Shagufta Ejaz: ‘We must shun western values’

Published: December 28, 2011
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The veteran actor of “Aanch” fame gives some useful tips to the young crop of actors. PHOTO: ASHRAF MEMON/EXPRESS

The veteran actor of “Aanch” fame gives some useful tips to the young crop of actors. PHOTO: ASHRAF MEMON/EXPRESS

KARACHI: 

Her rise to fame was a matter of chance — an appearance in a modelling show for a friend’s event and the next thing Shagufta Ejaz knew was that she had practically launched her career on PTV. Spotted by acclaimed director Mohammad Baksh Samejo at the event, Ejaz had little idea about the limelight awaiting her. It was Samejo who introduced the budding actor to PTV which resulted in Ejaz getting an offer by Kazim Pasha for the lead role for his play “Jangloos”.

However, the actor’s major break came when she enacted the role of Ulfat in PTV’s super hit play “Aanch” (1992), directed by Tariq Jameel. In the drama, which revolved around a couple whose relationship was on the rocks, Ejaz played the lead role opposite (the now late) Shafi Mohammad. About the drama, Ejaz states, “The play had a profound impact on many families in Pakistan.” Additionally, the play also helped dispel widespread stereotypes of stepmothers, who generally have the tag of being ‘evil’ in our society. It was through this role that Ejaz received country-wide prominence; to the extent that even a small shoe-making industry named its local brand ‘Ulfat’ shoes, which sold the same styled pumps that Ejaz used to wear in the play.

Regarding PTV, she said, “PTV was my second home. In those days, recording a 13-episode play took 13 weeks, as one episode would take almost seven days to record. I still consider PTV directors an institution in themselves.”

Currently, in talks with Express Entertainment channel for a light, comedy show, Ejaz shares her opinion on the productions of nowadays, “Today’s world is infused with fast-paced technology, which is sadly more glamorised and commercialised.”

Further highlighting the change in the television industry, she said, “Dramas these days are based on pages right out of Urdu Digest. Sadly, in our day and age, these stories earned not a penny for the writer, but now times have changed.”

Ejaz also rues the fact that people in Pakistan are deeply influenced by the West. “There’s no censorship now; we are definitely mimicking the West, taking cues from their actors and their set-up. We have forgotten that we have certain limitations and we should keep these in mind and shun Western influences.”

When asked why she didn’t consider venturing into Lollywood, she replies straightforwardly that she never had a temperament for films. More recently she was offered a theatre role in Napa’s play “Nek Perveen”, which she declined because of her unavailability.

On a concluding note, Ejaz shares a useful tip for the young people who want to pursue acting. “While enacting a role, immerse yourself completely in the role. We’ve got talent but they need to be completely dedicated about giving their very best. Your acting skills should be so good that even Westerners get amused.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 29th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • ALi
    Dec 28, 2011 - 10:13PM

    Thank GOD…Finally someone said it.

    Not just western but Indian values. Look at our girls n boys? ….koi gf ya bf kay baghair hota hee nahi…sab date marnay mae lagay hain…ye sab indian media sey aya hae…

    and yes i know there are soo many indianized Pakistanis that would criticize Ms Ejaz & me.Recommend

  • Ashraf
    Dec 28, 2011 - 11:16PM

    @ALi:
    There should not be restrictions, if one likes Indian or western culture there is nothing wrong in it. Let people like Shagufta do whatever they like but let them not preach on what values one should have. I for one love western/bollywood flicks more than these boring tv dramas..

    Recommend

  • azhar
    Dec 28, 2011 - 11:21PM

    Pakistani youth ka koi haal nahi. We dont knoe the difference between westernization and modernization. Modernization is having a country with universal healthcare and education. Unfortunately we have mistaken modernization with western values ( or should i call it lack of values), halloween, valentine day and pizza hut. jitni qareeb say main goron ko dekh raha hoon these days, trust me their culture is not worth mimicking. Shame on us.

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  • amir jafri
    Dec 29, 2011 - 12:21AM

    Very well said…Pakistan must get rid of its slavish mindset..we are Muslims, we are pakistanis..we must have OUR values..not the third rate so-called values of the west.

