Starting her career when she was just a teenager, the talented Saba Qamar is now a renowned versatile actor of Pakistan. Whether she is playing the role of a strong woman like Fatima Jinnah in ‘Jinnah Ke Naam’ (2009) or enacting as the helpless Maya in the on-going serial ‘Fraud’, Saba has always portrayed the true essence of her character on screen. The actor has a body of work on different mediums, whether it’s drama, film or web series. She received critical acclaim for her daring role in the web series ‘Mrs. and Mr. Shameem’ and she stars in two films this year, ‘Ghabran Nahi Hai’ and ‘Kamli’, which are playing n cinemas nationwide. Looking bright, lively and hopeful, Saba sits down with You! in an exclusive interview…
You! What do you say about Kamli?
Saba Qamar: Kamli is very different from all my other films. You will not find too much makeup on faces and hair styled properly. Dialogues are also very different. I had not done this type of character before. Hina is very serene and calm while I personally am very energetic and emotional. So, I had to cool down my personal energy to do that particular character.
You! Do you agree that films like these can take a place in mainstream cinema?
SQ: I don’t know how many big banner films have been made in offbeat genres in recent years, whether they are by Nadeem Baig or by Nabeel Qureshi. They all are very commercial fun movies. Makers are cautious and may be waiting for the right time when cinema starts their business properly and generate more revenue than enough budgets would be available for experimenting with out-of-the-box ideas or issue based films.
You! For ‘Ghabrana Nahi Hai’, what attracted you to do the character of Zubaida?
SQ: Zubaida depicts if a woman possesses everything like education, awareness and confidence, then why she can’t act in difficult situations bravely. The story asks why even in the 21st century we still bifurcate roles for men and women. Zubaida’s struggle in the film is the answer to the question raised in the beginning of the story by her father that if he had a son, his family could get out of that grave crisis. GNH raises the issue of gender equality.
You! Women-centric films seem to be the trend in the subcontinent. Do you agree?
SQ: Yes it is. I believe we should make more films like this. I don’t know why we are reluctant to talk about these issues, which is a dilemma. It is very sad that even in 2022, we are unable to give a woman her right and just respect and status in society.
You! What do you think makes a film strong and unique?
SQ: I think it is the script. Unless the script is sound and composed, a very versatile actor can fail to perform well. Without a good script, whatever an actor or director does, and how much money is put in, the project won’t work.
You! Do you think item numbers add value in the film?
SQ: If item number is the requirement or demand of the script, then why not? I am okay with it. If you have done it very decently, in appropriate dress, according to our culture and values, then I think there should not be any objection. I don’t know what negativity is attached to the item number. I believe all of this depends on how we perceive things.
You! How did you portray Umaima in ‘Mrs. And Mr. Shameem’?
SQ: The character of Umaima takes many layers in it and has been transforming throughout the series. At the start, she was full of fire, desire, energy and hope, travelling on a roller coaster of emotions. It was from a young girl to a mature and then an old woman. It was really an amazing yet learning experience for me. I have lived that character for which I give full credit to Kashif Nisar. It took two years for us to complete that project but I am glad that we came out with a good product appreciated by people.
You! How do you describe your chemistry with Noman Ijaz?
SQ: Oh my God. I did my first project in my career with Noman Ijaz when I was 19. It was ‘Chaap’. As I have known him for so long and have worked a lot with him, I can say with certainty that at the moment we don’t have any actor of his calibre. There is a comfort zone in which we work together. Even in my personal life, I am very much attached to him. That is why it was a surprise for me when I came to know that he was going to play an effeminate man in ‘Mrs. And Mr. Shameem’. I was curious how he would get into the gestures and mannerism of Shameem, when he looked so manly but when we got into sets and he started to perform, that was some other kind of magic. I just loved it. I really enjoyed working with him on this project. It was an amazing experience.
You! Do you agree that the web is where we can bring up many taboo issues which we generally can’t talk about in our mainstream media?
SQ: Yes. I agree. The web is a free platform where we can discuss every kind of issue but I feel that these things should also be discussed outside media like in our homes and at other forums. For example we don't discuss the issue of depression in families and social circles. Societal pressure and hesitation tend to stop people discussing their problems openly. We seemed not ready to find a cure for our many social issues.
You! Where do you find more opportunities for performance as an actor; film, television or web?
SQ: Actually I just love to act, but honestly I get great satisfaction from working in dramas where you perform your character with detail. Film ends just in a short time period and has its own magic but at the same time, it is a very sensitive medium. Even a blink of an eye is obvious on the big screen of a cinema. That is why you have to take extra care of your expression and body language from head to toe. Its larger than life image always stays in the eyes of viewers. You don’t have much margin of errors in film but yes television gives you a little margin of errors and correction.
You! You started a YouTube channel during the pandemic. How is that going so far?
SQ: My fans ask me the same question. It started with Covid and finished by Covid. In the beginning of the pandemic, when there was no work, I could give my full time to the channel but as the things started to ease down, I also got busy on my pending projects and then some fresh ones. So I worked a lot back to back, my poor little YouTube channel kept on being ignored but I am going to resume it soon. I have done a rap, which just needs to be shot and then it will be uploaded on channel soon.
You! What character do you want to do in future?
SQ: I want to play the role of a politician; any biopic of a female politician like Benazir Bhutto or Maryam Nawaz. There are so many others as well.