An Interview with Sarmad Sehbai

MaheMir, an upcoming Pakistani film starring Iman Ali and Fahad Mustafa in lead roles will be in cinemas from May 6, 2016. Team All About Pakistan interviewed the writer of this film, Sarmad Sehbai sahab, to know more about his work and this film. MaheMir Writer, Sarmad Sehbai

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Interview with Waseem Ahmed

Waseem Ahmed

Q: When and where did you born?

A: I was born on 10thApril 1977 in Vehari, Pakistan.

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Interview with Jamal Shah

Jamal Shah

I met Jamal Shah at an event in NCA in architecture department. He was there to guide the students. He was a very pleasant person to meet and very friendly in nature. One can feel this calm attitude of him towards anyone talking to him.

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Interview with Agha Ali

Team Pakistan 360 Degrees conducted an interview with Abbas Agha Ali recently. He is younger son of late Agha Sikander who was one of the top actors of his time. If Agha Ali has joined showbiz, it is a natural thing as most of the kids of actors’ and actresses from previous generation choose this profession. The sincerity to his profession has made Agha Ali one of the leading actors of his era. This talented actor made his debut in “Mein Hari Pyar” on Hum TV in 2012 and due to his good performance, he was nominated for “Hum Award for Best Soap Actor”. He isn’t just an actor, but also a model as well as a singer now. So, here is his interview.

Agha Ali

  • What do you like most/least about your Profession?

Agha Ali: The most I like is the love you get from people who are total strangers, people that you don’t know actually start loving you. The worst follows with it as you cannot have the life you had once anymore when you were an ordinary guy and not a star. Eating at public places and even shopping at times is difficult.

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An interview with Famous Urdu Poet Ambreen Salahuddin

Ambreen Salahuddin is one of the best women poets from recent times I have read. All About Pakistan team met Ambreen at her residence to interview her. Ambreen Salahuddin proved to be a great host. She welcomed us into her artistically set home with a welcoming smile. The poet in her is too visible. No wonder Ambreen has proved herself to be one of the finest poets in Urdu language in recent times. Ambreen Salahuddin completed her graduation from Lahore College for Women Lahore. She holds an MA in Philosophy and another in History, both from University of the Punjab. She is working on her Ph.D as of now. Ambreen Salahuddin has published three books so far. Her first book, “Sar-e-dasht-e-gumaan” was published in 2004. This book was awarded the best first book award by PEN. In 2005 Ms. Salahuddin published “Feminism in modern Urdu poetesses (1857-2000). Her latest collection of her poetry “Sadiyon Jaise pal” was published in 2014.

Ambreen Salahuddin, famous Urdu poets, Urdu poet female
After settling down and exchanging pleasantries, we got down to business. Famous Urdu poet Ambreen Salahuddin had very clear and well defined answers for all our questions. “Exactly how is one to draw the parallel between women and poetry?” she says. “This here, is a question that has been explicated for the longest time. Because where on the one hand we often allude to the basic difference in ‘intellectual level’ between men and women of this art, it is also seen that whenever we speak of Urdu poetry, numerous female names seem to dominate. Although women are proven to be ‘more creative’, still today we don’t see too many successful names which could prove this creativity right. Thus I never understood the question. No, I don’t blame the society; this is simply a preoccupation of our times.”
Ambreen believes that the women who really stand out are those who a) have ample time to invest in the art and b) those who ‘ride solo’. She mentions, for instance, the name of Quratulain Haider which strikes her as such, suggesting that indeed, those who function as a sole entity are the ones who really make it big. “I mean, if Lata Mangeshkar sings for an audience, there is no mention of any Asha Usha”, for each stands alone as an equally powerful force.

