The twenty-four-year old fiery actress, Yashma Gill, sits down with Haider Rifaat for an exciting chat about her thriving career and new drama serials â€œAlifâ€ and â€œChungalâ€
Tell us something about yourself that your fans donâ€™t know.
I hold a Bachelorâ€™s degree in Psychology from Melbourne, Australia.
What are your three defining traits?
I am intuitive, good at counselling and combat negativity well.
When did you realise your love for acting?
Itâ€™s been there for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I took part in almost every school play and recorded myself on a flip phone to assess my skills. I remember there was a time when I stopped watching films completely, because it made me sad that I wasnâ€™t the one acting in them.
Whatâ€™s the most frightening part about entering the entertainment world?
My work is seen throughout the world and that terrifies me. Even my personal life is under scrutiny by the media. I felt conscious at times, not knowing if I was doing things the right way. Thankfully, people have accepted and loved me. The glamorous side to this profession is pretty superficial though. Itâ€™s honestly a tough job!
What advice would you give others whoâ€™re starting out?
Donâ€™t trust everyone you meet. People will confuse you regarding the choices you should make. Befriend a few reliable people only and theyâ€™ll genuinely help you get through tough times.
Is life in the public eye easy or difficult for you to navigate?
Itâ€™s never easy â€“ your life becomes public knowledge, but by Godâ€™s grace, I take it positively and try to set an example for others.
What empowers you to give the best to your work?
Allah and my family. My fans give me confidence and they empower me immensely. I have come so far and have a long way to go. That knowledge instills confidence in me and allows me to persevere.
How do you plan to make a difference for women in your role as a performer?
We need to put an end to scripts that use the â€œvicitmised womanâ€ narrative for ratings. I think subconsciously our society finds violence against women socially acceptable. Our dramas subliminally send across that kind of message. The lesser you depict women in a negative light, the more we can put an end to such practices. Eventhough the female protagonist emerges as a warrior in the end, it defeats the purpose of responsible storytelling if her character suffers throughout the series.
Tell us about your role as Shelly in the new drama serial Alif.
Shelly is an actress and a supermodel. She is the quintessential performer in Mominâ€™s (played by Hamza Ali Abbasi) films. Shelly likes him a lot but is under the false impression that he admires her as well. Momin intends intially to only cast her in his films, but Sajal Aliâ€™s character ends up replacing her.
What other projects are in the pipeline?
Iâ€™m shooting for my new drama serial â€œChungalâ€ which will be aired on Hum TV. Directed by Farooq Rind, it stars Yumna Zaidi and Bilal Abbas as well.
Whatâ€™s your dream role right now?
I would like to play an air force pilot or anyone in a symbolic military uniform.
Actors you would want to do your next project with?
Yumna Zaidi, who Iâ€™m currently working with and Feroz Khan.
Who are some of your inspirations from the media?
You learn something new from everyone. I admire Bilal Abbas for being consistent in every scene, while also providing me with much-needed cues during our shoots. My experience working with him has been the best so far.
Sum up your personal style in three words.
Casual, improvisedÂ and comfortable.
Biggest pet peeve?
Lies and diplomacy.
Lahore or Karachi?
Lahore has my heart; Karachi has my family.
Best thing about your job?
It gives me a platform to express my creativity.
And the worst?
I donâ€™t get to spend much time with my family.
Label: ZARTASH, HANIF JEWELLERS
Talent: MANAL SALEEM & FAREEHA SHEIKH
Photography: REHAN KHAN
Art direction, stylist: MAHA REHAN
Hair & makeup: UMAR AZIZ
The uber-talented team at Guddu Shani brings to life the fabulous and whimsical designs of Murrad Rahim Khan in
Designer: Murrad Rahim Khan
Photography: M Ali Abbass at GudduShani
Hair & makeup: Tuba Shahzad
Styling: Lara Madhuwal and Murrad Rahim at GudduShani
Art Direction: Hussein Kazmi at GudduShani
Production: Team GudduShani
Every fortnight Iâ€™m in a bit of a dither, trying to figure out what to write for this column. Something thatâ€™s relevant and â€” hopefully â€” engaging. My love for procrastination means that many of my ideas get swiped up by other writers and publications and Iâ€™m left scratching my head again. (Case in point: wanting to write about millennials and our sudden love for astrology, but The New Yorker beat me to it).
