Hindi Medium star Saba Qamar: ‘God willing, I’ll work in Bollywood again’

Pakistani actor Saba Qamar, best known for her film Hindi Medium and shows such as Thakan and Baaghi in her home country, feels lucky to have worked with the late actor Irrfan Khan in her Bollywood debut.

The actor said she received a lot of love and recognition for Hindi Medium and hopefully, she will work again in the Hindi film industry.

She revealed that she felt over the moon after Bollywood star Vidya Balan hailed her performance in the 2017 comedy-drama feature.

“I didn’t get the chance to thank all of them. I am touched, overwhelmed. I am glad I was nominated in Filmfare’s best actress category alongside Vidya Balan, Kangana Ranaut, Sridevi and Alia Bhatt. I feel lucky to have got the opportunity to work with Mr Irrfan Khan,” Qamar told PTI in a telephonic interview from Lahore.

“I am hoping for the best, I am a positive person and god willing I will work in Bollywood,” she added.

She may not be acting in Hindi films due to the strained relations between India and Pakistan that had led to a ban on Pakistani actors working in Indian cinema, but Qamar has been catching up on Bollywood social dramas like Padman, Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui and Badhaai Do.

The actor, who will next be seen in Zindagi’s show Mrs & Mr Shameem, is happy that popular entertainment in both India and Pakistan is finally moving away from simplistic kitchen-sink dramas to focus on real issues.

“Like (in India), you are giving life to these characters, you are showing people, educating them. And it is important to do so. We have played enough hero-heroine characters, there is a lot more than just being a good daughter, a good couple in real life, there are challenges that we face and we need to talk about it, discuss it,” she added.

In Pakistan, Qamar said, the makers have been making attempts at issue-based TV dramas and movies for a while now. The most recent example is the 2020 superhit show Churails, the first Pakistani original series from Zindagi which was praised for its progressive storytelling.

“We have also come beyond good stuff and daughter-in-law stories, like you all (in Bollywood). For instance, on TV, we have some restrictions. We don’t show bold scenes, we do not cross the line but yet talk about issues. We are talking about issues and people are learning about it.”

Citing the example of her upcoming show Mr & Mrs Shameem, Qamar said the show highlights society’s notions towards masculinity.

The Zindagi original series is billed as an unconventional love story of an outspoken Umaina (Qamar) and Shameem, played by Nauman Ijaz, who is of gentle nature.

Mrs & Mr Shameem is directed by Kashif Nisar, known for Pakistani dramas like Dumpukht Aatish E Ishq and O Rangreza, from a script by noted writer Sajjad Gul.

Qamar said she instantly fell in love with the topic the show deals with as it inspires people to be humane towards every individual.

“I really wanted to do something where we give love, respect and humanise the character, like (that of) a transgender or gay. However, the character of Shameem is not gay or transgender, he is of soft nature.

“He is a man full of love, and we do have a lot of people like him in our society, sadly we don’t give them that attention and respect. Society disrespects and humiliates someone like Shameem. That was the main attraction for me, besides there are other issues we are talking about. We are trying to create awareness,” the 37-year-old actor said.

Qamar described Mrs & Mr Shameem as a “sensitive” show that explores the theme of identity.

“It is not a bold but sensitive show. There is nothing bad in it. They are human beings and they deserve their identity equally like a normal person, like what is his fault if he has little ‘nazaakat’, we should just be nice, give love and spread love.”

Qamar said while she and Umaina share some personality traits such as being gutsy and opinionated, it was tough for her to emotionally be in sync with her on-screen character.

“There are so many layers in this character where I couldn’t connect. It was difficult to get into this world. I could feel the humiliation, disrespectful behaviour and anger equally that my character’s partner was getting. I have lived this character and felt her pain,” she said.

Mrs & Mr Shameem is set to premiere globally on ZEE5 on March 11.

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