Ambreen Salahuddin Poetry, Urdu poetry, famous urdu poet, popular urdu poet
According to her, in today’s era, the majority does not write well-not as good as it used to be. Urdu poetry in recent times has evolved, and so have the poets. This, however, is truer for men than it is for women, popular Urdu poet Ambreen Salahuddin says. Often the future of literary art was anticipated and rather dreaded, for it was said that the art would be left devoid of afsanas, ghazals- that even the language (‘zubaan’) would not hold the same power. “There has definitely been a change, a change in words, in references, even names. But perhaps another ten to twenty years, and we’ll know for sure what change have really taken place. At this very moment it would be slightly difficult to spot a Ghalib here and a Faiz there from amongst the hundreds of artists.” This is not how it works, says Ambreen.
Ambreen Salahuddin goes on to say that indeed, Art does not progress like science; a man’s art dies with his last breath. Sure the legacy remains, it ought to remain, and that’s how it is. Often in Faiz’s technique we see a little bit of Ghalib surfacing and just like this, there are countless who attempt to employ such techniques within their own work. But language and technique aside, the real question, according to her, still remains. “Who are you? The amount of effort you have put will be rendered utterly useless if it fails to ‘affect’ the reader. What’s more important than language and technique is ‘taasur’, the impact.
Speaking of impact, Ambreen Salahuddin talked about the sharp decline in Ghazal singing. “Where at one time,” she said, “Mehdi Hassan, Iqbal Bano, Farida Khanum and such maestros worked towards expanding and popularizing the trend, what appears now is that this is one legacy that no one seems to want to pursue”. She believes that this is perhaps because there’s an evident lack of credible artists (as far as ghazals are concerned), and even if they are present, there isn’t anyone to guide these poor souls.
At one time, the Golden Age of art perhaps, connectivity was the norm but now this is not so. “With the poet working elsewhere and the afsana (story) writer somewhere else, each seems to be too immersed in his own line of work, drawing certain boundaries between these facets of art which in reality are all interconnected.” And so she feels that perhaps this is another reason for the decline of the ghazal legacy- lack of connectedness. The culture is unaware of its most vibrant poets, and the nation does not know what incredible artists exist. No one knows anyone.
Upon being asked as to whether she plans on doing some ‘afsana’ writing, she said that the idea has crossed her mind numerous times but as yet she has not done any writing. When asked about how she decides if a piece of poetry or an afsana is written well or not, Ambreen Salahuddin replied that “the only thing that matter to me is impact. In a lighter tone it is sometime said that everyone finds some audience for whatever art they have. But that is not long lasting. Ghalib is still Ghalib because of the quality of his art”.

Ambreen Salahuddin, famous poet, Urdu poet
“There is a word that is often used in the field of art, ‘originality’.” The audience, she says, plays a very vital role. One’s work must be targeted for that specific original audience and this piece of work could either make you or break you, hence “it is very important to consider the audience- quality pe no compromise”
Ambreen Salahuddin quotes Mehboob Khizan’s couplet,

“baat ye hai k aadmi shayar

ya tau hota hai, ya nahi hota”,

That is, a man either is a poet, or he simply isn’t. Famous Urdu poet Ambreen Salahuddin believes that if you have the drive to write or pursue your art, then you find ways to ‘manage life’. “I am currently doing my thesis for PhD and I am teaching at the same time, but my routine does not collide at any point, in fact, I feel like 24 hours is a lot for me to further fit in 2-3 more things to do.”
Speaking of female writers, Ambreen says that many of the recent credible writers are female- “Kamila Shamsie”, for instance is a brilliant writer who has written mostly in English language. She feels that females have been always restricted to a specific class, and whenever a woman expresses herself, she breaks the stereotype because expressing in itself is going against the tide, and for it to be done by a woman is definitely something. And the next step, she deems, is that of sharing and spreading awareness, because that is what this society lacks. Once more Ambreen Salahuddin, the famous Urdu Poet alludes to ‘originality’- originality in expressing oneself. “You are an individual, and that is what you will express.” Ambreen ends on this very note, that it is your individual idea that you must express, the original ‘ingredients’ are what must come out.

After an interesting and very informative evening with Ambreen Salahuddin, we left her residence. We Wish Ambreen all the best and we are for sure waiting for her next collection of poetry.

An Interview with DJ Shahpara from Samaa FM

In the last decade Pakistan has witnessed a mushroom growth of TV and Radio channels. Despite the growing number of opportunities in media, there are very few people in Pakistan who have successfully branded themselves as Radio broadcasters in Pakistan. DJ Shahpara from Samaa FM is one such name, who has spent more than a decade in this field, and has made a name for herself. Team All about Pakistan visited Shahpara Salim at her residence. It was an interesting session that the team had with one of the most popular DJs in Pakistan.

We started off with the basic questions. In reply to the questions regarding her education and early career RJ Shahpara said that “I completed my matriculation in science, followed by an FA in arts. I had contemplated the idea of pursuing home economics yet somehow chose arts again and thus went on to paint and eventually completed my Masters in Fine Arts”. Joking, she said that “My family was against this and they thought if my drawing was not good enough, perhaps I would get over it and leave arts. They thought it was a waqti bukhar.” But her main focus in life had always been to be happy, she told us. “I have always done whatever made me happy. I even touched upon philosophy at one time.”

