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February 01-15 2019

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The advent of social media and rapid advancements in technology have altered the landscape for traditional advertising. As an ad filmmaker, how do you keep up? 

Keeping up with the change in advertising means adapting to new technology, production equipment and latest cinematic techniques. I’m liable as a filmmaker to stay updated with these trends to ensure I deliver quality content. It doesn’t matter to me whether my film is being published online or broadcasted over conventional platforms. What matters is achieving excellent standards and embracing good concepts—these could be my brainchild or come in the form of a collaboration. The creative process allows me to push my limits.

In your field, what are the most important skills required to stay on top of the game? 

While it’s absouletly true that there’s no success without hardwork, commitment and dedication,  the one thing that gets you through it all is faith—in your self and the divine power. This may sound clichéd, but my belief in God has made the unthinkable possible. Strong knowledge, staying up to date with the latest and the best and knowing your domain propels you to reach your goals. However, it’s your faith that ultimately gives you the strength to push yourself to that point.

Out of the vast array of ad campaigns you’ve produced, which ones stand out as the closest to your heart and why? 

As I mentioned before, I embrace good concepts. There are several films close to my heart but they’re special due to their own unique aspects and every film has some.

My latest commercial was for Mughal Steel, an industrial product with a technical application. This may seem like a product that’s hard to put out there in an exciting fashion, but challenges like this are exactly what make my job so much fun. We decided to focus on the structural integrity of the product, instead of boasting other physical properties (like withstanding tons of weight), combined it with a relatable and humorous script and a stellar star cast. The ad film was a success the instant it was aired.

There are several other ad films that hold sentimental value for me. Picking one favourite is like choosing between one’s children. It’s next to impossible.

“More seasoned and polished actors can deliver with better expression, but this doesn’t mean you stop casting new faces in your films”

What are the responsibilities that come with being able to influence consumer opinion?

People often believe marketeers lie to promote a product but I believe the audience has matured now and won’t be fooled. The new generation is tech savvy and is exposed to a vast pool of knowledge through the internet and personal experience. I cannot influence consumers into purchasing a product they’re not interested in. Instead, my power lies in creating educational content that intrigues the audience enough to find out about its qualities and draw comparisons with competition. How effectively I can deliver this undertaking is what my ultimate job is, and I must admit, I’m pretty good at it.

Are big celebrity names crucial to the success of an ad campaign? 

It all depends on your message. The masses know that the person on a screen, regardless of his fame, is an actor playing a role. It is the information he or she gives out that matters. More seasoned and polished actors can deliver with better expression, but this doesn’t mean you stop casting new faces in your films. I will keep on believing that there are hidden gems just inches from you, every time you set out to make a film. All you need to do is choose the right fit for your product and script.

Run us through the process of coming up with an effective ad film.

Research, teamwork, pursuit of quality, transparency, charisma, strong script, knowing your demographics, understanding consumer needs, knowing your product, understanding competition, making good use of your training and experiences, arguing, fighting, convincing others, imagining- I could go on for hours! To cut it short, one needs to come up with the right mix of things to create something effective.

“I’m working on an action based romantic comedy. It took us around seventeen months to come up with the script because I didn’t want to rush into making something average”

How do you measure professional success? 

I am no advertising guru. I actively follow the mentors who taught me all that I know. To be able to achieve a certain goal, and then being able to move on to the next big thing is what success means to me.  Success is not a destination but a continous pursuit of excellence.

What is the future of ad films in Pakistan? 

Very bright. There’s huge potential in advertising. It is an ecosystem that is going through constant evolution. Our market is thriving with new entrepreneurs who are young, enthusiastic and passionate. The credit goes to them for keeping the advertising industry running at its optimal potential.

We hear you have an interesting relationship with music. Tell us about it.

Well, it’s no secret to the people who know me well that I‘m crazy about music. I created a few songs and produced some music videos back in the day and am happy to report that the passion still exists within me. I’ve finally worked on a full album, a project I’m very excited about.

We know a lot about your professional ventures but would love to find out more about you as a person. What is life like at home and how do you unwind?

I am an obedient son, a faithful husband, a doting father and a loyal friend. I tend to live two lives everyday; one is at work and the other at home. When I’m home, nothing else in the whole world can distract me. I’m blessed with an extremely loving support system and try my best to pay back with just as much selflessness.

I’m extremely dedicated to God. Whatever I have is because of him and I’m eternally grateful for the blessings he’s bestowed upon me.

Lastly, please tell us about your recent feature length production. Is it true that you’ll be directing a film?

