the president of the Musée Guimet then, Jacques Giès wanted the museum’s displays to reflect the link between heritage and contemporary art. For the first time in the museum’s history they displayed a large number of works by contemporary artists that included my digital photomontages and sculptures mixed into the museum’s permanent collections alongside ancient artifacts including Buddha statuettes.

How is your art relevant to someone who can’t afford to buy your work?

Don’t worry about not affording my art, even I can’t afford it. You don’t see my work in my home. (Chuckles)

We can see in your home that you collect young artists’ work. Guide us how we too can build our collections.

It’s good to have an object in your possession but it’s not about being acquisitive. You can still appreciate the work even if you don’t own it. As far as collecting art is concerned, my message to young collectors is to support young artists even if their work seems unsellable or uncollectable to you, for instance video installations and performance art. I support buying someone’s idea even if it doesn’t have a physical form. I fully encourage collectors to come forward and support young artists. Even if its financial value doesn’t appreciate, it’s good to surround yourself with creative, out of the box ideas in your environment.

At the end of the day, these are ideas. Art doesn’t just have to be painting, sculpture or something tangible but can very well be ephemeral in nature. There are young artists now whose work can only be experienced on social media so you can’t acquire it physically. There’s a whole range of possibilities in which one can engage in art and ideas. As long as you have interest in it, that’s all that matters.

Tell us about the concepts behind your work. What are the ideas you want to share with GT readers?

That’s a very broad topic. My interests are extremely diverse. At the end of the day, I’m interested in the visual language itself. The initial phase of my career was all about documenting paradoxes and contradictions within me and outside of me. Then gradually I became more interested in challenging the viewer’s perception of time and place or time and space. As a whole what connects my entire practice is the fact that I do not believe any prescribed notions of identity.

I really believe that anyone born in the Third World countries that were colonized has to avoid falling into the trap of identity that’s often reduced to the country or the religion. There are so many multiple aspects to your personality and don’t undermine those in order to fit into a one-dimensional frame that you want to put on your identity. In a sense, an individual has a whole world inside him/her. Therefore, whoever you are is your identity and whatever you do is your culture.

If you are an artist born say in Amsterdam, no one will ask you why your work doesn’t resemble Rembrandt’s. But if you were born in Pakistan, then suddenly you will be asked whether your work looks Pakistani enough or not. I think this is a trap. If you are a Pakistani, then whatever you produce is Pakistani. In Woody Allen’s words, “Tradition is an illusion of permanence.” You make your traditions for yourself.

As an individual and as a nation, the way forward for all the people who live in the regions that were colonized in the past is not to make the mistake of living in the refuge of the splendid past and look towards our past and traditions and try to imitate them. Or to believe that we can meet the developed countries in the future by simply following in their footsteps. Because when you follow in someone’s footsteps, you will always be behind just as if you live in the romance of the past, you will always be in the past. Be aware of the past and the future, but take your present and loop it with the future and meet other people from the Developed World somewhere on your own trajectory. That will only happen if you have self-belief.

Photography by Ali Agha

Hassan Rizvi is known to throw the wickedest parties in K-town. We might know him as a highly talented PR guru but Hassan is also an established choreographer, dancer, director and event manager. This multifaceted man is also a brother, son and husband to his high school sweetheart Hina. Hassan chats with Sana Zehra about PR, parties, dancing and more

What is so special about the personal relation business?

I feel like socializing is a great part of me and always has been, so this domain automatically grew on me. PR is a clever mix of advertising, creativity and knowledge. All three are ongoing journeys that never cease to exist.

What is your ideal work environment?

A hot cup of coffee, a chilled room and a bunch of crazies (my team) working on a brainstorm session.

When responding to media and public inquiries, what question do you find most difficult to answer?

I believe the most difficult question to answer would be, “Who is your backbone at work?” Considering the fact they all play a big part in all the campaigns we have worked on. Oh, and: “Whose my worst client?” That’s definitely on the top.

How do you use social media to help your clients?

I propose to my clients the marriage between PR and social media and how impactful it could be in this digitized era.

Tell me about a social media campaign you have worked on?

They’ve been plenty, including Knorr Noodles Boriyat Busters, Cornetto Pop Rock, Blue Band – Achai Barhnay Do, Walls Log out for Moms and Shell Drive on Pakistan. These are my top favourites.

What’s the difference between public relations and advertising?

Advertising and PR have a very close relation yet are apart. PR focuses on strategic communications process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organization and the public.

“PR is a clever mix of advertising, creativity and knowledge”

What does public relations mean to you?

Public relations to me is building relations as the word states itself. I focus on communication and building a level of trust with the other party to make them fully understand that their brand is our responsibility. It’s not considered work in my eyes, its building long lasting relationships.

Do you believe there is a communications crisis right now?

Communication crisis. Hmm, to an extent, yes, considering people still tend to mix PR with advertising and overlap the two avenues. As for it ever being a crisis — that’s what we are here for, to save the day! Communication overload is more like it.

How has social media changed the world of PR?

Taking in consideration the modernization and digitization in today’s era, social media is key and acts as a major plus in creating the buzz within a span of a few seconds.

How would you balance advocacy and objectivity in PR?

You have to remain truthful and ethical at all times is all.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

I would spend more time with my family, parents, wife, kids and work even harder.

“Politely but sternly call out people who cut lines or who have no sense of personal space”

What’s your favourite piece of clothing that you own?

My white Dolce & Gabbana trainers that I wear to work everyday. They are super comfortable and match everything.

What job would you be terrible at?

I was terrible at my first job! I’m an economist by profession and started out working with Shell as a data analyst. I felt like the day would never end.

If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning medal for?

Dancing for sure!

If you had unlimited funds to build a house that you would live in for the rest of your life, what would the finished house be like?

I would have a pool with a sun deck and a patio. My bathroom would be the size of my current house. It would have remote control walk in closet. I am now drooling just thinking about it.

When people come to you for help, what do they usually want help with?

When they want to be heard, they come to me to vent and discuss their problems.

What would be your first question after waking up from being cryogenically frozen for 100 years?

Am I wrinkled?!

What have you only recently formed an opinion about?

I decided in 2018 that I will politely but sternly call out people who cut lines or who have no sense of personal space. All of us as a nation are very receptive to good change, which initially I thought might be hard.

What is the most annoying question that people ask you?

(Laughs) It has to be: “Can I come to your party?”

What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?

A lot of things: Philosophy, gender discrimination, race, creativity, PR, future of PR in Pakistan…

A journalist’s life can be busy, juggling work meetings and fashion events, all in one day. Nudrat Mustafa gives us a glimpse into her wardrobe, taking us from day to night in Sapphire and Sameer Karasu

Muse: Nudrat Mustafa

Makeup: Anum Sikander

Wardrobe: Sapphire and Sameer Karasu

Coordination: Afshan Shafi

Photography: Raza Ali

Loving this smart Sapphire kurta on Nudrat! Pulled back hair and classic white trousers make this a perfect outfit for a work meeting.

This Sapphire top cinches at the waist beautifully. Perfect for an al fresco lunch.

Sameer Karasu gets the details right in everything he does and this ensemble is perfect for a event photo-op.

With numerous eateries and fashion brands opening up in the city, a journo needs to amp it up in the evening. This Sameer Karasu beautifully cut top adds just the right flourishes for a formal affair.

Lifestyle symbolizes creativity and individuality with a blend of trends reflected in the designs. Meet Raheel and Zoya, the creative team and co-founders of Creo, a home accessories and living accents brand. Their passion for accessories stemmed from their motivation to renovate their own home

By Haider Rifaat

Walk us through your journey.

After starting our lives together, we wanted to create a space that was an expression of our personalities. That goal not only pushed us to look at options beyond what was available in the local accessories market, but it also forced us to consider ways to redo our space without a budget breaking overhaul. The result was stunning customized pieces for our home and the birth of Creo.

How did your creative talent translate into a full time profession?

The beginnings of Creo are humble and close to the heart. We always had an innate flare for interior and design but we realized our passion when we started our home improvement project.

What accessories do you specialize in?

Creo has a spectrum of home and lifestyle accessories. From unconventional hangings and floor planters, occasional tables, exquisite lamps to stunning serve ware and unique bookends, we offers a range of accessories and accents pieces.

What are your professional roles as two creative people?

The design process is a shared responsibility. Raheel leads manufacturing and finance, while sales and marketing are my forte.

What is your crafting process? What steps are involved in making luxury home accessories?

Our creative process is very fluid. Sometimes a particular material will inspire a product, and in other cases, design options are discussed once we have determined what type of product we wish to create.

As a couple, how would you describe lifestyle?

There is a growing trend to try to fit into a mold, but we feel lifestyle should reflect your values and personality.

Was your journey struggle free or a tough one?

While our journey wasn’t struggle free, we haven’t faced a choice so difficult, a problem so substantial that we have not been able to overcome. In fact, our resolve to work hard only becomes stronger with each challenge.

How does your individual talent reflect in your designs? Is it a struggle for you both to land on the same page?

We share a similar aesthetic vision and our individual talents complement each other. We have mastered product form, proportions and the ability to merge them with functionality. We seldom find ourselves in a design deadlock.

As a couple, how do you regulate conflict of interest in a business?

We have faith in each other’s ideas and even when we disagree, we give each other the autonomy and space to experiment. Neither of us has regrets about being unable to try something we believed in.

How are affordability and luxury both an asset to your brand’s philosophy? Do the terms not contradict each other?

We don’t believe luxury and affordability are mutually exclusive. Luxury should not be associated with specific price points or exclusive access; instead it should be associated with particular characteristics or values, such as style, quality and finish.

Do you find your designs exotic and far from the mainstream? Is that why you chose not to amalgamate yourselves with the local industry?

While our products are bold and unique, they reflect the urban Pakistani’s burgeoning desire for a modern and luxe aesthetic.

“As artists, we are the ambassadors of our country. It is our responsibility that we convey a positive message to the audiences and around world through our art, music and voice”

How much work is required to create household and office items? Guide me through the process.

The design process is a bit unpredictable. Something that is seemingly easy to create may in fact takes much longer to develop on account of hurdles during execution.  Some products will take days while others may take months to complete.

Who do you cite as your influences?

We greatly admire the work of international designers such as Kelly Wearstler and Jonathan Adler for their adventurous flare. We have also been inspired by local arts and crafts and have developed ways to incorporate such art and artisanship into our accessories.

Are people receptive to your business? Has it been positive or a mix of both?

The response has been overwhelming. Creo is lauded for offering sumptuous home accessories that deliver functionality at affordable price points.

How do you intend to take your business to the next level?

We want to introduce our products to customers all over Pakistan. To that end, we are planning a series of exhibitions in major cities early next year.

Arman Ali Pasha branched out from modeling into acting in the drama serial Aadhi Gawahi. His role, albeit small, helped him garner fame and popularity instantaneously, making him one of Pakistan’s hottest young actors. After making waves in Rashk, the talented young actor is currently shooting three drama serials simultaneously. Arman talks to Ally Adnan about the world of show business, his love for acting, the benefits of being a celebrity, the importance of education, and a lot else

“The greatest actors work as team members, bringing out the best in each other”

The world of show business is known for fame, fortune and glory. What attracted you to the field?

It was none of the three that you mentioned. I joined the world of show business because I wanted to become an actor and believed that it was the best vocation for me. My goal has always been to get recognized as an actor of merit; fame, fortune and glory, if they come my way, will be incidental benefits of being a competent actor.

You were studying to be a lawyer when you started working as a model and an actor. Do you plan to go back to school and complete your education?

Yes, I do. I am taking a break from studies to work as a model and actor but will complete my education. I may do it on a part-time basis but will definitely get my degree. Education is important. It opens new horizons and doors for a person, gives him/her confidence, class and sophistication, and helps realize his/her full intellectual potential.

How did you get your first break as a model? 

I started by walking the ramp for local designers and was noticed by fashion designers and talent scouts at the events. They offered me the opportunity to participate in bigger and more prestigious shows, like the ones organized by PFDC. I did well in the shows and found myself working in advertisements and commercials shortly thereafter. The world of modeling has treated me well.

Do you enjoy modeling?

Yes, I do. I love the energy and excitement of the ramp. I enjoy seeing myself on billboards. And, I am very happy when acting in commercials. That being said, I should add that acting is more important to me than modeling. I may work as a model, from time to time, but my primary profession will always be acting.

What makes a successful model?

A successful model has good looks and physique; more importantly, he has a unique, towering personality that is likable. He is confident, composed and dignified. He knows his good and bad angles, his strengths and weaknesses, and his likes and dislikes. He knows how to pose and work with cameras. Acting is also an important skill in the field of modeling, especially when working in commercials. Professionalism, dedication and seriousness are vital. And, intelligence is very crucial; otherwise, one is unable to make good career decisions.

A lot of models move to acting after a few years of modeling. You seem to have done the same. Why?

In my case, the move to acting was not happenstance. It was a part of the plan. Acting was my ultimate goal and modeling a stepping-stone in my show business career.

Acting is very near and dear to my heart. I love modeling but have a strong preference for acting.

How did you learn to act?

I have wanted to be an actor for as long as I can remember and grew up watching actors perform on television and in cinema. I used to pay more attention to the craft of acting while watching films and television programs than to anything else. My favourite actors ended up being my teachers. Watching them act was a veritable education and the best one a budding actor can have.

“I used to pay more attention to the craft of acting while watching films and television programs”

Who are your favourite actors?

It is a long list that includes Nauman Ijaz, Faysal Qureshi and Humayun Saeed. I think Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah are great actors. I believe that Marlon Brando, Daniel Day-Lewis, Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, and Al Pacino are amongst the best actors of all time. I absolutely adore them. They are my heroes.

What are the qualities and attributes of a successful actor?

A successful actor is sincere towards his profession and has genuine passion and love for the craft of acting. He is tenacious, hardworking and serious. He may be good looking and have a great body but does not rely exclusively on those attributes. He can deliver a complete, believable character on screen, in all its depth, complexity and nuance. He becomes an intrinsic part of the story that he is a part of and does not try to outshine other actors. The greatest actors work as team members, bringing out the best in each other. They do not care for individual triumphs and work to make the entire projects successful.

What progress have you made as an actor from your first drama serial Aadhi Gawahi to the next Rashk?

I believe that I have become more skilled as an actor over time and carry myself with more confidence and poise than I used to as a rookie. My dialog delivery has improved considerably, and I have learnt how to react to the lines of other actors properly. There is, of course, a long road of learning ahead of me but I am happy – and satisfied – that I am on the right track and improving with time.

What projects do you have in the pipeline currently?

I am working in three television serials currently: Ek Aashiyan Banaya Tha, A Plus’s Hoor Pari, and Jaltay Khwaab. I play important roles, which have a lot of substance, complexity and nuance, in each one of the serials. I believe that I will have arrived and established myself as an actor if I deliver well in these serials.

You moved from Lahore to Karachi to pursue your acting career. How are the two cities different?

The pace of life is faster in Karachi. The city has a lot of energy and verve, whereas Lahore is more languid and relaxed. People in Karachi take their time to open up. Lahoris, on the other hand, are friendlier and warmer. Karachi offers significantly more opportunities to show business professionals than Lahore.  I love Lahore, but enjoy living in Karachi.

“Gossip stems from jealousy, envy and resentment”

Did you find it difficult to settle down in Karachi?

Not at all! The city welcomed me with open arms. I have made some very good friends in Karachi and am enjoying life in the city.

Do you attribute your success in the world of show business to your talent or to your looks?

I believe that it is a combination of both but hope that, in the long run, it will be more my talent than my looks.

How much effort, energy and time do you put into looking good?

I pay attention to my grooming and spend a few hours each month in a salon. I make sure that I get eight full hours of sleep each night. I do not smoke and stay away from drugs and alcohol. I eat well and drink a lot of water. I make sure to stay abreast of fashion trends and spend a bit of money on clothes and shoes. That is about all I do for my looks.

What are the perks of being a celebrity and in show business?

I make a decent living. I get to wear a lot of good clothes, some of which I receive as gifts. I am known and recognized all over the country. And, I feel that I bring happiness, joy and entertainment to the lives of a very large number of people. That feels very good.

What is the downside of having a career in show business?

A certain loss of privacy comes with fame. That can be a little disconcerting. Work hours and schedules can be grueling, but I am a hardworking person and deal with that well. There is a lot of chatter and gossip in the business. That bothers me, at times.

“I love Lahore, but enjoy living in Karachi”

How do you deal with chatter and gossip?

I try to ignore it. I will admit that it gets to me, every now and then, but I am generally able to rise above it and do not let it bother me. A lot of gossip stems from jealousy, envy and resentment. These are very negative and corrosive emotions. I feel sorry for people who harbor them.

Does being a popular model and actor make it easy for you to hook up with ladies?

I wish it did but, contrary to popular belief, it does not. Modeling and acting take up a lot of time, leaving almost none for relationships.

Are you romantically involved with someone at this stage?

Yes, I am, with my acting and modeling projects.

