- 16 Jun - 22 Jun, 2018
“I Was Always A Drama Queen” - Zara Noor Abbas
- 02 Jun - 08 Jun, 2018
- Cover Story
You’ve seen her sobbing. You’ve seen her sulking. You’ve seen her as the damsel in distress waiting to be rescued by her prince charming. You’ve even seen her retort to those pulling her down. But we bet you haven’t seen her as vivacious, as vivid and as opinionated as she is in this heart to heart with the scribe. We bring you the other side of Zara Noor Abbas, who possesses what it takes to be the next superstar of Pakistan’s entertainment industry. In this candid tête-à-tête with MAG, the charming starlet takes us on her life’s journey, stardom and everything in between. Ride along!
“I was always a drama queen,” says Zara, the girl who has taken the television world by storm with her innocence and charm and is only two serials old as I write. Taking us down the memory lane, she reminisces her days of yore. “I’ve had an amazing childhood. I have three brothers and I’m the only daughter of my parents. My father has always made me feel like a princess – the reason why I am so spoilt and why I always crave attention. My family – that lovingly calls me Pikku – would sit me down and ask me to sing, dance and babble. They’d say, ‘Pikku yeh kar kay dikhao, Pikku wo kar kay dikhao’. I was the little nachney wala bandar at home.”
Zara comes from a family of actors, directors, singers, writers and models. Way before she debuted on Pakistani television, Zara was the daughter of veteran actress Asma Abbas and the niece of the legendary artiste Bushra Ansari. After having stepped into acting last year, she married actor Asad Siddiqui – famous for the Baraat series – but that was never the reason she chose to take up this profession for the rest of her life. Zara did her bachelor’s in filmmaking while she was in New York, which is possibly why she forayed into this profession. “Why I’m an actor right now is because I have always been an actor. I would always think what else I would do, if not acting. I could maybe become a director. But [I followed] the inner streak and niche that one possesses, that tells one what they should pursue and what they are best at; one should always go with it. Therefore, I pursued acting and not direction. But Insha’Allah one day, I do plan to direct something,” Zara tells me about her passion for acting and filmmaking.
Paving my way into her otherwise public life with husband Asad Siddiqui, I couldn’t resist asking Zara, if they had already known each other before tying the knot. “I had heard of Asad six years ago and he had heard of me too and it was, of course, from the same source – Bushra Ansari. While they were working together in the Baraat series, khala (Bushra Ansari) came home in Lahore and told me about Asad and that I should meet him. I just laughed about it. Asad too, was asked to meet me, as he tells me. Somewhere on the road to our lives, we both got married to different people. But the marriages failed and it was a sad time of our lives,” she shares about the failure of their previous unions and further discloses how their destinies intertwined, making them the ‘IT’ couple they have become lately. “It was last year when we met, and our stars crossed, for it was destined to happen and we got married. My acting and who I am as an individual had nothing to do with my marriage to Asad because he had no questions about my being and no restrictions at all,” she gushed about her husband, as if he was the best thing to have happened to her.
But was it love at first sight for the two? “No, It wasn’t love at first sight. Asad is a very charming man and he got me by his charm but more than that, it’s his simplicity and humbleness that I love. Asad is phenomenally simple and pure. He doesn’t understand drama, politics and jealousy; instead, he just focuses on his work and family,” said Zara – a doting wife.
With just two serials to her credit, Zara has set some serious acting standards for those looking to try their hands at this profession. Her first serial Dharkan and later Khamoshi have been quite popular among the TV watching audience. While her first drama fared pretty well, it is her character Arsala in the latter that has swayed the audience with her innocence and simplicity. I ask if her life has changed following the popularity she has gathered so far. “My life has changed tremendously. People talk to me on a different level and behave with me on a different level; and I had no idea if it’ll ever be the way it is. I come from a family that has been a part of showbiz in one way or another. Everybody was known for what they did, while I was a nobody,” Zara divulges about the transition and adds, “I was only known as somebody’s daughter or sister, but things have enormously changed after Khamoshi. And even though it’s a little overwhelming, I’m really happy with the response I get for my work.” She further talks about being under scrutiny for everything she does, for she represents not just her own self but her family as well. “It’s also overwhelming that everything (about me) is out there. Every step I take is taken into consideration, my walks are judged [laughs] my behaviour is assessed and a lot of other things are in the limelight, which I would otherwise want to keep private; but because of the social media frenzy everything is on a roll now. Nevertheless, It’s great, Alhamdulillah! I’m really happy but still feel that there’s a long way to go,” the feisty performer opens up.
