Salman Saqib Sheikh, popularly known as Mani, and his wife Hira Mani are known to say it like it is and laugh while doing it. The couple cemented their popularity as a duo by co-hosting Hum 2 Hamara Show, which became a launching pad for Hira Mani’s career as a host, and later as an actor. Mani, on the other hand, has been active in showbiz since 2001.
The couple recently made an appearance on Time Out with Ahsan Khan and spoke about marriage, their experience in the industry and showbiz gossip.
Sharing details about his earlier comedy shows, Mani spoke about how he had to rely primarily on coming up with entertaining content. “We used to survive on content. I wasn’t very good-looking and I used to mince words rather quickly,” he shared about his early career. “But comedy isn’t a priority for channels anymore. They make use of it in Ramzan for the ratings. People like watching something light in the evening during the holy month. That’s all that’s left. Comedy has faded slowly faded away.”
Elaborating further, Mani added, “I acted in and produced several sitcoms and I also saw us lose interest in comedy as a genre. No channel wanted to give it a good slot, no channel wanted to put up a promo or teaser of it. No one wanted to pay actors who were doing comedy.”
Hira spoke about her motivations behind getting into showbiz. Calling it a funny story, Hira recalled how she used to earn 12 thousand rupees a month at a bank before going into showbiz. “When I married Mani, he told me there’s a show on Saturdays and Sundays, and when I asked him how much I would get paid for it and he told me, I picked up my kid and said ‘let’s go’.” She added, “I was never good at physics, chemistry, or maths so I used to worry about how I would earn a decent living and that first TV check felt so good and reassuring.”
Mani explained how he ushered his wife into acting since he didn’t believe hosting had a stable future on television. “Hira used to do this show for a news channel. So I told her there was no growth in what she was doing. I had a feeling that this ‘type’ of shows would fade away soon. I felt like morning shows would end one by one, and most of them have ended. We only have one or two morning shows left. Fortunately, she left the show and started acting.”
On his wife’s acting abilities, Mani said, “Hira always had it in her to become an actor, that’s something we always knew. It just had to click. She struggled for good three years before she was recognised as a serious actor but I must say she didn’t struggle as much as other newcomers do.”
With reference to how Mani brushed several celebrities the wrong way during his career, including actor Ayesha Khan, he shared, “A lot of actors refused to work with Hira, and I was the reason behind their decision.”
Now taking over her husband’s job of calling out celebrities and exposing them, Hira explained, “What Mani used to do with other celebrities, proper channels exist for that now. He used to do the job of the internet and Instagram back then.”
Speaking about how her fame as an actor skyrocketed after she left hosting, Hira shared, “My fame as an actor is fairly recent. I don’t know if it’s mostly positive or negative, but people tell me I’m famous so I’ll believe it.” However, the Bandish actor believed she was famous before she ever stepped foot in front of a camera. “I became famous the day I married Mani. I was already ‘Mani ki biwi’, so I didn’t get anything special from dramas. I was already a hit,” Hira recalled. Having said that being a celebrity wife came at a cost of being oblivious to an industry that the world worshipped.
“I was 22, sitting in front of Anwar Maqsood and I had no clue who he was. I grew up on Bollywood content, so it was Mani who introduced me to local talent. I remember Irfan Khoosat once came to our show once and I had no clue who he was,” she shared.
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