GT – September 01-15 2018


Who? Baktawar Malik

Why? This pretty young girl flaunts her tiny waist in a jumpsuit complemented by choice accessories

Who? Fahad Mustafa

Why? Cool dude!

Who? Ayman Khan

Why? Casual as only a LUMS student can be, she effortlessly blends low key with polished

Who? Nausheen Shah

Why? Because Less is still More!

Who? Khadijah Shah

Why? Wonderwoman has produced a baby and a new highstreet brand all in the last two months and looks like a golden goddess in the meanwhile

Who? Maria Wasti

Why? We love her  traditional blush pink gharara

With acting in his blood, it’s no surprise that heartthrob Ahad Raza Mir gave such an acclaimed performance in Yakeen Ka Safar that it won him not one but two awards simultaneously, one for Best Actor, at the Hum Awards this year. Making his film debut in the action drama Parwaaz Hai Junoon in which he plays the role of a hotheaded cadet, this young man promises to be the next superstar. In conversation with Haider Rifaat, Ahad speaks his mind and opens up about his life and education in Canada, his drive for performing arts and his debut film

What is one fact about you that nobody else knows yet?

I don’t know if you already know this or not but I’m quite shy. I am a shy person when it comes to being in public, but friendly in private. Once you know me, you will understand this about me.

What is your ultimate pet peeve? Is there anything that irritates you?

I am very patient so there aren’t many things that get to me but I always think that you should be polite and kind towards everybody. When I see someone misbehaving, I speak up. Along with that, I am very punctual. If I am told to arrive at 9A.M., I would probably be there by 8:45A.M. Most people aren’t time conscious here, so it can be a little frustrating for me. But I try not to express my displeasure.

If another actor is late but you are on time, does it create friction?

Everyone has their own way of working. For me, time is one of the most valuable things we have. If someone gives me their time, I am there because I value the person’s time, my time and I value the work that we are doing. It does not have to be just about work. Even if you are meeting up with friends or take out time for yourself, punctuality is a key factor of life.

Did you study acting formally?

My formal education is in Drama. I went to a performing visual arts high school where most of my musical theater training took place. Being a Pakistani, I first decided to study Business at university level. Although it was going well, I had always loved acting and it was what I actually wanted to do so I changed to Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama. I studied acting, direction, writing and theater history and I am so happy that I did it.

You have established yourself within a matter of only a few years. Has foreign education played a crucial role to breakout into Pakistan’s industry?

I believe that any form of education will help you, be it a drama or a business degree. I got the chance to explore myself as an artist with the training I received abroad. It might have been difficult to do it in Pakistan, especially if you are doing theater. In practical university setting, I got the chance to direct and write that helped me create a base. One of the things I had to keep in mind when I came here was that I was in a different place, things worked differently here and sometimes I had to unlearn things. The base I had created for myself and the practical experience I received helped me regardless, as a person and as a performer. So, formal education has allowed me to think practically.

When I get a script and see what it requires, I delve into my training. You have to manage yourself as an artist. I explored dance and singing and whether or not I’m particularly good at them, I tried them out so I am not scared to try anything. I will give you an example of taking risks. You have to do a lot of improvisation in university so the first thing they teach you is “failure is your best friend.” Failure is not something that I am scared of, which is a good thing. When I’m on set and sometimes make a mistake and need a retake, I instantly forgive myself for it and move on. I don’t dwell on it or let it hold me back. It’s a learning process. My education keeps me going forward. It not only gives you discipline but confidence.

There is less room for error in theater though you can improvise a little. Has theater helped you translate acting on to the screen?

One hundred percent! There are technical points obviously, like when you are on stage, performing for 1,200 people, expressions are loud and you have to focus on your voice. Performing for 50 people is more intimate. When you are on screen, everything is so focused and hyper realistic that you have to tone down your voice, expressions and gestures. Having been on the stage pushing my limits and then on the screen, internalizing everything that’s a great range to work in. The experience stretches your capability and hones your skill.

Secondly, you have to be emotionally available. When you are doing plays, you have two hours to do it in a consecutive order and you follow this transition. It’s not the same for the screen. You have to spend time to bring yourself to the emotional state of that scene. It is not as if you already have a buildup with the characters. My training on stage has helped me be able to get to that place a little faster.

Do you struggle with perfectionism in this industry?

