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“I don’t like to publicize my personal life on social media.”

Saba Qamar talks about Hindi Medium, LSAs and why she doesn’t feel the need to stay active on social media all the time

“I don’t like to publicize my personal life on social media.”

Instep interview

One actress who deserved Best TV Actress trophy at the recently held 16th annual Lux Style Awards is the incredibly talented and versatile Saba Qamar. She is certainly one of the very few great actresses that the industry has and the trailer of her upcoming Bollywood debut Hindi Medium alongside Irrfan Khan proves just that. Essaying the role of Khan’s commanding wife in the film, Qamar becomes the only actress to bag a substantial role in an A-class Bollywood film.

“I was always a huge fan of Irrfan Khan and it was great working with him on the sets of Hindi Medium,” Qamar told Instep in an exclusive interview. “It was him who recommended me to the casting director after he saw some of my work on YouTube. I didn’t have to struggle to get this role. Irrfan is a great co-star; very down to earth and helpful. I didn’t feel left out for once. I had a great experience working there with all of them.”

Hindi Medium tells the story of a middle-class married couple, essayed by Khan and Qamar, who have one daughter. In a desire to upgrade their standard of living, they wish to enroll their daughter in an English medium school. The film talks about society’s biases and how it judges people on the basis of the language they speak.

Though Qamar will not take part in the film’s promotion in India due to the ongoing rift between the two countries, she’s sure that audiences on both sides of the border will be able to relate to the subject. She said, “Everybody will be able to connect to it. It’s the story of every household, both in Pakistan and India. People are very superficial. The purpose behind taking up this issue is to highlight that one should not judge anyone’s skills on the basis of their language. When I watched it after dubbing, the first half made me laugh while the second part made me cry. There’s drama, there’s comedy and a strong message. There are different flavours in it, people will enjoy it.”

She also shared that she has signed on for a few more projects in India and once the situation between the two countries gets better, she will start working on them.

Moving to Qamar’s upcoming projects in Pakistan, the actress revealed that she’s currently shooting for an upcoming TV play. It’s a socially relevant play that will talk about the prevalent issue of honour killing in our society. Though she didn’t reveal much about it at the moment, she informed that it’s going to be very “interesting”.

A still from Saba Qamar’s upcoming debut Bollywood film, Hindi Medium, in which she is cast opposite Irrfan Khan.

A still from Saba Qamar’s upcoming debut Bollywood film, Hindi Medium, in which she is cast opposite Irrfan Khan.

Aside from this particular play, the actress is also considering a few film scripts. She has been offered three big screen projects and all three of them have an amazing storyline. However, she hasn’t signed on for any as yet and will announce once it’s finalized. “I don’t like doing stereotypical roles now, I want to play character roles that are strong and impactful,” she said.

One cannot deny that Qamar has attempted to do unique roles in the last couple of years. Projects like Bunty I Love You, Sangat and the more recent Besharam and Mein Sitara set her apart from others. Though her character in Wajahat Rauf’s film Lahore Se Aagey received mixed reviews and was not appreciated by everyone, it was a break from the kind of roles most actresses have been portraying on the small screen for years. And now her presence in Hindi Medium is also refreshing as she takes on the role of a dominant wife.

However, it is unfortunate that the Lux Style Awards’ jury didn’t acknowledge her work. Qamar didn’t attend the ceremony as she doesn’t find the awards credible. Speaking on the subject during the interview, she exclaimed, “What’s the credibility of these awards? Masses aren’t stupid. I am an actor, not a clapping monkey to go and sit there, clap and come back home. I was just not comfortable to be a part of an event that I don’t find credible enough. I am not against Maya Ali or anyone but I just feel the one who deserves it should get it. What does Best Actress mean? If you look at the projects last year, Sajal Aly is such a fine actress, even Mehwish’s [Hayat], Dillagi went really well. I was nominated for two plays. So if you compare the performances and the projects, you’ll know the answer. Even the jury doesn’t have any clue of a lot of things at times so we can’t blame them either. So it doesn’t really matter who wins the award. After doing so much work, I have realized these are very small things to be bothered about. I think I’m bigger than these awards. It might not sound nice but I think so. My award is when people call me with my character’s name.”

Saba Qamar has a strong fan following in Pakistan and beyond. However, it is strange that the actress is not very active on social media given how important it has become in terms of connecting with fans. Elaborating on why she is not always on social media, Qamar stated, “It is important but I am unable to stay active on social media all the time. Even if I’m not doing anything, I can’t get up in the morning, get ready and click a picture. I am an actor.  Call me for work, give me money, I’ll do my work. I can’t post pictures on social media all the time. I didn’t even have an Instagram account sometime back. But yes it works for some people. I am happy for our social media stars; I am not jealous with any of them but I’m content with my own small world. I have my own way of doing things. I’m not comfortable with it since it takes away one’s privacy. We are in front of the camera most of the time so I don’t like to publicize my personal life too.”

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