Yes, it’s true. I’m working on an action based romantic comedy. It took us around seventeen months to come up with the script because I didn’t want to rush into making something average. While we worked thoroughly on budgets, cast and composition, the real success of a film is dependent on the quality of content.

The initial outline of the script took us around two months, after which we began creating links between the characters and situations. I’m sketching the whole project as a storyboard and am in no rush. I plan to give it as much time as required and will announce it officially only once it goes into pre-production.

Interview: Mehek Raza Rizvi - Coordination: Areesha Chaudhry - Photography: Ali Agha

“Love is a many splendored thing / Love lifts us up where we belong / All you need is love” begins Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge. Not long after Nicole Kidman retorts, “Love is just a game”

I adore this scene (the Elephant Love Medley) from the roller coaster of emotions that is Moulin Rouge by Baz Luhrmann. It perfectly captures the turning point of the protagonists’ lives as they hurl towards a love that they believe is their destiny. And who can deny destiny right? Indifferent to the consequences of a forbidden relationship, they decide that their love will defy all odds. The movie ends (no spoilers here) and you’re left with a heavy heart. But through the parting words – and even the post-credits images – the concept of believing in an everlasting love is reinforced manifold.

Growing up in an age where technology had just begun to take its roots in society and had not yet intervened in the most private moments of our lives, it seemed that adulthood would comprise of such grand romantic gestures, accompanied by their own orchestral score and definitely choreographed dancing; Bollywood or Hollywood – you take your pick.

All our lives, such expectations have been ingrained in our minds: the perfect Hallmark moments of dating, proposing, marriage and married life. Everything had to be that: perfect, painstakingly so. It doesn’t help that the commercialisation of love through movies, TV shows and even days such as Valentine’s have led us to believe that if we are not married at a certain age and in an almost symbiotic relationship with a partner, that we haven’t achieved anything.

However, in the absence of the digital age, we kept chasing this made-up idea of the one true love around street corners and in vintage bookstores, or in our case, in clandestine encounters at cafes. But then, quite suddenly, technology and dating apps took over. There was a new medium to find the One. Even Rishta Aunties were replaced by matrimonial websites, well not entirely.

Yet, it was not until recent years that the digital world truly interfered in our love lives. The advent of social media as we know it today facilitated a different kind of relationship: the digital one. With phone applications such as Tinder, Minder, Bumble etc. and the DM (direct messaging) option on many social media sites such as Instagram and Twitter, connecting became much easier. But isn’t that what social media and technology are supposed to do? Connect us to a wider audience?

Althoug, this did have its upside in making us become a socially aware generation that recognises injustices, relationships and the pursuit of love have changed entirely with the rise of the social justice warrior (SJW). We are now aware that many of our childhood rom-coms had sexist, misogynistic portrayals of women, that women are not objects and that consent is important in every aspect of a relationship. The spread of the #MeToo movement like wildfire, further kept us all in check and many ideals set by rom-coms were understood to be harmful to society.

But what else has changed?

Options. We have a lot more options: in clothes, food, travel destinations, social justice causes, make-up, everything. This choice is made easy by the numerous social media apps that are a touch away on our phones. We are constantly looking for the next best thing and comparing our lives to the heavily curated ones of social media influencers and other media personalities.

“Love isn’t an airbrushed photograph, but is a bunch of compromises, arguments, and the daily struggle of two people living their lives together – of course sprinkled with cute Instagram moments”

But what about love?

Speaking to people around me – the millennials – I have figured that the concept of love has remained the same: an unattainable fairy tale. But now instead of an occasional movie or TV show, it’s bombarded on a daily basis at us through the well-curated social media accounts of influencers and celebrities. With this constant reminder of one not living a perfect life, everyone is looking for the next best thing. This has, worryingly, crept into dating as well. With many putting up detailed profiles online and Instagram accounts documenting every moment of the day, along with “digital dates” where every question is asked and answered, a physical encounter becomes meaningless. It perhaps then serves only as a way to judge physical attraction.

Another aspect that worries those around me is the ease of access to the previously inaccessible. It is now very easy to “slide into someone’s DMs” and begin conversing with several people at once; these people can be regular Joes and Jills or your favourite celebrity that you could only write fan mail to a few years ago. This level of open interaction lulls everyone into a false sense of what they can achieve in reality.

The problem is that in the midst of this the human connection is lost. Fairy tale love was unattainable in the analogue days but at least people went out and interacted with each other and tried to win the other person’s affections through their personality. Now it’s your Instagram engagement rate, the best profile picture you can put up on Tinder or how wise you sound on Twitter. How many of us are guilty of posting on social media just to get someone else’s attention? Almost all social media users are.