Perfectionism is unavoidable. I think all artists, musicians and actors strive for perfection. The issue with television and film is that you get to see the result right away so you are always trying to do better. Sometimes you have to allow yourself to be okay with whatever it is. It is important to always do your best but at some point you have to let go. Sometimes perfection is right in front of us but we don’t see it as artists. I have seen actors who, after doing a scene say that it wasn’t good enough but when I see it, I think of it as a beautiful scene. For someone else it might be perfect but for the artist it is always a struggle.

How do you handle it when you hear “Oh, he is Asif Raza Mir’s son and has it easier than the rest”?

It is a great thing that people talk about this because I have many ways to defend it. I hold the Raza Mir name with a lot of pride. It feels good when people say that he is Asif’s son, but it was difficult to create my own identity. My defense to this is that I was in Canada and did my formal education there for four years and nobody knew who my father was. Then I worked professionally there for two years; I produced and wrote my own shows and was a regular actor in doing plays from Shakespeare to the West Side Story musical.

“For me, time is one of the most valuable things we have”

I want people to understand that I am not in this because my father is doing it. I love acting and always have. That is why I am here. My father was a part of A&B Productions in Pakistan and he produced his own plays and serials. If I wanted to cash in on my father’s name and connections, I would have told him to put me in his productions but I didn’t want people to think that I am a star’s kid and I got a foot in the door because of him. I wanted to avoid that. My way of avoiding it was to separate myself from my father professionally.

“Having Raza Mir attached to my name certainly gives me a foot in the door and a first chance but after that it’s up to me”

Producer/director Momina Duraid has followed my career from the beginning. She saw all my plays and kept tabs on everything. She trusted me enough and took the risk to put me in Yakeen Ka Safar, Sammi, Aangan and now Parwaaz Hai Junoon. Having Raza Mir attached to my name certainly gives me a foot in the door and a first chance but after that it’s up to me. I had to prove it to Pakistan, my family, the producers and myself that I can make an impact, can tell a good story and give a good performance. The fact that people have liked my performances so much is a blessing and an honor but it puts a lot of pressure on me because I need to keep working harder.

Do you think senior actors, producers and directors have created a platform for youngsters who aspire to be actors?

I’ll be honest; I don’t think we’re doing a good enough job to give our youth a medium through which they can be given opportunities. We need to find more ways to attract people who want to do acting and be in dramas and films. We don’t have that structure yet. There are students in NAPA (National Academy of Performing Arts, Karachi) who perform and get chances but not everyone can go to NAPA.

We also need to focus on our seniors. There is a lot of focus on youngsters but we have many senior actors who are not exploring themselves enough. We should create more stories for them. We have so many experienced actors from the PTV era whose talent is not being properly utilized. We don’t have to just do the hero-heroine falling in love. We should explore different themes more.

Is acting all about luck or is it something you really have to dedicate yourself to?

It really depends. There are people who have worked their whole lives and they finally get a break in the latter half of their career. It does not mean they haven’t worked hard from the beginning. Then there are people who get a break right away. They start out on a big high but then fizzle out. It depends on the individual. If I take myself as an example, then yes I’ve been lucky and I’m blessed. I was given an amazing project. But the rest of it depends on the work you put in and the dedication you have.

Ahad has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama

Your work is something that puts you on the map. Unfortunately, social media now plays a huge role in Pakistan, which I don’t necessarily agree with. We should focus more on talented people who have the passion and drive for performing and telling stories. The film and television industry can be tough because many things come into play: Your looks, talent and your connections. It ties in to the idea that we should have a medium through which people can audition and give resumes and headshots because I went through that drill in Canada. It is not easy but at least the option is there.

Performing arts aside, what else are you passionate about?

The arts is a huge part of my life. It has been since the beginning. I was born in this industry; I have been to set with my father and have watched my grandfather’s films. I am passionate about the youth and when I say youth, I mean young artists. I am focused on how we can take Pakistan forward. Once I moved to Pakistan and started working, I realized that there are great things happening here. There are great singers, actors, musicians and directors and I thought to myself that I can’t wait to be a part of this revolution. We are going to take this industry somewhere.

I’m also quite passionate about music. I learned how to play the guitar when I was 13 or 14 years old.

Let’s talk about Parwaaz Hai Junoon. Describe the character you play. Why should people watch the movie? What message are you trying to convey to the audience with this film?

I play a hot headed, arrogant cadet. I will say to all the Pakistanis living in different parts of the world to watch this film because Pakistan’s image needs to change. Parwaaz Hai Junoon is showing you Pakistan’s Air Force, our people, our country’s beauty and patriotism. The film gives you romance, comedy, adventure and, most importantly, tells a story.