However, this time it was easy. I asked my friends regarding millennial issues that ail them currently. The answers I received ranged from economic uncertainty to global warming, to societal pressures. One answer stood out. My friend Saleha Irfan suggested that we know too much about whatâ€™s going in other peopleâ€™s lives and that thatâ€™s a problem. Funnily enough, I was leaning towards this anyway â€” what serendipity!
A couple of week ago I was binge-watching on Netflix, as one does instead of working. The show in question: The Politician â€” Ryan Murphyâ€™s latest venture that assembles a cast of almost new faces, tackling many issues prevalent in modern day society, all the while keeping it fun and campy. If you want to debate the merits of this show, find me on Twitter. Despite what the critics say, I quite enjoyed it and cannot wait for the second season. Ben Platt showed creative range and Jessica Lange was revelatory, as always.
One moment from the show, though, stuck with me. Gwyneth Paltrowâ€™s character is having a heart-to-heart with Ben Plattâ€™s (who plays her son), after heâ€™s had a pretty trying week. She talks (and I paraphrase from memory) about how our generation and the ones below us are constantly bombarded with information; our access to whatâ€™s happening in other peopleâ€™s lives and the world at large creates too much noise in our heads. This is the reason why we continue to spew forth every thought on social media, for the world to read and see. Itâ€™s not uncommon to hear this sentiment about our generation. Iâ€™m sure youâ€™ve heard from many elders that our need to overshare is probably responsible for all the drama we create in our lives.
Since Iâ€™ve already written about oversharing, being constantly on social media and comparing ourselves to others, I will not go into that for this piece. You can read up on those opinions in our GT archives on the website. For this piece, however, I want to focus on how access to endless information is detrimental to our well-being.
Growing up, Iâ€™m sure you must have come across the adage â€˜curiosity killed the cat;â€™ â€” it seems that the cat of nowadays is even more oblivious to this fact than ever before. I believe itâ€™s in human nature to be inquisitive, after all this thirst to acquire more knowledge is what landed man on the moon and took him to the deepest depths of the oceans. Even now, countless experiments and research projects are taking place around the globe, endeavouring to know more about the world we live in and how to make it a better place. So, itâ€™s only natural that this curious nature of ours extends to the mundane as well.
I honestly believe that itâ€™s quite plausible to assume that for as long as humans have dwelled together in communities, weâ€™ve always been intrigued by what our fellows are up to. From peeping over fences to know whatâ€™s happening in the house next door, to gossiping in private and public, this disease of â€œbeing up in each otherâ€™s businessâ€ is a pandemic.
Enter digital technology and the age of social media and this pandemic spreads like wildfire. Never before has it been this easy to know the innermost details of someone elseâ€™s life. One doesnâ€™t even need to work too hard â€” our need to overshare makes it easy for anyone to have immediate access to our daily routines. From Snapchat to Instagram stories, tweets to Facebook status updates, weâ€™re readily providing material for others. Social media stalking â€” whether of frenemies or exes â€” is a common thing now. What was once done subtly and through the grapevine, is now at the touch of a finger.
But what does this excess of information mean for us? Nothing good, certainly.
Weâ€™re constantly feeding the curious cat inside us, endlessly scrolling through othersâ€™ social media accounts, whether out of envy, jealousy or sheer boredom â€” it doesnâ€™t matter. The crux of the matter is that weâ€™re amassing an insane amount of information about others that is almost always insignificant. Consequently, we fall into the traps of social media induced envy, spiralling into mental health issues because how our exes are living their lives, or feeling a sense of doom from all the rants people upload.
The barrage of information we upload to our brains on a daily basis reminds me of a scene from â€˜Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.â€™ In the quest for knowledge, Cate Blanchettâ€™s character ends up dead â€” her last words being somewhere along the lines of â€œItâ€™s too much, take it away.â€
Perhaps thatâ€™s what we need to remember. Feeding the curious cat is only causing us to continue living a more or less accursed life. Melancholy, malaise and malcontent drive us over the edge â€” in my case itâ€™s mostly because of the amount of data out there. The worst part is, itâ€™s a drug that keeps us hooked and we hope that thereâ€™s something more intellectually stimulating out there; like a junkie, weâ€™re on the prowl for the next hit. (In fact, there have been studies that have compared social mediaâ€™s effect on our brains to using hard drugs).
Our only way out is to go back to our basics and learn that this curious cat is cursed. We must actively teach ourselves to curtail our need to constantly know about othersâ€™ lives; social media curfews help immensely in this regard. Minding your own business does the rest. Curiosity will most certainly kill the cat at some point â€” if not, then it will at least leave it with a plethora of mental health issues and an unfulfilled life.