It was a dream come true – nothing less than like a child in a candy store. Getting your favourite stars on your talk show is a blessing but when you get a confirmation call from the legends themselves, the only reaction is of excitement and jubilance.
People who were growing up in the ’80s remember very well the golden era of PTV. The state owned television produced many classic serials in that decade. I was a teenager then and I was at an impressionable age. Three serials which made an immense impact on my life were ‘Ankahi’ (1982), ‘Tanhaiyan’ (1986)’ and ‘Dhoop Kinare’ (1987). All these serials were ahead of their time focusing on women’s issue and promoting women empowerment penned by the renowned and progressive writer Haseena Moin (late).
Shehnaz Sheikh came in ‘Ankahi’ and a star was born. I fondly remember the words of Moin Akhter (late) in an award ceremony introducing Shehnaz with these words, “She came, she saw and she conquered. I profoundly used those words when she came to my previous talk show – ‘Celebrity Lounge – Season1’.
Now, after a hiatus of few years, I thought of doing a special show with Shehnaz and Marina. Planning this special show with Shehnaz and Marina was like listening to the timeless beautiful songs of Madam Noor Jehan. My joy knew no bounds when they agreed to come to my show. Though the actual show will hit the screen on Eid day (July 21), the journey of planning and executing this show was equally entertaining and exciting.
The whole purpose of writing this piece is to share my joy and experience with everyone. This did not happen in a day. Persuading Shehnaz to come to my show was not an easy task. She said yes after constant efforts from my side. When Shehnaz came to my house in Islamabad on the occasion of Meethi Eid, she gave me this great news that she was ready to come to my show. I was happy as for many years she was invited by all the leading TV channels and she politely refused all of them. So, it was like a treat to me that she accepted my offer. And we set the date for the recording.
My next target was Marina Khan. She was busy working on this serial as a director with a huge star cast. I called her up and to my dismay she said she was doing a wedding scene on the date of our recording and it seemed impossible to get out. I requested her if she could spare some time from her busy schedule. She said she would try. I really wanted to create that magic once again which Shehzad Khalil (late) brought to our screen in the ’80s and it could not have been possible without Marina. I was a bit disappointed. However, the very next day I got her voice note that some of her cast was travelling and she was available. I took a sigh of relief.
I was anxious and excited as I was about to do the biggest show of my life with Tanhaiyan’s leading ladies. I wanted to tell the whole world about it but decided to keep quiet till I recorded the show. Working on a project with your two favourite stars and spending time with them was like having your favourite dessert with a cup of coffee. ‘Ankahi’ was a love triangle so we got hold of Javed Sheikh and Shakeel sb. and what fun it was. Misbah Khalid, though busy with PIFF, made a guest appearance. And I am grateful to her. I wanted to invite legendary Shoaib Mansoor but he regretted as he was busy working on his next film. However, he said he would write a letter for Shehnaz. And for that letter to read out, I called Imran Abbas. The idea really appealed to him. He was shooting in Turkey but rescheduled his flight and came to Karachi in order to participate in the show. Maria Wasti, who has been my muse forever, also appeared on my show as a guest. Music has always been an integral part of my talk shows. And for this special episode, I thought of Shabana Benjamin, a great name of the ’80s music.
And then it was time to record the show and the real fun time began. Backstage stories, talking about their looks, hair and makeup styling, outfits, it was all surreal. The team at Depilex did wonders with all of us. Shehnaz and Marina actually meeting after a decade in real life and after 35 years on screen – a fantabulous moment. The corridor of PTV, Karachi Center witnessed another history in the making. While we were recording the show, we were making memories and creating history once again with these living legends.
As I was closing the show, tears rolled down my face. I wanted to capture that moment in my heart forever. I knew I would never be able to put up such a grand show again in my life. This show is my lifetime achievement award for me. I am totally indebted to Shehnaz Sheikh for taking time out for me and to appear on TV after so many years. I am sure her fans will be delighted to see her. Thank you, Shehnaz Sheikh and Marina Khan for portraying strong and powerful characters of women. Unfortunately, today women are shown as weak and docile in most dramas being aired by private channels. We need more powerful and positive characters like Sana Murad, Zara and Saniya and Dr Zoya Ali Khan in current times to show it to the world that Pakistani women are as strong and confident as men.
– The writer is a talk show host of ‘Star & Style’.