What do you do when you are not acting and modeling?

I watch films, listen to music, read books, hang out with friends, and, most importantly, travel.

Why do you like to travel?

Travelling affords me a lot of peace. It gives me time to relax, think and plan. It helps me learn about new cultures and people. It broadens my horizons. It boosts my confidence. It creates lifelong memories for me. It allows me an opportunity to shop. It is a lot of fun.

What are you reading these days?

I am reading Sharp Objects which is the latest novel by Gillian Schieber Flynn, the writer of Dark Places and Gone Girl. I like Flynn’s style of writing. Her novels are fast-paced, engaging and fascinating, and her characters are real, complex and intricate. All three of her novels read like movies. Sharp Objects is a psychological thriller that tells the story of a reporter who returns to work after a stay at a psychiatric hospital and is tasked with covering the murder of two pre-teen girls in her hometown. It’s not just an effective thriller, but an excellent character study as well. I think that, like Dark Places and Gone Girl, Sharp Objects would make a great film.

Would you like to star in a movie based on one of Gillian Flynn’s books?

Oh, yes, absolutely! That would be a dream come true.

Photographs by Daud Malik

NABEEL & AQEEL, the brand, shot into the limelight in 1999 when its stunning collection of contemporary shalwar kameez with black velvet mandarin collars became a huge hit. With its stylish collections for men and women, the brand continues to impress customers from all over the world.

 “We want to make Nabeel & Aqeel one of the most desired label for men and women all over the world, by creating designs which are unique, desirable, durable, affordable and most importantly, wearable.”

In their pursuit of perfection, the brothers behind the brand have worked day and night and traveled thousands of miles to make the best products for their customers at affordable price in collaboration with the finest and latest production facilities in the world. They are famous in introducing novel and unique products that render their brand apart from others in the same business; thus, being the only one, which always comes up with something different.

The only brand in Asia that makes cigars comparable with any top brand in the world, this is Pakistan’s first designer brand to make perfumes and the country’s only designer brand with such a diverse product line up. Across the board, the brothers, co-founders and partners impress everyone who loves fashion and appreciates finer things in life.

Let’s hear it from Nabeel & Aqeel themselves.

What are you passionate about right now?

It can be anything that inspires and motivates us from walking in the rain to visiting an art gallery, and from a particular colour shade to a person. It’s important to understand why this thing/person is so inspiring to you.

Right now, we are passionate about merging different heritages and cultures, old and new, east and west. The solid, timeless, grandeur of the Badshahi Mosque and the modernity of Kennedy Space Centre are both inspiring and motivational for us. We love Pink Floyd music for its depth, and Van Gogh’s art for its vibrancy. We revel in touring the world, and exploring new avenues, but we always love coming back home to our roots.

It is this attraction of opposites that invokes thoughts and ideas in our minds; it allows us to appreciate the best of everything; it also makes us value time because it never lasts.

Give us your background.

We come from a close knit family. Our father is an educationist, management consultant and a former bureaucrat. Our mother is a home economist and the key person to guide us on the path of fashion and style since our childhood. With the combination of our father’s academic attitude and our mother’s encouragement of fashion, we grew up in an atmosphere, which was very conducive to get our creative juices flowing from an early age. When we were in school, we used to save our pocket money to buy select designer accessories, and were always the source of envy in our friends’ circles. Hence, our tastes were refined at quite an early age. We decided to get our MBA, which provided us with the essentials of setting up our first business. We also obtained formal training in Fashion Design. Nabeel did his diploma from FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), NYC, and I did an internship at Armani, UK.

Having strong family ties, we rely a lot on the guidance we receive from our parents to plan our paths, and I think it is this attitude that has helped us get Allah’s blessings and amde our path easier.

Tell us about your new collection?

We want to instill comfort in every detail of our collection. Once you try, you will buy.

In our 2107 collection, we tried to redefine comfort; we hope our new collection will change your perception for fashion. Everything changes, we change, fashion changes, what will never change is our passion for our work, to make everything with love. Elegance, style, superb fashion design, attention to detail, perfect wearability, fabric research, value and technological innovation are the most important elements that characterize the Nabeel & Aqeel collections.

What is your fashion philosophy?

We are doing some very new things. It’s all about evolution. What you’ll see is our response to what we have observed going on in the world. It’s about being positive, optimistic and personal. The zeitgeist? We’re on it. Our philosophy is to create things that reflects personality and individuality. It’s all about you. Anyone can dress up in designer uniform and express a certain economic status or trendiness. What’s really interesting is using your clothes to reveal who you really are. Express yourself.

Our aim is to provide you special items that will become a part of your life, garments and accessories you’ll wear in a completely personal way. It’s about being uniue. It’s all about attitude, texture, intelligence, versatility and personal style.

Tell us about your new perfumes collection.

This signature collection of fragrances is inspired by perfumery’s glamorous past when only best ingredients were gathered from around the world to create one-of-kind fragrances of sophistication and luxury.  Featuring 11 aromatic new fragrances for men and women, they are a result of sculpting, refining and finishing the best ingredients with magical fragrances, all redolent of adventure and spice.

Tell us about your much talked about perfume INSANITY.  Why did you choose this name?

We named it Insanity because of its power to seduce. It’s energetically earthy and sexually explicit. The rose lies at its heart note. Not your old auntie’s rose, but a raunchy rose.

“This rose has been up all night, smoking and drinking before staggering home as the sun comes up, loving every moment and looking forward to the next time.”

“The ultimate seducer….This is one of the most gorgeous floral I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience; A love at first sniff; a beautiful stranger, an alluring beast…a master of disguise.”

You are a queen and a princess, a lover and a heartbreaker; too beautiful to control and too wild to love. INSANITY is a seductive fragrance made for free and passionate women. It arouses the senses; woman’s hidden emotions and inexplicable passions with an exotic blend of lush florals and deep wood notes. It is not the one for office, we advise, but if you have seduction in mind.

When designing a perfume, what are the key factors you keep in mind?

The focus has always been on quality materials than expensive packaging.  We create very special, original fragrances that are unconstrained by the conventions of mainstream scent-making. Our fragrances are designed with the true fragrance connoisseur in mind.

Where do you place yourselves in the world of fashion and what do you think of the fashion industry here in Pakistan?

The fashion industry in Pakistan is definitely on the right track. People are becoming more aware of contemporary global fashion, and their expectations from fashion brands in Pakistan are increasing. This directly puts positive pressure and demand on the fashion providers. It’s healthy for the growth of this industry.

Regarding our place in the world of fashion, I think I will let my work and clientele prove this for us. People have given us a lot of acclaim, and it’s an honor that everyone acknowledges the effort and soul we put in our work. The brand of Nabeel & Aqeel is known for its ultra-modern, futuristic, yet classy vision, blended with delicate finesses into its creations.

How much further do you think you have to go before you reach your ultimate goal in life? 

We don’t believe in setting a limit on our dreams and aspirations, as this indicates a tendency to stagnate. We like to think that we are progressive and evolving, and this reflects our philosophy of life. As soon as we achieve one set of goals, we have another target to work for. This is how life goes on. The ultimate goal in our life would be to sit back several years from now and know that we have made a difference in the history of Pakistan’s fashion and culture—a positive difference!

Sidebar

You are a queen and a princess, a lover and a heartbreaker; too beautiful to control and too wild to love. INSANITY is a seductive fragrance made for free and passionate women. It arouses the senses; woman’s hidden emotions and inexplicable passions with an exotic blend of lush florals and deep wood notes. It is not the one for office, we advise, but if you have seduction in mind.

What about music?

We love music. It’s everywhere around us. Thanks to our father and elder brothers, we had the pleasure of enjoying a wide range of music at a very early age. We grew up solving math listening to Pink Floyd. We love all kinds of music from Tiesto to Saain Zahoor, cherishing the enigma of versatile echoes from singers around the globe.  Soon we are launching NOSTALGIA, a collection of CDs, featuring unforgettable music that we love.

Tell us about your cigar collection?

We are the first designer brand in Asia to make cigars.

Nabeel & Aqeel Cigars are blended exclusively with select fine leaves from the best tobacco regions of the world. Its delicate aroma and delicious taste will make you revel in the unique pleasure of smoking a cigar.

We have two different collections: The Connoisseur collection is from Dominican Republic, while the Imperial Havana collection is from Cuba. Both the series have different sizes of cigars. I love our new cigar IMPIRIAL HAVANA 56 that offers exceptional character and flavour. You will fall in love with its taste.

Who is your target customer for your menswear?

Nabeel& Aqeel is targeting a man that aspires to a luxurious lifestyle, high in its style, fashion and elegance quotient. He is a professional man who looks for tasteful, subtle style, fashion conscious, but never a fashion victim; he expects a good relationship between quality and price.

Your favourite scent?

There are many, depends on the mood and the occasion. We love all the perfumes by Nabeel & Aqeel of course. Besides that Creed Aventus and Santal 33 by Le Labo are among our favourites these days.

The perfume you like on a woman?

Insanity it is!

How did the two of you end up working together?

Knowing that we are brothers, it shouldn’t be surprising that we are working together. We have been best friends for as long as we can remember; we went to same school, same college; we used to share our thoughts and ideas with each other and used to get inspired by almost similar things, which led us to start working together.

We have a good business relationship; we motivate each other to do better.  Living in the same house, we get to share our inspirations, thoughts and fashion philosophy with each other constantly. This keeps a sense of coherence in our work and also helps us to bounce our ideas off each other to test their validity.

To keep the balance, however, we distribute and segregate the work load, so that both of us get a chance to see our ideas materialize our ideas. I, Aqeel, am more on a visionary side, the dreamer and Nabeel is the one who transforms those visions into reality.

With their widely praised thriller Gumm, filmmakers Ammar Lasani and Kanza Zia have arrived in the world of cinema. The debut film of the husband and wife filmmaking duo has been exhibited at numerous international film festivals and has won awards, accolades and praise all over the world. Ahead of the wide release of Gumm, the talented young couple sits down with Ally Adnan for an exclusive interview for GT and talk about their first feature film and how it is to work together

Gumm was compared with Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s epic western The Revenant at the 2018 Madrid International Film Festival. That must feel good.

Ammar Lasani: It sure does! The Revenant is a masterpiece and a truly great film. Gumm and The Revenant are very different in style and approach but deal with the same theme – challenges facing man and nature in the modern world.

Pakistan has been ranked as the seventh most vulnerable country to climate change by German think-tank Germanwatch. Deforestation and global warming are real and serious problems. We have tried to highlight them by shooting a major portion of Gumm in the deep jungle.

Kanza Zia: I should add that the comparison to The Revenant is an honour not just for ourselves but also for our emerging film industry. It feels great to know that a Pakistani film is being compared to a critically acclaimed film from Hollywood.

Gumm has so far represented Pakistan in eight international film festivals. How was the film selected as Pakistan’s official entry to the festivals?

“As graduates of the New York Film Academy, Kanza and I… have made a film that has universal appeal and meets international filmmaking standards”

Kanza Zia: I believe that we have made a good film in Gumm. Its story-telling style allows viewers to fully enjoy, experience and, if you will, live the story. I believe that the film has been selected as Pakistan’s official entry to several film festivals because of its merit and quality.

Ammar Lasani: As graduates of the New York Film Academy, Kanza and I have an international perspective on films. We have made a film that has universal appeal and meets international filmmaking standards. We are glad – and grateful – that it has represented Pakistan all over the world and won seven major awards to date.

How does exhibition at a film festival help a film?

Kanza Zia: Exhibition at a film festival helps a film by giving it greater exposure, a wider audience, and a proper platform to present itself. It also helps raise the standing of the filmmakers amongst their peers.

Ammar Lasani:  More importantly, it helps gets the best of viewers for films. The finest of critics, scholars, directors, industry professionals, and cinema aficionados attend these events. One cannot ask for a better audience for a film than the one we have at international film festivals.

How do awards benefit a film, its cast and crew?

Kanza Zia: Awards, along with positive reviews and box office returns, are a major index of a film’s worth. They offer great encouragement to the film’s cast and crew and raise their profile in the industry.

Ammar Lasani: They also help by making it easier to secure financing and support of subsequent projects. And, they are a veritable endorsement for the film, its cast and crew.

The two of you made Gumm – your first feature film – together. Was working together as a team difficult for you?

Kanza Zia: No, it was not. In my opinion, we did very well as a team; both of us are aware of our strengths and weaknesses and worked together in a manner that allowed us to enhance the former and mitigate the latter.

Ammar Lasani: Kanza and I are very different as filmmakers, with different areas of strength, skill and expertise. Fortunately, these areas are complementary and come together like pieces of a puzzle when we work together.

Did being married to each other help?

Kanza Zia: Yes, it did. Working with Ammar was like realizing a dream together with a friend, confidante and partner who completely shared your vision.

“I feel that Gumm will open new avenues for the Pakistani film industry by encouraging our filmmakers to make films for both domestic and international audiences”
“It is not easy to find one’s way in an industry where people constantly try to pull each other down”

Ammar Lasani: The fact that we are married helped communication, collaboration and teamwork. We shared ideas, discussed details, debated approaches, and envisioned scenes, while preparing for our film, around the clock. I also feel that our debates, discussions and arguments were pleasant and productive because, as husband and wife, we had trust, respect and love for each other; with someone else, they could have been corrosive and hostile.

Writing, directing, editing and cinematography, you did a lot for the film yourself. Why?

Ammar Lasani: You forgot to include the background score. That was done by us, as well. We did engage the services of a lot of people for Gumm but there were areas where we felt others would not do a job to our liking. We took care of those ourselves.

Kanza Zia: Ours is a fledgling film industry and it is difficult to find people who are talented, capable, and share one’s passion, dedication and vision. We did not want to compromise by recruiting someone who would not be able to deliver satisfactorily and ended up taking a lot of roles in the making of Gumm.

How did you come up with the idea of Gumm?

Kanza Zia: We are staunch environmentalists and wanted to tell a story that highlighted the plight of our planet.

“We are staunch environmentalists and wanted to tell a story that highlighted the plight of our planet”
“Kanza and I…come together like pieces of a puzzle”

Ammar Lasani: The two of us have a great fascination for human relationships and believe that cinema is a great forum to explore them in all their complexity, beauty and charm. We started on Gumm with the aim of telling a moving story, centered around strong, flushed-out characters and their relationships. Environmentalism made a great backdrop for the story that we wanted to tell with Gumm.

How different is Gumm from the film that you had envisioned originally?

Ammar Lasani: It is not different at all. We made the exact film that we had envisioned originally.

Kanza Zia: I believe that the amount of planning and preparation that went into getting ready for Gumm ensured the faithful realization of our vision. There were times when challenges and difficulties made this hard, but we never gave in and never compromised. We had a film in mind and we were determined to make it. I am glad that we succeeded.

Gumm has three principal characters – Haider, Asad and Dua. How did you cast for the three roles?

Kanza Zia: I couldn’t agree more with the celebrated French film director and screenwriter, Bruno Dumont, when he says, “matching character and actor is what a good director does.” That is what we tried to do in Gumm.

Ammar Lasani: We had Sami Khan and Shamoon Abbasi in mind for the roles of Asad and Haider while writing the final draft of our screenplay but did not have anyone in mind for the Dua. We selected Shameen Khan for the role after watching her showreel. All three actors loved the story and screenplay of Gumm and signed on to do the films soon after we approached them. The film would not have been the same without the three of them.

 

Sami Khan has won tremendous praise – and the best actor awards at the prestigious 2018 Madrid International Film Festival and the Creation International Film Festival, Canada – for his portrayal of Asad in Gumm. Although he has always been known to be a resourceful actor, his performance in the film is said to be significantly better than the ones he has delivered in the past. Why did he do so well in Gumm?

Kanza Zia:  Sami Khan is truly a director’s actor. He understands what the director wants and does his very best to deliver accordingly.

Ammar Lasani: I think a number of factors contributed to Sami Khan’s phenomenal performance in Gumm. First and foremost, he worked very hard, with great dedication and determination. Two, the story gave him a lot of room to perform well as an actor. Three, he understood our vision very well. Four, he is a very intelligent, insightful and perceptive person and used these attributes to make Asad’s character real. Most importantly, he used the positive energy that is an intrinsic part of his persona to bring out the best in himself and in others. I am not surprised that he has won two major awards for his performance in Gumm already. Kanza and I had always known that this would happen. He will certainly will take home many more.

Who was the most difficult actor to work with – Sami Khan, Shamoon Abbasi or Shameen Khan?

Kanza Zia: Each one of them have different personalities and styles of work. Ammar and I made sure that we accommodated their individual temperaments and gave them the space, guidance and environment they needed to deliver their best as actors. At the end of the day, it is the director’s job to manage each member of a film’s cast and crew. We did that as best as we could.

Ammar Lasani: Every human being has his own idiosyncrasies, peculiarities and eccentricities. We accommodated theirs as, I am sure, they accommodated ours.  We made a great team together.

Who delivered the best performance: Sami Khan, Shamoon Abbasi or Shameen Khan?

