Sanam Saeed’s appearance at Karachi Literature Festival provided some much needed glitz and glamour.
Sanam is an acclaimed actor and former model who predominantly works in Urdu cinema and television. She is best known for portraying the role of Kashaf Murtaza in HUM TV’s Zindagi Gulzar Hai. After establishing herself as a leading actress in television, Sanam made her film debut with Bachaana (2016) and later appeared in a supporting role in Dobara Phir Se.
Saeed feels that drama scripts often do not depict women who are role models and that is why she has declined such roles to move to more powerful characters on the Silver Screen. She noted that many television depictions of women portray them as victims, or unable to confront their problems and challenges successfully. The panel also noted that the frequency of violence against women on Pakistani television is extremely harmful.
After the roaring success of her Saeed’s role in Zindagi Gulzar Hai the actor realised that her character Kashaf was considered a role model by many young women. The fact that her character was a middle class and subsequently a very successful student and working woman was a respite from many plays that either depict only the very wealthy, or disenfranchised women who are unable to transcend their economic difficulties and become subject to bad marriages, terrible jobs and even worse plight.
Zindagi Gulzar hai was directed by Sultana Siddiqui, produced by Momina Duraid and based on the novel of the same name by Umera Ahmad who also wrote the screenplay, it was broadcasted from 2012 to 2013 in Pakistan. The story was about a young woman who defies all odds and who through study, hard work and sheer determination, succeeds in her education, career and married life.
Zindagi Gulzar Hai also includes many of Kashaf’s delightful inner monologues where she sometimes both raves at her circumstances, and then also introspects how to escape them. Indeed it could be fair to say that the character of Kashaf written by Umera Ahmad completely over shadowed super star Fawad Khan, whose character arc showed him as very superficial and arrogant due to his wealth. Sanam Saeed also lamented the lack of talented script writers which has become the bane of the television in Pakistan in recent years, juxtaposed by the brilliance of scripts in the 60’s 70’s and 80’s.
Sanam noted that “Pakistan has no role models”, and the fact is that whether we accept it or not a large percentage of the population only has access to television so she should be much more mindful of what she portrays to millions of viewers.
Saeed realises that Film making is a dauntingly expensive venture on the traditional silver screen that has become increasingly unviable, so she recommends investing in and viewing local Pakistani streaming sites which the public here can easily access. Sanam shared that the solution to prohibitively expensive silver screen costs is to move to OTT (Over The Top) streaming options that are homegrown by Pakistanis. She has an upcoming film that can be viewed on local Pakistani streaming sites.
The actor commented that it is perfectly understandable why the platform Zee 5 has not been made accessible in Pakistan. She feels it is reasonable that at this point, “Why should we send our money to India?”
Some of the OTT streaming options include Iflix, Urdu Flix, Starzplay and Tamasha.