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.