From modelling to dominating dramas to performing in theatre as well as a stint on Coke Studio, there are many reasons to believe Sanam Saeed can do anything she puts her mind to. We have yet to see her in a film but come 2016 and that will also change. Five of her films are slated for release in 2016 including Bachaana, Mah-e-Meer, Rehm, Azad and Dobara Phir Se, which she has to finish shooting in January. The Express Tribune caught up with Saeed while she was in Lahore to finish the shooting of Rehm.
It is an adaptation of a Shakespeare play, Measure for Measure and Saeed firmly believes in the project, “The producers of Rehm are from London and have worked with the BBC on several private projects. They are aiming to release the film on Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary,” she tells The Express Tribune.
The film also stars Sunil Shankar, Rohail Peerzada and veteran actors such as Sajid Hasan and Nayyer Ejaz, will be seen in prominent roles. “It’s a social drama about corruption as my character, Samina, is forced to choose between saving her brother’s life and doing something she believes is right while being manipulated.”
Although TV is what made Saeed the sensation she is today, she finds film a comparatively more interesting medium. “In film, one or two scenes are done in a day so an actor really does get time to soak their teeth into the character,” she says. “I think our industry is a bit premature in terms of knowing how to treat actors on set. The food we’re given to eat, our timings, where we’re made to sit and wait, all needs to be paid attention to. It’s not a glamorous job and I hope somebody picks up on this soon and explores the vanity van concept”.
She acknowledges that actors do end up becoming divas but says that they should be pampered to an extent. That’s one thing she would like to change about the industry.
Saeed is one of the few actors who’ve had the golden opportunity of transitioning into film via theatre. And stage remains her first love. “Stage is like nothing else, no camera, no retakes — it’s real, raw and an actor’s true passion. You become that character for a while and feed off each other’s energies especially the audience’s.”
Conversely, TV is her bread and butter and it eventually became her way of being socially responsible with the kind of roles she was playing. “It became my way of trying to be a part of a change in society, especially because a lot of women-centric stories are being told. Our women don’t have too much exposure to the outside world so TV plays a big role in their lives even if it’s just an escape they’re seeking.”
At 17, Saeed started her career as a VJ for Indus Music (later on known as MTV Pakistan) and much like her contemporaries from MTV, Mahira Khan and Ayesha Omar , even Saeed became a household name after her drama serials started airing.
“Dramas have the most viewership. Not everyone watches models, music channels, theatre etc. TV dramas are something that are watched by Pakistanis all over the world.” Furthermore, her serial Zindagi Gulzar Hai aired in India through Zee Zindagi and brought her critical acclaim as well — is that why she isn’t eager to go Bollywood ?
“It depends on what you’re after”, she says. “I’m not after recognition, I’m after good roles that make an impression on people. I’ll go wherever the story and character takes me.” She feels the progression to Bollywood seems like a natural step forward for most because we don’t have to change the way we speak so it makes sense to go to the biggest industry in the world. “I have gotten offers from there but none have been able to come close for various reasons,” she shares.
Saeed tied the knot earlier this year but has not let her marriage come in the way. “Marriage hasn’t changed anything. I don’t mix my work with marriage.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2015.