On selecting roles, discovering secret talents and family
The versatile actress has become a household name as she conquers our television screens with powerful performances one after the other. Mehek Raza Rizvi sits down for a candid chat with Saboor to find out more about her aspirations and life in quarantine
You seem to be indulging in old passions in quarantine, including cooking and painting. Are there any talents of yours people may be unaware of?
I make sure I keep my fans aware of my activities during quarantine, so any talents I may discover are shared with them. This is a nice time to explore oneâ€™s abilities and indulge in hobbies there wasnâ€™t time for earlier.
Congratulations on Sajalâ€™s wedding. How has you relationship with your sister evolved after she tied the knot?
Everyone knows Sajal and Iâ€™ve always been super close, but preparing for her wedding together has strengthened our bond even further. They donâ€™t exaggerate when they say sisters are irreplaceable. Family is everything.
â€œWE NEED TO BREAK THE TABOO, BECAUSE DEPRESSION IS SOMETHING ANYONE CAN EXPERIENCE AND THE CONSEQUENCES CAN BE EXTREMELY DAMAGING IF NOT DEALT WITH CAREâ€
What are the pros and cons of having a sister in the same industry as yours?
The pros are evident: you have constant, unconditional support. We comfort each other during tough times, are each otherâ€™s number one fans and cheerleaders and always have free, honest advice to offer. On the contrary, I canâ€™t think of a single con. There is no concept of competition amongst family.
You recently posted a note on depression on Instagram. How important is it for public figures to speak about mental health and why is the topic close to your heart?
I think mental health is an important issue everyone needs to take more seriously. There needs to be more conversation centered around it, particularly by individuals of influence to create awareness amongst the masses. We need to break the taboo, because depression is something anyone can experience and the consequences can be extremely detrimental if not dealt with care.
â€œTHIS IS A NICE TIME TO EXPLORE ONE’S ABILITIES AND INDULGE IN OBBIES THERE WASN’T TIME FOR EARLIERâ€
Youâ€™ve proved your mettle as an actress by playing a wide number of characters. What kind of roles and genres excite you most?
Characters that have the potential to leave an impact on my audience excite me the most. I try to take up different roles so I can explore and better my craft with each project. My intention is to bring something different to the table every time I perform. Iâ€™m not too fussed about playing a protagonist or antagonist, to me whatâ€™s important is that anyone watching my performance should leave with some sort of positive message.Â I believe engaging art forms like drama have the unique ability to shape society like no other.
Have you ever found it hard to detach from a complex/intense character?
Iâ€™m someone who gets very involved in and immersed into the roles I portray. In order to do justice to my job, itâ€™s important for me to feel each emotion the character may be experiencing, so yes, sometimes it does get difficult to detach from a particularly intense scene.
â€œI BELIEVE ENGAGING ART FORMS LIKE DRAMA HAVE THE UNIQUE ABILITY TO SHAPE SOCIETY LIKE NO OTHERâ€
The fame and influence celebrities enjoy, puts immense responsibility on them to use it wisely. Do you ever feel burdened by the constant spotlight?
While the love we receive from fans is extremely heartwarming, itâ€™s also true that being in the spotlight constantly can be taxing at times. At the end of the day, weâ€™re as human as anyone else. From each word that comes out of our mouths, to every occurrence in our personal lives, any decision we make and even the food we eat and clothes we wearâ€”everything is always being judged. As a celebrity itâ€™s important to be careful about how you conduct yourself, because a small mistake can give people a false impression of who you are as a person.
Tell us about your future projects.
There are a lot of interesting projects in the pipeline, but youâ€™ll have to wait and find out the exact details.
What was the last photo you took?
Of a painting I made
What was the last lie you told?
Told someone I was â€œon my wayâ€ while I was still in my PJs
Last impulsive buy?
Your personal style in three words?
