If social media buzz is an indication of a television show’s popularity then currently India is deeply invested in Kashaf and Zaroon’s love story in the Pakistani drama Zindagi Gulzar Hai, aired on new channel Zee Zindagi. Actor-model Sanam Saeed who plays the angsty, opinionated, feminist Kashaf talks about the show over a phone-interview from Karachi.
What kind of reactions are you getting from India?
People are telling me on Twitter that they are loving the show. I’m very happy but not surprised. Everything is so real to life in the show that it is bound to connect with anyone. I’m glad the show has broken the ice between India and Pakistan.
It’s refreshing to see an angsty female lead. How much did Kashaf’s character add to your role?
A lot. Kashaf is a great character and has become a role model. I always wanted to do a role that inspired girls. It’s heartening to hear women say that they took courage from Kashaf and the way she handled life’s situations. We did get some extreme reactions also. Kashaf divided the audience. Some people say they’ll never marry a girl like Kashaf. Mothers say I wish I had a daughter like her but I wouldn’t want a bahu like her. People like my voice, which is funny because all my life my family has joked about my nasal voice.
Do you feel that Kashaf and Zaroon’s chemistry is very Pride and Prejudice-esque?
Yes. That’s what I thought when I read Umera Ahmed’s novel on which the drama is based. I felt it was a Jane Austen story and come on, who doesn’t want to play an Austen heroine? The independent woman flavour in the show is also because of my director Sultana (Siddiqui) aapa who has overcome all kinds of obstacles to achieve her position. It was good to portray a heroine who wasn’t just caught up in her hair and make-up.
What are your impressions about Kashaf? Are there any similarities between you and her?
Well, my mom always used to say, ‘Why are you such a saddu (whiner)?’ I also complain but not as much as Kashaf. Sometimes while acting I felt she needs to just shut up and chill but as Sultana aapa explained, human beings are never happy especially if they are underprivileged and if they feel life hasn’t been fair to them. Kashaf is a little silly and awkward, which even I am. However I’m not as ladaku (combative) as her. I do speak my mind but not the way she does, like she did in ‘the library scene’ (where she had a roaring showdown with Zaroon).
Your chemistry with Fawad Khan is so natural. How is that?
Some actors are constantly on the phone, some are always looking into the mirror while some like to sit and bond. Fawad and I kept to ourselves. We focused all our energy on the script. When we came on the set we knew the script well and the scenes flew. We had a good back and forth banter and improvised a lot.
Any Bollywood dreams?
I’ve always admired actors such as Tabu, Nandita Das and Shabana Azmi and I’d like to do the kind of roles that they have done.