I agree with you that we need good stories. I hope that once the people abroad watch this film, they can help others, who do not know enough about Pakistan, change their perspectives. The film is about a female pilot. I don’t think there is a movie about a female pilot in Bollywood or Hollywood, at least I have not seen it. It also shows how progressive our thinking really is.

If you converse with citizens of other countries about our film on the Air Force, they will asl, “Oh is she wearing a burka?” We have strong misconceptions about Pakistan and it is our duty as Pakistanis to change that. I too had misconceptions when I first moved back here. I had never spent time here for an extended period of time. I believe that it is my responsibility to change that and be a part of Naya Pakistan.

What one piece of advice, be it from your parents or siblings, has helped you grow in your life and career?

One piece of advice my father has given me is to be patient and it can mean many things. Sometimes I fail at it but I try.

My personal advice is to take risks. If you are not going to take risks in life, it will not be worth it. It is a risk in itself for a Pakistani to be living abroad and pursuing theater. I know many Pakistanis who I grew up with who wanted to pursue arts and music but they couldn’t because of their parents, etc. I took a risk by coming to Pakistan because my entire life was in Canada, my friends, my books and my guitar were all there. You should take calculated risks because only when you venture to take a chance do you gain. Whether it turns out good or bad, at least you will have tried.

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

Jewellery brand Kohar is the brainchild of two ambitious young men, Ahmed and Danish who in a short period of time have won over celebrities and collectors with their jewels. Kohar is synonymous with standout pieces encrusted with beautifully cut jewels that exude femininity. Danish and Ahmed advise Sana Zehra how women should accessorize with statement pieces

How did you two become jewellery designers?

Danish: As a team we bring two unique perspectives and strengths. Ahmed is the mastermind behind the design and aesthetics. Our pieces have an artistic background and have a strong artisan spirit.

Ahmed: Danish is more hands on and is responsible for the operations at Kohar. Both of us had one major thing in common though, we both made multiple trips to jewellers accompanying our mothers or sisters. It started a few years ago when we began to sketch our own designs and learnt about different metals and stones and the complexities of putting together a statement worthy jewellery piece.

What jewellery trends do you predict for the coming months?

For the upcoming wedding season, we would like to see women steering clear of over accessorizing and sporting single statement pieces, like chokers with studs, chaand balis, maalas, etc.

What is different about Kohar designs?

Our designs are quite bold we feel. Our jewellery is for women that appreciate craftsmanship, quality metal and stones. We create designs that are not limiting to current trends. That is what makes our pieces premium and unique.

How did you get so many famous faces to wear your pieces?

We’ve been very fortunate that celebrities have supported us and given us so much love. Collaborating with beautiful people who enjoy sporting our designs is as enjoyable for us as we hope it is for them.

What’s your favourite piece/s from your collection?

Our favourite pieces of jewellery are classics that never go out of style. Personally, we really like our pearl and diamond combination. This combination goes well with eastern as well as western attire.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

There is no definitive answer to this question, really. We don’t stick to a specific area for inspiration. For the most part, however, it’s old school glam…Renaissance art, Mughal era, 60s Bollywood.  Old world charm inspires us whether it is for our big pieces or smaller ones that are more modern.

It surprises us sometimes that we are both old souls!

What are the dos and don’ts when accessorizing?

Women should understand that they have their own individual style.

Any piece that they select should reflect them. Too many pieces at one time ruins the whole image. Wear few but very selective pieces which compliment you. Also some women don’t understand what is age appropriate, for example a young girl can get away with modern colourful earrings but older women may not.

Biggest fashion mistake women make when they choose their pieces?

The combination of heavy clothes with too much jewellery is such an overkill! It takes away from both, the clothes and the jewellery. Women need to get the chemistry right!

Is this quote ever true “I have enough jewellery”?

There can never be enough jewellery. The heart always wants more than the pocket can afford. The struggle is real.

* Any messages for upcoming jewellery designers?

Our message to upcoming designers is to stay true to their design sense and vision. We believe that the key to success in this field is to create original pieces that resonate with the modern woman whether it is for her everyday look or for when she has to dress up for an occasion. For anyone who is looking to enter this industry, we will also say, it’s a lot of hard work so be here if you are truly passionate. It will show in your work. Good luck!

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.

By Eman Bandey

Designers are rethinking this classic as it has become a major 2018 trend. Get a silk scarf that you can use in multiple ways, including as a a bag strap or even as a nontraditional ankle strap!