    Recommend

  • Siddique Malik
    Dec 29, 2011 - 12:53AM

    Like any one possessed by self-righteousness, Ms. Ejaz contradicts herself. She says and I quote: “We have forgotten that we have certain limitations and we should keep these in mind and shun Western influences.” Later, while offering advice to aspiring actors, she says, “Your acting skills should be so good that even Westerners get amused.” So she does admit that Westerners have standards that should be met or exceeded. When Pakistani mullahs spew venom against the West, one can blame it on their ignorance. But when an artist declares all Western values to be repugnant, it is really tragic. Artists are supposed to be humanists; they should preach brotherhood and sisterhood among various cultures. All cultures have strengths and weaknesses. Regardless of the culture to which one belongs, one can always learn from and teach followers of other cultures. I thought artists would have been free of anti-humanity self-righteousness. I must concede that Ms. Ejaz proved me wrong.

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  • saad
    Dec 29, 2011 - 2:05AM

    Who are you to tell people how to dress, who to date, what to wear or what values to have? To generalize, western values are values where everyone is free to do as they wish with minimal restrictions as long as they don’t physically harm others. How can you be against this? How can you be against freedom? Do you like to be oppressed? Wake up! Recommend

  • kailash sethy
    Dec 29, 2011 - 8:51AM

    Yeah. Pakistan needs more mullahs and more madrases.. oh come on.. when will people learn??

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  • Dec 29, 2011 - 9:42AM

    People who are calling GF & BF culture indianized are in complex with inida, first of all indian films or media are not even showing indian culture they are showing western culture they dont have their own culture in most media plus Ms Shagufta is saying western culture which includes all…

    & abt now a days Dramas i must say that Pakistani Drama industry is now getting big n big day by day with more n more excellent plays now its time tht Govt ban all useless foreign channels from neibours especially till they allow our channels to air in their country.

    Her Play “Roog” waz really a master piece

    Recommend

  • Gul Khan
    Dec 29, 2011 - 10:05AM

    @kailash sethy:
    Avoiding to follow Western and Indian culture does not mean to be Mulla. Pakistanis shall follow Pakistani culture which is different than Western/Indian culture.

    Recommend

  • Arif
    Dec 29, 2011 - 1:00PM

    What we have brought up in the last decade is one completely confused youth who try to imitate West without knowing what their real values are. Not to mention the Western values are good for them but not necessarily always match with ours.

    I fully agree with Ms. Ejaz and would strongly add Indian culture and media as well.

    And lastly, we should be proud of our culture and values. So, to all ABCDs stop copying others and be proud of what you are and what you are stand for.Recommend

  • mirror image
    Dec 29, 2011 - 3:11PM

    Do u want to shun western culture ? then stop use of internet and blogs first ….stop sending ur youths to western universities for higher studies …moreover don’t use English , because language is a very important part of culture……hillarious….

    Recommend

  • STRIVER
    Dec 29, 2011 - 6:41PM

    @mirror image:

    You’ve completely missed the point or you are by intention trying to argue from an extreme position.

    The distiction between westernization and modernisation needs to be clearly understood.

    Recommend

  • Ali
    Dec 29, 2011 - 7:23PM

    @mirror image:
    Ignorance is not a bliss. First learn to know the diff between modernization and western culture then come on this forum to talk. Thanks

    Recommend

  • antanu g
    Dec 29, 2011 - 7:59PM

    @kailash sethy:
    when would we come out of MULLAHFOBIA?

    Recommend

  • antanu g
    Dec 29, 2011 - 8:02PM

    @mirror image:
    first learn to differenciate between modernism and progress. unfortunately for people like yo….cigarette smoking by woman is advancement and oppsing it is backwardness.

    Recommend

  • It's (still) the economy, stupid
    Dec 29, 2011 - 8:38PM

    “We must shun western Values” First follow what you preach. Look at the lady, with all due respect and nothing personal, with well done eyebrows, very nice manicure, professional makeup and hairdo etc. Isn’t these are all western values? Give me a break, please.

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  • STRIVER
    Dec 31, 2011 - 12:28AM

    @It’s (still) the economy, stupid:
    No they are not western values. Make up etc all started in Egypt. Hair removal and eyebrow stylling was practiced in India as well before the British rule.

    We all have a little to learn from everyone.

    Recommend

  • Rumi Balkhi
    Jan 14, 2012 - 12:07AM

    What is the difference between Indian and Pakistani values? You look the same, speak the same language, eat the same food, wear the same clothes and you both still collect dowry from the bride and make the bride wear red. The power of denial and social engineering has fooled the people of Pakistan into thinking that they are something other than South Asian or Indian in essence.

    Recommend

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