Where does this leave us? This increased interconnectivity is being used to reach out to celebrities, models and influencers, but we have become wary of a simple “hi” to the person next to us. We don’t realise that online profiles are meant to attract attention and the lives of online couples don’t represent love. Our concept of love has remained warped. Instead of the digital age making real connections possible, it has only fostered further confusion. Love isn’t an airbrushed photograph, but is a bunch of compromises, arguments, and the daily struggle of two people living their lives together – of course sprinkled with “cute Instagram moments.”

What we need to remember is that love at its foundation is a human feeling and giving in to the power of a DM or the digitisation of love, we have removed its essence. Love might be a many splendoured thing, but it is definitely not always “rainbows and butterflies” as Adam Levine from Maroon 5 rightly suggests in She Will Be Loved.

We’ve all seen him strutting down the runway, bagging major fashion campaigns and receiving praise for noteworthy performances in film and TV, but few know Omer Shahzad beyond his brooding good looks and professional success.  Sana Zehra meets the promising star to dig deep

You’re on the cover of our Valentine’s Day issue, so of course, we have to start off by asking about your love life. Are you in love and is marriage on the cards? 

It’s too early for me to disclose, but if anything materialises, I’ll let you know. I’m a firm believer in the institution of marriage and envision myself taking the plunge when the time is right, which will be soon hopefully.

“I’m a firm believer in the institution of marriage and envision myself taking the plunge when the time is right”

“I’m a firm believer in the institution of marriage and envision myself taking the plunge when the time is right”

What’s your take on modern romance? Why do you think the percentage of long-lasting relationships has decreased in your generation? 

I’m a pretty old-school guy, so can’t relate to the dynamics of modern romance. I’m a reserved person, an introvert, so it takes me time to open up to people. This means it’s not easy for me to trust anyone enough to get into a relationship with them. However, once I am in one, I make sure I honour it with all I have. It’s crucial to fully understand someone before committing to them, but I find a lot of young people these days rush into relationships they aren’t truly ready for. When the inevitable problems occur, they find it hard to cope and look for an escape.

Do you believe love is blind?

No. Real love is not blind, infatuation is. If you decide to spend your life with someone, your fundamental value system needs to be the same. Of course, no two people can be completely identical, and you have to accept your partner with his or her quirks. However, that applies to certain habits, not principles and core personality traits. Love is a sacred emotion, it needs to be shared with caution.

If you were to give one piece of advice to young couples, what would it be?

Losing a relationship hurts, but losing yourself in a relationship hurts more. Be wise.

Moving on to your professional life, tell us how you started your modelling career.

I auditioned as a model for Bridal Couture Week in 2012 and got selected amongst 200 male models. Haven’t looked back since then.

“No two people can be completely identical, and you have to accept your partner with his or her quirks. However, that applies to certain habits, not principles and core personality traits”

We noticed you were missing during the promotions of your film Jawani Phir Nahi Aani 2 (JPNA2). Why was that? 

I don’t want to get into details but I was missing because the team never informed me of the promotions. It obviously felt bad; I had high expectations from this project. Things clearly didn’t pan out as I had assumed.

How has JPNA2 prepared you for your leap into feature films?

Since I come from a modelling background, acting has proven to be a completely new experience for me. However, it’s an avenue I’ve always wanted to explore and JPNA2 was just the beginning. The movie provided me some much needed insight and understanding of how things work in the industry.

Tell us about your upcoming projects.

I’m very excited about my upcoming drama Gul-o-Gulzaar. It’s a labour of love; a project very close to my heart.

In one of your interviews, you claimed being better than Hrithik Roshan. Why are Bollywood actors a benchmark?

Bollywood is a benchmark for obvious reasons. We’ve been watching Indian movies since years, and while Lollywood is finally on the right track, it’s still growing as an industry. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that Bollywood’s filming standards are high, nor is there anything wrong with us trying to achieve the same. In fact, doing so is what will eventually make the local audience choose Pakistani films over Indian ones, something we’ve been able to do successfully with television.

“I was missing because the team never informed me of the promotions. It obviously felt bad; I had high expectations from this project”

Tell us about your obsession with fitness. 

I’m a fitness model, it’s what I do for a living. The body I have today is something I’ve worked extremely hard to achieve and continue pushing myself daily to maintain. Trust me, it’s not an easy job. I’m proud of my body because it’s a product of a lot of heavy labour.

How do you overcome setbacks?

I’m a very optimistic person and always focus on the positives more than the negatives. Life is full of disappointments and challenges, particularly professional ones. This attitude of mine helps me bounce back from failure each time.

