Hareem Farooq is a brilliant actor who has proved her mettle in many projects. But, she isn’t just a good actor but a talented producer as well. She is one of the few artists to have starred as a lead in her own productions – ‘Parchi’ and ‘Heer Maan Ja’. Starting her career at a young age, Farooq did not wait for a particular time to start production. She followed her passion for producing just after her first film ‘Siyaah’ as lead. After producing three films and acting in many, she is very excited about her first television production drama serial ‘22 Qadam’ to be aired on television. The serial is based on women cricket in Pakistan in which Hareem is also doing a pivotal role.
An example of beauty with brains, Hareem, who has many successful leading roles in various drama serials to her credit, considers this the most challenging and exciting project of her career. On her short visit to Karachi, Hareem sat with You! to talk about her upcoming project and other future plans.
You! Your upcoming drama serial ‘22 Qadam’ is supposed to be on air soon. What is it all about?
Hareem Farooq: It is a story about women's cricket. Moreover, it is about living your dream and achieving your goals. In our society many women don't struggle for their goals and leave them somewhere in the middle with the thought that they cannot achieve them or the people around them would not support or accept them living with their goals.
BQ though is specifically an inspiration for women but for everybody who has a dream in life to achieve. I strongly hope after watching this, someone somewhere will stand up for her/his dream. Don’t stop dreaming.
You! Where did the idea of ‘22 Qadam’ come from?
HF: Our production team, Imran Kazmi and I have brainstorming sessions for generating new ideas for our projects. So one day when Imran, Zeeshan and I were discussing some other script that included a character of a female cricketer. Suddenly all three of us were struck by the idea that why not we should make a whole series on female cricket. Then we started working on it and finally, came up with the thing which we thoroughly enjoyed while shooting as well. Now, waiting for people to watch it!
You! Are you acting in it as well and who else is part of the cast?
HF: Yes, I have a role in it as well. We also have Wahaj Khan and Kinza Razzak in the serial. The most interesting thing is that for the rest of the cast, which is our core team in serial, we auditioned girls from Under-19 cricket clubs from Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Those girls were actually playing cricket there. It was really wonderful to make them act and they were acting with the same passion with which they play cricket.
You! What’s your character in the serial?
HF: I am playing an aspiring cricketer who wants to play for Pakistan. Yes, I had to learn cricket for this. For me that role was challenging yet exciting. I have never played cricket in my life. The maximum was with the children in the family. I even didn't know how to hold a bat properly. But absolutely for the role, we had PCB coaches who taught me proper cricket. There were some girls as well from the academies who helped me learn the game. After doing this character I found a big change in myself. I actually lived that character for a good whole year; starting from the training till the end of the shoot.
You! How was the overall experience of doing this serial?
HF: It was actually an eye opener for me. During the audition I came to know that there are thousands of girls who want to pursue cricket as a profession. They have joined these academies with a dream to represent Pakistan on national and international level someday. Some of them are extremely passionate that they have left so much behind even their families to play cricket. I even advised many girls that they were really very fit for acting but none of them wanted to leave cricket.
You! You are also the producer of your films in which you are the lead as well. How do you manage it?
HF: Honestly, I don’t even know how I manage this double role. I know making a film in Pakistan is the most difficult thing, but I am very lucky to have a very good team and partner Imran Kazmi. We make really a very good combination. So, it is not necessary that if Hareem is acting in a project that she must take an active part in production as well.
You! What problems did you face as a woman producer?
HF: It is true that women producers are not taken seriously. They have more to prove unfortunately which I think is very unfair and disturbing. As I was an actress turned producer, it was very difficult for people to take me as a producer seriously. In those initial days, the first 15 minutes used to be wasted in conversation if I was really producing something. I had to tell them that just because I was a woman and an actress, does not mean that I cannot be a producer.
You! Besides mainstream media, digital media or social media has also marked its impact worldwide. How much do you think it is important for a showbiz star?
HF: We have to accept the reality that our future is digital and social media. As far as the question of popularity is concerned, yes it truly does matter.
You! These days, there are a lot of trolls on social media. Your take on this:
HF: To be quite honest, I don’t focus on trolling that much. I am not going to say that bad trolling is nothing serious and it doesn't put any effect on the person being trolled but I believe that those who troll are very weak. If they don't have the courage to criticise someone in front and hide behind the keyboard then it means they are cowards. So what I do is to pray for them that one day they come before and say that on my face.
You! How do you handle criticism online?
HF: For me the best reaction is no reaction. At least on my page, I try to keep quiet on any trolling because why should I react to anything negative. Half of them do it for reaction. These trolls are now part of our lives but I wait for how things would evolve within a few years. Maybe it is a phase which eventually fades away with time.