DJ Shahpara, Best DJ in Pakistan, Best RJ in Pakistan, Berst voice over artist, PTV artist, Samaa FM best DJ

Despite having decided not to pursue any more studies after her BA, she went on to do her Masters, after which she got her first job at an NGO. This was followed by her work for radio, FM 100. “Radio had always attracted me and this work was not just a job, it was actually fun.” One of the most experienced RJs in Pakistan in recent times, DJ Shahpara believes she learnt the art truly during her tenure at PTV. In 2004, she began working for PTV, being one out of the only two people shortlisted. However, three years later she resigned and during this time, she studied several courses of production and was appreciated for her work. The video of patriotic song “Tujhse Pakistan” which was sung by Maestro Hamid Ali Khan sahib and Raga boys was directed by Shahpara. This song won accolades for her.

DJ Shahpara, Best DJ in Pakistan, Best RJ in Pakistan, Berst voice over artist, PTV artist, Samaa FM best DJ

Shahpara then got married and she told us that she was faced with the usual dilemma of whether to work or remain a housewife. For 3-4 months, she chose the latter but after that her husband advised her to rejoin radio, which she did. “Then NCA was looking for a teacher who knew production and fine arts both. It was a rare combination but I fit right in.” Just like this, Shahpara joined NCA and is still currently teaching there. In 2012, Samaa FM was launched and Shahpara was approached. Her 1-4 PM show focused on a celebrity. This is where she made her mark.

DJ Shahpara, Best DJ in Pakistan, Best RJ in Pakistan, Berst voice over artist, PTV artist, Samaa FM best DJ

“Research is my thing. I take Radio broadcasting and the job of being a known RJ very seriously. Whenever I have to go on air, I know I have to have my facts correct. Everyone has a unique point to sell their ideas. I always wanted information to be mine.” And till today she works for Samaa FM. Upon being asked as to how she was able to manage so much work, she replied, “If you’re doing something that satisfies you, it’s always manageable”.

DJ Shahpara, Best DJ in Pakistan, Best RJ in Pakistan, Berst voice over artist, PTV artist, Samaa FM best DJ

Shahpara says that her being a woman never came in the way of her work. Before marriage, her father supported her and afterwards it was her husband. In fact, she claims to have worked much more after her marriage rather than before. “I never let any of my work become a burden for me”, she says. With reference to the problems that women usually face at work, she believes herself to have been quite lucky even though she was working in the media. “I had actually drawn a line which I didn’t allow anyone to cross, and if that did happen, that person would get a direct shut up call.” “I would say nothing has changed me in my life as much as motherhood. My child has changed me in an irreversible fashion. I now feel before everything I am a mother to my child”.

DJ Shahpara, Best DJ in Pakistan, Best RJ in Pakistan, Berst voice over artist, PTV artist, Samaa FM best DJ

For the coming generations she advises them to ‘prioritize’. “There are two paths that one can take when in the media. A short path, which is an easy short cut but ends your career as shortly, or the long way, which requires you to work much harder but yields a higher reward.” Speaking of priorities, Shahpara told us that her family relations matter to her very much. “I have always put the feelings of my parents before mine. My daughter is very dear to me. I have always wanted a sister. My brothers are a treasure to me.”

DJ Shahpara, Best DJ in Pakistan, Best RJ in Pakistan, Berst voice over artist, PTV artist, Samaa FM best DJ

Then we talked about something that interests everyone- food, of course. Shahpara says she loves to eat but the kind of food depends on her mood. Cooking, on the other hand, is what she enjoys greatly. “I have always loved baking. Cooking I enjoy too, but baking is simply what I love to do”. Other than that, she told us that she loves to travel.

When we asked her what was the point in her radio career where she realized that she was a ‘star’, she humbly replied that she does not believe in such realizations. Although she would not call herself a future planner as such, she does aim to work in the film industry, in the future. “I would love to direct a movie some day” she said. As a popular RJ from Pakistan or a DJ, people have approached me many times, telling me how they admire my work. I believe it is just the beginning. I am humbled by their response. It gives me more energy to look forward to better work in future. As a voice artist I have to do a lot more to deserve all this love and respect”.

DJ Shahpara, Best DJ in Pakistan, Best RJ in Pakistan, Berst voice over artist, PTV artist, Samaa FM best DJ,

Her favorite musician is A. R Rehman and favorite on-screen personality is Aamir Khan. She admires singers such as Atif Aslam, Farhan Saeed, Fareeha Pervaiz and Madam Noor Jehan. Shahpara listens very regularly to Mauhit Chauhan. Kishore and Lata are the other two of her Indian favorites. She told us that she would love to come towards film production at some point because she sees a bright future for the Pakistani cinema.

After having some really tasty coffee (which was off course made by our dear DJ Shahpara) and some snacks, the team of All About Pakistan took our leave from the DJ. For a person belonging to media, we all believe DJ Shahpara is very simple and like-able. We wish her all the best in her future.

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