|The Promising Alishba
by WAJIHA JAWAID
The vivacious and bubbly Alishba Yousuf is among the rare breed of young artists, who has carved a niche for herself in today's competitive media age with her amazing acting skills and good looks. She started off as a VJ on a local music channel and did a couple of commercials but it was Haroon's Mehndi song from where this girl with twinkling eyes grabbed media bigwigs' attention. But she preferred to stay away from the glittering world of showbiz and moved to Peshawar with her family. She made a comeback with a special Ramadan play and it was her splendid performance in Main Abdul Qadir Hoon that again brought her into the limelight. With exuberant persona, innocent smile, friendly demeanour and innate acting skills she stands tall among all newcomers. It is the urge to do something new that motivates her to experiment with different things in life. Recently MAG had a candid rendezvous with sweet and confident Alishba where she delightfully shared her life experiences. Excerpts:
How did you make your foray into showbiz?
It was totally unplanned. At the age of 16, I got an interesting ad offer from a renowned advertising agency through a friend. As no one in my family belonged showbiz, I initially thought it would be really tough to convince my parents. But unexpectedly, I did not face much criticism and got the permission very easily. After working in a few ads and Haroon's song I left showbiz to continue my studies.
Then, how did your comeback happen?
As my previous experience was really good, after returning back to Karachi, I decided to try my luck in showbiz rather than opting for something totally new. So I made my portfolio and contacted a couple of advertising agencies. When I was busy in doing commercials, I got an offer for VJ-aying. I am a very experimental person by nature, so I gave it a shot. It went really well and from there acting offers started pouring in.
Tell us about your first television play?
It was a comedy drama for Ramadan, the whole team was very nice and I really enjoyed working with them. My first acting experience motivated me to take on more projects but soon I realised that it required a lot of hard work to portray a certain character on-screen with perfection.
Your character in Main Abdul Qadir Hoon had a negative shade. Was it tough to opt for such a role at the beginning of your career?
Actually, I had to debut with Main Abdul Qadir Hoon but it kept delaying for unknown reasons so I started off with a comedy project.
Yes, it was a tough decision. Initially, I was quite uncertain whether to grab the offer or not. But at the same time I found the character very challenging as it contradicted my actual personality.
So how was your experience of portraying a negative role?
It was a bit disappointing because people really underestimated me. They thought it was a tomboyish character and I was not playing it according to script requirements. On the flip side, when I read the script I found Zareen as a misguided girl. Despite of the de-moralising attitude of people on the set, I worked with sincerity. When the play went on-air, people appreciated my work and all the criticism turned into praises.
Was it challenging to get a hold on Sila's character in Takay Ke Ayegi Barat as the same role was played by two other famous actresses in previous seasons?
I believe that the worst thing a person can do is comparison. It actually gives a sense of insecurity. When the project came to me, I read the script and performed using all my acting skills without thinking who had done that role before.
What is your criterion for accepting any offer?
My foremost concern has always been my character – there should be some margin to perform. Secondly, the whole team matters to me. I literally turned down some good offers just because the team was not good. I believe that I can deliver my best only when there is favourable atmosphere to work. If the co-workers put hindrances in your work, then obviously it becomes really difficult to give your best.
Your performance in Ek Nazar Meri Taraf was also highly acclaimed. Please tell us about it.
It was based on a true story and I played a character of a young widow. There were several touching moments where I could not hold back my tears during the shooting.
You also participated in a reality television show, Desi Kuriyan. How was the experience?
It was horrible! It was entirely different from what we were briefed about. Even the contestants were not the same. My sister, Palwasha, was also with me and we both were so disappointed that we willingly gave our names for elimination in the initial episodes.
Do you agree that Syra and Palwasha got into the industry easily because of you?
Yes, the route was obviously easier for them. I have set ground for everything and they can learn lessons from my mistakes. Even today Syra calls me before signing any projects as she knows that I can give her valuable advice.
Being a married woman, is it difficult to strike a balance between your work and home?
Not really. Actually my in-laws are very nice; even my husband supports me a lot. It's all about proper management. I don't face problems because I always plan everything in advance.
What do you enjoy the most; acting, modelling in commercials or VJ-aying?
Commercials have their own corporate feel which is awesome. In acting, you have to put a lot of effort to portray a certain character and it is more time consuming. But honestly speaking I love acting, it brings out the best in me.
Of all your characters which one is your personal favourite and why?
I recently did a serial, Sargoshi, with Noman Ejaz, it will go on air soon. The story revolves around a young girl who marries an aged man. It is about the beautiful husband-wife relationship and what difficulties a young girl faces after marriage.
Your favourite co-actor?
Our experienced and seasoned actors are much more cooperative, literate and groomed than today's prominent celebrities. It has been a sheer pleasure working with Noman Ejaz and Sajid Hassan.
Are you inclined towards other artistic areas such as music and dancing?
Yes, I am a very artistic person by nature. I love listening music, sketching and even writing.
In your short showbiz journey, have you made more friends or foes?
I am very friendly by nature but as far as showbiz is concerned no one is friend here. I am not here to make friends and it is just a workplace for me.
When depression prevails, how do you overcome it?
Everybody feels blue at some phase in their lives; I guess it's quite normal. When I am in a bad mood, I try to reassure myself that the bad time will pass and everything will be fine soon.
Any message for aspiring artists?
Be confident in whatever you do. If you have talent, no one can stop you from making your mark. Never compare yourself to others, groom your unique traits to stand out in the crowd.