“There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that Bollywood’s standards of filming are great, nor is there anything wrong with us trying to achieve the same”

What’s one lesson you had to learn the hard way? 

The biggest lessons in life are always learnt the hard way. Experiencing loss you weren’t prepared for makes you grow and turn into a version of yourself you never expected to become. For me, the turning point in my life was when my mother passed away. It was as if my biggest support, the pillar I always leaned on, had been taken away from me. I knew the only way to survive was to rely on no one but myself; to be self-sufficient and independent.

What does a typical day in your life look like? 

I work throughout the day, every day. Once I’m home I change and go out for a walk, come back, have dinner and jump straight into bed. So, a typical day in my life is pretty mundane and predictable. On the occasional day off though, I try spending time with family and friends.

SHORT & SWEET

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Yes, definitely.

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? 

Honestly, I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Dream date?

Visiting the locations in London that are close to my heart with my significant other.

Perfect Valentine’s Day song? 

Aaj janay ki zid na kero

Most embarrassing memory?

I had a major crush on one of my teachers in school. The day I finally decided to muster up some guts and profess my love to her, she revealed what I had done to the whole class. I was awfully embarrassed.

Describe yourself in three words.

Sensitive, Reserved, Hilarious

A superstition you believe in?

Wishing upon a fallen lash.

When and where was the last time you danced?

At my sister’s wedding a few years back and for a song in JPNA2.

Hidden talent?

I can sing, but that isn’t a hidden talent anymore.

Dream project?

A good action film.

Greatest fear?

Losing the people I love. Also, I’m petrified of roller coasters.

Imagine you are the PM of our country. What three things would keep you up at night?

Poverty, Lack of resources , Ever-growing crime rate

Greatest weakness?

My gym

Greatest strength?

My family

Models:  Omer Shahzad and Janira Ider

Designer:  HSY

Photography & Concept:  Shakeel Bin Afzal

Location:  Parklane London

NUSCIE & JALIL JAMIL  : Married for 50 years

What Dreams Are Made Of

How did you meet? 

Nuscie: We met in the year 1964 in Nathia Gali, where I had come to prepare for my Senior Cambridge exams and Jeelo was visiting with family. Within three to four days of getting to know each other, he asked me to marry him.

JJ: I saw her for the first time in Nathia Gali, when I was eighteen and she was sixteen. I remember staring at her as she walked up a path. I’ve been in love with her since that moment.

The day you got married, do you think you fully comprehended what a lifetime together would look like? What were your expectations from marriage? 

Nuscie:  I certainly had no idea, I was way too young. Marriage has a lot to do with luck because you never truly get to know someone until you live with them. I’ve been fortunate because not only did JJ turn out to be a very fine person, but my in-laws too were loving and refined people.

JJ:  The only expectation I had while getting married was to be able to hold on to her for the rest of my life.

What’s the most challenging part about marriage? 

Nuscie: JJ and I are very different in certain ways. I’m always working and travelling, while he’s more of a homebody who prefers being home with his children, dogs, music and books. When you have equality and trust in a relationship though, no difference is big enough to come between two people.

JJ: Jealousy

And the most rewarding? 

Nuscie: The most rewarding outcome of our beautiful marriage has been our two children, Nadia & Omar. I also cherish the relationship we have with each other’s families. Jeelo is very close to my younger (and only) sister and her two daughters.

JJ: For me, just looking at her every day is the most rewarding part of our marriage.

What’s the most romantic thing your partner has done for you?

Nuscie: JJ is the more romantic one out of the two of us. He still writes poetry and sings for me. He has a beautiful voice, which our son, Omar, has inherited from him.

JJ: Just smiling at me. It makes my day.

What are some of the milestones with your partner that you remember most fondly? 

Nuscie: I’ve lived a fairytale life. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. Way too many milestones to put on paper.

JJ: There are way too many.

What gets you through the tough times? 

Nuscie: The most difficult time in our marriage was when our first child, Zain, died. He was a little under two years old. I don’t think we ever fully recovered from that pain.

JJ: Faith. When we lost our first born, Zain, we were devastated. It was faith that kept us strong and allowed us to mature as individuals and partners.

The one thing you love and one thing you hate most about your partner? 

Nuscie: There are so many things to love about JJ. He is a wonderful human being; humble, loving and kind. The one habit of his that I would like to change though, is making him less antisocial. I really have to drag him out of the house.

JJ: I love everything about her but the only thing I disapprove of is her scolding the house help.

What do you think has been the secret to your successful marriage? 

