Yumna Zaidi needs no introduction when it comes to Pakistani dramas. The actor with utmost prowess is known for her versatility and challenging roles – be it Hayat in ‘Yeh Raha Dil’; (2017) Sila in ‘Darr Si Jati Hai Sila’ (2018); Mahjabeen in ‘Pyar Ke Sadqay’ (2020); Allah Rakhhi in ‘Dil Na Umeed To Nahi’ (2021) or Meerab in ‘Tere Bin’ (Geo TV, 2023).
Zaidi started her career some 13 years back with supporting roles. Her first screen debut was a supporting role in ‘Thakan’ (2012) followed by Geo TV’s ‘Meri Dulari’ (2013). However, her acclaimed role of a troubled wife in the tragic romance ‘Rishtay Kuch Adhooray Se’ (2013), established her as a leading actor of Pakistan.
Zaidi, who is the recipient of several awards, has now ventured into films. In an exclusive interview with You!, this humble and talented actor talks about her career and her debut film ‘Nayab’. Read on…
What made you interested in signing Nayab?
I always look for a good script. When I was offered a role in Nayab, I happily accepted it because of its strong script. In the past too I was offered roles in films, but none caught my fancy.
And also, I wasn’t sure whether I would do films or not. With Nayab, it was a different story altogether.
Are you a cricket fan?
I am afraid, no. However, to fit into the role in Nayab as a cricketer, I had to learn how to play cricket and I practiced this sport for three months before playing my character.
Who was your inspiration while playing this role?
In Nayab, my role is of a strong and determined woman who wants to become a cricketer. Luckily during my learning sessions, I got to meet some professional women cricketers who really inspired me. I came to know about their lives, and how much they had sacrificed for their dreams and goals. It was a never-ending struggle - especially the selection process. I also came across a lot of aspiring young girls who wanted to make their names in this field against all odds. Their passion and zeal also impressed me.
Do you think your character Nayab portrays the struggle of these aspirating women cricketers?
Yes, completely. In Pakistan, cricket is still essentially viewed as a man’s sport. Becoming a cricketer in our chauvinist society is not an easy task. First of all, it’s not easy for a middle-class girl to get permission from her family, secondly there are no big grounds where girls can play freely and then there is a long and tedious selection process. So, my role in Nayab depicts the struggle of every aspiring young female cricketer.
Was it challenging for you to play cricket?
This sport demands a lot of energy. The academy where I was learning, 11 and 12-year-old girls had been playing cricket since they were 6 or 7. Hence, their muscles had toned accordingly. It’s a known fact that the early you start playing any game, the more flexible your body become – case in point is girls in gymnastic. So, for me to start playing cricket at a certain age was challenging. Luckily, I had a very good coach who guided me at every step. Interestingly though, I learned the techniques of cricket for the film. He taught me as if I was to pursue the sport professionally.
So, if any cricket team of actors is formed, would you be a part of it?
Yes, I have started to play cricket very well. Also, during my film promotion, I played some cricket as an act.
Since doing films was something new for you, as a novice, were you excited or nervous?
Big screen has its own charm, so I was nervous and excited at the same time. I was a bit anxious in the beginning but during the promotion of Nayab, my anxiety went away.
What do you see when selecting the script of a project?
The script should relate to reality. A script with a unique story, strong characters and crispy dialogues always catches my attention. I don’t like run-of-the-mill scripts.
You are into films now; would you like to perform the role of a typical filmy heroine with lot of panache and glamour?
Of course, since my childhood I fancy glamorous heroines of our film industry. We are still exploring cinema and what clicks with our audiences. So, I will be happy to adorn the role of a typical filmy heroine, if I get a chance to work with a good director.
How do you tackle trolling and fake news on social media?
To me social media is like a billboard which we cross through while travelling in our car. We just have a glimpse and move forward. People become a part of this useless and mindless debate out of their own choice. I stay away from any kind of controversy. I don’t want to waste my time and energy on any negativity. I have so many other things to do in life. What is fake news? To me the shortest thing in media is breaking news and especially a fake one. It lasts only for a couple of days.