Kanza Zia: In my opinion, all three of them delivered solid performances and did full justice to their roles. No one actor in Gumm is better than the others.

Ammar Lasani: That is not a fair question. It is like asking parents to name their favourite child. I think all three did well; very well to tell you the truth. People who have seen Gumm, loved Asad, hated Haider and adored Dua. That is testimony to the fact that all three actors played the roles convincingly.

What challenges did you face while making Gumm?

Kanza Zia: As debutante filmmakers, we faced a number of challenges. It is not easy to find one’s way in an industry where people constantly try to pull each other down.

Ammar Lasani: There were so many challenges that I stopped keeping track of them a long time ago. I believe that we handled each one of them well and have since moved on. I do not want to talk to them at a time when our film is doing wonderfully well all over the world and is poised for a huge domestic release.

What do you think of Gumm as a film?

Kanza Zia: Gumm has universal appeal. It explores familial relationships in great depth. It has drama, thrills, romance, and comedy. It tells a poignant story that is both engaging, interesting and entertaining. It makes a strong emotional impact and gives viewers food for thought.

Ammar Lasani: Gumm is an intelligent, sensitive and nuanced exploration of human relationships. It deals with topics that are real, important and relatable. It meets international filmmaking standards. I hope that I do not sound arrogant in saying so but I feel that Gumm will open new avenues for the Pakistani film industry by encouraging our filmmakers to make films for both domestic and international audiences.

Gumm has not been released in Pakistan yet. How do you think the film will do critically and commercially in Pakistan?

Kanza Zia: Gumm is very different from the Pakistani films that people are used to seeing in the country. I believe they will enjoy and appreciate its novelty and originality of the film.

Ammar Lasani: We are certain that the film will do exceedingly well in Pakistan, both critically and commercially. Pakistani filmgoers are intelligent, mature and discerning. Gumm will touch their hearts and move them both emotionally and intellectually. Watching the film will be a wonderful experience for them.

Are you planning a big premiere, full of glitz, glamour and glitter, for Gumm?

Ammar Lasani: As a matter of fact, we are. We did not cut any corners in the making of the film and do not plan to do so when marketing it either.

Kanza Zia: We plan to design a proper marketing campaign for Gumm, once the release date is finalized. It will, of course, include a big premiere.

Are you concerned that the critical acclaim of Gumm has raised expectations to a level that audiences may be disappointed when they see the film?

Kanza Zia: No, not at all.

Ammar Lasani: Gumm will live up to the raised expectations and then some.

Photographs by Fahad Raza

 

By Afshan Shafi and Eman Bandey

Salama Hasan of the fab blog InVogue Pakistan gives us an exclusive look inside her beautifully curated wardrobe. She styles four immaculate looks from her newly launched line, Hassal Official pairing the clothes with luxe accessories. Read on to see how she brings these looks to life

Neutrals are always classy and we love the details on this blouse. Sheer heels and a trendy bag make this whole ensemble a winner!

We love the subtlety and elegance of this black top. The laidback trousers give this look its comfortable vibe. A quilted black and gold bag and idiosyncratic cut out heels impart charm and edge

Monochrome seperates with spunky yet ladylike heels give this look its appeal. The Yves Klein blue Hermes clutch adds oomph to the whole image

We love how Salama pairs neutral and dark tones and makes the whole look come alive with fun shoes or a cool clutch! Sleek unfussy hair and just the right amount of poise give this whole outfita a timeless appeal

The philosophy of Hilal Silk has always been simple: To provide the finest quality Silk in Pakistan. For over seven decades, the heritage brand has produced finest quality hand woven silk, which due to its exquisite craftsmanship remains a favourite of bridal designers to this day. The fourth generation in the business, Talha Batla’s contribution to the brand has been to merge contemporary style with traditional silk-making technique. Talha tells Sana Zehra how the brand has evolved over the years

Who is Talha Batla?

I am actually the fourth generation in this business. It was started by my great grandfather in 1949 and then my family continued the legacy. Initially, my plan was not to join the family business but to be a corporate lawyer. I finished my ACCA and then my LLB, ready to enter the corporate world but God had other plans for me. In the summer of 2011, my grandfather asked me to computerize his accounting system. I had just given my final ACCA papers and was waiting for the result. I had already applied for LLB and thought it was a good way to apply my financial knowledge to my family’s business, while completing my second degree on the side. It took me six months to get customized software made and implement it. While developing the software I started to learn the other core operations of the business, like production and designing. I decided to continue with Hilal till I was done with my LLB. My law degree finished in 2014 but by then I had already decided that I love doing what I was already doing and after that, there was no looking back. I joined Hilal Silk and here I am, after seven years in the business already, being a major part of this amazing family heritage.

How has your brand evolved over the years?

In 70 years, we’ve grown from having one outlet to multiple ones across the country and from making only silk to offering a wide range of pure fabrics, along with the recent addition of couture.

Describe your line Talha Batla by Hilal Silk?

At Hilal Silk, we cater to everyone with different preferences and style sense from the masses to the classes. Talha Batla by Hilal Silk is my effort in bringing contemporary designs in bridal and handwork range, while keeping the traditional Hilal Silk style alive.

Do you sell any other fabric than silk?

We initially started with silk, now we offer chiffon, tissue, net, maisuri and embroidered fabrics.

What is the key difference between your silk and other silk available in the market?

We take great pride in our products as all silks are pure and produced on hand looms giving it the strength and durability that last for years. It’s superior in quality to anything else available in the market. And I’m sure everyone would agree

Does the brand believe in fair trade? How does your CSR (corporate social responsibility) differ from others in how you treat your employees?

The oldest employee we have at Hilal Silk has been working with us for the past 55 years, so you can imagine how well we treat our employees. Once they work with us they never leave us. We believe in fair trade and are working very closely to streamline it better.

What is your source of inspiration?

Inspiration for me can come from anything. Nature, i.e. birds, flowers, and their colours inspire me. The most recent inspiration I had, came from a carpet in a mosque, the colours were so beautifully blended that it gave me the idea for a new design.

If you’d choose to dress any celebrity who would it be and why?

Being in this industry, you get a chance every now and then to dress up celebrities. We usually work with easter wear. If I had to choose one celebrity to dress it would be Sushmita Sen because of the grace and elegance with which she carries her clothes.

Favourite all time designer?

There are many, to name a few Alexander McQueen’s work really inspires me. For eastern wear, Dr. Haroon and Sabyasachi have to be my favourites.

What are the key trends for bridal and wedding wear for the upcoming season?

Bridal is all about colours and cuts. Sadly, embellishement takes the back seat. But to me, people have finally started understanding what intricate work is and how it can enhance the look of the whole outfit. So if you ask me, people who are just using big stones and thick (mota) dabka are so last season because people want intricacy and that’s what bridal wear this season should be.

What trends would you like to see die?

One trend which I really want to see die is Angarkha cut in bridal dresses. I just hate seeing Angarkhas for bridals, it just kills it for me.

What do you hope to see more of from designers in bridal and wedding wear this season?

I want designers to experiment more with colours. Sticking with red for the wedding day needs to go. It’s so overdone

What is coming up this season? ?

Our next line is coming by the end of September. It’s a modern take on some of the most traditional dresses, like saris. We also have fresh looking Nikkah outfits.

Will we see Hilal Silk in fashion shows and changing its marketing style from old school to contemporary?

Frankly, Hilal Silk doesn’t need marketing. It has been the going strong with word of mouth for decades now and I don’t think it’s going to be any different in the future. Although you might see Talha Batla by Hilal Silk changing the game and creating a niche.

After ten successful years as Pakistan’s most popular and enduring music program, Coke Studio will be returning to the air waves in August. Musicians Zohaib Kazi and Ali Hamza take on the mantle of production in the eleventh season of the series. Passionate, determined and talented, the duo is working hard to produce a season that highlights the people, history and culture of Pakistan, in addition to its music and musicians. In an exclusive interview for GT, the two young men talk to Ally Adnan about the upcoming season of Coke Studio, the challenges and pleasures of producing the program, and the dimensions that they plan to add to the music franchise

Coke Studio is one of the most popular – if not the most popular – Pakistani music programs of all time. How did you feel after landing the opportunity of producing Season 11 of the series?

We were thrilled, absolutely thrilled! The initial excitement, albeit great, was short lived because the work came with a tremendous amount of responsibility. Coke Studio is enormously popular all over the world and the program’s fans have high hopes of the show. The responsibility of living up to the expectations is huge. It feels good but is sobering at the same time.

Umber and Rohail Hyatt produced the first six seasons of Coke Studio whereas the last four were made by the Strings duo of Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia. What do you think of the different production styles of the two producer teams?

The two teams were masters in the field. Each had its own unique style and did excellent work for Coke Studio. The Hyatt duo had a great vision for the program and, along with its team, turned it into a marvelous reality.  Maqsood and Kapadia inherited a wildly popular program and carried it forward with great style and success.

“Coke Studio has a way of connecting with people using a language that is understandable, honest and refreshing”

Coke Studio Explorer takes Coke Studio to different parts of Pakistan

What has been your favorite season of Coke Studio thus far?

We do not have any one favorite season but have favorite songs instead. Each season has produced songs that are wonderful and have hijacked our playlists for years.

What is the reason for the immense popularity of Coke Studio?

Coke Studio has a way of connecting with people using a language that is understandable, honest and refreshing. People relate to it. The elements of hope, optimism, empathy, thoughtfulness, unity, and pluralism are hallmarks of the program. They speak to the viewers on an aesthetic level, individually and collectively. The music, of course, is very good.  And it is presented in an effective and interesting manner. The program allows the Pakistani nation to express itself in a uniquely powerful manner. That, perhaps, is the single biggest reason for the phenomenal popularity of the series.

How has Coke Studio contributed to the music of Pakistan?

Coke Studio has successfully brought the diverse, vibrant and inimitable music idiom of the nation to a single platform and helped develop a concordance between traditions that have varied sensibilities, ideas and subjectivities. It has helped blend folk, classical and contemporary music into songs that resonate with the public at large.  Most importantly, it has allowed us to discover, examine, study, and reconstruct our cultural and musical heritage.

The series has been accused of cultural appropriation for the personal gain of money, prestige and fame. Is the accusation fair?

No, it is not. Coke Studio is truly a platform for musicians of different ethnicities, backgrounds and styles to come together and collaborate in an atmosphere that is simultaneously creative, invigorating and harmonious. This, in no way, can be deemed to be cultural appropriation. In fact, it is the exact opposite of cultural appropriation.

How are musicians selected for participation in Coke Studio?

It is a three-step process.

We start by defining an overarching theme for the season. Once that has been done, we explore ways of introducing, exploring and presenting the theme. Finally, we look for musicians who embody the notions of the theme and meet the requirements of the musical pieces that we have in mind.

Do you know, or feel, that nepotism has ever played a part in the selection process?

No. We have been associated with Coke Studio, in one way or another, for a very long time. The people associated with the program treat the program with great reverence and respect. It is far too important to them to allow the ills of nepotism and favouritism affect its merit. The exceptional quality of the program is sufficient testimony to the fact that it has always been produced with integrity, honesty and professionalism.

How can a talented musician – one who does not have money, influence, clout, or social connections – apply to audition for Coke Studio?

Coke Studio has an active email address – [email protected] – that is meant to receive demo videos and audio files. We listen to all submissions very carefully and conscientiously, in order to be fair and because we genuinely like discovering new talent.

We have expanded the selection process in Season 11, where we have ventured out of the studios to go to the field and actively find musicians to feature in a new module that we have named Coke Studio Explorer.

What is the new module, Coke Studio Explorer, that is being introduced with Season 11 of the show about?

Coke Studio Explorer takes Coke Studio to different parts of Pakistan. It uses music to explore the diverse cultures, locales, traditions, and values of the country and celebrates the spirit, strength and resilience of its people. The program is centered around a few amazingly talented and driven musicians whose songs will do Pakistan proud and help put the unique music of the country out on the international landscape. The musicians represent all provinces of Pakistan. We hope that the module will spark a vibrant conversation about diversity, pluralism and understanding amongst viewers.

How is Season 11 of Coke Studio going to be different from the programs produced by Strings and the Hyatt husband and wife team?

It will be different from the seasons produced by Strings and the Hyatt husband and wife team in the same manner that we are different from Bilal, Faisal, Umber, and Rohail. Each person is unique and brings his own personality, intellect and vision to the table. Viewers of the program will notice the difference in the way we approach the program.

The tagline of Coke Studio has been changed from “Sound of the Nation” to “Spirit of the Nation” in Season 11. What does the change signify?

The change is not final and still being discussed. If it happens, it will be a consequence of the evolution of Coke Studio. The program no longer represents just the music of Pakistan and is a veritable celebration of its culture, ethos and character, today. The new tagline – Spirit of the Nation – will, therefore, be more apropos given the expanded influence, popularity and scope of the program.

Coke Studio has an active email address — [email protected] — that is meant to receive demo videos and audio files. We listen to all submissions very carefully and conscientiously

What challenges did you face while producing Season 11?

The two of us had worked with Coke Studio in the past and had an idea of the work that producers needed to do to produce the series. Nevertheless, the scope of the work was immense and far greater than what we had imagined. The program asks for a lot, but we found its demanding nature to be a source of strength, energy and motivation. We were happy to give Coke Studio all that it wanted plus some more.

What pleasures did producing the season afford you?

The greatest pleasure, without a doubt, was the act of putting all the diverse, disparate and different elements of the program together and seeing them come together as a single, unique and meaningful entity.

A lot of time, energy and effort has been put into producing Season 11 of Coke Studio. What would constitute success for the program?

The appreciation of its viewers. We are looking for nothing else.

Photographs by Insiya Syed

Ally Adnan lives in Dallas and writes about culture, history and the arts. He tweets @allyadnan and can be reached at [email protected].

Morning Show host, Sahir Lodhi is foremost a humanitarian, contributing through the Sahir Lodhi Foundation, which has been providing quality education and health care for those in need for three and a half years now. Sahir reveals his true self to Sana Zehra

Sets the record straight:Advertorial

You are probably one of the most misunderstood celebrities. People have called you “an over the top narcissist” and your Morning Show “one of the worst shows that has ever happened to television.” What’s your reply?

You yourself are admitting that I’m the most misunderstood person. It’s a misunderstanding that has been created by people’s own insecurities. I only praise people. I’m a down to earth person who meets and greets new people on a daily basis; I don’t think of myself as a big personality. Honestly, I’m a nobody! I live a really simple life; I work all day, go home and sleep.

Everyone can think what they want to think of me, I can’t change their thinking. If they envy and blame me for my success that’s their own problem, not mine and I can’t fix it. If somebody is successful that doesn’t mean they are narcissistic or self-obsessed. I have earned my success. That’s why I am where I am today. It has not been gifted to me by people. I have worked hard for it. I’m working even when people are fast asleep; I work 22 hours a day!

As far as my Morning Show is concerned, it’s one of the best Morning Shows and it’s been proven. No matter which channel it’s on, the ratings prove its popularity. Morning Shows are a vital part of our daily dose of infotainment

Whether you like it or not, I’m going to be there. People should not judge, but should learn to be more accepting.

Though your debut movie Raasta was considered a flop, you were adamant that it was a success. What is your definition of success?

I never said Raasta was a success at any point. I never even said I wanted it to be a success. I just wanted to make a good film, which I believe we did. As far as Raasta being successful or not is concerned, there was a lot of conspiracy attached to it and a lot of harm was done to the film before it was even released. I won’t go into the details.

I’m doing another movie. I’m not producing it, but I’m acting in it and I hope people like it.

The makers of Morning Shows are known for doing absolutely anything to increase their show’s TRP (Television Rating Points). What are your views on that?

What about in journalism and social media? Why single out Morning Shows? Isn’t everything about ratings? It is, in television, journalism or on any other platform!

Morning Shows raise awareness about various issues. We have helped people in need whether it has been related to financial issues, education or saving someone’s life. Then, how come we are always the ones to be blamed?!

The Sahir Lodhi Foundation has been a saviour for many. Please tell us more about it.

A lot of details have already been given out about SLF. SLF was my dream and we started this about three and a half years ago. Alhamdulillah we are running the Roshan Clinic successfully, which caters to approximately 150 patients everyday with zero money charged, everything is funded. I pay for it from my own pocket. We’ve catered to 176,000 patients so far in total, out of which 56,000 are registered patients.

My dream now is to build a 25 bed hospital. All the medical facilities are going to be provided free of cost. First, we’ll start from Karachi and InshAllah later on we will spread our branches in other cities. I’m not sure if this is going to be possible during my life or not but it’s my dream to build at least 15 hospitals.

As far as SLF is considered to be a saviour, I don’t think so because Almighty Allah is the only saviour and He has gifted me this wisdom to cater those in need.

What’s the real Sahir Lodhi like?

The real Sahir is a different person than Sahir Lodhi, the celebrity. Sahir Lodhi can do wrong, but Sahir can never be wrong. The day Sahir Lodhi takes over is going to be a really sad day. Sahir should always be in charge of Sahir Lodhi, as the former makes the right decisions in difficult circumstances.

