February 16-28-2022


We speak to actor and model Mahenur Haider about life in the fashion industry, upcoming work and more

How does it feel seeing yourself on the cover once again?

It always feels amazing to see myself on the cover and this time is no different!

You’ve worked with Mohsin Khawar several times before. What is it like to shoot with him?

Shooting with Mohsin Khawar is always a blast. It’s always really comfortable. We all have so much fun on set. I remember shooting with Mohsin a lot when I had just started modelling. I think we’ve worked on countless projects together! We always make a good team.

How did you decide to pursue acting as a career? Did you always want to become an actor?

I guess deep down I always knew that acting was what I wanted to do.

Has your perception of the modelling industry in Pakistan changed over time?

I never formed a perception about the modelling industry in Pakistan. For me, modelling has always been work. It was always a job and that’s how I’ve looked at it.

What are your hobbies outside of modelling and acting?

This is such a heartbreaking question! I don’t get to do anything really because I’m so busy with work. When and if I get a day off, I like to go for a swim.

What is your beauty routine?

I wake up at 6AM every single day. I like to do yoga. Sometimes I work out. I always make sure that my early mornings are dedicated to myself and my mental well being. All of this is, of course, followed by a healthy breakfast.

People in Pakistan don’t consider modelling or acting a ‘proper’ profession. What do you have to say about that?

To be perfectly honest with you, I’ve never come across anyone who has such views. Everyone around me knows how hard I work. No one has ever questioned it being a proper job.

Acting in Pakistan is still considered very taboo. Did you face problems when you decided to pursue this career?

Not really. However, I did face problems when I decided to quit my career. There were so many people who didn’t want me to leave. So I had to come back.

Tell us about your upcoming projects.

I’ve shot a film with Fahad Sheikh which should come out this year InshaAllah. I’m also going on set to shoot my next play in March, so that’s also in the pipeline. I’m very excited.

How do you handle the fame that comes with being an actor? Does the hate or the pressure ever get to you?

People are always very sweet and supportive when they approach me. People that have seen my work and decide to come say hi are always so nice and that is a big motivation for me. I’ve never really gotten any hate so I feel blessed in that regard.

What’s your favorite part about your work?

Literally everything!

Who is your favorite designer?

I personally love Sana Safinaz Couture.

How do you stay in shape?

I do Yoga. I also try to watch my diet and eat healthy.

Name something on your bucket list.

The number one thing that I’ve always wanted to do is skydive!

Tell us about your first shoot. What was it like?

My first shoot was back in 2013. That day was the first time I had worn heels in my entire life! Can you imagine? It was a 2 day shoot for Bareeze’s eid campaign. I still remember it so well. Since it was my first time ever wearing heels, by the end of the shoot I literally couldn’t walk. It was definitely an experience I’ll never forget.

Who is your inspiration?

I get inspired by anyone who’s hardworking, regardless of their profession.

What kind of photo shoots, in your opinion, are the hardest to do?

Underwater ones.

Describe your perfect day off when you’re not working.

Day off? What does that mean?

What advice do you have for aspiring actors and models?

My advice to all those people is to never give up and stay motivated. There is a long road ahead of you; so work hard and don’t lose hope!

Photography:  Mohsin Khawar

Blue dress:  The House Of Kamiar Rokni

Saree:  Mahgul

Coats:  Quiz

Makeup:  Saad Nasir

Styling:  Aarinda Noor

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

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

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

How did your journey as a comedian start?

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

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

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

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

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

Who are your top 5 favourite comics?

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

Where do you see yourself in five years?

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any regrets?

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

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

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

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

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

We asked our favorite people their plans for Valentine’s Day and here are their answers!

Sumrina Khan

At the spa, pampering myself!

Sophiya Khan

I will be spending the day with my original valentines, my Nano & Ammi, with a home cooked meal.

Mohsin Khawar

My wife and I don’t specifically plan such days. We often go out, buy each other gifts and have gup shup sessions over tea. So for us, every other day is special like this. Alhamdulillah.

Hassan Shehryar Yasin

This year I plan to spend my Valentine’s with my Mother. She hasn’t been keeping well for some time and in the time I’ve spent with her, I feel that a day dedicated to love should be spent with the person who gives you unconditional love.

Rubia Moghees

I used to be quite finicky when it came to celebrating Valentine’s Day a few years ago; however the excitement has gone down recently. I believe that each and every day that you are alive and well should be celebrated. There should not be any reason to dedicate one day for love

Rana Noman

I want to take a holiday and sleep!

Zainab Reza

I’m just going to be chilling at home with Mommy.

Amna Baber

I don’t believe in Valentine’s Day!

Aamir Mazhar

I will spend valentines day by celebrating one of my dearest friends birthday over lunch! I also plan to give flowers and gifts to my parents to celebrate their love and blessings in my life.

Mohsin Naveed Ranjha

I am spending my Valentine’s with my significant other and both my kids! I cherish every second I spend with my family.



Meher Hasan

I’m spending Valentine’s Day with my Valentine! My dog, Dodo.

Anusheh is the epitome of grace in this Zehra Saleem outfit. We love the combination of gold and silver. She pairs the traditional outfit with modern silver jewelry and silver heels.

Mehak can do no wrong. She turns heads in this deep blue Zola shacket. She styles it with white pants, shoes and white shades. She adds a pop of colour with the green bag. We’re obsessed with her look!

Hania Amir is a sight for sore eyes in this beautiful peach shalwar kameez. She wears her hair straight and long, and accessorizes with gold heels.

Rehmat Ajmal stuns in this perfect holiday dress in Dubai. We love her sweet and simple straight hair and light makeup. 10/10!

Mamia looks fab in this all black look. We love how she layers her leather jacket on top of her leather dress. She ties the look together with thigh high boots.

Natalia is the epitome of cool in this trendy outfit. She pairs an oversized white jacket with nude leggings, a Prada bag and Nikes. The perfect Gen Z outfit, right on trend!

Aziz Memon and Samina Aziz hosted a lovely dinner in honor of US-based Pakistani entrepreneur and philanthropist Shoaib Kothawala and Firoza.



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