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I had to put myself in a negative, dark headspace to play her and this took its toll- Armeena Khan about her role in the drama “Muhabatain Chahatain”

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There are some dramas in which a negative role steals all the attention and people wait for each episode only to see their next evil plot. “Tara” in Muhabatain Chahtain is one such character and we have to say it was beautifully portrayed by Armeena Khan. From hair to outfits to expressions; everything was in synch with the character and its demand. We hated the character for ruining everyone, but we also wanted to know the “real” issue with her, because no one can be evil for no reason, right?

To satisfy our curiosity and to get into the details of the character along with some other questions; we had a conversation with the very beautiful and talented Armeena Khan.

Was it difficult playing Tara? How did you prepare for the role?

Honestly, this was probably the HARDEST character that I have had to play in my entire career in the Pakistani industry. First came the character and personality of Tara herself. I  spent months preparing, researching personality disorders such as Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder, Psychopathy, Sociopathy as that was the lens I used to distill the script. No person is just plain evil. Everyone believes they are good so it was important to ascribe justification for her actions.

Then came Tara’s look. For the clothes, I trawled through Pakistani Instagram and various socialite websites internalising outfits and the attitudes accompanying them. For her hair, I partnered with Catherine Boden (a hair colour design specialist) and she custom-made this colour. I also picked out hairpieces to give her a perpetual groomed look. Tara’s make-up was designed by the channel itself, right down to the diamond rings and jewels that she was wearing. After all, that prep came to the dialogue, It is not easy when your first language is not Urdu. For example, I had already memorized the script before I stepped onto the sets, then I would prepare each scene the night before. I simply cannot take things for granted that other actors are able to when filming thousands of miles away from my home.

Then came the grueling filming schedule. Tara is a multi-dimensional, complex and intelligent character. I had to put myself in a negative, dark headspace to play her and this took its toll. Often my co-stars would comment on how convincing my portrayal was of her. But by the second month, I was emotionally and physically exhausted.

In hindsight, I am very happy that I played this character. It helped me understand my scope, potential and limitations as an actor. I would go as far as to say that this has also been the most entertaining character that I have ever undertaken. Tara has given me strength as an actor and I cannot emphasize this enough.

 

Any reason for choosing ‘Tara’ in Mohabbatein Chahatain?

I am quite progressive, liberal, and an open-minded person. Tara is not only mentally ill but fearless. I drew a lot of strength from her character, despite it being so negative. For example, when Faraz said to her ‘Mein Aisa hi hoon, agar nahi Qabool tow khatam ker daytay hein’ to which Tara replies: ‘Okay, Khatam ker daytay hein’ and then proceeds to walk away nonchalantly. That really tickled me. In a patriarchal society, such things do not happen. Putting aside her negativity, Tara breaks through social norms and conventions, and ultimately that is what appealed most about the script.

 

Were you scared to do a negative character as the audience starts perceiving the actor as they see on their television screen?

 

I never worry about that. I appreciate that negative characters can impact a ‘heroine’s’ career but I wanted to step away from all that and be progressive in my choice of roles. As an actor, you simply have to experiment, otherwise boredom and complacency sets in. After all, we are here to entertain and not just play contrived, mono-dimensional characters.

Have you ever encountered a person like Tara? Do you think people with such complicated personalities exist?

Yes, they do exist, even though television characters are almost always exaggerated, I have met some conniving individuals in my time who came close to the character. Having said that I don’t believe ‘normal’ exists. We are all mentally challenged and have to face our own demons in our darkest moments. I think contemporary society with its technological connectivity amplifies mental health issues. Modern life is not healthy. It is pushing more and more people to the edges of sanity, to the limits of what their emotions and minds can handle.

How does it feel to be an expat and work in the entertainment industry in Pakistan?

I often feel my career has been conjured out of thin air, for I have no familial connections to call upon nor entry through financial investment. I am grateful for all the opportunities I have been offered, whether as a result of my own perseverance or fortune’s favour. But there are 2 consistent hurdles for me as an expat.

 

The first is obvious in working far away from home. I don’t maintain a permanent residence in Pakistan so this means expensive bills for flights, hotels, food and transport. My friendships and support network is several time zones away when on set.