 

Tell us about your wife. How did you guys meet and how has married life been treating you?

My marriage has been a blessing for me, Alhamdulillah. My wife’s a much better person than I am. We were best friends and I had never thought I would get married to her. It’s been 11 wonderful years. I’m blessed to have her and I don’t think anyone else could have borne me for this long. She’s someone I can always count on.

We have a daughter, Zara. The way I feel for her, I’ve never felt for anyone in my life. Ever since she came in our life, everything has changed. The love and peace I feel in my heart is something I can’t express in words. I’ve always adored my mother but after Zara was born I started worshipping her for raising me and my other three siblings. Now I see my wife do the same for my daughter. Being a mother is not an easy job.

Any message for your fans?

I never call anyone a fan. I’ve always thought my viewers are my friends. I say to them, keep working hard. People will say what they want, you can’t change the world but don’t let the world change you. Whatever you’re doing is for your own satisfaction and you’re only answerable to yourself. If you think you’re doing right, then keep doing it.

Saeeda Imtiaz grew up in Long Island, New York where she got a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Stony Brook University. Though a confident, outgoing girl, never imagined she’d get a chance in the Pakistani film industry. Saeeda got her break portraying no less than Jemima Khan in Kaptaan (2012), the yet to be released film based on Imran Khan’s life. Mostly recently, she stars in the Jawed Sheikh directed and produced revenge thriller Wajood. Saeeda’s latest ambition is to start an NGO and join politics, which she divulges to Sana Zehra

For the movie Kaptaan you spent some time with Imran Khan. What did you learn about him?

He is very health conscious. When we went to Bani Gala, I still remember we had been sitting, conversing for a while; he suddenly stood up and started exercising. That’s great because he is aged 65+. It’s good to stay active.

What is that one thing that you think will fail social media?

I think for it to really fail, it needs to be banned. Just like how it happened with YouTube when it got banned and no one could use it. Unless that happens, social media will stay powerful and nothing will fail it.

Which charity is very close to your heart and why?

I admire two personalities in my life Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and Mother Teresa.

Recently I did a social campaign with a political party that I plan to join. I feel like there is no empathy left in us. I’m a very sensitive soul and it’s hard for me to see someone struggle. If we all start caring, we will be a very successful nation.

Celebrities nowadays are openly discussing serious issues. Stars like yourself are a role model for their younger fans who look up to them. What real change do you plan on making in people’s lives?

I hope that my work can give people courage. I’ve been doing social work lately and plan on joining politics. My hope is to hear people out and help them as much as I can.

Saeeda said at Bani Gala during their conversation, Imran Khan suddenly stood up and started exercising

Who have you taken the most retakes with?

Oh gosh! (Haha)

It was with Danish Taimoor while filming Wajood. And it happened twice that we had to do retakes repeatedly. I was injured at that time and had a muscle pull so I had to do a dance sequence 16-17 times. Danish was extremely patient about it and Jawed Sheikh as well was very calm and understanding.

How can one get your attention?

I’m a very friendly person. If anyone comes up to me, I would like them to talk to me. I like mingling a lot so I’ve never had an issue to converse freely. Most of the time I am in a good mood.

You were a Psychology major at SUNY Stony Brook. What is that one thing you learned studying the subject?

Empathy. Putting yourself in others shoes and thinking before speaking can make a huge difference.

Have you ever felt like you were taken for granted?

Many times. People who are sensitive to others are always taken for granted. I’m a very caring person like I said before and I see innocence in everyone. I actually don’t like that because you see goodness in others and you forget to see who they really are.

Most embarrassing comment ever made?

How my parents have disowned me. I just heard this from someone and it’s not at all even true. It’s more shocking than embarrassing.

What is that one role you feel like you will never ever take?

Actresses that have to do a lot of cheap titillation and overacting. I can never do that.

One actor you’d really like to work with?

Oh, there are lots of actors I would like to work with. I think Salman Khan in Bollywood. In Pakistan, I would love to work with Humayun Saeed and Fahad Mustafa.

Out of these three which role would you like to play?

Reema in Munda Bigra Jaye, Mahira in Raees or Mehwish Hayat in Punjab Nahin Jaungi?

Honestly, I haven’t seen any of these three movies, but if I were to pick one I would like to play Mehwish Hayat’s role. The reason for this is that I love traditional outfits and so far I haven’t done any projects that have a traditional Punjabi touch to them.

The actress is coy about which political party she is joining

Rapid Fire

Your career in one word?

I’m passionate about it.

One word for fillers?

I don’t know; I guess it’s a good thing to get them.

What gives your life meaning?

A smile on my mother’s face

Who do you stalk on social media?

So many people!

Texting or talking?

Calling because I hate texting, I hate Watsapping. I’m not the sort to sit and chitchat.

Fill in the blank

Danish Taimoor is so kind.

Jawed Sheikh is down-to-earth.

Who has it easier men or women?

Women

If you were to give a vote for best actress who’d you give it to?

I like Zeba Bakhtiar. I think she’s a very natural actor so I think her.

Favourite actor?

I recently watched Bilal Ashraf’s movie Janaan and I think he did a really good job. Definitely him!

If you were to give your co-star a piece of advice what would it be?

To Danish Taimoor: How come I’ve never met your children?

Define love in three words?

Caring

Empathy

Romance

Most googled questions about Saeeda?

Saeeda Imtiaz’s husband is?

Oh lord, this is the first time I’m actually hearing this! This is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. I don’t have a husband. I was never married and when I will everyone will know.

Saeeda Imtiaz’s age?

That’s another question that people are very curious and keen to know but you should never ask a girl her age.

Is Saeeda Imtiaz related to Imran Khan?

I’m not related to him, but I’ve done a film based on Jemima Khan so we’ve met. We’re not related, I’m a Kashmiri-Punjabi and he’s a Pathan.

Saeeda really wants to work with Bollywood star Salman Khan

Ms. Imtiaz swears never to do cheap titillation or  overact

One of Pakistan’s most successful male models, Usman Butt has been graced fashions shows, print advertisements and television commercials for more than four years and will soon debut as an actor in the upcoming television serial, Dilaara. The handsome young man tells Ally Adnan why he is more than just a pretty face 

Your first television serial, Bol Entertainment’’s Dilaara, will be on air soon. Are you excited?

I’m excited and truthfully also a little anxious.

Why are you anxious?

Dilaara marks my debut as an actor. I have seen success as a model and hope to find it as an actor as well but sometimes worry that viewers may not like me on television. I have seen rushes of the play and am satisfied with my work. But it still feels just like waiting for the results of an exam that I think I’ve done well in, hence, the anxiety.

What’s Dilaara about?

Dilaara deals with the subject of loveless marriages. A large number of marriages in our country are the result of coercion, deception and blackmail, both emotional and physical, and not of love. Dilaara tells the story of one such marriage and its devastating consequences.

Do you feel that Dilaara will be a hit amongst television viewers? 

Yes, I absolutely do. The topic of Dilaara is important and relevant. Forced marriages, though common in Pakistan, have rarely been explored on television as a subject in a serial. Bee Gul’s phenomenal script delves into the subject with great intelligence and sensitivity. The serial tells a poignant and social relevant story. I believe that Dilaara will strike a chord with audiences and become a huge hit. The serial has many strengths.

What are these strengths of Dilaara?

Dilaara tells a very good story and tells it well. The characters are rich, real and nuanced.  Khalid Ahmed has directed the serial with great skill and elicited some truly remarkable performances from the actors. Abid Ali and Kinza Razak are brilliant in the serial. I believe I have done well as an actor too. The production design is good. It has been shot well and the score is excellent. A lot of good poetry has been used judiciously in the serial.  Dilaara will be one for the ages, in my opinion.

Tell us about the character you play.

I play the role of a kind and sensitive young man named Shuja who finds himself drawn into a forbidden relationship and has to make a choice between following his heart and behaving in an honourable manner. His decision is not an easy one; it is made difficult by the social, cultural and religion norms of Pakistani society, his own sense of right and wrong, and the thinly-veiled mendacity that pervades the world he lives in.

How did you land the role of Shuja?

Khalid Ahmed auditioned me for the role.

You started your career in show business with modeling. Was it difficult to make the transition to acting?

Yes, it was. Acting and modeling are vastly different. I had to work hard to learn acting and get comfortable in front of the television camera. Three people: Actor/director Khalid Ahmed, and writers Bee Gul and Faseeh Bari Khan, gave me invaluable advice, guidance and encouragement during the process. They are my mentors in the world of show business.

How are modeling and acting different?

The business of modeling is very different from that of acting. The duration of projects, payment structures, industry economics, and career management – virtually everything – is different in the two fields.

The primary requirement for a model is good looks whereas that for an actor is histrionic ability. A model’s thought process, while performing, is generally outward. He opens himself up for the camera. An actor’s thinking is inward. He largely ignores the camera. A model conducts himself with confidence and assurance whereas an actor needs to have both humility and vulnerability. A model has to play a part for a short period of time and does not need to immerse himself in the character that he plays. An actor, on the other hand, has to play a character for extended periods of time, learn lines, and have an understanding of the whole story.

Does it help to have both acting and modeling skills?

Yes, my acting ability helps me a great deal in modeling, especially when I work in commercials. As an actor, I benefit from the confidence, sense of style and poise that I have cultivated in my years of modeling.

Which do you like more, acting or modeling?

Acting, without a doubt.

Why?

Modeling is mostly about having good looks. If one has the right genes, a sense of style and no fondness for food, little else is required to do well as a model. I believe there is more to me than my good looks. I have acting talent. I am hardworking, disciplined and driven. I understand cinema and television. And I have a natural flair for acting. I cannot be content with just modeling.

Additionally, I am more comfortable in the world of acting. Modeling is intensely competitive. People in the fashion business tend to be unfriendly and cold. I guess the short duration of modeling gigs does not allow one to forge meaningful relationships and friendships. I find people in television to be warm and friendly. They work together as a family and offer each other a lot of support, help and guidance. I like the congenial and friendly atmosphere of the world of television.

Do you plan to give up modeling if and when your acting career takes off?

No, as much as I prefer acting, I could never give up modeling. Frankly, it’s very lucrative, relatively easy and a lot of fun. I love the energy, excitement and exhilaration of walking the ramp. I relish wearing good, fashionable clothes. I enjoy seeing myself on billboards, in publications and on television. And I like the perks – gifts of clothes, luxury travel, and many others – that come with modeling.

What do you like to do when not working?

I am a fitness freak and believe in eating well and staying fit. I spend a lot of my time in the gym. Not only does working out keep me healthy, happy and energetic, but essentially in my line of work, it also helps me manage my weight and keep fit. I cannot imagine a day in my life when I would not spend a few hours in the gym.

I enjoy travelling alone as it clears my head; I process my thoughts and find peace. I like places that are off the beaten path and tend to avoid tourist destinations. I love the sights and sounds of new places and foreign lands.  Adventure and discovery are exhilarating, educational and enjoyable.

In a recent interview, you spoke very candidly about the prevalence of sexual harassment and abuse in the world of show business. Did you experience any backlash because of your comments?

No, not really. A couple of people who had hit on me, in the past, called and asked me if I was going to name them as predators in future interviews.

Are you going to name and shame them?

No, I am not. The people that I mentioned had backed off when I refused. They never offered to help me in exchange for favours received and did not threaten to hurt my career after I refused. They have not propositioned me since and have remained nice and friendly towards me. They had a right to ask me as did I to say no; we exercised our rights as adults and moved on. No harm was done. I don’t think it would be right to out and publicly shame them. They don’t deserve it.

Now that the shooting of Dilaara is complete, are you looking at other acting projects?

I want to take a month long break before taking on a new acting project. Working in Dilaara was great fun but it wore me out nonetheless. I need to spend time with my family, rest, relax, and recoup my energy before I resume work.

Have you been offered any acting work recently?

Yes, I received an offer to work in a soap from a major television channel a few weeks ago but turned it down because I am not sure that I want to do soaps. I find the quality and content of regular television serials to be generally higher than that of soaps. I’m also in the early stages of a discussion about working in a film about the fashion industry. It has a promising story and script. And, I just received a call about working as the lead in a telefilm that will be made in Islamabad. I believe that I will get more – and better – offers once Dilaara starts airing. I put my heart and soul into the serial and hope that it will open many doors for me.  Fingers crossed.

Photographs by Mohsin Khawar

Ally Adnan lives in Dallas and writes about culture, history and the arts. He tweets @allyadnan and can be reached at [email protected].

Most Pakistani actors dream of working in Bollywood. However, Indian actress Aditi Singh has crossed over to our side with her movie Wajood. Belonging to a family of Bollywood actors, she’s the daughter of Jainendra Pratap Singh and niece of Aditya Pancholi, and started her career with the Telugu movie Guppedantha Prema. Sana Zehra asks Adhiti all about nepotism, love and her movie new Wajood

What was the response to the trailer launch of Wajood like?

Well I wasn’t here in Karachi when the launch took place, but after it, I received so many messages praising the trailer of Wajood and my look in it that I was overwhelmed. Though I was miles away, people really made an effort to convey their liking.

Does other people’s approval matter to you?

Not in my personal life, but when it comes to my professional life, of course it does. My audience’s appreciation makes me into the artist I am. I won’t ever want to do anything that makes them feel any less love for me. Whatever I do, I do to entertain my fans and their approval matters. The happier my fans are with my work, the longer and more successful my career will be. Simple!

How do you deal with the uncomfortable questions about your personal life?

When a person decides to become an actor, he/she should be well prepared because once you put yourself out there, your personal life isn’t so personal anymore. I started acting at the age of 16, and I accepted whatever was part and parcel of my field.

Having said that, yes some things are private and I keep them that way. I guard my privacy, am not an open book and like to keep certain aspects of my life mysterious. But I still have to give some insight in to my personal world. It adds a personal touch to my story.

Have you signed anything new?

There are a few things in the pipeline, which I’ll disclose them soon.

What is the one thing that you look forward to every day?

I look forward to doing what I love every day, which is performing in front of the camera.

Who, according to you, is the best dressed actor in Pakistani cinema?

Javed Sheikh, Shehryar Munawar and Humayun Saeed.

Who, according to you, is the worst dressed woman in Pakistani cinema?

Nobody. Pakistani fashion is graceful and the actresses are so elegant.

Any infamous incident of the past that still haunts you?

Yes, I lost both my grandparents within a month in 2008. I was the closest to them.

Do you admit that the film industry operates on a flawed system of nepotism, one that blatantly prefers family over genuine talent?

What ultimately decides an actor’s fate is purely his/her talent and luck. Nepotism is not only in the film industry but in every industry. Parents prepare their children to take over the family business. The film industry too has this system. This does make it easy for bagging the first film, but thereafter only capability decides stardom.

Acting is not inherited; it’s inherent and gifted by God.

What drives you to act? Is it the attention, the perks, or the joy of experiencing different lives every time you play a new character?

Experiencing different lives every time I play a new character is a great feeling. Also the high and happiness I receive, when I succeed at making the character believable and entertaining. That happiness is immeasurable.

Strangest rumour you heard about yourself?

Still waiting to hear something strange. (Haha)

If you wake up one morning and found out that you turned into your costar what would you do?

If I woke up and turned into Danish Taimoor, I would straight up go to Rayaan (his son) and cuddle him all day. He’s so cute!

If I woke up as Sheikh Sahib, I would commission a biography on myself.

What would your matrimonial ad say?

“Priyanka hai pheeki,

Theek thak hai Kareena Kapoor,

Kudh ko khushnaseeb samjhein janaab,

Main hoon Kohinoor!” (Hahaha)

(Priyanka is plain,

Kareena is OK.

Think yourself fortunate,

I’m the Kohinoor!)

Acting is not inherited; it’s inherent and gifted by God

One thing men should know about women?

Give a woman respect, and you’ll have her world.

Meanest thing anyone has ever said to you?

You’re not good enough to be an actor.

Do you believe in true love?

ABSOLUTELY, without a doubt

Which writer would you like to write your biography?

Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series

Which film would you like to have directed?

The Queen

Which book would you like to turn into a film?

The Untold Story of Rekha, I’d make it into a biopic.

Which film would you like to watch over and over again?

Wajood

One TV show you would have liked to produce?

Mohabbat Tum Se Nafrat Hai

What makes you cry?

Onions

Greatest work of art?

All the music created by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Sahib

Which colour describes you best?

Red because it signifies power and fire

What gives you pleasure?

Travelling and spending time with the people I love

Whose body would you inhabit while keeping your own mind?

Mahira Khan

The five most important things in life?

Family

Respect

Love

Luxury

Ambition

The most difficult question you could be asked?

How to fall in love

By Sana Zehra

Recently Citrus Talent Agency’s’ Fahad Hussain on Facebook accused Iqra Aziz of breaching their contract by signing with another talent agency. Iqra denied all accusations and allegations against her. It’s now all water under the bridge as the two sorted out their “misunderstandings” and “miscommunications” and released a joint statement.

