It’s not everyday that a prolific writer with the Wall Street Journal packs her bags for home to pursue acting. Mira Sethi decided to be that exception much to the amusement of her journalist father, Najam Sethi. On Zindagi’s latest show, Shikkan, she essays the character of Natasha having grey shades. Mira, who stepped into acting after quitting her job as a writer in 2011, strongly feels that television is a great equaliser in Pakistan.
And while the thinker and writer in her is critical of content that portrays women as downtrodden, sad and victimised, Mira’s instincts keep her going. “Some of the best novelists and writings emerged from Russia in the ’70s, when it was oppressed, fractured and politically brutalised. Great minds channelised this frustration creatively and gave us masterpieces. Similarly, I feel in a country like Pakistan where there is terrorism, military operations, even censorship, platforms like television give us a chance to create opportunities for more creativity,” she says. It’s a medium, adds Mira, where one can interact and mobilise social awareness through entertainment as opposed to lectures.
As she flits between Lahore and Karachi, she lauds the acting community in Pakistan for standing unequivocally against the recent Peshawar massacre. “The community is aware of Taliban and its threats. But we have private award shows, cinema is witnessing a revival, and the Pakistani-middle class is growing, which is a good sign,” she adds.
Mira has been intrigued by the vibrant world of media since childhood. “I’ve had an intellectually stimulating life, but an emotional one too, soaked in Urdu poetry,” she says. Shikkan, which aired by the name Silvatein, in Pakistan, marks Mira’s screen debut. In it, she essays the role of Natasha, the younger sister who has an extremely dark character. An educated upper class lazy sit-at-home-by-choice woman, Natasha’s never worked a day in her life and continues to live like that post marriage. “Although she is smart, her anger and jealousy towards her sister Zaib get the better of her,” says Mira.
Non-glamourous, artsy roles attract her. But when she is not acting, she takes comfort in writing. Currently, she is busy putting together a collection of short stories, drawn up from her life. “Romantic in parts, these are set in the world of showbiz, the seedy underbelly of Karachi and young Pakistanis coming of age in New York, Karachi and Islamabad,” she says.