It isn’t just dramas where Zara aims to excel. In fact, she will soon be working alongside Mahira Khan and Shehryar Munawwar in filmmaker Asim Raza’s next. Her husband, Asad Siddiqui couldn’t control his excitement and posted a heartfelt congratulatory message on Instagram for his wife on her entry into films. But what’s all the brouhaha surrounding this soon-to-be-shot film? I ask Zara to share all the deets. “It’s a supporting role that I’ll be doing in the film. The reason why I’m doing it is because of Asim Raza. PERIOD! [laughs] Nevertheless, I would love to share the screen with Mahira Khan and Sherhyar (Munawwar), for they are the film stars of our country whom we need to acknowledge, love, respect and honour, immensely,” she spills the beans, further adding how excited she is to make this big career move. “I feel very happy and blessed to have had this opportunity. Even though we have still not gone on sets but we will soon, Insha’Allah! Asim Raza is a great filmmaker. He is a man of his words and principles, so I’m really excited and nervous, at the same time, for this venture.”
Her dramas and upcoming projects are not the only realms where Zara has made news, for her recent walk at the Fashion Pakistan Week became a hot topic among fashion circles. Her fearless avatar as a showstopper for FnKAsia became the talk of the town and garnered mixed critique by front-rowers as well as models sharing the ramp with her – who happened to turn it into a rather nasty joke and share the video mimicking her walk on social. I questioned Zara why she felt the need to give these sadist souls a taste of their own medicine, albeit with grace. “What upset me was that those models were very nice to me backstage. I had a few costume problems and one of them helped me fix it. Therefore, it really hurt me after watching what they were up to in the video. But what affected me the most was the use of the word rape. How it was being used over and over again by them,” Zara said with a lamenting tone. “Women associate each other with words and sexual innuendos which are very degrading for another woman. For one woman to humiliate another is the worst act ever, and so is to target her and try to overshadow her confidence.”
Zara speaks out about the importance of women standing up for each other and how they can build one another with positivity and love. She shares how several Pakistani women and men – all exceptional in their own way – poured in support for her when she called out the supermodels mocking her walk. “On the post (regarding the walk), I got encouraging comments from Muniba Mazari, Maheen Taseer, Ayesha Omar, Mahira Khan, Seemi (Raheel) Apa, Hina Bayat, directors and everybody from the fraternity including my husband. They were all supporting me because all these strong women felt strongly about what I said. If I was wrong then at least one of them would have asked me to keep quiet. But nothing like that happened,” she quips, revealing her assertive side to the world.
“I am a strong believer of standing up for oneself and other people, as well as being opinionated but in a way that you don’t hurt or upset anybody because words can hurt more than any other weapon. So yes, it was important for me to address the situation. Also, I will never ever stop doing anything if someone else feels it’s not right. If I’m happy and content with my work, I’ll continue with it. As far as walking on the ramp is concerned, I’ll do it if I ever get another opportunity.”
With many family members working in the entertainment industry, I enquired from Zara if she has ever received comments on nepotism? Here’s what she said. “I recently spoke at a TED talk where I was introduced as the daughter of Asma Abbas and niece of Bushra Ansari. Somebody left a comment saying, ‘what would have she done if she didn’t have that family background with her.’ So yes, I do get to hear about nepotism but not as rampantly, maybe because I do know how to work a little bit. If I was bad at what I do, then I would have been labelled a parchi but I feel people have started to come to terms with me and my work,” she says clarifying how her work has made her stand out as an actor.
With so much to talk about in such less time, Zara is a force to reckon with. She is an actress who knows what she has signed up for and will be seen doing lots of amazing work in the future. While she’ll soon be busy shooting for her film with Asim Raza, she is simultaneously acting in Wajahat Rauf’s next drama serial where she shares the screen with the bigwigs of TV. We wish Zara all the best and luck for her future endeavours!
ZARA IN A NUTSHELL
If given a chance to interview a celebrity, who would it be?
If the celebrity is dead, then Lady Diana; and if the celebrity is alive, then Shah Rukh Khan.
What is your dream role?
It will be from a period film or play where I get to do the role of a maharani or princess warrior. I’d like to act in a story from my own ancestral background.
What would you choose if offered the dream role and a ticket to a world tour, simultaneously?
I’d choose the dream role; and since I’ll be paid for it then I’ll go go on a world tour.
Have you ever been star struck?
Yes! Ali Zafar had once left me star struck.
How do you unwind?
I spend time with my husband and in-laws. For more unwinding, I try to take some time off and go back to my home city Lahore, but it’s very tough now because of work.
What is your idea of a beautiful life?
Kids, comfort of life, air conditioning, because it’s too hot nowadays and of course, my family.
Are you a social media freak?
No. I’m not a social media freak, but I’m an active social media person.
What would you like to tell your fans?
I am tremendously happy and overwhelmed because of their unconditional support; and can’t thank and respect them enough for giving me so much love.
Hair & make-up: Wajid Khan
Coordination: Thomas Fernandes
Photography: Rohail Khaled
Location: Wajid Khan Salon
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