Rumour has it Amy Schumer compared the royal wedding to a Westminster dog show. Ouch!

Rumour has it Imran Abbas is all set to make his Hollywood debut in the movie, The Trojan Horse, playing a spy of Syrian-Moroccan descent. Read more about Imran in our archives.

Rumour has it that actors Aditya Roy Kapoor and Katrina Kaif might be dating. The two shared screen in Fitoor earlier this year, and are now touring the U.S. I guess we will have to wait and see how it turns out.

Rumour has it that Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas are dating. Despite a 10 year age gap, the two get along well and are all sultry smiles when togther.

Rumour has it that Moammar Rana compares himself to Rambo, nope not the cockroach killer. We are talking about Sylvester Stallone’s John Rambo and people of course did not take it well. We are not too sure where the resemblance is but a lot of people are eye rolling on this one.

Rumour has it that Danish Taimoor is all set to make his TV comeback after five years with Sanam Chauhdry in Ab Dekh Khuda Kia Karta Hai.

Rumour has it that Hrithik  may just bag another big one with Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The two recently had a two hour long meeting together regarding Bhansali’s upcoming period film tentatively titled, Prince. If the actor gives his nod to the project (and we seriously hope he does), this will be his second collaboration with the director.

Rumour has it Kim Kardashian has caused a ruckus yet again. This time fully clothed! She posted a picture while sucking on an appetite suppressing lollipop. Actress Jamila Jamil blasted Kardashian calling her “a terrible and toxic influence on young girls,” adding that the whole family makes her feel actual despair over what women are reduced to. Tsk tsk some people will never learn.

Disclaimer: The information, view or opinion expressed in this article/post has not been verified by us and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of GT magazine.

GT Books

The New River Press Yearbook

Year of the Propaganda Corrupted Plebiscites

The dynamic New River Press, founded by the husband and wife team of Greta Bellamacina and Robert Montogomery, is bringing modern poetry to a whole new audience. Their annual poetry yearbook comprises the work of truly current and brave new voices from all over the world. Read on for selections from the yearbook and more on some of the contributors

ROBERT MONTGOMERY

Robert Montgomery is best known for his billboard poems. Black and Blue Literary Journal has said of his work: “To encounter the work of Robert Montgomery is to make a tender encounter whose tenderness is enhanced by the public, communal quality of his work. To encounter his work is to have your body filled with a sad thunder and your head filled with a sad light. He is a complete artist and works in language, light, paper, space. He engages completely with the urban world with a translucent poetry. His work arrives at us through a kind of lucid social violence. No one has blended language, form and light in such a direct way.”

GRETA BELLAMACINA

Greta Bellamacina published her first collection Kaleidoscope in 2011. In 2014, she was short-listed as the Young Poet Laureate of London. The next year, she edited A Collection of Contemporary British Love Poetry, a survey of British love poetry from Ted Hughes till now, featuring the work of Wendy Cope, Emily Berry, Annie Freud and Sam Riviere.  She has been a writer-in-residence at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in LA. and Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine says Greta, “is garnering critical acclaim for her way with words and her ability to translate the classic poetic form into the contemporary creative landscape.” Greta’s new collection Perishing Tame is a dazzling and frank meditation on motherhood, female identity, ennui and love.  Greta and her work have featured in The Guardian, The Times, The Evening Standard, Dazed & Confused, I-D Magazine, Interview Magazine, British Vogue, Elle , Wonderland, and Hunger Magazine. She has performed her poetry on CNN, BBC World News, BBC Radio 4 , BBC London, BBC Radio 2 with Jonathan Ross and BBC Radio 3 on The Verb poetry show.

ROSALIND JANA

Rosalind Jana is a poet, author, and journalist. Having studied English Literature at Oxford (writing her debut non-fiction book Notes on Being Teenage alongside her studies), she’s also written for places including British Vogue, BBC Radio 4, AnOther, Dazed, Broadly, Refinery 29, Buzzfeed, So it Goes, and Suitcase. Now in her early twenties, her first collection Branch and Vein has a poise and silvery assurance that belies her youth. A poem from the collection, Hollow, was highly commended by the Forward Prize 2018.

AFSHAN SHAFI

Afshan Shafi lives in Lahore and has studied English Literature and International Relations at the University of Buckingham. Her poems have regularly appeared in international poetry publications, such as Poetry Wales, Blackbox Manifold, Flag + Void, and others. They have also appeared in the anthology Smear: Poems for girls (edited by Greta Bellamacina), the upcoming anthology Halal if you hear me (edited by Fatima Asgher and Safia Elhillo) and The New River Press Year Book. In addition, her debut book of poems Odd Circles was published by Readings (Pakistan) in 2014. Afshan has served as a poetry editor for The Missing Slate and is a senior contributing editor at the Aleph Review an assistant editor at GoodTimes magazine.

This young poetesse’s collection of  poetry (with illustrations by Samya Arif, Ishita Basu Mallik and Marjan Baniasadi) titled Quiet Women is out soon. Vahni Capildeo has described the book as a collection of “vividness and beauty, sensual and bloody and lavender and fiery.”

LISA LUXX

Lisa Luxx is a writer, performer, philosopher and activist of British Syrian heritage. Broadcasting on BBC Radio 4, VICE, TEDx, BBC Radio Leeds, ITV she has been heralded as one of the UK’s top four queer poets by Diva magazine. Winner of the 2018 Outspoken Prize for Performance Poetry, she was also shortlisted for the Peace Poetry Prize and Saboteur Awards Best Spoken Word Performer 2017.

Her work has been published in magazines, books and newspapers internationally, by the likes of: i-D, Tate Britain, The Daily Telegraph, The International Times, Tribe de Mama (US), The Numinous (US), The Sunday Times, Verve Poetry Press, Wasafiri, and Sage Press (India).

In 2017, Luxx released a collection of poems and essays called The 4th Brain; a journey for connection through sisterhood, internet and revolution. Dazed and Confused Magazine said of her work: “Her poems are sensitive and revolutionary – always kind, always fierce.”

ZIA AHMED

London laureate Zia Ahmed recalls a childhood growing up in Cricklewood and Kilburn where poetry was common practice: “I have a vivid memory of being around seven, walking into a room where a group of Pakistani men sat around quoting poetry to each other, almost as a release for them after a day’s work.”

Spurred on by that same sense of catharsis, Zia describes the act of reading aloud his poems about being a young, working class, British, Pakistani, Muslim in London as “a release of tension. When you get on stage, that’s your space, your time.”

After watching a friend perform as part of the 16-25 year old Roundhouse Poetry Collective, Zia knew he had to join. Three terms and one fruitful year later, Zia had built himself a name on the spoken word circuit. “Spoken word is a springboard into so many different forms,” he says. “You start off with spoken word and can progress into music, stand up comedy, theatre.”

( From I-D magazine)

BARBARA POLLA

Barbara Polla began her career as a medical doctor and scientist working at Harvard and University Paris V René Descartes. She is the author of hundreds of academic papers published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, The American Journal of Physiology and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA. She was a Liberal MP in her native Switzerland, fighting for the abolition of prisons and abortion rights. Today, she is a curator and owner of the innovative gallery Analix Forever in Geneva. She has written extensively on science, art, and gender in both French and English as well as several novels and various poetic prose.

Selections from the Yearbook

Seven Sisters- Greta Bellamacina and Robert Montgomery

“You are beside me, winter trees, a comrade to the world, a home, the TV is playing war, we hope for peaceful sunlight.

A whole heart of blood, resting on a whole heart of blood”

Home —by Zia Ahmed

“looking for a shape that’s whole mera joota hai japani

home is where your heart is yeh patloon inglastani nah

home is where your heart lifts sar pae lal topi russi nah

home is where your a*se fits phir bhi dil hai nah”

Spines —by Rosalind Jana

“I don’t think this is what Woolf

meant when she talked of things

‘lit, half-way down the spine’

designating the soul’s seat

somewhere beneath the shoulder –

blades”

The Unicorns of Punjab

—by Afshan Shafi

“Impression recorded by a street peddler:

a blue and pink beast

a fettle of oxygen”

The Unicorns of Punjab

—by Afshan Shafi

Mehreen Arshad tells Mahlia Lone how she helps children with special needs, with learning disabilities and those who have been sexually abused

What’s your background?

I have a Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis, a branch of Psychology from USA. My specialization is Developmental Disabilities, and Organizational Behavior Management. I also have research experience in working with children who have been sexually abused and children in foster homes. I worked for a number of years in the U.S. before moving to Pakistan and taking the initiative to open a non-profit, center-based program providing treatment to children with special needs.

What kind of therapies does your clinic provide?

Therapies provided at the clinic are based on evidence-based best practices in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). In other words, only therapies, which have been proven by research to be effective in the field of ABA, are implemented. Home-based services are also available now in order to maximize the number of therapy hours provided to clients.

Are there any other services provided by your clinic?

Another thing I focus on is staff training. Since ABA is not offered as a program in Pakistan as yet at the graduate or doctoral level, new hires have to be taught everything from the very basics. I also provide training and supervision at clinic sites that are out of Pakistan. I recently visited an autism clinic in Indonesia to provide staff training. It was an eye-opening experience because it made me realize just how much there is a lack of effective treatments available in other nations worldwide. While it is important to give back to our own community in Pakistan, I think it is also impertinent that we help out people in other nations; this will make us proud Pakistanis!

Moreover, in August 2018, I am launching a training program for practitioners, students, and parents that will focus on teaching treatment strategies for children with developmental disabilities with hands-on training.  This training program will also include workshops for teenagers on topics such as child sexual abuse and domestic violence.

“Applied Behavior Analysis is not offered as a program in Pakistan as yet at the graduate or doctoral level”

What are some signs that should alert parents that their child may have special needs?

A child can now be placed at risk as early as birth even though a formal diagnosis is not provided until a few years later. Early risk factors include poor or lack of the following: Eye contact; gaze shifting in which the infant looks at the caregiver and then at an object in the environment that the caregiver is pointing at; joint attention in which the infant and the caregiver share attention on an object such as a toy. Therefore, treatment can begin as early as infancy in which infant reflexes and skills are targeted.

Children may also have motor skill deficits, such as a weak grasp. Children with a developmental delay or disability also have language delays. They may not speak a lot of words or sentences.

How do you help these children?

Firstly, I encourage parents to get their child assessed as early as possible since early intervention has the best treatment outcomes. Through behavioral assessment, skill deficits are identified, which then become the goal of treatment. Since every child is different, individualized treatment plans are then developed and implemented. The goal of treatment is to bring these children up to the functioning level of their peers so that they may become independent and integrated in the community.

Is parent involvement important in the treatment of children?

Parent involvement is an integral part of treatment. I conduct parent training with the caregivers or anyone in the child’s home who spends a significant amount of time with the child. It is important that parents are taught to implement treatment protocols with their child as well in the home as that is where the child is spending most of the time.

Which are some schools you work with?

In the past I have conducted workshops at Beaconhouse National University and Government College. I also conduct teacher training for clients upon request. It is important to ensure that the child is getting the required support at the school.

What are the different challenges in children that your clinic addresses?

Treatment is available for children with speech and/or developmental delays, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Mental Retardation. Children with the mentioned diagnosis usually have behavior problems such as stereotypic behaviors in which the child repetitively engages in an action such as hand flapping. Treatment protocols are put in place that target these behaviors. Moreover, there are other 7 other major domains in which skill deficits occur: Language & Communication, Social Skills, Play Skills, Gross & Fine Motor, Cognitive/Academic, Self-Care, and Community Involvement. Treatment plans that are put in place address challenges that children face in all these areas.

I would also like to add that sometimes a child is developing normally but may start losing previously learned skills. This is termed regression; so, as a parent, if you notice that your child doesn’t talk so much anymore or is not interacting with you or others then you should definitely get your child assessed.

“There is a correlation between cousin marriages and the children being born with birth defects and/or a disability that has a genetic link (such as Down Syndrome)”

Do you see more developmental problems with children due to cousin marriages?

There is a correlation between cousin marriages and the children being born with birth defects and/or a disability that has a genetic link (such as Down Syndrome). The prevalence of autism is 4 times greater in boys than girls so there is definitely a genetic link although there is no known cause of autism as yet. There are also certain environmental factors (such as lack of a nourishing environment and infant-caregiver interaction) that may play a role in the child developing a problem.

Is ADHD a myth or a reality? Do you train teachers and counselors at schools on how to handle it? Should parents put their children on drugs like Ritalin or are there exercises they can do to help the kids focus on task at hand?

ADHD is not a myth; however, I do not recommend putting young children on medication as it impairs learning. Behavior problems that children, adolescents, and even adults with ADHD have can be managed with behavioral interventions. ABA-based interventions are available for teachers in schools that can help manage behavior problems associated with ADHD.

In your opinion, what issue affects the most children in Pakistan?

Well, if I’m to mention the prevalence of autism then I would say it affects 1 in 88 children in USA. Although there has been no research conducted in Pakistan on its prevalence, I would say the rate is approximately the same. It’s difficult to pinpoint what issue affects children the most here as a lot of times children also get misdiagnosed in Pakistan and families also tend to hide the fact that their child has a certain problem due to social stigma.

Just to give an example of this I’d like to mention that child sexual abuse occurs in 1 in every 5 girls and 1 in every 7 boys approximately worldwide. These high rates are present in the U.S. as well, where there is a lot of awareness and legal repercussions on this issue. A lot of issues that children or teenagers face are not even reported in Pakistan.

I would also like to add that raising awareness is not always effective unless it is followed by a plan of action. If the goal of an awareness campaign is to just add to someone’s knowledge then that can be easily achieved, but if the long-term goal is to bring about a change then running an awareness campaign is not enough.

What about school stress–how does that affect children?

A small amount of stress is sometimes good for children, especially in school where homework has to be submitted on time and children need to prepare for exams. Every child’s stress threshold is different. What children need to be taught is how to manage stress so there is equilibrium in their life between positive and negative or stressful situations. Extreme stress can cause children to either act out or to withdraw into a shell and avoid social interactions. Stress can also affect children’s health, for example, a loss of appetite may occur.

What are simple measures parents can do that improve the emotional well-being of their child?

Parents should engage in positive interactions with their child and also participate in activities that the child enjoys. The trick is to find a balance between stress and positive activities for the child. Also, parents should recognize areas of strength of their child and encourage those instead of imposing on the child to excel in an area that might not be the child’s greatest strength. The parent should also encourage positive social interactions of their child among peers. Having an open communication environment in the home is very important. In this way, if the child is facing a problem then he/she is likely to reach out to the parent for help. There are certain stress management techniques that the parent can teach their child too.

“In August 2018, I am launching a training program for practitioners, students, and parents that will focus on teaching treatment strategies for children with developmental disabilities with hands-on training”

You only deal with children 2-12. What about troubled teenagers who are challenged plus have hormones compounding their problems?

Yes, my area of focus is on children with developmental disabilities up to the age of 12. To help teenagers, there is a large amount of parent and community involvement that is required. Unfortunately, that is not available so much in Pakistan at the moment due lack of university programs that can provide variety of specializations that target a specific population. I continue to provide current clients/parents with on-going support and consultation even beyond the age of 12.

Take home message:

Denial of a problem only sets the child back. The best recommendation is to start intervention as soon as the parent sees concerns. Waiting takes away time you’ll never get back. Time is of essence for children. Pre-established behaviors are difficult to change once they have been constantly reinforced. Best time to support children is when they are small and behaviors are easier to change.

Ahsan Khan began his career in show business as a teenager and, in a span of two decades, emerged as one of Pakistan’s biggest stars, making a huge name for himself in the world of cinema, theater and television. In an exclusive interview for Good Times, the popular actor, host, model and occasional writer talks to Ally Adnan about his past and upcoming projects, his newfound love for Urdu literature, minority rights in Pakistan, Ramzan television programming, his fondness of qawwali, and a lot else.

Your last television serial – the phenomenally successful Udaari – aired in 2016. Why have you not appeared in a television play since Udaari?

Udaari, as you say, was phenomenally successful. It propelled me to the upper echelon of actors with superior acting.  I could no longer turn in performances that were less than competent without disappointing my fans, people in the industry, and, most importantly, myself.

I, therefore, had to put a lot of thought and consideration into selecting acting projects for myself after Udaari. It took a while but I am now working in two serials – Miriam Pereira and Aangan – that will be aired soon. I believe that my performances in both are as good, if not better than, the one in Udaari.

What attracted you to Miriam Pereira?

Miriam Pereira deals with the issue of minority rights in Pakistan. The subject is very near and dear to my heart. Our country is home to people of many faiths but, as a nation, we have yet to learn how to treat them with love, respect and equality. It is important that all citizens of Pakistan be given the same rights.

“People of all religions and faiths need to be shown in the media in a responsible, positive and fair manner”

The country’s founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, had envisioned a secular, tolerant country in which everyone would enjoy religious freedom. Sadly, his vision has been hijacked and not been allowed to become a reality.