 

The second problem is cultural. For example, I am a stickler for timekeeping and always turn up on the dot and behave professionally on set. Unfortunately, I am not always met with the same reciprocity on set because the local culture does not prioritise these traits. Then comes the whole gender angle. I am not used to playing second fiddle to men or listening to execrable chauvinistic humour and conversations. Many expats reading this will understand what I mean.

 

However, despite all these challenges Pakistan has also afforded me immense respect, stardom and belonging as an artist. What that has done for me cannot be quantified in mere words. I am extremely grateful for my audience and this is why I return to Pakistan every year to act my heart out.

 

 

What is your style statement in one line?

Simple, non-fussy and clean lines.

How does social media trolling affect an actor’s mental health and what is the best way to deal with it?

Social Media is a double-edged sword. Although the benefits are obvious, such as marketing and engagement, there are a plethora of pernicious problems outweighing the benefits for many. Firstly it is fraudulent. We are being lied to. It is human nature, in your nature, to compare yourself to others, as natural yardsticks.  But the people we are comparing ourselves to are on a 24/7 permanent filter. Their hardships, flaws and insecurities are disguised and deleted. They are not communicating but propagating at us. As a result, we will always come up wanting. Over time you will feel awful about yourself and your own life, especially when the trolls are added to the equation. This brings us to our second problem. Social media offers anonymity that attracts bottom feeders. Trolls hide in the dark corners of social media, whispering envy, hate and attempts to body shame others. These cowards will never do anything with their lives and so are focused on one thing; to stop others from bettering themselves.

Thirdly, it is bad for your mental health. Do you feel that you are missing out? Do you feel the need to post constantly? Instead of being present in our lives, enjoying beautiful relationships and moments, we are on the lookout for opportunities to manufacture a post, a possible entry into the lottery of viral online fame. If you don’t, you feel excluded somehow. Add this feeling of anxiety to the tiny small little hate comments, these seeds of poison, left unaddressed will sprout into a foliage of weeds that will consume your mental health. I almost look forward to the day when I can delete my SM and withdraw from this jungle. I would love to find an alternative way to keep in touch with my fans.

 

One thing that you could change about the Pakistani Entertainment industry?

 

Frankly speaking there isn’t a proper industry yet. It is an aspiration. Instead, we have a small gaggle of cliques.  It stifles creativity and is structured to guard platforms against talented individuals who could break in and actually help transform this into a roper sustainable industry. I would also like to balance out the playing field between those who can speak English and those who cannot. It is ridiculous that this linguistic divide exists in the first place.

 

You are always so supportive of your co-stars online and in real life. What drives you to do that in this competitive industry?

I sincerely believe that you receive what you give out into the universe. A tweet or a supportive phone call, text message, or just a simple ‘How are you?’ is not going to take anything away from me. I do keep most of my interactions with my co-stars private and out of the public gaze normally but where I feel that they need public support is where I do make an exception. It just feels good to me, I do not see people as my competition as we all are on our own journies. I think the ONLY way to grow is to support others to grow around me as well. I believe in the theory of abundance.’  When a play goes on air, I promote EVERYONE, you never know when the public might take a fancy to a specific character and it might not be yours BUT it could make the whole play a success for the Team?

 

Who is your favourite Co-star?

I get along with everyone generally but negative people are challenging for me. They bring certain energy with them, which is draining and distracting. It is about whose company I enjoy the most and I am drawn to what I call the ‘hulla gulla’ crowd. No drama, no tantrums, no insecurities, just work and fun and those have been the best costars and most memorable sets for me.

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Zubab Rana Steals the show in a fun new short film – ‘Twisted Sapnay’

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When the 16-minute short comedy film Twisted Sapnay was released on digital earlier this week, there had been more than one reason we were looking forward to it. Though, the main reason that took us by surprise was when Zubab Rana (who has been stealing our hearts for quite some time with her gorgeous looks) also stole the entire show!

‘Twisted Sapnay’ as the name suggests, is a short comedy film about dreams within dreams – within dreams. Yep, that’s right. We won’t lie – how we actually ended up watching this film was also because of Zubab Rana – when a hilarious clip of hers started circulating on social media – where she is seen in an entirely new avatar and fluently speaking Punjabi. The whole scene turned into a meme, and it was downright hilarious.

