by WAJIHA JAWAID
"A television star can never beat the stardom of a film personality – we are more popular and have impressive mass appeal, irrespective of the state of our film industry," says the winsome beauty Sana. She made her film debut with Syed Noor's Sangam in 1997 but tasted true stardom after struggling for six years, with the release of Javed Shaikh's Yeh Dil Aap Ka Hua. The incredible success of this film put her in the league of top actresses of our film industry. With oodles of talent, graceful persona and powerful acting skills, she proved that she is here to stay long. Avoiding politics within the industry and remaining determined towards her work has made her stand out from the rest. When most film divas were busy getting hold of lucrative film offers, she decided to get married and recently, she is blessed with a wonderful son. In a candid interview with MAG she shared the beautiful memories of her life, her marital life and the details of her future projects. Excerpts:
What inspired you to become a film actress especially at a time when the Pakistani film industry was in a turmoil?
It is true that at the time I debuted, our film industry was on a downward curve, but I was fortunate enough, that even in those tough times I got the chance to showcase my acting talent and got my first break with Sangam. Now I have done over 100 films and for me that is a big achievement.
Do you agree that your journey into showbiz was not a smooth ride?
Yes, it true that I have faced many hurdles in the short span of my showbiz career. Even though I debut with Syed Noor, getting into the main stream was not a cakewalk for me and I did face difficulties in getting big projects. The time was tough for me and I was really disappointed. But then it was Sangeeta madam who reintroduced me and gave me a lead role in Reshma. I also did a couple of projects with Sajjad Gul such as No Paisa, No Problem and Ghar Kab Aoge, but it was Javed Sheikh's Yeh Dil Aap Ka Hua that earned me real fame.
What do you have to say about favouritism and lobbying that exists in our film industry?
Well, it's true that people in our film industry prefer to work with their favourites only, and that makes it really difficult for a newcomer to cement his/her spot. Our industry is already very small and this kind of unprofessional behaviour further destroys the morale of aspiring artists.
In your opinion what are the reasons for the decline of our film industry?
There is no doubt about the fact that we lag behind on the technical front. There are no proper institutes for aspiring artists to get trained and most of the experienced film-makers have left us. Only a few are here, but unfortunately they have put their egos above everything else. They do not transfer their expertise to the younger generation. And on the flip side, newcomers and youngsters do not value their seniors' advice.
So what can be done to improve the situation?
First of all, it is very important to put egos behind. Film-makers and producers need to equip themselves with latest techniques, skills and equipments. Private sponsorships can also help in improving the situation. These days, even the budget of a single television commercial, that is hardly of a few seconds or minutes, has increased; but the budgets of our films are the same as they used to be 30 years ago.
How important is it for a showbiz person to be well educated?
In my opinion, awareness is much more important than education. I know people who do not have professional degrees but are well-informed and capable of taking the right decisions for themselves. But that does not mean that we should neglect education, it is extremely important in order to be technically sound. I know several people in the industry who are ready to invest in latest film equipments, but hesitate because of the lack of well-trained and well-educated technical staff who can utilise them optimally.
How different is a film celebrity's life than that of a normal girl's?
It is far more challenging and tough. A film actress has dual responsibilities to take care of -– at home she has to look after her family and at work she has to give her 100 per cent to win peoples' hearts.
You got married at the peak of your career, what made you take the decision?
I believe that it is very important for any girl to get married at the right age. I am very fortunate that I found my Mr. Perfect at the right age and I am fully enjoying every moment of this wonderful relationship.
How do you feel after becoming a mother?
It is a beautiful feeling, which I guess only a mother can understand. I feel blessed to have a beautiful son, my whole life revolves around him and he keeps me busy all day long.
Do you think it is important for an artist to stay in shape?
Well, showbiz is all about good looks and glamour. If one doesn't look good, no one will give her a chance to perform. It is part of our job to have a groomed personality because we are being paid for it.
You have recently shed your post pregnancy weight, what has been your motivation for this?
Well, my husband has been a motivation for me. He is very much into fitness and exercise. We go to the gym together and workout and he often gives me tips on how to lose weight.
You are doing a project, Pak Villa, along with your husband. Please tell us something about it.
Well, it is a drama serial about different cultures in Pakistan. For the first time in our television history, real life couples have been paired on-screen. I am playing the character of a typical Punjabi woman and Fakhr is playing my husband's role. It is a message-oriented serial with oodles of entertainment for viewers.
What is the biggest challenge of being a celebrity?
When fame comes to people, it goes up their heads. I believe one should lead a normal life despite all that fame, so that when one comes across any ups and downs in life, it isn't that difficult to adjust and adapt to the situation. I am a very practical person and I try to lead a simple life that is away from stardom. It has made it easier for me to face the ebb and flow of life smoothly.
What would be a dream role for you?
I am a very sporty person by nature so I would love to do an action role. I especially learnt martial arts for my character in Ghar Kab Aoge. I would also love to do a completely de-glamourised role for television.
How do you see this trend of morning shows?
Morning shows have become a business now, celebrities are being paid for their appearance and we also get directions on how to appear. Recently I did a shadi week on a private channel and they paid me really well for it.
Any plans to venture into production or direction?
Showbiz is a full time profession for me, so obviously I wouldn't mind exploring other areas sometime later in life.
The Shaikh-banner has given you two of your career's biggest hits. How has your relationship with Javaid Shaikh been?
He is an amazing person, he is my mentor, a true supporter and a guide. He is a very positive person and I have a wonderful working relationship with him. Even when I went to India, he assigned his manager to help me there.
Tell us about your upcoming projects?
I am currently hosting a program for a private TV channel and am also associated with the Aeisha Varsey brand. Plus there are a few commercials and some endorsements.
Are there any Bollywood projects in the pipeline?
Yes, I am doing a Bollywood movie in which I play the character of a Pakistani girl. But personally, I prefer to work here as it is much more convenient for me. I have a family here and it becomes really difficult for me to plan long schedules abroad with a baby in the family.