I am not an expert on religion and don’t pretend to be one on my show, Ramzan Pakistan.

Who hijacked Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan?

Political, religious and business leaders, each for their own nefarious purposes, have laid waste to Jinnah’s vision. They have all helped create a corrosive sense of nationalism that allows the systematic and widespread mistreatment of people who are not Muslims. This is sad and totally against the fundamental beliefs of Islam.

In an Islamic society, Muslims are accorded no special privileges and have the same rights as people of other faiths. Religion is not allowed to become the basis of discrimination of any sort. That is the society that all of us need to help create in Pakistan.

What is your view of Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy and anti-Ahmedi laws?

I believe that though it’s necessary to have laws that protect the honor of the Prophet (may peace be upon him) and the sanctity of Islamic beliefs. At the same time, it is important to make sure that the laws are not used for harassment, murder, intimidation, abuse, and censorship. The interpretation, implementation and execution of the laws should be reviewed regularly to make sure that they are being used to protect the honor of the Prophet (may peace be upon him) and Islamic beliefs and not for other purposes.

The key to the success of sections 295, 296, 297, and 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code lies in the correct, just and fair implementation of the laws.

Do you feel that Miriam Pereira  will help the cause of Christians in Pakistan?

Yes, I do. It is little steps like making this serial that will help mainstream Christians in our society. People of all religions and faiths need to be shown in the media in a responsible, positive and fair manner.

I feel that viewers will enjoy Miriam Pereira because of its authentic and accurate representation of our society. Emmad Irfani, Sadia Khan, Rasheed Naz, Seemi Raheel, and Laila Zuberi have acted really well in the serial.

And you?

I think I have done well too but, to be honest, mine is only one of the several good performances in Miriam Pereira.

Aangan  is currently being shown on ARY Digital  but you are not a part of the cast. Will your character appear in the serial at a later stage?

The play that is being aired on ARY Digital is not the one that I am working in. Mine has the same name and is being made by Momina Duraid Productions for Hum TV. It is based on Khadija Mastoor’s 1962 novel Aangan. I think its title may be changed to Khadija Mastoor’s Aangan for purposes of disambiguation.

Ahsan’s upcoming serial Aangan is set at the time
of Partition and deals with the lives of ordinary people who made immense sacrifices
to gain independence from the British

Khadija Mastoor’s novel deals with a lot of themes – culture, morality, politics, feminism, and religion, to name a few – in addition to romantic love, which is at the center of its story. What aspects of the novel are highlighted in the television serial?

In my opinion, Mohammed Ehteshamuddin has made Aangan less as a romance, and more as a chronicle of our political, moral and cultural history. It is a poignant – and heart-wrenching – portrayal of the Partition of the Indian Subcontinent. Instead of focusing on the lives of political leaders and freedom fighters, the serial deals with the lives of people who were affected, in more ways than one, by the partition and who made immense sacrifices to gain independence from the British.

What do you like about Aangan?

I like the manner in which women have been depicted in Aangan. The female characters of the novel are complex and real, written with a lot of insight, understanding and intelligence. Aangan’s story is a highly intelligent account of feminism in South Asia. It pits a woman’s desire to be independent against her need to love and nurture and highlights the strengths and weaknesses of feminist ideology; it also shows how women deal with adversity, pain and failure in a way that men cannot. I am fascinated by Khaidija Mastoor’s intelligent exploration of the female psyche in Aangan.

Were you familiar with Khadija Mastoor’s work before starting work on Aangan?

I was not, but became a huge fan of her writing after reading Aangan. She is an incredible writer. I learnt a lot about history and culture by reading her novel, which is is a literary tour deforce. I am not surprised that it has been translated into13 languages.

“Aangan’s story is a highly intelligent account of feminism in South Asia”

I am now reading Zameen and have already purchased Bochaar, Chand Roz Aur, Khail, Thakay Haaray, and Thanda Meetha Paani to read once I am done with Zameen. Khadija Mastoor has introduced me to the wonderful world of Urdu literature. A few Urdu books will now always be on my bedside.  There is no going back for me.

Do you play the role of Safdar in Aangan?

Yes, I do. It is a double role that gave me a lot of room to explore as an actor. I am satisfied with my performance. Sonya Hussain and Mawra Hocane play the roles of Salma and Aaliya. The cast also includes Sajal Aly, Ahad Raza Mir, Omair Rana, Abid Ali, Uzma Hassan, and Zeb Rehman.

Child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, transgenderism, and minority rights – Pakistani television seems to have come of age and become comfortable with tackling, heretofore, taboo subjects.

Yes, the number of topics being explored in television dramas has expanded.

You seem tentative in your praise. Are you not happy that television channels are now addressing issues that have historically been swept under the rug?

I am happy but concerned that a lot the “taboo subjects” are being explored with a desire to shock and not to break new ground.

Khadija Mastoor novel has been translated into 13 languages

What kept you busy between Udaari and the two upcoming serials?

A whole lot. I started work on a book about child sexual abuse. I expect it to be published in the fall. It’s a collection of my feelings, thoughts and experiences while working on Udaari.

I made my stage debut with Serendip’s production of Ishq – the Legend of Heer Ranjha, at the prestigious Saddler’s Wells Theater in London, in 2017. The musical was a collaboration between Pakistani and British artists. It afforded me an opportunity to sing, dance and act – the three things that I enjoy more than anything else in life. Ishq – the Legend of Heer Ranjha was received very well.

I hosted Knorr Noodles Boriyat Busters on GEO Television. It was a game show for children that allowed contestants to compete for prizes by participating in a number of physical activities. I believe that it was the first time a game show had been made solely for kids. I had a lot of fun hosting the show.

I starred in Mohsin Ali’s feature film Chupan Chupai, which was both a critical and a commercial success and earned more than PKR Seventy million  in its first week. I enjoyed working in the light-hearted fun comedy and am glad that it was a success.

I wrote and produced a short documentary about Zainab Ansari, the six-year-old Pakistani girl who was raped and murdered in Qasur. It is now complete and will be shown at festivals all over the world. The documentary, titled Candle in the Wind, took a lot of time, emotion and energy. I felt connected to the project at multiple levels, as a father, a Muslim, a Pakistani and a human being.

And, as in previous years, I hosted the Ramzan Pakistan show on Pakistan Television in 2017 and 2018. It is a very demanding show but I like doing it. It does very well in ratings.

Is the show Ramzan Pakistan or Ramadan Pakistan?

The show is conducted in Urdu and not in Arabic. It is, therefore, Ramzan Pakistan.

The Ramzan  transmissions of Pakistani television channels recently came under the heavy criticism of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui. Was the criticism justified?

I don’t get to watch the Ramzan transmissions of other television channels because my show on PTV keeps me very busy but have seen bits and pieces on YouTube and social media. I have liked some of what I have seen but am mostly dismayed by the activities that are a part of most of the shows. I think they are inappropriate for Ramzan. I find the criticism of the court largely justified.

Justice Siddiqui was unhappy that, while foreign experts were hired to provide detailed analyses during cricket matches, artists and cricketers were asked to speak on matters of religion in Ramzan television shows.

Yes, I am aware of his feelings.

Do you share his feelings?

I don’t think that religious clerics and scholars should be the only ones allowed to talk to about religion. People of faith, who study Islam with responsibility, have a right to discuss and talk about religion. That being said, I will add that competent religious clerics and scholars do a lot of research and study religion in great depth and with a lot of intelligence. It is best that they lead discussions about serious religious matters.

Ahsan made his stage debut with the musical Ishq – the Legend of Heer Ranjha, at the prestigious Saddler’s Wells Theater in London, in 2017

A lot of the “show business” hosts of Ramzan programs act with a lot of arrogance and take it upon themselves to guide, educate and lead viewers in matters of religion. Do you find their didacticism annoying?

Yes, I do but the problem is not limited to people hosting shows in Ramzan. Everyone in Pakistan acts like an expert – and not just in matters of religion – irrespective of his education, knowledge and scholarship. I host Ramzan Pakistan with a lot of humility using a different approach. My role in the program is that of a student and a facilitator. I facilitate religious discussions in my program, participate only when confident, and learn whenever possible. I am not an expert on religion and do not pretend to be one in my show, Ramzan Pakistan.

You have hosted Ramzan Pakistan on PTV for six straight years. Do you enjoy hosting the show?

I enjoy hosting the show a great deal even though it is very demanding and draining physically. It is not easy to talk, almost non-stop, for, a full six hours, while fasting.

What do you enjoy about the show?

I like four things:

One, I am paid very well to host the show. It is great to be able to make a living by doing something one likes to do.

Two, I learn a lot about religion in the show and find the learning to be truly invaluable.

Three, I receive a lot of blessings and prayers from the audience and from viewers. The duas (prayers) make me very happy.

Four, I love the qawwalis that are performed during the show. It is one of my favourite segments of the show.

Are you a qawwali aficionado?

Yes, absolutely. It brings together music, poetry, Sufism, mysticism, and Islamic thought in the most remarkable manner. I can listen to qawwali all day and all night.

Who are your favourite qawwals?

Without a doubt, Fareed Ayaz – Abu Muhammad Qawwal and Brothers. They are direct descendants of the very first qawwal in the world – the thirteenth century Miyan Samat Bin Ibrahim – and, in my opinion, the best qawwals in the world today. I love their sons, Ghayoor – Moiz – Mustafa Qawwal and Brothers as well. The two are, however, not the only qawwal parties that I like. Pakistan and India are home to a very large number of highly talented qawwals. I listen to all of them.

“It’s not easy to talk, almost non-stop, for, a full six hours, while fasting”

Now that Ramzan  is over and the shooting for both Aangan and Miriam Pereira is almost complete, what are you doing?

I am recovering from the grueling schedule of Ramzan and spending quality time with my family. I am in the final stages of talks for two projects – one for cinema and the other for television – that will hit the floor soon. I will announce them as soon as I sign the contracts. I am also planning to work in a stage play named Rang E Rihaii which follows the structure established by A. R. Gurney in his play, Love Letters. The play unfolds in a series of letters, written by two friends, over the course of several years and deals with the emotional, physical and sexual abuse of women in a novel and interesting way.

Photographs by Haseeb Siddiqui

Ally Adnan lives in Dallas and writes about culture, history and the arts. He tweets @allyadnan and can be reached at [email protected].

Rumour has it that Meesha Shafi is permanently moving to Canada with her family because of the threats she has been receiving.

Rumour has it the famous anchor Larry King keeps a fan under his table so people don’t get a whiff of his flatulence. Some of his guests call Larry a gas-bag. Rightly so!

Rumour has it that Pakistani male celebrities are keeping their hands far away from their female colleagues, as Atif Aslam’s picture proves. Even superstar Shaan is being extra careful these days.

As if the fashionable garbage bag wasn’t enough, rumour has it that the Chanel Limited Edition Grocery Basket is now the new hot trend selling for a whopping $16,000!

Rumour has it Saba Qamar has been signed on for a Hollywood movie starring Ben Affleck. While we are happy for her, we hope it’s not a blink-and-you-miss-it role.

Rumour has it that despite her recent trip to Mumbai Priyanka Chopra is to be replaced with Katrina Kaif in Salman Khan’s Bharat. Director Ali Abbas Zafar is keen to recreate the Salman-Kat magic.

Rumour has it that Cameron Diaz only washes her face with Evian mineral water. She was acne prone in her youth, so it’s probably to ward off bacteria in the general water supply.

Rumour has it that Shahid Kapoor and his wife Mira are expecting another baby. But they still haven’t confirmed the news. What are they waiting for?

Rumour has it that the release of Ahad Raza Mir starring war film Parwaaz Hay Junoon has been delayed due to a legal battle with the stylist who the production house reportedly forgot to credit.

Rumour has it that students at NUST (National University of Sciences and Technology) are in hot water for choosing divorce as the theme for their farewell party. Tsk tsk divorce is not something you can celebrate.

Rumour has it that patrons of Lahore’s landmark restaurant  Cuckoo’s Den owner artist Iqbal Hussain is asking people to boycott the restaurant as his nephew has illegally  gained possession of it.

Rumour has it Mahira Khan is all set to rule the Cannes Film Festival! this year.

Rumour has it that Gigi and Zayn are apparently back together and we couldn’t be happier!

Faryal Aftab of Muse possesses not only an ethereal, pre-Raphaelite beauty, but also an intriguing perspective on the business of fashion. Through her creations, she offers the discerning Pakistani woman a chance to discover a more sensual, and captivating side to herself. Afshan Shafi catches up with Faryal to discuss, lawn, personal style and much more!

What do you think of designers lending out samples?

I don’t because how can I sell it if somebody has already worn it?

What trends would you like to see die?

Those fancy Patiala shalwars, they should definitely die. Bell sleeves and those other sleeve things that touch the floor, they should die. All those odd knots and twists should die. If you have print, knots and forty other things happening on one outfit, that very aesthetic should die.

Would you say that you have a more pared down perspective on summer fashion?

I think that I do, I don’t understand why women here shy away from wearing block colours in the summer. Why is it so hard to wear, say a pale pink kurta in soft cotton? Why does everything have to be so complicated?

What would you say about lawn fever?

It’s saturated with buttons, lace, print, embellishment, you name it , it’s on there. You have to see that the garment doesn’t do anything for the “woman” herself. Is it making a woman look more desirable or prettier? I don’t think so.

If Muse were to come out with a lawn collection, what would it be like?

I would make sure that the prints were more girly, more delicate. I wouldn’t put two or more prints together. The shirt and dupatta would have more simple floral motifs , not enormous flowers but smaller in size.

What are your plans for expanding Muse in the future?

We’re expanding in all the big cities soon and are currently also in talks with big design houses in Paris for a special project. Fingers crossed!

What do you think makes a woman stylish?

I think that if a woman takes care of her hands and feet, has her hair done, then she feels good. Being well groomed is stylish. If you are groomed, then even non-designer wear can look beautiful.

Muse is in talks with big design houses in Paris for a special project

Photography by Naveed Bhatti

Rapid Fire

Who are your favourite International designers ?

Christian Dior, Lanvin, Chloe, Saint Laurent, Valentino, Rodarte

Who are your favourite local designers?

I would say that I don’t have a particular favorite locally but I do admire Kamiar Rokni’s work. I love the traditional techniques that he uses. Across the border I do follow what Sabyasaachi is doing.

Favorite Jewellery?

I love wearing teekas, maatha pattees  and other hair ornaments. I hardly wear other types of jewellery.

What is your favourite high street store?

I love Zara, especially the menswear section more then womenswear

Favourite shoes in your closet?

These Chanel ones where you switch on a button and the shoes light up.

Favourite Movies?

‘I am Love’, ‘Priceless’ which is a French film and ‘ Notes on a Scandal’. I love documentaries as well for example ‘ The Last Emperor’ by Valentino

Your closet is a shrine to?

Muse

Favourite Books?

I like reading, but I like easy reads. My favourite is How To Be A Parisian Wherever You Are

Celebrity you would love to dress?

There are so many—most of the models who walk for Christian Dior, or Chanel. French actress Marion Cotillard is a perennial favourite as well as Audrey Tautou.

Critically acclaimed fashion extraordinaire and master couturier, Fahad Hussayn’ s designs depict history, art, architecture as well as diverse cultures all meshed with modern and contemporary sensibilities. Specializing in “Art Couture,” “Exclusive limited Edition Prints,” ” Bespoke Menswear,” “Custom Commission Novelty Creations” and “Bridal Masterpieces,” Fahad’s signature creations use extensive design research and development. His style is known for its traditional revival hand embroideries, vintage grandeur, outstanding artistry, intricate embellishments and contemporary techniques in a ballad of epic fusion. Always head on with interesting inspiring themes, his collections range from bold, edgy and dramatic to sophisticated and elegant. His creations are repository for the precious memories of the special occasions they represent and the unique history behind them

PHOTOGRAPHY by OKB FILMS

MAKEUP & HAIR by MARAM & AABROO

JEWELS GOLD BY REAMA MALIK

Coordination by Afshan Shafi

The favoured makeup artist of many celebrities, Eric Sen has been transforming faces for the past 17 years. Sana Zehra gets the latest tips and bridal makeup trends from Eric

What is your take on bridal makeup?

It should be subtle. Not over the top and begging for attention. Brides come to me wishing to look fair and a tone lighter I always tell them let’s just enhance what you have instead of making you look fair. Less is always more.

What are universal beauty tips?

Glowing Skin

Natural looking foundation

Less pressed and loose powder

Biggest makeup mistake women make?

Wrong foundation and over the top back combing.

Top current beauty trends?

Neon pastel colours as well as plum, orange and deep blood red lips.

Do you think these shades would suit everyone?

You need to have confidence to carry any trend tbh (to be honest).

What are the three makeup items that no one should leave home without?

Lipstick

Mascara

Blush

Favourite beauty brand that you think suits our Asian skin types?

MAC and Estee Lauder

How can a bride get beautiful skin?