 

Zubab Rana, in the film, plays the role of the housemaid – who walks in on the house owner and his girlfriend (who are clearly having an affair) – and well, that is when her hilarious monologue that has taken over the internet starts. Twisted Sapnay is, without a doubt, another great film that has come out of the digital sphere – with some great actors starring in the film including Faizan Khawaja, Sonia Nazir, and Maryam Fatima. The star of the film though – has to be Zubab Rana, an actress we have seen is on a roll lately. After some killer performances in Fitrat and Bharaas, her singing debut on Kashmir Beats, it looks like Zubab Rana is going to have the best year of her career yet! We look forward to what else the starlet would be doing next.

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Fruit Chaat Reinforces The Notion Of Women Empowerment

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ZEE5 Global, the largest OTT platform for South Asian Content, recently announced the winners of its 2021 Global Content Festival. The contest announced 15 winners and among them a Pakistani short film ‘Fruit Chaat’ secured the third place.

Singapore-based independent filmmaker Shilpa K Shukla has emerged as the Global Content Festival Winner with 3 entries in the Drama films category ([email protected], Tashi and Dots) while Love Beyond Boundaries, a collection of incredible love stories by Filmmakers Ruchi Undevia and Aarti Trikannad (Dubai) got runner up position.

Fruit Chaat t is written and produced by Tanzila Khan, who has also played the lead role of Shabana while Moiz Abbas has directed it. The film highlights the hopes of Shabana, a newly-minted yet disabled graduate girl in Pakistan looking for opportunities, and all the limitations that society imposes on her encapsulated in a funny, heart-warming story.

The Daily Paperazzi reached to this young and talented duo and asked them about their project and winning it contest.

Q Why did you name it Fruit Chaat?

Tanzila- Fruit Chaat happens to be a very cultural thing in Pakistan. It has a typical flavour and colour. That is exactly what the character of Shabana is implying, ‘I am much more than what the world perceives me as. As a disabled person or a woman, I can create something so beautiful like Fruit Chaat and can take care of every relationship.” 

Moiz – Just like a plate of Fruit Chaat, this film has many underlying flavours. When we make this into a series or a sequel, the audience will see the relevance of the name.

Q What was the inspiration behind the character of Shabana?

Tanzila – Shabana represents a very important segment of the society that is women, and a woman born with disabilities. It was very important to highlight what a woman with such disabilities can go through the life in Pakistan and in South Asian countries to be precise. She has the same desires and wishes as any normal girl and her disabilities amplify her experience but do not make her an odd one out.

Moiz – The Inspiration behind the character of Shabana is Tanzila Khan herself because Shabana is Tanzila Khan and Tanzila Khan is Shabana in Fruit Chaat. It’s a story of Tanzila Khan in reality, just like the character she managed to complete her graduation sitting in a wheelchair and was treated the same way as the HR treated Shabana, when she was looking out for a job. Ultimately, Tanzila opened her start-up named Girly Things which is operated throughout the country.

Q Do you think that your short film encompasses the message of women empowerment?

Tanzila –I think the first thing that we need to do, is to humanize women, give them the due credit for the contributions they have made and then the empowerment will sprout out in its own way. A woman has same ambitions, dreams that a man would have, and she should seek the same respect for whatever work she does. It could be housework, or being a great mother at home or a good boss in the office. Just allow women to be themselves and that what I think is empowerment.

Moiz – Yes, definitely. Our movie gives out a very clear message of women empowerment and states that no matter whatever the situation is, you can always conquer, and it has nothing to do with your gender. It is about women empowerment, her education, entrepreneurship and other choices in life. What you see Shabana, a hijabi girl completing her graduation on a wheelchair and also appearing for an interview where the panel tries to dominate and neglect her, simply because of her disabilities and gender but she paves her way to victory in the university and the interview as well. This is where she gets the Idea of entrepreneurship and decides to open her fruit stall where she sells fruit Chaat. It is all about how we want to see our women progress in society.

Q Why did you prefer the genre of comedy and satire for your film?

Tanzila- As a woman with a disability, I have been through a lot of ups and downs but keep myself sane because of my sense of humour with myself. I think comedy is a tool for improvement and getting through the challenges in life. Comedy is my way of life; it is my choice. I like people to understand the humor that I have and also simultaneously understand my experiences through that.

