I just love Karachi and its food: Lahore-based actor Saheefa Jabbar Khattak

 Actor shares her love for the metropolis and comeback role 

Entertainment Desk March 20, 2024

If there’s one thing model and actor Saheefa Jabbar Khattak is renowned for across the Pakistani television landscape, it is for always landing roles where she is destined to burst weeping with reckless abandon. The one thing that does not make her weep, however, is the prospect of spending any amount of time in Karachi.

“I love everything about Karachi, especially the food!” burst out the Lahori actor, barely able to contain her joy when asked about the city in an interview with Independent Urdu before reeling off a list of her favourite items in her favourite city. “Biryani, nihari – you guys make the best nihari! – and Gazebo and Burns Road – I love it all! I know that even if I turn up at the most random thela wala, I’ll get the most amazing food.”

Saheefa has recently been in the spotlight after announcing her comeback after four years as Sawera in the comedy Rafta, Rafta, a breakaway from her usually sad roles. “Even my parents pointed out that I was crying in four out of four roles!” said Saheefa, laughing at the stereotype she had until now always been slotted into. “I had been waiting for something different for a long time, be it comedy or thriller.”

Now that she has broken away from characters with a depressing plot arc, Saheefa conceded that whilst her new role does involve a small amount of crying, she has found it very relatable playing Sawera, an independent woman who works outside the home and also manages to run the house. Saddened at how independent women are all tarnished with the same brush, Saheefa remarked, “In our society, if a woman is ‘outspoken’, if a woman knows how to speak her mind, she is always viewed in a negative light.”

However, in Sawera, her new protagonist, Saheefa found a spark of familiarity and comfort. “Many of Sawera’s characteristics are just like mine,” shared the actor. “I find her day-to-day life and her relationship with Hamza so relatable, and one of the reasons I said yes to this script was that I just knew I’d be able to do it.”

Making a comeback after such a long time, Saheefa was concerned about she would juggle the workload, which was why she dipped her toes back into the acting world with a show that required shooting for only two weeks. “We only shot for 14 days, and we’ll end up having only six to eight episodes,” explained Saheefa. “I was coming back after so long, and I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t be overwhelming.”

One thing that does overwhelm Saheefa is having to be on set after 9pm, at which point, according to her, she is so tired that she randomly bursts into fits of giggles, unable to stop for over half an hour. “It’s out of my control!”

Uncontrollable fits of laughter aside, Saheefa has gone on record to state that she wants to “achieve big” in life, and assured fans that she is on the lookout for a bigger project in the near future, but not necessarily for material reasons.

“I do not want to die an ordinary death,” said the actor, reiterating a statement she has made in the past. “I want to achieve big in life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean chasing fame or money. What am I going to do with money and fame? It’s very important to me how to go forward with it, and I’m working on it. Let’s see how that happens!”

As a nation, Saheefa feels that she and her fellow actors and models are held in low esteem and often typecast across Pakistani society, and fears that there won’t be any change unless the nation progresses economically.

“I will not blame the industry for society’s views,” insisted Saheefa. “This is a tiny industry made up of actors, models, and influencers, and there can only be change in how we are perceived when we as a nation do better economically and socially.”

Having high expectations of her own self, Saheefa stressed the tantamount importance of a support structure, but is convinced that without that initial spark of personal ambition, no woman can succeed.

“If a woman feels she cannot achieve, then she won’t,” she stated. “No amount of hand-holding is will help you if you don’t want to help yourself. I believe that unless I truly want something, I won’t be able to achieve it.”

One thing that Saheefa definitely knows she does not want to do is sing professionally.

“Singing?” she asked, giggling at even being asked such a question. “Look. There are some people who are bathroom singers. I am not even one of those.”

Even if she sticks to acting and dismisses a career in music, it will be refreshing to see the direction Saheefa’s career will take once the versatile actor takes up new scripts projects that broaden the scope of acting she so keenly wants.

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