Nuscie:  Love, love & love.

JJ: Understanding, tolerating and loving each other every step of the way.

How do you think couples these days are different from your generation? 

Nuscie: Young people nowadays don’t have the patience to make a marriage work. Getting used to a new way of life, and getting adjusted to each other’s families takes hard work and commitment. One has to learn to make their partner a priority.

JJ: Human relations are the same, they don’t change. The only thing that changes are cultural norms.

Which one piece of marriage advice would you give to new couples?

Nuscie: Be patient, loving and respectful. No amount of material wealth will give you happiness if your life is devoid of love and good relationships.

JJ : Try to forgive each other’s mistakes and tolerate each other’s idiosyncrasies.

Credits: Text: Areesha Chaudhry – Photos Courtesy: Nuscie & Jalil

FARHEEN ZEHRA & ADNAN JAFFER : Married for 10 years

A Filmi Twist

How did you meet? 

Farheen: We had an arranged marriage but with a slight filmi twist. Our mothers planned for us to meet at a restaurant without telling us it was a setup. After hours of intense conversation, I knew I would say yes to Adnan if he proposed.

Adnan: We met through our mothers, when they tricked us into believing their well-planned setup was a coincidental meeting. My mother ended up asking Farheen and her mother to join us at our table, and the rest is history.

The day you got married, do you think you fully comprehended what a lifetime together would look like? What were your expectations from marriage? 

Farheen: Yes and no. I don’t think anyone can fully comprehend what marriage entails until you seal the deal. I didn’t expect the infinite amount of encouragement I got from Adnan to pursue my goals. I’m very grateful.

Adnan: Being an avid sportsman, I thought of marriage as walking into another sports arena, where a great match awaited me. Turned out, in this game she’s the tougher player who exceeds expectations every day. However, with a set of twins to raise now, I feel it’s time to juggle responsibilities.

What’s the most challenging part about marriage? 

Farheen:  Accepting your spouse for who they are, compromising on a daily basis and not letting ego come between your marriage.

Adnan: Being selfless and sharing your time.

And the most rewarding? 

Farheen: The little moments: sharing a cup of tea, listening to Bowie, going out for paan, discussing books and movies.

Adnan: Having a confidant and critic. I’m ridiculously lucky and still wonder what I did right to deserve her.

What’s the most romantic thing your partner has done for you?

Farheen: He arranged the most romantic dinner for our first Valentine’s Day together. Between the two of us, he’s definitely the more romantic one.

Adnan: I’m usually the one making an effort in this department. She goes out of her way to make me feel special every year on my birthday though. As soon as the clock chimes midnight, she makes sure everything is about me.

What are some of the milestones with your partner that you remember most fondly? 

Farheen: There are so many of them. It’s hard to choose.

Adnan: Quite a few. I should have kept a diary.

What gets you through the tough times? 

Farheen: Communication. We’ve discovered talking things through always helps.

Adnan: Proper meetings. I’m serious! Nothing better than discussing the matter at hand, face to face.

The one thing you love and one thing you hate most about your partner? 

Farheen: I love how supportive he is of my personal and professional endeavors, and his undying concern for my wellbeing. Hate that he gets lazy at times.

Adnan: I love so many things about her. From the way she keeps me grounded, to her minimal aesthetic, her forthrightness and love for life. I hate when she gets into unnecessary details while explaining things to people though.

What do you think has been the secret to your successful marriage? 

Farheen:  Not taking the whole marriage thing very seriously!

Adnan: Finding balance in each other, pushing each other to achieve our goals and sharing a love for the arts, travel and fashion. Most importantly, our beautiful twins.

How do you think couples these days are different from your generation? 

Farheen: The one major difference between us and couples today is social media. We didn’t have to worry about hashtags and likes.

Adnan: I find couples these days too impressionable and influenced by social media. They’re caught up in how others are viewing them.

Which one piece of marriage advice would you give to new couples?

Farheen: Respect each other. Love cannot thrive without it.

Adnan: It’s a roller coaster ride. Scream, laugh, cry, but hold your hands throughout.

Credits: Text: Sana Zehra – Photos Courtesy: Farheen & Adnan

SAMMIA RIFAAT &
DR. RIFAAT HUSSAIN : Married for 34 years

Meant To Be

How did you meet?

Sammia: Rifaat is my cousin. It was my mother’s wish to get both of us married. I was too young back then to make a decision for myself but firmly believed my parents knew best. He would often write letters to me, which made me realise he would take care of me.

Dr. Rifaat: We’re cousins so we always knew each other but I developed a fondness for her when I visited her family in London in 1981.