Moiz- Whenever we have talked about disabled people, we have portrayed them in the way that their lives are miserable and they are depressed all the time, which is not right. We have an example of Tanzila Khan, and Ms Mizaari, though are on a wheelchair, they seem happy. However, ups and downs are an inevitable part of everybody’s life regardless of the fact if they are physically disabled or not. We have drawn the character of Shabana from the life of Tanzila, and you will witness how happy and empowered that character is. We wanted to give out the message that Shabana can not only sell fruits but can also make good Fruit Chaat and do several other tasks just like a normal person. She made sure that her disability does not come in between her dreams.

Q How long did it take to shoot your short film and where was it shot?

Tanzila- It took us a day to shoot the entire film. We did the auditions a day before and had some training sessions the same day. The shoot was divided in three locations; one was in office, other was Al-Humara Community Center for Arts in Lahore, and the third location was just a roadside Fruit Chaat stall.

Moiz- Being an independent filmmaker in Pakistan, it was really very difficult. When we approached big production houses for help, they all neglected us by saying there is no point in this script or the film to be made. We had a firm belief in the story since the beginning so decided to make it ourselves. Tanzila started to collect funds for the movie and after a yearlong planning we were in a situation, where we could take it to the floors. We shot this 11 minutes long film in just 15 hours at different locations of Lahore.

Q Tell us about sending and winning this film to the Zee5 Global Content Contest Festival?

Tanzila- Initially, we had shared this film with ZEE5 Global to be aired on 3rd December which is the international day of disabled people. They saw some spark in the film and pushed it into their Global Content Festival which was happening around the same time. We provided them with all the necessary details and were not expecting further contact from them at all, but very soon received words of being shortlisted. The final excitement came when we were told about our inclusion in winner’s list. It became so much valuable for all of a sudden. The entire idea of being an international contest winner, and India recognizing talent from Pakistan was a great feeling. Last but not the least, the disability got the space that it deserved. One billion people in the world are having disabilities and it’s a huge number. So, having that artistic expression, presenting disability and winning, it’s a huge win for all those one billion people. We have also paved the way for independent filmmakers to work on more varied concepts.

Moiz- One of my friends tagged me in a post and on opening I realized it was about ZEE5 Global Content Festival. I then decided to send our film in this without any second thought. I had a belief that we will win as our dedication in the project was at 100%. Winning it was such a nice feeling. I feel that more such Global Content Festivals like the one with ZEE5 should be conducted, as they give a big platform to independent film makers like me to show case their work. I am grateful to the whole team of ZEE5. 

All the winning films are being streamed on ZEE5 and free to watch for viewers across the globe at http://bit.ly/ZEE5GCFWinners.

To watch these films, the ZEE5 app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store or the iOS App Store. The app is also available on Samsung Smart TV, Apple TV, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV. ZEE5 is also available on www.ZEE5.com.

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Yashma Gill’s Latest Shoot Has People Calling her Janhvi Kapoor

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Everyone’s favorite Yashma Gill who has been making headlines since last year for her role as the (not no favorite) Shanzay in Pyar Ke Sadqay, is this time on our radar for a surprisingly different reason. The actress, who recently took social media by storm with her gorgeous shoot for fashion brand Elan – had people comparing her to the Bollywood diva Jahnvi Kapoor. 

 

The model and actress has some beautiful shots up on her Instagram from the shoot – and every picture has us swooning over the gorgeous outfit. But, what has definitely caught everyone’s attention is the uncanny resemblance that the actress seems to hold with her acting counterpart on the other side of the border, the actress and model Jahnvi Kapoor. From makeup guru Babar Zaheer to the multiple fans and followers of Yashma Gill, everyone had only one thing to say – that the actress looks exactly like Jahnvi Kapoor.

 

Yashma Gill, who has currently been garnering fame for her role in the ongoing drama Phaans with the star cast including Zara Noor Abbas, Shehzad Sheikh, and Sami Khan – is once again having quite the year. With her social media filled with collaboration with great brands, and her acting projects getting bigger and better, we say the time isn’t far when Yashma Gill would be as big a name as Jahnvi Kapoor.

What do you think? Check out these latest images from her shoot and let us know if you also think she resembles the Indian actress!

 

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