The talented actress talks about her passion for acting, choosing craft over criticism and hoping to see the industry going in the right direction.
There are actors that one regularly sees onscreen, whether it’s in television or films. Some work in multiple projects simultaneously while others take up a single assignment at a time. However, the local entertainment industry has a few faces that may not be consistent visible but leave an impact whenever they appear onscreen. One such name is that of Faiza Hasan, who we last saw in an integral role in Nabeel Qureshi’s Load Wedding in 2018.
The phenomenal actor, who has some credible projects to her name, recently returned to TV screens with Nand in which she plays the titular role. She features as Gohar, the elder sister of two brothers whose lives she wants to govern. She makes the life of her sister in law Raabi, played by Minal Khan, miserable with her manipulation and lies while her brother and Raabi’s husband Saqib (Shahroz Sabzwari) blindly trusts her.
“It’s a very powerful character, which is why I opted for Nand; I don’t like roles where there is nothing much to do,” Faiza Hasan told Instep in an exclusive telephonic conversation. “There are so many main lead roles in which there is nothing to do. In this script, I had a lot of margin to perform.”
Faiza Hasan recently traveled from England to Pakistan to complete the shoot for the ongoing drama. Originally it was supposed to wrap in March but the actress had to leave due to Covid-19 without finishing it. She shared that her travel was smooth with all the safety measures. However, she admits that in Pakistan it feels like the virus is gone.
Faiza moved to England four years ago due to her husband’s work. Normally she is busy taking care of the children and the house but every now and then she takes out time to continue living her passion: acting.
“When I get a good offer, I take up the project or else I don’t mind waiting for a year or two,” she shared. “I’m not sure when would I be doing the next project but I’m grateful to the industry for remembering me. I still get offers but I do not always have enough time to travel from England. However, I’m willing to work in any medium if the script and money is good.”
The Load Wedding actress last appeared on TV in drama serial Kho Gaya Woh (2019) that not many people know about. Before that, she played a significant role in Geo TV’s Izn e Rukhsat in 2016. On the big screen, it was Load Wedding for which she generated a lot of praise and appreciation. “I always thought of doing one impactful role whenever I’d do a film; something I’m proud of. And I am very happy that I did Load Wedding,” she reflected.
Coming back to her most recent project, Nand, the play received mixed reviews when teasers started to launch. It was criticized for highlighting similar, toxic issues featuring a dominating sister in law. When asked about it, Faiza responded that criticism is part of the process. Critics are there to criticize and creatives are there to create.
“I tell my co-actors, writers and directors that we should not be afraid of critics. It is unfair to hinder the creativity because of fear of criticism. I feel we are above all of this. They are criticizing but they haven’t created anything, we’ve created what they are watching. If we don’t make it, what would they criticize?” she explained.
She furthered that pressure has increased with social media leading the lives of artists. “Actors have started relying on social media more than their craft,” she explained. “Our actual job is acting and we should still depend on that. I depend on my acting skills and I’m not afraid of social media feedback. Fortunately, whoever casts me it is because of my work, my ethics not my followers and popularity.”
As far as narratives dominating the small screen are concerned, Faiza is of the view that while her personal preferences are different she has to comply with the trends. “I already don’t do much work and if I start choosing the themes I like then I’d rather sit at home which I don’t want to,” she admitted, adding, “Hence, whatever is being made, I’ll choose from that. It is in the hands of channel owners and content heads not us. It is important to highlight domestic issues as they reflect reality but themes should not just be limited to that.”
Moving on, we spoke about some of the industry dynamics that really need to change. Actresses who are above 30 are not really considered for roles of conventional heroines. There are not enough opportunities for them. Though Faiza, who is 38, has been fortunate so far, she maintained that it is a concern for fellow actresses.
“Actors give up easily, thinking that they might not get work and fall prey to typecasting,” she noted. “Everyone cannot resist as much as I do if I don’t get too much work but if they depend on this financially then compromises are a must. This is a very big issue because we have a lot of great actors who don’t fall in the conventional heroine category. Most of them are turning to the web now but that also has a long way to go.”
As far as what Faiza ideally wants to portray onscreen, she shared, “I’d really want to do something completely different. I’ve faced typecasting but I kept refusing because I didn’t want to be labelled. Even after Load Wedding I was disappointed with the roles I was offered. The one in Nand is a very powerful character so I’d probably like to do a not so powerful role in my next and show that I can do that too.”
Another major concern for actors, according to Faiza, is the pressure of living up to conventional beauty standards. “Whenever I do projects, I see my fellow actors under so much pressure even to the extent that it affects their mental health. I understand some characters require us to be thin but usually men and women are of different shapes and sizes. We insist that our plays are closer to reality but not everyone is fair, tall and slim in real lives. There is a lot of pressure on actresses to look young and thin; it is the screen presence and acting that should matter instead. Looks should be the criteria for models not actors and creators need to understand that. It also gives rise to inferiority complex in viewers who watch these dramas and aspire to look that way.”
Nonetheless, Faiza is optimistic that once we are out of the conventional concepts, things will gradually change for the better. “Projects that are story driven have a place for such actors who do not necessarily have to be just pretty faces,” she concluded.