This season’s totes are well quite super-sized, which I’m not complaining about. They’re perfect for travel and for the woman who’s always on the go.

Opt for hands-free with all the fanny packs and necklace pouchettes. Best for men and women who are always doing something. Some are too small to even fit your cards but other can fit the necessities.

Designers have spared no expense when it comes to jewellery. Let’s just say right now bigger = better. With floor scraping earrings and gigantic necklaces, this trend calls for confidence and unapologetic boldness.

Ditch your phone and keep your hands warm. At least that’s what designers are hoping for. Gloves are available in all different colours and lengths but for those who are glued to their phones, Chanel is selling fingerless ones similar to  those Karl Lagerfeld alway wears.

Chunky and ornate cuffs are stylish for many reasons, one being they look like a work of art. Wearable art is on trend in the fashion industry. They’re an easy way of incorporating jewel tones and exotic motifs into otherwise basic looks.

A simple modification on a tried and true accessory that looks radically original. Elegant, there’s something decisive of this look. The long and dangling varieties sweep the collarbone and create a romantic asymmetry.

Leopard print accessories have been gaining popularity. This might not be everyone’s favourite print but opt for a smaller accessory in this print and test it out.

NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 08: A model walks the runway at the Tom Ford Womenswear FW18 Collection at Park Avenue Armory on February 8, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images)

An updated and industrial spin on the classic belt! Chunky hardware and straps give a belt an extra dimension of texture and infuse it with an urbane sensibility. It can transform any look like the classic turtleneck and jeans combo and endow a simple outfit with an upscale mood.

1. Folklore

This bistro conveniently located at one end of M.M. Alam Road provides an excellent spot to refresh you after you’ve hit the boutiques. The food is actually delicious, flavourful and well priced. What’s not to like?

2. Divine

Green Tea Face Wash

is a must have to keep

your skin fresh and

hydrated. Enriched with green tea and aloe vera,

the wash gives your

skin that radiant glow.

To read more: www.duvistockholm.com.pk

3. Naturals

Naturals brings fresh & healthy food for you and your family. Shop for organic products, dine in at Flavors Cafe and experience live grinding of premium natural flours and spices at 229 FF Commercial Market, Phase IV DHA, Lahore. Check it out on facebook/instagram/twitter/snapchat @naturalspk.”

Afsaneh’s debut unstitched collection, Sahib-e-Jamal features beautiful Mughalai motifs, Kashmiri paisleys, lotus flowers and artisanal embroideries. The colour palette is autummer (autumn-summer)  with friendly – warm beiges, bright oranges, yellows and pinks, deep greens and navy; colours that traverse easily through the sensibility of both seasons. Through their prêt and unstitched lines, they strive to weave fabrics that resonate with your personal narrative

Singer/actress/TV host, Komal Rizvi has been in showbiz since the age of 16. Not only has she starred in hit serials and been a popular VJ but she also sung the oft played bhangra ditty Baooji back in ‘97, as well as pop and folk songs since then. Rizvi is all set to make a comeback with her new release Hello Ji.  Komal tells Sana Zehra what it’s like being a female singer in Pakistan

Does Hello Ji have a message you want to share with your fans?

Yes, indeed. Hello Ji stands for all those people who love doing something or love someone but fear failure or rejection. The message in this song is that times have changed, don’t fear anyone or anything.

“Jo kehna hai kaho ji” (Say whatever you have to say.)

You have been described as “outspoken, energetic, bubbly” and as an “an all-rounder.” What do you feel when you hear people describing you in these terms?

I really don’t consider myself outspoken at all. I suppose it’s all relative. There are so many things I would like to talk about but I have to be politically correct for the sake of my family or the society. But yes, I am energetic and bubbly and that’s how I would like to remain always — positive and happy. Life is too short to take yourself too seriously.

The music industry still seems to be largely dominated by men. Do you think the industry is afraid of strong and independent women? If yes, how does it show? What are some personal experiences you have in this regard?

The industry is changing, but super slowly. It’s about time women artistes should be taken more seriously. We have to work harder. It’s true that women are dealt a lot of “Get out of jail free” cards. So being a woman has both advantages and disadvantages. I, for one, am extremely proud of being a woman. I would not have wanted it any other way.

Do you Google yourself or read what the internet has to say about you or do you feel like it’s better to not pay attention to these things?

Mostly, I try to not hear or read too much criticism because it does take a toll on my level of optimism and motivation, but it’s very hard to not be aware of any trolling whatsoever. Someone or the other in the industry feels the need to make you aware of your failings eventually.

