FUCHSIA Talks to Sanam Saeed

By Rabia Mughni
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As I walked up the spiralling roads of Hunza wadee, the breathtaking view made me completely oblivious to the wide-eyed stares following me around. Not that it would have bothered me in any case, as I am quite used to people staring at me. But suddenly the whispers, “Kashaf, Kashaf” some slightly higher pitched than others, some full of admiration and some with pure delight, caught me totally off guard. The women weaving the carpets had paused in their work, and stepped out to take my picture on their phones. I was amazed to see that Kashaf was recognised so well even in that remote valley of Hunza, and not merely recognised but also loved dearly”.

As Sanam Saeed relates this story to us, it is impossible to escape her charm, simplicity and elegance. Present in her mannerisms, is an uncanny likeness to the characters she plays. One often catches the reflection of many of these characters in this striking young lady.

If you’re still unclear as to whom we are talking about, allow us to clarify: we are in conversation with THE Sanam Saeed, who took the nation by storm with her character Kashaf in Zindagi Gulzar Hai, and then went on to divide South Asian women worldwide into Team Sania and Team Sehrish.

Sanam began her career as a model, bagging the prestigious L’Oreal Paris Award for Best Model, before moving on to television dramas. Daam, Mata-e-jaan Hai Tu and Mera Naseeb are just a few of many dramas through which she got a chance to show her talents.

Getting Candid with Sanam Saeed

What is that one question you wish someone would ask you in an interview?

I wish someone would ask… 

Answer the previous question please.

And then I’d say…

Tell us something the world doesn’t know about Sanam Saeed?

I like that people don’t know too much. I’m private like that. I can tell you something tiny, like for instance, I’m not afraid of lizards. I can hold them as well. Or, I have a phobia of needles. I think I would cry if I had to take an injection.

What does Sanam Saeed have to say about Zubeda Apa’s latest fairness soap?

I think it’s embarrassing; a very naive and closed-minded concept, which I wish that celebrated individuals like herself would act more intelligently about.

As we excitedly discuss Shukk with Sanam, the drama that has sparked many intense drawing room and kitty party discussions these days, we are greatly surprised to discover that she herself is a member of Team Sehrish. This revelation prompts our next question.

Lights, Camera, Action with Sanam Saeed

Why did you choose to play Sania in Shukk?

Well initially I was told that the story will be about a couple, where a third person enters their lives causing the wife to become suspicious. It seemed like a small part, so I anticipated that my character would be mostly innocent; the cause of a minor misunderstanding between husband and wife, and I will soon exit. I had been through a really busy year and was looking for something challenging yet not too big a role so I could keep it manageable. I also liked Sania’s character in the beginning, as a wife and mother. The encounter featuring the ex-fiance also kept it interesting for me. However, all of a sudden, my character took a 180 degree turn and I couldn’t relate to Sania any more. But by then, viewers were already hooked on to the serial. They enjoyed the masala and the ratings were shooting up so I had to stay on and complete my contract. 

Weren’t you concerned that Sania’s character would generate a negative backlash among your fans?

No, I think most people were with Sania; the muzloom aurat, the innocent. For them, I, as Sania did nothing wrong. Even the people who were with Sehrish, they too, sympathised with Sania. She was a single mom, whose home was broken because of someone else’s shukk. So it wasn’t really negative. 

What sort of reaction did you actually get?

The masses love it! The TRPs are high. There are certain parts of the script which I wish were different. In fact, I even suggested to the producers that why don’t we make the two wives live together and shock the viewers? The two wives living together; that would have been interesting!

After Zindagi Gulzar Hai, why did you decide to play the character of an insane girl in Kadoorat?  

I took on the role because it was a challenge. I wanted to show my producers and, for that matter, anyone who had any doubt about my acting abilities that I can play any character. I wanted to tell them “Look at me, I am an actor, I can do whatever you want me to do, but I’d rather play the simple girl any time”.

Raising the Curtain with Sanam Saeed

Sanam has worked in musicals like Chicago and Mamma Mia, and more recently, the highly acclaimed Grease by Nida Butt, the biggest licensed stage production in Pakistan. We asked if she found musical theatre different from television dramas.

I guess that’s the beauty of stage plays; you get to rehearse so much. When you rehearse that much, you build up your stamina and your rhythm. With television, you just arrive at the shoot, you have learnt the script and you perform. With theatre, my lungs grow stronger. You are working with the vocal coach, the choreographer, and the script; this translates into 4 long months of intensely strenuous rehearsals. In the beginning you 

can’t possibly sing, dance and act all at the same time. But by the fourth month, the adrenaline kicks in, and that, together with the audience, somehow pushes through to produce what you see on stage. 

Star Struck with Sanam Saeed

Our reader Amber Haque writes in to ask Sanam “Why do you repeatedly play the simple, bichaari girl in all your characters?”

My characters might be simple but not always becharee. In Zindagi Gulzar Hai and also in Mata e Jaan, they were poor or simple girls but not becharee. They were strong women, who fought against all odds. That’s why I liked playing them. Shukk was different, Sania was extremely becharee. I wanted to take on these roles through which I could inspire young girls and give them hope. 

Because Kashaf went to school, because Kashaf fought with her father, because Kashaf was poor and she made it to college, girls are inspired by that. I want to be that simple girl because in the majority of the audiences out there, is that simple girl and they can relate to that.

Farzana Chaudhury, another one of her avid fans, and a FUCHSIA reader asks “What was it like, working with the nation’s heartthrob, Fawad Khan?”

Initially I was a bit anxious. I thought he is so famous, he might have an attitude and might be a difficult person to work with. But actually he is very professional, and working with him was a very pleasant experience. He takes great interest in his character and dialogues, and is always keen to bring out the best of his role and the people he works with.

Rubina Chaudhry asks “I heard Sanam Saeed is engaged now. Will this beautiful, talented actress continue working even after her marriage?” 

Yes I am engaged, and will get married end of the year. I will keep working even after the wedding. 

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About Rabia Mughni

Rabia stays involved in various social causes. Believing in creating equal opportunities for underprivileged kids, she helps The Citizens’ Foundation, Pakistan, to create awareness of the need for providing quality education to children. At the same time, she is also involved with Singapore-based VWO, 4PM's Ramadan on Wheels project by supporting it through the FUCHSIA platform. At FUCHSIA, Rabia oversees the Marketing and Public Relations work. She is also part of the Editing Team in conceptualising articles and monthly issues.