My advice to them is eat healthy, eat fresh fruits and vegetables and sleep tons. Make a detox water with cucumber slices in it and stay well hydrated. Another tip is to stay away from bleach and use sunblock when going out.

There is a huge trend of using whitening products and bleach is one of them. What would you suggest.

I am against the idea of bleaching. I think we should enhance our natural complexion rather than using bleach. Bleach is extremely bad for your skin. Brides especially must bleach with extreme caution. Who wants blotchy, inflamed, reddish and over sensitive skin on her wedding day?!

If someone really want to bleach their face what would you tell them?

Try using face polish instead if you really insist on bleaching your face.

How has the makeup evolved over the last 17 years since you’ve been working?

Huge change! We have a small industry and my mentors have actually brought in trends that no one else was using at that time. Makeup and hair has seen a huge change but makeup trend seems to repeat itself the most.

How much should a bride trust their makeup artist and how much input should be given?

Always have consultation first with your makeup artist. But some brides are adamant that their lips are bold and eyes are smoky at that point I listen to them but then try to keep eyes a bit subtle since it should have my signature look also.

Which actress or model transforms the most?

Sunita Marshall and Amina Ilyas

Who is the most finicky celebrity to work with?

Haven’t had the chance to meet someone like that, have had a pleasant experience so far with everyone.

Who needs a good makeup artist badly in our industry?

Hard question! I’d rather not answer.

Which celebrity would you want to work with?

I really wanted to work with Sridevi but she alas she’s no longer with us. In the Pakistani industry, luckily I have worked with almost everyone.

Any message for upcoming new makeup artists?

Focus on your work. Respect your seniors. and focus on features don’t get stuck on makeup. Work on enhancing the features instead of just slathering on colourful makeup products.

Photography: Raza Jaffri

Hair & makeup:  Eric Sen

The recipient of the Women Empowerment Award 2017 presented to her by Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty, Syeda Amera has been nominated for the honour again this year. She tells GT how it is working internationally for a global clientele and about her last collection titled Beaded Illusion showcased at the J Winter Fashion Show 2018 in Hong Kong

As a Pakistani designer who has showcased collections in so many diverse destinations, like Australia, England, Spain, Paris, Hong Kong and the U.S.,

Do you ever plan on participating in any fashion shows in Pakistan again?

I’ve been lucky that it was the international media who approached me first. Later on, I started getting offers from many reputable local platforms, which included PFDC. I showcased my collection walking on Water at PFDC in 2015. As far as participating in more shows here, with all the pre-bookings, award functions and travelling, it has been difficult for me to focus on local shows but still I am looking forward to showcasing my collections on the local platform like I did earlier.

How was your experience at the J Winter Fashion Show 2018 in Hong Kong?

J Winter Fashion Show 2018 has been a remarkable experience. I’ve participated in phenomenally successes shows at the most exotic runways in Paris, Sydney, New York and Spain. In February 2018, I officially added Hong Kong into my famous fashion showcase series at the world’s most iconic venues.

Featuring the city’s picturesque skyline, J Winter Fashion Show 2018 premiered six haute couture and pret-a-couture collections from Europe, Asia, South America, and America on the sky-high sundeck of Costa Neo Romantica cruise ship. Where I was the only designer selected to represent the whole of Asia.

Against the cinematic backdrop, my collection appeared as a vision. Gold embellishments reflecting sunlight in every move and royal velvets dramatized the elegance. My collection called Beaded Illusion comprised of structured jackets, flared pants, and fridge beaded dresses. The expressive collection mixed gold embellishments with Swarovski crystals and ruby jewels against a deep colour palette of sunset red, forest green, and royal blue.

My collection was the most appreciated collection of the show. It was a dream come true, I shared the runway with designers from all over the world in terms of quality, creativity and professionalism. The impact the Pakistani people had during the show was amazing and I felt privileged to be a part of this grand show where I made my country proud.

What inspires you when you design your collections?

I have showcased my collections at the most iconic venues in the world and for every collection I have taken inspiration from the place where I was showcasing it. My love for travelling and exploring different cultures has always inspired me while designing. My achievements have a major role in keeping me inspired to work hard and push my limits to accomplish my goals. I even draw inspiration from my personal identity and experiences.

Tell us about your upcoming projects. Which events are you looking forward to?

Last year I received the Women Empowerment Award for the Most Inspiring Woman of 2017 at the Women Empowerment Gala in New York and it’s a privilege to have been nominated this year too. I am really looking forward to being a part of this phenomenal event, which is organized to recognize the work of outstanding individuals of different professions from all over the world.

What difference do you see between the international markets and the Pakistani market? Do you keep your market in mind when designing your collections?

Yes, definitely I do. As a fashion designer, I strongly believe that we live in a global village where international borders mean little. However, when it comes to international expansion, the importance of cultural differences cannot be underestimated.

I have found out the hard way that what works at home can go down very differently in a foreign market. Keeping a clear idea of your brand’s core values and identity is key to expanding overseas.

Ultimately, you have to believe that your business has something unique and valuable to offer. After that, it’s simply a matter of working out how to best bring these offerings to a new cultural context. International business expansion is no easy feat, as the challenges encountered by these world-leading businesses demonstrate. But, with thorough research, a clear strategy and the right support, there’s no reason you can’t make your business a success in foreign markets. Different cultures, customs and habits can make or break a brands’ international launch. While it’s important to adapt your brand to meet the needs of a foreign market, be wary of adapting more than is necessary. Finding the right balance between adapting to local markets and still maintaining a clear brand identity is something that every brand should work for.

What are the trends you love most for the upcoming season?

Fringing is definitely one of my favourite trends of 2018. Fringe beading was the most important highlight of my latest collection, which was recently showcased in Hong Kong. What I love about this trend is that, there is a bohemian taste and a touch of 70’s vibe. The fringe detail is surfacing on dresses, crop tops, trousers, skirts, bags, and even shoes. This gives one a choice of what works best for you. It was one of the topping trends in 2017 during Spring/Fall and definitely this year it will continue to be a winning look.

What is your design aesthetic?

Timeless feminine aesthetics is what the brand of Syeda Amera is all about. I not only want my designs to be worn but also to be felt, which can only happen when a woman is comfortable and at the same time feels her inner beauty that comes effortlessly. Be it dress lines with corsets or others draped in sensuality, I not only design for the local woman but also aim to focus on the global image of a woman who is beautiful and glamorous.

What are must-haves every woman must have in her closet?

Well the list is too long but I will name a few that I feel are most important.

A watch should be your signature accessory. I feel a watch gives off a very sophisticated message. It should be simple yet super glamorous.

An investment bag, you should have at least one statement bag in your closet.

A favourite pair of jeans in which, despite of running errands all day, you are still ready to catch up with your friends after work.

Your favourite designer?

Olivier Rousteing for Balmain

Your fashion muse?

Angelina Jolie

Your favourite shopping destination?

Dubai

Biggest fashion faux pas?

Fashion obviously has no rules or guidelines to follow. Or at least, it shouldn’t. While there are some trends that should remain in the past. The biggest fashion faux in my opinion is wearing sandals with socks. While I feel it is ratty and inconvenient, it definitely hasn’t stopped designers from showing them on their runways. Moreover, my mentality about it has always been, why would I wear sandals with socks when I can just wear closed shoes? However, that’s not the mentality of a trendsetter I guess.

Versatile actor, Adnan Siddiqui has worked in the industry for more than three decades. Not only does he have a number of Pakistani record breaking television serials under his belt, but Hollywood and Bollywood projects as well. His newest venture Ghugi has been making waves. Recently Sana Zehra sat down with him for a candid and fun one on one

One social stigma that the society needs to get over with?

I think the pictures that people upload on their social media that can be very condescending. Please stop posting pictures involving grotesque images. It’s something that society definitely needs to get over with.

For some people, your work in Hollywood and Bollywood is hard to digest and they think that that means you are not patriotic. Tell us how much do you love Pakistan?

Whatever I am today is because of my country Pakistan. I proudly carry my Green passport no matter where I go. When I’m working I see myself as an ambassador of my country.

Do you believe in soul mates?

I don’t know what are soul mates to be honest. I guess we become mates first and soul comes second.

Do you think a person can fall in love with two people at the same time?

Yes 100% not one but maybe with many at the same time.

Tamam umer hum nay teray pyar ka intizar kya,

Iis intezar main hum nay kis kis say pyar kya.

(I’ve waited for you all my life, but while I was waiting I have also loved many others.)

When can a person have insecurities?

A person that has insecurities is a weak man. We should accept challenges. When a person starts feeling lesser about himself that results in insecurities.

How should a broken heart be mended?

Say sorry and it will work.

What does love mean to you?

Love at first sight can definitely happen but generally love has five different stages: First you admire someone; second you appreciate them; third you respect then like and you ultimately then fall in love.

Is it ok for people to die in love?

I don’t know but it reminds me of a shayr (poetry).

Baazi itfaal main kaisi ulti seedhi chaalain hain,

Ho jeetnay wala sharminda aur harnay wala naaz karay,

Yeh maarka ulfat hay yahan juz fateh shikast mumkin nahin,

Jeeta jo bachay khud fakhar karay Mar jaye tu dunya naaz karay.

 

(Love is like a war. If you succeed at it, you are happy, but if you are not successful at attaining happily ever after with your beloved then the whole world will remember you, for example Shireen Farhad, Heer Ranjha, Romeo Juliet, etc.

What is the formula to survive in this media?

Work hard and please no shortcuts.

You think our industry is pretentious?

Artificial for sure. But that’s just the nature of this industry.

Actress Kubra Khan is currently reading a book why men love bitches. Do you think that title is really true?

I love it! Kubra when you finish it please let me know.

Name one good Lollywood movie.

I don’t know what is meant by good but I’m really looking forward to the movie Cake. Let’s see if it has the kick.

You think you are having the best time of your life right now?

My life has always been good and I’ve always had the best time of my life. I live in moments I don’t plan for future. I go with the flow.

Name one production house or director that you would never work again?

Way too many to name.

Why is that? What happened?

I didn’t enjoy working with them.

We all talk about women’s equality and women’s bill of rights but no one ever talks about men’s bill of rights? What would you like to say about that?

Sadda hak idhay rak lol. (Our rights also)

Let’s talk about your serial Ghugi. Tell us about that.

First, I’d just like to correct its pronunciation some people are calling it giggi, some are calling it gooogi but its actually pronounced as ghu-gi. In Punjabi, Ghugi means dove.

Then, I want to say that we have worked extremely hard on this. We have given 7-8 months to this project and I really hope audience likes it.

If you could get a chance to work in an old remake of Pakistani film, which film would you work in?

Armaan and Aaina both have my favourite heroes and the songs are amazing.

Who is your celebrity crush?

There is not one but many.

What are the three things most important in women?

She should look pretty, she should be feminine and third she should be good at heart.

Would you ever like to work with your wife?

I act everyday with her. No need to make it official. (Laughs)

Have you ever clicked with someone you met and did it ever change your life?

You know clicking with someone can happen at anytime with anyone. But just enjoy that moment and live with no regrets.

Crazy fan moment?

When Uroosa came out back in ‘91, there was this lady who used to call me every day. Back in those days we used to have analog phones. I used to keep it off the hook and you pick it up from the other line and still hear her talking. It was insane and it’s still continuing. I really hope this fan gets married soon!

If you could pick a superhero in Pakistan who would it be?

Amir Liaquat!

Comfort food?

Anything really

 

During recording what is one thing you must have?

My flute

One song you play back to back all the time?

Meray bheegi badan ki kushboo say.

What do you do on your day off?

Sleep

Star struck moment?

Meeting Hillary Swank

Favourite ice-cream flavour?

Vanilla

Favourite dance move? I’ve seen you dancing Adnan, so you can’t say no.

I’m going to save my life and say no this time!

One very odd place where a fan has asked you take a picture?

Was invited to her house unfortunately I couldn’t go.

Favourite quote?

My father said this to me once and the gist of it is that no time ever remains the same it keeps changing and it goes something like this:

Urooj e bakht Mubarak

Magar dhiyan rahe inhi dino k ta-aqub mein hai zawal k din…

(Every peak has its trough. Accept it with grace.)

Bizarre rumour you heard about yourself?

I’ve worked with so many female leads and they all tell me we’ve been told to watch out for Adnan and it’s apparently my male friends who tell them that. Why? I have no idea!

How many times have your heart been broken?

It’s a heart not a glass. So no hasn’t been broken.

One thing that gives you great satisfaction?

This whole journey has been extremely satisfying for me.

Any message to your Instagram followers?

Enjoy my feed. Also, would like to tell my readers that recently I did a reality show. I was a bit stern to a few of the girls. But it was a part of my job. They should think of it as a training. For example, when you train people in the army you have to be tough it’s the same idea. This industry is tough and we were a part of their grooming process.

Describe yourself in three words.

Aaah! Well, I am Adnan, a virgin at heart and pray that things just keep working out for me.

Most fashionable celebrity?

Sahir Lodhi!

If you were unmarried, who would you like to take out on a date?

I still have no problem asking anyone out on a date (laughs) but really anyone available.

What is one thing you would like to see again from your childhood?

My childhood

If you were a female actress, which male actor would you take out on date?

If I were female, all men would be really happy (laughs). I would date Humayun Saeed, Aijaz Aslam, Hamza Abbasi, Faysal Qureshi, Bilal Ashraf, Imran Abbas, Ali Rehman. All of them would be really happy but would be fighting over me all the time too.

Extrovert or introvert?

Extrovert!

Heartbreaker or rule breaker?

Both

Beauty or brains?

Both!

If not in the TV industry what would you do?

I’d be working in an advertising agency.

Any messages?

Love, peace and stop judging!

In one word

Bollywood?

Largest film industry

Lollywood?

It’s Lolly and its wood no match at all!

Lately I’ve been seeing a boom in the industry and I have seen good movies and really bad movies no middle movies as of yet.

TV industry?

It’s always been great and we work best when we don’t copy.

 

React in one word to the following:

Marriage?

Very great

Awards?

Don’t know never received one

On screen romance?

I enjoy it

Being human?

Absolutely

 

If you were to give another name to these actors what would it be?

Bilal Ashraf?

Bravo

Armeena Khan?

Tweety

Sana Bucha?

The Designer

 

True or false

Beautiful girls are the angriest?

True

Best news you’ve ever received?

“It’s a girl!” anncouncingMariam my first born.

Lamest thing you’ve ever done?

Cheating in my SSC exam.

Any regrets?

None

Handwritten or email?

Handwritten

Text or in person?

In person

Comedy or drama?

Both

 

Amar Khan has showbiz in her blood, her maternal grandfather was a filmmaker in the early 60s and her mother Fareeha Jabeen is a veteran actress of the TV industry. Smart, witty and extremely intelligent, Amar is a film graduate from Beaconhouse National University (BNU), Lahore, and has also taken a diploma course in filmmaking from New York.

Currently her serials Ghugi and Belapur Ki Dayan are on air and getting rave reviews from critics. Recently Sana Zehra sits sat with her to talk life

How has Ghugi changed you?

I don’t think there is any major change but there is definitely a paradigm shift. When I appear on media to promote my shows now, people recognize me.

What insults your intelligence?

If you are giving too much creative input and someone just slams that.

Ever falsely accused of something?

Being jealous of another woman.

What do you think people say behind your back?

Hopefully good things

First thing that comes to mind when you think the word fun?

Acting!

Name one commonly held belief you find offensive?

Superstition

Most embarrassing thing you’ve seen someone else do?

Getting drunk at a party and then ripping their shirt off.

Fantasy celebrity boyfriend?

Ranbir Kapoor

What song comes to your mind now!

(She sings.) Jeena isi ka naam hay

Men got the hots for you because…

Think you should ask them. (Giggles)

Most intense dream?

Becoming a huge movie star and holding an Oscar. Over confidence at its peak!

One thing you’d like to change about yourself?

I’d like to change my hair. I’m very particular about it. I’d like to experiment more with styles.

Who in the TV frat needs a stylist?

I’d rather zip my lips!

Nutritionist?

Zara Noor Abbas

Psychologist?

A lot of female actresses at times get psychotic so yeah we definitely need one.

Movie that made you laugh the hardest?

Golmaal

That made you cry?

The Pursuit of Happiness

One fear you’d like to overcome?

Fear of heights.

Most common mispronunciation of your name?

It’s Amar like in Amar Akbar Anthony. People have called me Ambreen, Amer and Samar.

Best pinch me moment?

Don’t remember

Style icon?

Priyanka Chopra

What did you learn from your previous relationship?

To move on much faster

If you were to describe your previous relationship in a song?

Jo hay sama kal ho na ho

(The atmosphere today may not be tomorrow.)

Are you good at any sports?

Badminton and yoga

Best late-night spot in Karachi?

Mocca

One thing that amazes you?

Intellect and wit

Pleasing people or speaking the truth?

Speaking the truth always!

Which is better short term or long-term memory?

Long term

Name one person in the TV frat who you think be would be a good person in your survival if you were to be stuck on an island?