You travel a lot for work. How do you keep your work-life balance?

Since I only work, and spend all my free time with the family, I sometimes have to really force myself to have some “Me” time. In fact, I have now made it a ritual to keep my mornings to myself. It has made a huge difference in my life and my state of mind. My meditation and my riyaaz is key to my inner peace and sanity.

How has your musical journey shaped you in becoming who you are today?

I shape my musical journey. My musical journey does not shape me.

Do you have someone special in your life?

Not yet!

What is one of the biggest misconceptions about you?

That I am a snob

Were any of your songs written to symbolize any life event?

I have over 100 released songs over the course of my career. So yes, a lot of them I have written and composed are relevant to an event in my life.

How do you feel about the way people interpret your songs?

At the moment I’m doing light, fun songs because I believe this country needs some women doing music that can uplift the mood. At some point, I want to do serious music too, but I’m not into the mood for that just yet.

What has been the most enjoyable song you have sung and why?

I like singing Tu Beh Gaya a lot. Rock ballads are just up my alley.

Ever considered joining a band?


What is your favourite song that isn’t your own?

Unchained Melodies

Any message for your fans?

Stay positive. Keep learning, self-improving and challenging yourself. Grow. Become a light for yourself and others. Stay strong. Stay cool. Pakistan Zindabad!

Having made her film debut in Janaan, bubbly Isloo actor Hania Aamir stars in the patriotic Air Force movie based on real life stories, Parwaaz Hai Junoon, opposite Ahad Raza Mir and Hamza Ali Abbasi. Hania tells Haider Rifaat the importance of being yourself and what it was like making the action movie

Share some interesting facts about yourself

I’m scared of microwaves. When the sound of music comes on after my clothes are done in the washing machine, I dance to it in my kitchen. I’m very good at colour switch; I am also good at games that involve brain activity. I got high achiever’s recognition in Maths. I feel I’m not that interesting.

Was acting a stroke of luck? How did it all start for you? I know you were discovered through Dubsmash videos but was acting what you always wanted to do?

No, it wasn’t. That’s why when people ask me who my favourite actor is or who I look up to, I have no answer to it because I didn’t grow up wanting to be an actor. I was in that phase when you are doing your A-levels and still deciding what you are going to do. That’s when Janaan happened. It was just an experiment. I told my parents that it seems fun to do so let me try it out. Once I did, I realised that I was kind of good at it. I like being in front of the camera.

I believe confidence is key in getting into acting. What’s your view?

Yeah, I guess. My attitude’s such that I’m very positive about things. I even surprise myself sometimes. (Smiles) I have a confident personality; I like being in the moment. I believe that is why people enjoy being with me. The one thing I have learned working in showbiz is that you have to be yourself. You shouldn’t try to fit in too much, but standout. People would like you more then.

On average, why do Pakistanis respond so well to typical sentimental dramas?

I think we have evolved. If I do a drama, I try to do something that has more substance to it and delivers a message. I wasn’t very happy with Visaal because there was a lot of crying in it. My performance suffered.

You are the star of Parwaaz Hai Junoon, released on Eid ul Azha. What’s the premise of the film?

It shows the life of Air Force cadets and officers. The mission of this movie is to show the human side of the Pakistan Air Force and its courageous fighter pilots. I play a cadet and Hamza an officer. We want to portray our officermans. It’s not a propaganda film where there are fights against a country or an enemy. It shows a lighter side of military life. These are people just like us and they have love for our country to an extent that they can give up their lives for it. They have people at home waiting for them and they are individuals who might just take a flight and never come back.

When we went to Canada for promotions and around the world, there was a negative perception that we wanted to change. The only medium of showing our country to the world has been news channels and sometimes they can be very misleading. They sensationlise and exaggerate stories. We are still called a terrorist country in many countries. This is the stereotype we should work against.

By the looks of the trailer, you seem to portray a very headstrong and independent young woman. Why is this character important to you? 

Sania is headstrong and has her own journey in the film; she’s a quirky and happy girl who confronts her fears. She can now challenge anybody in any situation. My character shows that there are stereotypes involved when you are a woman and working with men.

There is a line of Ahad’s in the trailer where he says, “Ye cockroach aur chipkali se darnay wali qaum kya jahaz uraye gi?” It’s thought that girls are afraid of cockroaches and they can’t do anything. What my character proves is gender neutrality. It is not that if you are a man, you will excel at a given profession and if you are a woman, you will suck at it. I want women to come watch the film and take some inspiration from it. I want to put it out there that if you work hard with dedication, you will achieve your goal. Don’t let others tell you what should be important to you and what shouldn’t. Stand up for yourself!