The day you got married, do you think you fully comprehended what a lifetime together would look like? What were your expectations from marriage?

Sammia: I didn’t have many expectations from marriage. My only wish was for him to make a loving husband, which he did. I got a life partner far better than I could have imagined.

Dr. Rifaat: I had a very clear idea of marriage and was ready to take on my responsibilities as a husband. I was confident that Sammia would make a great life partner and in retrospect, that turned out to be true. I had no set expectations but knew I had made a good choice for myself.

What is the most challenging part about marriage?

Sammia: To raise good children by imparting wisdom and inculcating values in them. It’s a lot of hard work.

Dr. Rifaat: To reconcile differences and develop a common understanding.

And the most rewarding?

Sammia: Receiving love and appreciation from my husband and children.

Dr. Rifaat: Our children.

What is the most romantic thing your partner has done for you?

Sammia: Rifaat has done so many things for me over the course of our marriage. Not every woman is blessed with such a great husband.

Dr. Rifaat: Standing by me and having faith in our relationship during tough times.

What are some of the milestones with your partner that you remember most fondly?

Sammia: Having children and raising them together.

Dr. Rifaat: Travelling together to the United States, having two of our children in Fairfax, Virginia and celebrating our 25th anniversary.

What gets you through the tough times?

Sammia: Whenever my extended family mocked or criticized me unnecessarily, my religion and connection with God helped me stay strong. My children too, have played a key role in getting me through tough moments.

Dr. Rifaat: Belief in each other’s love and unshakable faith that good times are around the corner.

The one thing you love and one thing you hate most about your partner?

Sammia: I love that he trusts me blindly. I hate how sometimes he makes hasty decisions that he regrets later.

Dr. Rifaat: I love her sincerity and openness. What I find disagreeable is her tendency to see the world in black and white.

What do you think has been the secret to your successful marriage?

Sammia: For me, it has been listening to and learning from my husband.

Dr. Rifaat: Loving and understanding each other.

How do you think couples these days are different from your generation?

Sammia: In today’s generation, the biggest problem is that if one partner is more accomplished or enlightened than the other, it becomes a matter of ego. No one wants to learn from one another. In the world of social media, there is a severe lack of tolerance.

Dr. Rifaat: Most young couples today have a flawed view of marriage and fail to recognise this institution as sacred.

Which one piece of marriage advice would you give to new couples?

Sammia: Practice patience and love selflessly. Also never let go of the following things:

Your parents’ values

Faith

Compassion

Dr. Rifaat: Don’t stay in an unhappy marriage.

Text:  Haider Rifaat – Photos Courtesy:  Sammia & Dr. Rifaat

SANA FAKHAR & FAKHAR IMAM: Married for 9 years

An Adventure Of A Lifetime

How did you meet?

Both: We met at the gym.

The day you got married, do you think you fully comprehended what a lifetime together would look like? What were your expectations from marriage?

Sana: Fakhar swept me off my feet at a point in my life when I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone as loving and understanding as him. I have to admit though, I had my fears. Marriage is a huge decision regardless of how much you admire your partner.

My only expectation from this new commitment was for my husband and his family to accept me for who I am and consider me a part of their family with sincerity. God has been very kind. I’ve received more love and respect than I had hoped for.

Fakhar: I wanted Sana and my family to get along and love each other. Thankfully, their relationship is exemplary.

The one thing you love and one thing you hate most about your partner?

Sana: Fakhar is my soulmate. I hold in high esteem his honesty and passion for the things he loves. I can’t think of anything I hate about him.

Fakhar: Her ability to love unconditionally is admirable. What I think she could work on, is her stubbornness and occasional bouts of frenzy.

What’s the most challenging part about marriage?

Sana: Marriage is constant work. Adjusting into a new family, in particular, can be quite a challenge but I think I’m one of the few lucky ones who were spared the ordeal.

Fakhar: The initial years of familiarising yourself with your partner’s likes, dislikes and quirks can be challenging. If you love each other though, it’s all worth it.

And the most rewarding?

Sana: For me, it’s the warmth with which I was welcomed into Fakhar’s family, our two boys and the sheer joy of having him as my husband.

Fakhar: Waking up next to her every morning.

What’s the most romantic thing your partner has done for you?

Sana: The day Fakhar proposed to me was absolutely beautiful! He decorated my sister’s house with over five hundred heart-shaped flower bouquets and got down on his knee. While I found it childish and got upset initially, I called him soon after and said yes.

Fakhar: There are countless things I could list here but if I had to pick one, it would be the fabulous surprise birthday she hosted for me recently.