Adnan Siddiqui promoting Ghugi all the way shamelessly! (Giggles)

What does GT mean to you?

Good times!!!

Ambitious Amar’s short films have been showcased at the Delhi International Film Festival and at the Children’s International Film Festival. I, addition, her film titled Black Wednesday based on the Peshawar APS attack got selected for the American Film Showcase. She made her  acting debut with Ahsan Khan in the telefilm Chashme Num that was written by her, and premiered at the Korean Film Festival

Kill or marry?

Ahad Raza Mir?

 Kill, if he marries somebody else (Laughs)

Feroze Khan?

Kill

Adnan Siddiqui?

Kill, I’ve already married him in two serials so please no more!

 

One word for:

Adnan Siddiqui?

Timeless

Ahsan Khan?

Fabulous

 

Interview & coordination: Sana Zehra

Photography: Arsalan Bilgrami of a. bilgrami studio

Hair & makeup of Amar Khan: Studio Z Karachi

Grooming of Adnan Siddiqui: Rashid Salon

Clothing: Splash Pakistan

Location: Courtesy of Mocca Karachi

Don’t let those hazel eyes and handsome face fool you. Imran Abbas, a graduate of the NCA (National College of Arts, Lahore), who has made his mark on the small screen here and the silver screen across the border, has an intellect to match his looks. Imran Abbas sits down for a thought provoking interview with Sana Zehra

Feminism has taken the world by storm. You are a staunch proponent of women’s rights. Tell us about it.

The basic definition of the word feminism is often misunderstood in our society. There is a common misconception that feminism is about hating men, which is completely wrong. In reality, however, feminism means to strive for equality in all spheres of life, such as the economic, political and social system. People who defend this idea are called feminists.

Unfortunately, Pakistan is not the most perfect country when it comes to gender equality. Having said that, I think we need to also focus on the positives about our country. Pakistan was the first Islamic country in the world to have a female Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, and the fact that the citizens of this country accepted her as the leader is a very big deal. There was no clear opposition to her leadership based on her gender.

Moreover, there are so many female pilots and commandos in Pakistan’s Air Force. There are many different careers in which Pakistani women have made their mark by taking up leadership roles.

There are so many female pilots and commandos in the Pakistani Air Force

In terms of cases of domestic violence, rape and acid throwing, I do agree that there is immense injustice in our society. In fact, women are not the only ones who face injustice when it comes to such crimes, men in our society are victims as well. Recognizing that atrocities can affect all genders in similar and different manner is also another aspect of feminism. So yes, there are many things that need to be improved but all in all, many people are raising their voices and I believe that Pakistan’s attempt to achieve gender equality is getting better.

Do you feel being in the media makes you responsible to tackle sensitive subjects such as transgender, homosexuality and child abuse? How do you think media can change the mindset?

Of course, cinema and television have a great impact on the society. There was a conference in the UK recently where it was said that in India, the impact of the cinema is far greater than the impact of newspapers, books, magazines and the general press combined. Not only that, there is a television in almost every household so the reach of cinema and television is widespread. That is why I always emphasize that we should not put on television something, which might affect people’s mindsets negatively or drastically.

War and violence doesn’t solve anything

I do believe that there are many issues in our society that need to be addressed head on and that’s why I think it’s important to raise a voice against them. There are topics, which should be publicized on television that could ultimately mould young people’s minds in the wrong way.

For example, after the release of the Indian movie, Qayamat se Qayamat Tak, in which a couple elopes because of familial rifts, there were endless real life cases reported of young couples running away together. Similarly, many real life cases of suicides have sprung up in India after some Bollywood movies highlighted the topic. I think as actors, writers, producers and directors, we are all responsible for how we propagate stories on the screen and because television is more easily accessible to the general public than cinema, there needs to be some kind of rule as to what content is suitable for children.

You’ve been active across the border and on TV here, but how come we haven’t seen you in Pakistani movies as yet. Any plans?

Even while I was doing movies in India, I did not abandon my television career in Pakistan. Maintaining a relationship with my country and my local industry was very important to me because that is the only place that got me recognition in the first place. I can’t imagine being disconnected from my roots so I continued to work at home and abroad. I believe in picking the best opportunities because I want to deliver only the best quality of work. I do have a lot of opportunities from the Pakistani film industry and I am currently thinking of taking up a project very seriously.

Keeping in mind the current circumstances things are not that great working across the border. How do you think we can get past it?

Across the border doesn’t only mean India, because the world is much bigger. However, yes, the current circumstances are not favourable when it comes to me working abroad, but I always pray for amicable relationships between India and Pakistan so that artists can collaborate, regardless of whether I’m working or not. Actors from India should be able to come to Pakistan to work and vice versa. Political unrest between the two countries should not hinder artists’ opportunities to work across the border.

Actors from India should be able to come to Pakistan to work and vice versa

In fact, artists like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Noor Jahan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, andAtif Aslam have always continued to bridge the gap between countries and they were being given respect there even when the political situation was unstable between the two countries.

In Pakistan also, people never stopped listening to Lata ji, Asha Bhosle and Kishore Kumar. This is simply because actors and artists are beyond these petty issues and they are the ones who people often get hope from, the hope that India and Pakistan will restore their friendship.

Progressive thinkers like myself and many others like me across the border, including the younger generation, want to avoid war at all cost. War and violence doesn’t solve anything. I am a really positive person and that is why I am hopeful that the situation will ease eventually and collaborations across the border will restart.

We heard stories about your upcoming project in Bollywood. What is the current status of it?

Yes, there is definitely something cooking there but then again, it takes time to execute great plans due to many different reasons. I am really looking forward to the project though. Even in my own production, I am trying to incorporate my personal experiences from working outside Pakistan and I am trying to find people to work with so we can make this onto an international project. I think it’s essential for Pakistani artists to expand their horizons and work on bigger, better and different projects, and that is exactly what I am striving to do.

The brand FTA is synonymous with fun, flirty tunics with a funky flair. Farah’s unique sense of aesthetics and design have helped her make a name for herself in an extremely competitive bridal and pret industry. The  Karachi designer tells Sana Zehra the trends of this bridal season

What bridal trends can we expect from your label this season?

At the moment, I am fascinated with the amalgamation of classic silhouettes such as farshi ghararas and lengths paired with structured contemporary cuts such as high-low peplum cholis and boxed shirts. They have been infused into our wedding wear and our clients love the look. This collection was all about celebrating the opulence of our saturated heritage and rich traditions. Its bursts of colours that highlight our festivities are brought to life in our AW 2016/17 formals and bridal collection. It focuses on the beauty of tradition whilst using a combination of contemporary and traditional silhouettes.

What was your inspiration for the collection?

We like drawing inspiration from natural beauty and surroundings. We love the natural fauna and flora juxtaposed with classic imperialistic architecture and the power of old world charm. The glamour of bygone eras that reference lecture, the beauty and opulence of our rich culture and heritage are all a great source of inspiration for us as well. The Subcontinent has the most enriching history that we draw upon to for references and inspiration.

I love natural beauty and we source a lot of sketches and drawing from fauna and flora. I love adding shades to petals on a rose or varied stitch to feathers on a bird. I love imperialistic architecture and the old-world charm. One can draw inspiration from everywhere be it a mural in Istanbul or a café in Paris.

What was your favourite outfit ever designed and for whom?

Creating my daughter’s bridal was a long creative and emotional journey for me. I wanted to express so much in that one piece, I really wanted it to be perfect and I needed her to love it with all her heart. When I saw her wear it all together on her wedding day, my heart melted and to me, she couldn’t have looked more perfect. The entire look was very her, it personified her. She loved it, which was the most important.

How do your pieces stand apart?

Our colours, style and prints accentuate essential feminine traits that exemplify beauty and the eastern silhouette. The breezy, cool colours are carefully selected to suit our local climate. The designs are illustrated keeping in mind a woman of every age and background.

I know it sounds cliché but I strongly believe in the power of hard work and originality. We have been really lucky that our clients have appreciated the niche that we are trying to carve for our brand. It has taken us years of persistence to create a brand identity as well as a lot of caution not to digress from our signature looks.

What kind of accessorise would you expect your ideal bride to wear?

I always recommend great attention to detail when picking your bridal jewellery, it should be timeless and should complement the bride. I also strongly recommend all brides to de-stress and go through this journey with gratitude and joy, which in turn creates the most beautiful, glowing brides.

By Khadija A. Malik

It all started in 2005 with that tragic earthquake. Nuria Rafique-Iqbal and Mahin Hasib rallied up volunteers and donations from designers to host the very first bargain basement sale. It was so successful that the idea just took off from there and every year the funds raised were distributed the funds to organizations in need.

The Fundraisers BBS brings together players in the fashion and design industry in a unique way. It creates a platform for giving back. The group of people comprising the Fundraisers are all volunteers who give their time and energy to put the event together. Designers/Brands donate all clothing/items which are then sold at discount. Companies offer resources, and celebrities pledge their time. BBS 2014 had the kind support of mystery guest Fawad Khan who helped us reach a 2.5 million rupee mark in funds raised for cancer awareness, education, flood rehabilitation, and old people’s homes. In 2015 we doubled that number with the continued support of wonderful stars, like Meesha Shafi, and crossed 5 million in funds raised towards these same causes.

By November of 2016 our scale had grown with 180+ brands in store, and we set our sights high and increased the number of charities to support. We pledged the funds we expected to raise to Pink Ribbon Pakistan, Bali Memorial Trust, Rising Stars Pakistan, and Lahore Welfare Hospital Society. A smaller percentage of the proceeds were promised to Todd’s Animal Welfare and The Giving Tree Foundation. In the house was the team from Lahore Se Aagay, who conducted the auction, and two of the stars, Saba Qamar and Yasir Hussain, had everyone smiling as they bought the pieces themselves to support the BBS cause Our group of volunteers manned those counters all day as BBS shoppers helped us cross the 10 million rupee mark.

As we gained momentum we separated the Home Sale and held a smaller event in April 2017, to help sustain the charities who solely rely on the money raised by the Fundraisers BBS, and within the first hour of the event sold out all inventory valued at 3.2 million rupees.

To facilitate this we have worked hard this year to provide a tech savvy sale that empowers the shopper with a cash free sale. Apart from credit card points, Sim Sim Finja is partnering with BBS this year to help shoppers set up their digital wallets. In addition we have partnered with Lumensoft Technologies to create our own software inventory.

Our first tier sponsors for the sale on this 5th of November are Sapphire and Interwood. We also have the kind support of our second tier sponsors Guard Filters, Daewoo Express and Royal Palm. Eight charities stand to benefit from the proceeds this year. These include Pink Ribbon Pakistan, Bali Memorial Trust, Rising Stars Foundation, Lahore Hospital Welfare Society, Pink Rickshaw, The Giving Tree, Medicare Health Foundation, and Door of Awareness. We look forward to seeing happy shoppers on the day as they browse through clothing, art, gift items and household goods from over 200 brands! And at 50 percent off who can really resist?

To get the low down on all things BBS,  follow our instagram page @thefundraisersbbs.

Navaid Hussain is a professional certified fitness coach for the past seven years. With an ever growing list of celebrity clients, Navaid certainly knows a thing or two about keeping trim. His highly effective fitness training exercises have led him to become one of Karachi’s most in-demand personal trainers. Highly respected in the fitness industry, he has transformed the lives of many. His targeted Fitness Workouts and Diet Plans have motivated a lot of people under his guidance and expertise to bring a positive change in their lifestyle. Navaid gives Sana Zehra some inside tips on how to lose belly fat with some excellent abdominal moves

Fat gain on the abdomen is one of the biggest problem areas of Pakistanis, which could be due to sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition and inadequate sleep. Most people also don’t have the time to go to a gym or a workout studio for their workout with their busy daily schedules. Due to these factors, the majority of people end up gaining fat all around their bodies, especially that stubborn abdominal fat.

So keeping the time constraint in mind, Navaid has planned this workout circuit in a way that people of all ages can do at their own pace. This workout needs minimal space and can be done in your living room or even your bedroom. If followed exactly as designed, the entire circuit can be done in just under 8 minutes.

This circuit consists of 4 exercises, each one to be done for 30 seconds. Once all 4 exercises are done, take a 30 seconds break and then repeat the entire circuit 3 times. All exercises are to be performed lying down using a yoga mat or a carpet underneath. Make sure your body is warmed up before you start with the workout circuit. A suggested warm up is a stationary jog or walking up and down the staircase for a minute. Also, make sure your breathing is in check while attempting each repetition of the exercises.

The first exercise of the circuit is Reaching Oblique Crunches. Contrary to traditional crunches, reach towards your opposite obliques every time you crunch. Make sure to keep the core tight and look straight up towards the ceiling while doing this exercise.

Second exercise of the circuit is Side Plank. Come on to your elbow and your legs in a controlled position, slowly exhaling as you raise your hips up and inhaling as you bring your hips back to the staring position. This will be done for 15 seconds on each side.

Third exercise is the Russian Twists. Keep your back at roughly a 120 degree angle along with your knees slightly bent in front of you. Hold on to your hands together and start moving from side to side making sure to exhale on each side.

Fourth exercise is the Leg Raise Hold. Lie on your back, hands on to the floor and hold your legs up in a way as if you were seated on a chair.

Dua Abbas is an award-winning visual artist and writer based in Lahore. She graduated from the National College of Arts in 2009 with a Distinction in Painting, and was awarded the Shakir Ali Award and Sir Percy Brown Prize for excellence in Fine Art and History of Art. Her work has been exhibited across Pakistan and in group shows in Dubai and India. Notable shows include Elegies, Effigies (Taseer Art Gallery, Lahore), Within and Without (Full Circle Gallery, Karachi), Body of Work and Conch Curve Creation (The Drawing Room Gallery, Lahore), Young Blood (Canvas Gallery, Karachi),Art – A New Approach (Ejaz Art Gallery, Lahore) and Vast Narratives (Rohtas Gallery, Islamabad). Some of her paintings are in private collections in France, USA, India and Canada. The young artist’s vision is highly reflective, charged with a beatific melancholia, that leaves one spellbound. Dua speaks to Afshan Shafi about all aspects of her craft.

What was the theme for your latest exhibit?

Briefly it was about restoring feminine agency to stories from familial, cross-cultural, and religious sources.

Which artists, local or international, have influenced or informed your point of view the most?

  1. M. Naeem, Quddus Mirza and Anwar Saeed

What has been a seminal, life changing experience in terms of your art?

That would be my first visual arts residency at Vermont Studio Centre. The conversations I had with the artists and writers, and being mentored by such accomplished artists such as Amy Cutler and David Humphrey helped me develop my processes in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

Which of your creations are you most attached to and why?

This little work from 2013 I made in pastels and coloured pencils for my solo exhibition at theTaseer Art Gallery. It was titled Orpheus was on the Line and remains very special to me because I was able to reinterpret a beautiful Greek myth through it, from a feminist viewpoint. It had, I felt, the quality of children’s storybook illustrations, which made it very intimate.

“The conversations I had with the artists and writers, and being mentored by such accomplished artists as Amy Cutler and David Humphrey at my visual arts residency at the Vermont Studio Centre helped me develop my processes in ways I couldn’t have imagined”

What themes do you find yourself drawn towards most often in your art?

Feminist retellings of stories from various cultures; women and their interaction with spaces; familial lore and memory.

Name something you love, and why?

The thrill of getting a book that I’ve wanted to read. All the new things you get to learn, the countless delightful ways words can be put together, the romance of an idea or a faraway place – it all makes me genuinely happy.

Name something you don’t love, and why?

Not being able to walk around freely in my own city. I love walking, a big part of the charm of travelling to foreign places is feeling fully mobile, but it breaks my heart to see street harassment in Lahore getting worse with time.

If you could travel back in time to an era in art history which period would you choose and why?

I’m torn between the European Renaissance (its Italian chapter, in particular) – the art produced during it will always be my first love, really, and I’d love to see Botticelli and Da Vinci at work – and Art Nouveau. Fin-de-siècle Paris must have been so exciting.

What is your dream project?

Producing as an illustrated book or animated featureof  a series of stories I’m writing.

What work of art do you wish you owned?

So many of them! But off the top of my head, a haunting central panel of a triptych by Remedios Varo from 1961. I wouldn’t mind the whole thing, of course, but it’s this central painting – Embroidering the Earth’s Mantle – that resonates so much with me.

Whose portrait would you love to make?

Angela Carter’s. I wish I could have met and painted her.

Which artists living or dead would you have loved to collaborate with?

Paula Rego, Cindy Sherman, Amy Cutler, and Sara Khan.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

My family always responds very zealously to any new work that I make (my father has a custom of printing images of my works and putting them in little frames all over the house). But just last month, in Karachi, I was so moved by how Marjorie Husain responded to a display of my work at Canvas Gallery – she held my hand and gazed lovingly at two of the big portraits and told me she was completely enraptured by the faces and the wistfulness on them. I was over the moon!

What are you working on as a future project?

A series of mixed media works that will explore the portrayal of women in local, popular culture.

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