Trendy, stylish, minimal
â€œTHEY DON’T EXAGGERATE WHEN THEY SAY SISTERS ARE IRREPLACEABLE. FAMILY IS EVERYTHINGâ€
A habit you have that annoys your family?
Listening to very loud music
Best friends within the industry?
Sadia Ghaffar, Kinza Hashmi and Rubab Ali
Theater, film or TV?Â
Alternate career choice?Â
Favourite dialogue from a project of yours?
So hard to pick just one
Photography: Jaffer Hasan
Styling: The Emergency Room
Hair & Makeup: Adnan Ansari
Wardrobe: Siddhartha Bansal, Farah Sanjana & Ridhi Sanjana at Vesimi
A couple of weeks ago I woke up feeling I was on top of the world. Little did I know that my elation would be short-lived and that I was about to plunge into a 24-hour anxiety attack. Just as I sat down for breakfast, I opened up my emails. Saying that I had a mini heart attack after that would not be an overstatement.
Right on top of my inbox was a seemingly innocuous one sent by someone called Geoff Easton.
â€œI know xxxxxxxx is your password.â€
That simple phrase was enough to kill my appetite, because as it turns out, the password was one that I was using for a blogging website.
â€œI require your 100% attention for the coming 24 hrs, or I will make sure you that you live out of shame for the rest of your lifetime,â€ it continued.
I hate to admit it, but in retrospect the only shame I have is not noticing the obvious grammatical errors in the sentence and recognising it for what it was: a phishing scam (fraudulent activities aimed at gaining a personâ€™s data). However, the email was from what seemed like a proper address (especially considering it landed in my inbox and not spam) and the password was actually in use. It was the perfect recipe for entrapment and panic.
Geoff proceeded to warn me that he had access to a lot of my data and private life, along with videos recorded using spyware that activated my camera without my knowledgeâ€”all from the past 184 days. He concluded with the threat that unsavoury details of my life would be periodically released to random recipients chosen from my contact list (of which he claimed access to), unless $2000 in bitcoin was deposited.
By this time the colour was definitely drained from my face and a cold numbness was descending on me. I did what anyone would do: rang up my best friend. When someone threatens to release your secrets, reaching out to the one person who knows you inside out is a definite source of comfort. Thankfully, he had his wits about him and immediately reverse-searched the email address, identifying it as one thatâ€™s been reported to be embroiled in phishing scams. He then listed all the irregularities with the email text and rightfully pointed out that having that much data on someone would require a lot of storage space; in conclusion, that this was likely spam and I should chuckle and toss it in the junk.
My paranoid self was definitely not satisfied. Especially, and I reiterate, due to the password being real. I immediately proceeded to change all my passwords, reviewed all the saved ones and cleaned up my social media links to apps; I set up two-factor authentication everywhere and reported the incident to the email domain, along with filing a report with the Digital Rights Foundation (DRF). However, I didnâ€™t feel calmer until I did my own search and found out that this was just a newer form of a phishing scam thatâ€™s been in place for quite a few years. Shortly thereafter, the DRF reached out to me and assured me this was fake and I had already taken the necessary steps to protect myself. The only thing left was to delete the email and move on.
Further research showed that my password was uncovered as part of a security breach of a blogging website. My supposed blackmailer in fact had no idea what it was used for, but could only trace it back to the email associated with the blog. The threats were empty. (Although, it turns out many people did in fact click on the email links and get their actual data stolen).
Suffice it to say, I did wait with bated breath for the twenty-four hours to end. Once they did and my privacy and dignity was intact, I finally relaxed.
Ever since, Iâ€™ve been a lot more careful of the way I use the internet and how my data is protected; the ordeal was instructive for sure. Below you can find a list of ways to protect your identity, privacy and dignity while being part of the online world.
The above are just some guidelines; do your own research, be responsible and keep yourself safe. Iâ€™ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes about the digital age:
â€œYou haveÂ zeroÂ privacyÂ anyway.Â Get over it,â€ Scott McNealy