What are some of the milestones with your partner that you remember most fondly?

Sana: We are both sporty and like to put our physical strength to test. We’ve been on adventures most people wouldn’t believe. I feel pushing our limits together helps us grow as partners, while creating memories we’ll cherish forever.

Fakhar: There are way too many.

What gets you through the tough times?

Sana: Fakhar’s love and support. When I delivered my first born, for example, I gained a lot of weight. As expected, people were very cruel and unforgiving, but my husband didn’t let me get demotivated.  He devised a fitness plan for me and made sure I followed it religiously. I was back in shape in no time.

Fakhar: Communication and understanding each other’s emotions.

What do you think has been the secret to your successful marriage?

Sana: Being friends, honouring commitment and compromise.

Fakhar: We are really good friends and try to be understanding of each other’s emotional needs, in good times and bad.

How do you think couples these days are different from your generation?

Sana: I think couples these days are smarter. They invest time in getting to know each other and nurturing a friendship before taking the plunge, which is great.

Fakhar: Due to more exposure through the media and travelling, young couples today have a better understanding of human emotion and mental wellbeing. This definitely helps them make better decisions.

Which one piece of marriage advice would you give to new couples?

Sana: Don’t give in to the typical dynamic of marriage portrayed by our culture. It’s important to understand that marriage looks different for everyone.

Fakhar: Be more understanding of each other.

Text: Sana Zehra – Photos Courtesy: Sana and Fakhar

SHAZIA WAJAHAT & WAJAHAT RAUF: Married for 20 years

College Sweethearts

How did you meet? 

Shazia: Our families are friends, so the first time we were introduced was by our mothers at an event. We became friends during our undergraduate degree though, when we coincidentally ended up at the same university.

Wajahat: The first time I met Shazia was at a family affair. The second time was in college.

The day you got married, do you think you fully comprehended what a lifetime together would look like? What were your expectations from marriage? 

Shazia: The day we got married, all that mattered to me was knowing Wajahat was the only person I’d like to share my life with. I entered the relationship with an open mind and heart, ready for any ups and downs we may experience.

Wajahat: Yes. I was fully prepared to spend my life with Shazia, way before our wedding was finalised. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I think it comes naturally once you’re sure you’ve met “the one.”

What’s the most challenging part about marriage?

Shazia: Every day presents new challenges but overcoming them is extremely gratifying.

Wajahat: Transitioning from being single and carefree to sharing everything with another person takes effort. You need to give yourself and your partner time to get used to each other’s personalities.

And the most rewarding? 

Shazia: Sharing the rest of your life with the one you love.

Wajahat: Having a best friend for life.

What’s the most romantic thing your partner has done for you?

Shazia: Wajahat is a very romantic person. He loves surprising me with thoughtful gestures, but the one I cherish the most is planning a second honeymoon to Switzerland for our 20th Wedding Anniversary.

Wajahat: Shazia is an expert at arranging surprise parties. I think over the course of our marriage she’s thrown me at least twenty-five—on three different continents.

What are some of the milestones with your partner that you remember most fondly? 

Shazia: The birth of our boys tops the list for me, followed by performing Hajj together last year.

Wajahat: There are so many. From graduating together, to the birth of our children, travelling the world and making films—every day has been special. We’ve survived twenty years without a single serious fight.

What gets you through the tough times?

Shazia: Remembering the good times.

Wajahat: Advice from our parents, along with our own contrasting skill sets to deal with conflicts. I’m an idealist and very sensitive, while she’s practical and realistic; we find the perfect balance.

The one thing you love and one thing you hate most about your partner? 

Shazia: He’s an exceptionally loving husband and father, but I would appreciate if he stopped triggering my OCD.

Wajahat: I love that she’s a very intelligent and caring woman. I dislike her obsession with keeping things in perfect order all the time.

What do you think has been the secret to your successful marriage? 

Shazia: Being patient, giving each other space and appreciating each other.

Wajahat: Despite the fact that you’ll never find either of us socializing without one another, we understood the importance of giving each other space very early in our marriage. I think that played a huge role in the success of our relationship.

How do you think couples these days are different from your generation?

Shazia: I find couples these days to be very impatient and insecure, which can be disastrous for marriage.

Wajahat: It takes a lot of patience to make marriage work, but I see the willingness to put in effort decrease with each generation. Couples these days aren’t as selfless as us, just like we’re no match for couples from our parents’ generation.

Which one piece of marriage advice would you give to new couples?

Shazia: Have patience and trust your partner.