“(PHJ) is not a propaganda film where there are fights against a country or an enemy”

How was it like working opposite debut actor Ahad Raza Mir?

He’s a thorough professional who takes his work very seriously. In comparison, I was just having fun. Ahad comes from a long line of actors. Both his grandfather and his father have been professional actors. Hence, he was always extremely focused. I was impressed because you don’t expect that from somebody who is new. At least I wasn’t like that in my first film. Ahad was well taught in method acting and knew all his lines; he put in a lot of effort and it was fun working with him. True that he can be a snob sometimes. (Laughs)

Who did you have most fun with on set?

The most fun was the cadet phase where there were Rachel Viccaji, Sabeena Syed, Shafaat, Sikander and Ahad. We are all young; we met for the first time and had so much fun together. We were on set and at these bases, in cold and hot weather conditions. We were all going crazy! At the end, we were like a family. We were all there for each other and we knew how each of us would react in a certain situation.

What else are you working on?

I’m actually not working on anything at the moment. I am taking a break.

In your view, what aspects of film making here should improve?

Considering recent films, what I have seen is that shots don’t fill up the cinema screens. I was very impressed with Fiza Nabeel because I saw the shaadi (wedding) song and it looked like an actual film song. I think we should work more on this aspect. When we work on set, it looks fake as the walls are blue colored and it looks weird, so you can only see the entire effect after editing. We also need better scripts because a film is as strong as the script is.

What are your thoughts on film reboots and sequels?

If they have content that adds to the story, then they should definitely do it. Jawani Phir Nahi Aani remained the highest Pakistani grossing film for a long time. If the audience liked it so much, then a sequel is a good idea provided the story progresses.

Since you are from Islamabad, do you think the media industry is in developing in the capital city, with HUM News and other media outlets in the making?

Yes, at first I thought there was only Imran Raza Kazmi here. I felt that he was the only one who was developing new talent here but the HUM network is setting up a production house in the city. I’m very happy about that because there are so many talented people here. I know many Islamabad based actors who have done theater like Hareem, Hamza and Ali Rehman.

“My character proves gender neutrality”

If you were to work with an international actor, who would it be and why?

I really like Priyanka Chopra and I enjoy listening to her. She exudes charisma when she is conversing. She is a strong woman candidly telling you what life is really like. I’m a huge fan of Alia Bhatt and Ranbhir Kapoor. In Hollywood, there are countless.

Who inspires you in life and why?

Everybody, to be honest. I believe there is good in everybody. Whoever you meet, even if they come across as a snob and they put you off, you sit with them for half an hour and you find something intriguing. Many people ask me who inspires you in the industry and I say all of them as they are all on set working 12-15 hours a day putting in as much effort as they can. I really look up to any person who is putting in effort to get to wherever they want to be.

Are you involved in any philanthropic work?

I won’t say it out loud but I can say go plant a tree and help somebody. Let’s do something tangible to help out.

What one piece of advice would you give to a novice in the field of media?

Just be yourself; don’t listen to many people. They will give you weird advice. If something makes sense, yes you can change that about yourself, but don’t try to fit in too much or try to be someone else.

Photography by Haider Rifaat

Mahlia S. Lon

There’s a rich tradition of passing down a craft from generation to generation in most cultures; a collective consciousness that we inherit as well as a diffused learning that we unconsciously pick up growing up in a specific environment, apart from the more obvious one of being taught at our elders’ knees. Many young people rebel and want to go in a different direction from their forefathers, which is their choice, but there are others who choose to carry on in the family tradition. How do they put the stamp of their own individuality on the family business per se is the question we pose to two young men in this issue. Ahad Raza Mir, starring in his first feature film Parwaaz Hai Junoon, tells us how being the son of actor Asif Raza Mir and grandson of Raza Mir, director and Pakistan’s first cinematographer, helps him get his foot in the door but his professionalism is ultimately what helps him prove himself. In a similar vein, Talha Batla got his LLB in the hopes of being a corporate lawyer, but the tug of the family business pulled him in. He is the fourth generation at the helm of heritage brand Halal Silk, his great grandfather having started the business in 1949. Talha tells us how he is maintaining the company’s strengths and loyal clientele while adding his contemporary spin via a new fashion line.

There’s always a moral to all our stories. Hope you enjoy these and other features we have prepared for you!

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