Two’s Company - Syra & Sheheryar

Open Up Under The Summer Sun

A blanched backdrop set on a parakeet green turf was set in candid motion the minute a full-on-energy pair set foot on it. The bouts of buoyancy the duo had, spread like a waft of glee enveloping all those around them. The on-screen glam queen, Syra and dapper heart-throb, Sheheryar are on a flight to take over the big screen in Pakistan’s first ever superhero flick, Project Ghazi. As Team Green lifted the Champion’s Trophy, MAG sat down with the duo in an unreserved conversation. Excerpts:

Your first big break?
Sheheryar Munawar: The chitta kukkar advertisement I did for National Foods really got me out.

Syra Shahroz: For a lot of people I really clicked with the Cornetto commercial because of which I got so many offers, but acting wise, I think it was my first drama serial, Mera Naseeb.

Your dream job?
SM: I can make this sound very good by saying I’m living my dream job, which I’m sort of in a way. But if you put things down in dreams, you can’t keep dreaming, right? Right now life is good and interesting; I love what I do, I think about it, obsess over it, and I’m going with the flow. Don’t know if this is the dream or not but if it is, then it seems to be a vivid dream.

SS: I always wanted to be a chef, but since I’m acting, I’d say I always wanted to be a part of a superhero film and I have done that!

Your signature skill would be?
SM: I’m a jack-of-all-trades kind of guy who can do a bit of everything. So let’s say if I was stuck on an island, I would survive and be able to fend for myself – that’s an important skill, right? You never know when you’ll be left on an island.

SS: Haven’t thought about it, but everyone says I cook well.

Your industry idol?
SM: For me, the entertainment industry includes musicians, directors, producers, writers and actors. For every block I have certain people whom I look up to, so I cannot pin down one name. There are people who have been there for a long time, whom I admire, some of whom used to write from the days when PTV used to do wonderful. The heroes I’m discovering now make me feel a little underprivileged and I wish I was exposed to them earlier.

SS: I like people who are real; people who stay true to themselves and their values and morals and are more relatable. Like I love how Salman Khan being the greatest star, is still so human, down to earth and I love how he takes part in all these causes and helps out in charity; that is something I also intend to do and be as helpful to whoever I can.

How do you choose a fragrance?
SM: There is a science involved in choosing a fragrance and I’m very particular about it. It depends whether it’s a winter, summer, daytime or breezy cologne. I really like perfumes so it depends which one I go with from occasion to occasion. If it’s a daytime affair, I’d go with something breezy, if it’s a night-time event then I’ll go with something stronger. Right now my day perfume is Sauvage by Dior.

SS: Fragrance is something which takes me back in time. If I smell one which does not remind me of anything, it doesn’t settle well with me. I love Issey Miyake as it takes me back to when I was 13; I also like Chanel Nº 5. It does get hard for me to choose new fragrances but what happens is somehow something clicks; like when I went for my honeymoon, I bought myself a Prada perfume; even though I’m usually not fond of sweet scents but when I was there, it just went so well with the mood, and now that smell always takes me back to that trip.

What’s your beauty philosophy?
SM: For me, one should be healthy in life. If at 60-70 I can run a marathon, than I have achieved what I want to in life, and for me being healthy is being fit physically as well as emotionally; if you have positivity within you, with a clean and healthy mind then you are beautiful.

SS: I feel beauty really comes from within. You have to be a beautiful person for people to actually feel your beauty inside out. I know a lot of people who look beautiful, but if there is no personality or depth to them, then I think beauty doesn’t really last.

Best career advice you were given?
SM: I have been very blessed and lucky to meet seniors who have shared pearls of wisdom along the way. When I started initially, I worked with Bushra Ansari and she shared an anecdote on shortcomings. She showed me a carpet and pointed at the number of rolls in it. She told me if I have to go from one point to another, I’ll encounter all these bumps on the way but on reaching the destination, I won’t even think about these bumps. So all the ups and downs one gets to face, are just little bumps on the way and one should not think or cry over them. Then Asim Raza advised me to always be prepared for my day-to-day battles, knowing what I want from a meeting the minute I walk into it.

SS: When you are new (in the field), everyone tells you to stay the way you are and be humble and that is the best you can do for yourself. For me, it is very important to stay real. Also, being humble and grounded helps you in being the real you, as this industry has a high tendency of changing you as a person. So, this was the best advice for me along with ‘you need to choose your battles’.

Your earliest memory of acting?
SM: I was a very dramatic person. As a kid I used to watch Waheed Murad and Nadeem Sb’s films on STN. The nights when my parents would be out, I would be with my nanny, who would allow me to stay up late and I’d watch those movies. For some reason at that time, every hero’s name was Shakil which wanted me to be ‘Shakil’ too. I remember once someone scolded me as a kid so I placed a big stone on my chest and was lying on the ground. Someone passing by asked what I am up to and I said ‘I’m going to kill myself as this life is not worth living’! (laughs)

SS: I used to stand in front of the mirror, playing out characters I like. Ariel from The Little Mermaid is one of my favourites.

What do you collect?
SM: I love collecting watches. Right now I have put the collection on hold as it’s time to look into some real estate as well. I also like vintage stuff; if I like an old camera I’ll put it on my bookshelf.

SS: I collect memories. Things that will remind me of the places I have been to, even if it’s a subway ticket, a ticket to the movies or a matchbox from a restaurant I have been to.

If you were born in another era, which one would you choose to be in?
SM: I would really like to time travel to Pakistan of the 60s and 70s for I think that was our most evolved self. There are these fantasy advertisements from that time the likes of which include PIA ads which were so stylised and that makes me wonder is this Pakistan? If so, I want to go back and live, and experience Pakistan of that time. Now I feel reverse Darwinism has taken over.

SS: I would like to go back to the time of the rajas and the maharajas.

What’s the meaning of life?
SM: That is a question I have left for my 50s. I have deferred it. I will start thinking about it after I’m 50. We are all figuring out life as it happens and it is all in the moments.

SS: It is not only about you, but what you can do for others and how much you can give. I feel you have lived when you’ve made people smile, or made a difference in their lives.

Something you regret…
SM: I am an overthinker. So there have been times on which I look back now and feel I could have been a bit more relaxed. The best memories I have are of the days when I haven’t thought about anything, so my biggest regret would be of times I have wasted overthinking.

SS: I do regret a lot of things. At times I regret not being as honest, but when I am, everyone says, ‘can’t you be more diplomatic’?

Something from your past that you could delete from the internet?
SM: I would simply delete the internet. I would delete anything that is intrusive because I feel we all have become invasive. People want an insight into our lives and that is a dilemma I go through figuring out how much do I tell people and how much I don’t because I’m a private person and don’t like sharing much about my life, but that’s like a package which is a part of my job.

SS: Nothing really. Some horrendous pictures for sure, but I think that’s about it.

An advice you could give to your younger self…
SM: To read more, learn more and culture myself.

SS: Don’t be so gullible.

Outfits: Syra Shahroz – Green Shirt by Block Seven; White Wrap Dress by Icon
Styling: Haiya Bokhari
Hair & Make-up: N-Pro & N-Gents
Coordination: Umer Mushtaq
Photography: Yasser Sadiq