Wajahat: Always count your blessings when going through a rough patch.

Credits: Text: Sana Zehra – Photos Courtesy: Shazia & Wajahat

SAIMA CHAUDHRY & QURRAM HUSSAIN: Married for 9 years

Finding The Right Balance

How did you meet? 

Saima: We were introduced by my cousin and friend, Bobby.

Qurram: Turns out, Bobby has introduced other people who ended up getting married as well. He clearly has a knack for matchmaking.

The day you got married, do you think you fully comprehended what a lifetime together would look like? What were your expectations from marriage? 

Saima: All we cared about was wanting to be together. In the words of Rumi “lovers don’t finally meet somewhere, they are in each other all along.”

Qurram: At that point I was just happy to have found someone who understood me. I most certainly wasn’t aware of the inevitable ups and downs couples go through.

What’s the most challenging part about marriage? 

Saima: With Q’s hectic schedule, we have to stay apart very often. I find that hard at times, but we make it work regardless. The kids and I are his biggest fans and love seeing him perform on stage.

Qurram: Balancing Saima’s professional commitments and my travels is tough. However, we try finding the right balance.

And the most rewarding? 

Saima: The feeling of overwhelming peace when we are together.

Qurram: Knowing I have a rock by my side. We also really enjoy our kids—they can be a handful, but add a lot of color to our lives.

What’s the most romantic thing your partner has done for you?

Saima: On one of my birthdays, Qurram got customised t-shirts made for himself and our son Keyaan. The one he wore said “I love Saima,” while the one Keyaan wore said “I love Saimama.” I found it very endearing.

Qurram: Saima is indomitable when it comes to thoughtful gestures and I struggle to keep up with her. We happened to be travelling once on my birthday and when we landed in Dubai on transit, she made sure the staff in the lounge had a cake arranged, and joined her to sing Happy Birthday.

What are some of the milestones with your partner that you remember most fondly? 

Saima: We both love travelling and have experienced much of the world together. We have had the opportunity to see some amazing places.

Qurram: We always experience new milestones while traveling. We prefer taking the kids along, which means there are many variables but we embrace them all. It gives us so much to remember and cherish.

What gets you through the tough times? 

Saima: Knowing that no matter what, he is my soulmate.

Qurram: The fact that despite being different individuals, our core values are the same.

The one thing you love and one thing you hate most about your partner? 

Saima: Q is the kindest, most gentle man I have ever met but I hate that he loses his phone all the time!

Qurram: I love her spontaneity; she’s always ready for the next big adventure. On the flipside, she’s a clean freak, which means the spring-cleaning never ends.

What do you think has been the secret to your successful marriage? 

Saima:  Accepting, loving, nurturing and supporting one another to manifest our visions and dreams.

Qurram: Mutual respect and being supportive of each other’s goals. Saima is a pillar for our family when I have to travel for work. Similarly, I have been happy to move cities for her so she could meet her professional commitments.

How do you think couples these days are different from your generation? 

Saima: The new generation of couples lives in an Instagram world where they expect instant gratification. That’s not how relationships work though. You need to work on yours every day.

Qurram: Every generation is unique, so it’s inevitable for new age couples to be different from us. What I don’t understand though, is the unnecessary grandeur of weddings these days. Agreed, it’s a celebration but does it really require ten opulent functions?

Which one piece of marriage advice would you give to new couples?

Saima: Never try to change one another. Love your partner for who they are. Be a source of peace and positivity in each other’s lives and you are bound to rise together.

Qurram: Rushing into marriage is unwise. It’s crucial to grow as an individual first and be sure of who you are and what you want from life. Only a strong foundation of self will make for a lasting union.

Credits: Text: Sana Zehra – Photos Courtesy: Saima & Qurram

The power of the ‘girl squad’ is extraordinary. Women are finally getting behind the trend of celebrating each other and “Galentine’s Day” has proven to set just the right tradition. Coined by fictional character, Leslie Knope, on the show Parks and Recreation, this unofficial holiday is now an annual feminist celebration.

GIRLS’ NIGHT OUT
Outfits: Arjumand Bano
GIRLS’ NIGHT OUT
Outfits: Arjumand Bano
FEMME FATALE
Dress: Mango
Earrings: Sapphire
FEMME FATALE
Dress: Mango
Earrings: Sapphire
I GOT YOU BABE
Rehmat’s outfit: ASOS
Zara’s jacket: ZARA
Zara’s pants: Jamdaani
I GOT YOU BABE
Rehmat’s outfit: ASOS
Zara’s jacket: ZARA
Zara’s pants: Jamdaani

 

 

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