Coke Studio and 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist' changed my life: Meesha Shafi

Updated November 17, 2014


Saba Hameed and Meesha Shafi on 'Tonite with HSY'. – Photo credit: Tonite with HSY Facebook page
Saba Hameed and Meesha Shafi on 'Tonite with HSY'. – Photo credit: Tonite with HSY Facebook page

Episode eight of Tonite With HSY saw the first ever interview of the mother-daughter duo of veteran actor Saba Hameed and her singer-actor daughter Meesha Shafi in a candid atmosphere.

The show started with the pressing question as to why Saba never gives interviews.

Saba, who is known for her versatile roles such as Sumbal in the comedy drama Family Front and the polar opposite role of the despicable mother-in-law in Ek Tamanna Lahasil Si, held the opinion that actors should maintain the magical image they create.

“There should be a bar between the actor and the audience; too much information about one's private life shouldn’t be revealed by them [the actors],” said Saba.

Talking about her mother’s roles that she greatly admires, Meesha mentioned the drama Mama Seemi, which was about a socialite who loses her mind after her child dies in her absence.

“Though I was a very little child when I first saw it, the story really touched me," shared Meesha. "The way she translated it (the role) into herself… left an impression on my really young mind.”

Saba added that she also developed as an actor after the play.

“That play (Mama Seemi) changed me in terms of personality," Saba mused. "I feel (the roles) more; I became more sensitive and the scripts started talking to me after that play. Before that I used to just learn the lines and deliver them."

Commenting on the current trends in our dramas about women being stereotyped as the oppressed characters, Saba said the trend had always been present, but as there was only one channel that aired one drama per day, it wasn’t noticeable.

She added that now, with about 45 serials a week, this has drastically changed. Earlier, there was probably one good serial in a quarter; now three to four dramas do stand out from others.

Nevertheless, she lamented: “Sadly, this system of rating — that has killed the drama.”

When HSY asked her who was the worst director she worked with, Saba tactfully avoided the question by turning it into the best director she had worked with and named Nadeem Baig.

"Every project that I did with him [Nadeem Baig] was outstanding — the detail, the aesthetics, the feel, the soul — he puts his soul in every play," Saba said.

Having worked with famous Indian director Rakesh Omparkash Mehra (Rang De Basanti) in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag as well as with Mira Nair in The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Meesha instantly answered that she didn’t enjoy working with any of the directors in Pakistan with the exception of Bilal Lashari.

“He is the first one I had fun working with. I felt like I was working with someone who knew what they were doing. He was refreshing and encouraging," said Meesha. "He was the first person I had worked with in Pakistan who had studied his craft and I could feel the difference.”

However, Meesha admitted that the script of Waar didn’t make the experience enjoyable: “I felt that the script was the weakest point of the movie.”

 Meesha Shafi. – Photo credit: Tonite with HSY Facebook page
Meesha Shafi. – Photo credit: Tonite with HSY Facebook page

Coming to The Reluctant Fundamentalist, where she played the role of the confident sister of Changez (Riz Ahmed), Meesha recounted that it changed her life.

"There were two things back-to-back that kind of changed my life, one was Coke Studio and the other was The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” said Meesha.

However, she added: “Just because I did these two high-profile things and became a household name doesn’t mean I haven’t put in the years. A lot of people don’t realise this, but a lot of hard work goes into getting where you are then being finally noticed.”

Though it seemed that she shot to fame in no time, Meesha stressed that it took her 13 years to reach where she stands today. She also revealed that many people didn’t appreciate her success and distanced themselves from her.

"They were obviously not well-wishers and it's natural, everyone is fighting their own battle and trying to achieve the success they hope for," said Meesha. "And luck has a lot to do with all of this."

Being a mother of two children, HSY asked Meesha as to why female artists take a back seat after they get married, especially after they have children and whether she feels she would do the same.

“Babies bring in their own blessings," Meesha responded instantly. "I have done some of my best work after both babies respectively.”

She further said that she is not a go-getter and felt incredibly blessed.

"I must have done something right along the way, because I've been very lucky," shared the starlet. “I am hard working and consistent, but not cut-throat.”

Turning the topic to Meesha’s marriage to musician Mehmood Rehman, HSY asked if it was a love marriage or an arranged one.

“My husband and I were in the same college (NCA), that’s where we met and he is an artist, a musician," Meesha shared. "We have a lot in common — [our] personalities are polar opposite but lifestyles are very similar so somewhere along the way there's a very nice balance."

Saba accredited her daughter’s choice and called Mehmood Rehman “graceful” and “chivalrous.”

When asked about the next breakthrough actor in our industry, Saba instantly named Sanam Saeed.

“Sanam is a fantastic actor. We are blessed to have her because she is able to convince us in whichever role she plays."

She added Hamza Ali Abbasi, Shehryar Munawwar and Adeel Hussain to the list.

Furthermore, Saba said that in such fast-paced times, professionalism was a must for actors.

“The pace today is very fast and if the younger lot is not professional they’ll lag behind others.”

 Saba Hameed. – Photo credit: Tonite with HSY Facebook page
Saba Hameed. – Photo credit: Tonite with HSY Facebook page

Talking about the her precious memories, Saba reminisced about the security in earlier days when it was possible to walk on the roads without any fear.

"We could walk on the streets, which children today cannot do," stressed Saba. “Walking from our house near Gymkhana to Punjab University on foot with friends, siblings and chatting along the way — I miss that security.”

In the Love or Don’t Love round, Meesha gave unclear responses for two pictures, one of former President Ziaul Haq, by saying “maybe not” at which her mother replied: “There is no maybe about it,” and musician, Farhad Humayun.

Saba agreed when HSY asked if her next venture would be direction, stating that she was constantly being pushed towards it.

Talking about who she would cast if she directed a drama, Saba reinforced her admiration for Sanam Saeed.

“I really like Sanam,” said Saba.

And what's next for Meesha Shafi?

“There would be a lot of music, versatile projects including original sound tracks (OSTs) — local OST, and many local films are going to be released which look very promising,” said the Jugni singer.

Meesha also shared her views about the "image" set by a star, stating that many artists often do not get desired roles because of the “glamour” factor.

“You have an image and breaking that image is difficult," admitted Meesha. "My image is "glamorous" and it has its advantages and disadvantages. It terms of casting, when people stereotype you, you can miss out on roles in which you can surprise people unexpectedly.”

She added: "I don't think people think of me when they're looking for gharailoo bahu type roles."

Meesha also said that she would love to work in Bilal Lashari’s Maula Jatt, a film that's a subject of many controversies these days.