Alongside a lucrative career in talk shows, what inspired you to start acting?
I started working with talk shows when those were a huge deal – when I got married Mani was a talk show host as well and I got some pretty good offers. My own first choice was not acting and I enjoyed hosting a lot. I was often offered scripts here and there but as long as 5 years passed working with talk shows before I realized I wanted to give acting a shot. But i had a very young kid at a moment and the camera often unnerved me. I was quite indecisive at the time as well. Eventually when I felt like I could divide my attention and when my kids became slightly more independent, I felt like maybe I should take on acting. Even during the hosting days maybe there was an actor deep inside but I could still never imagine mainstream television acting like it became afterwards.
What project would you say was very critical to your career in the entertainment industry and why?
Yakeen Ka Safar was very critical. The novel by Farhat Ishtiaq really touched a chord with me and the role I was offered was of the character called Gayti. But the thing is I did not prefer doing second leads. All my roles have been lead roles. But initially the character of Gayti was a new flavour for me. She was a nutritionist and I had to work my way into this character. Why it was a challenge was because Gayti did not have supporting roles to lean on. She was a widow. She didn’t have a mother in law either. Performance margin was not there through other roles. The character was not pivotal to the storyline and I did not get a lot of screen time. So my method was simple: whenever I did have a scene, I gave it my all. Completely.
What is Hira Mani’s take on the television industry?
I think its grown too much. Too many different people from very diverse walks of life are a part of it. TV industry has overtaken the film industry as well and it is not just for actors, it has evolved into a major amalgamation and I feel like there is nothing missing or nothing exceeding here. Everything is in equilibrium. Its become a WOW industry.
Your drama project Bandish takes on some interesting aspects of paranormal activity. Please tell us more about it?
When I read the script the topic really struck with me. I saw the opportunity to do something different, something fresh. I’ve often seen people repeatedly do the same things over and over. Doing something fresh is always a tough decision. I’ve always had really romantic story lines. This was horror, scary, paranormal! I actually got curious about how I would perform under the stress of fear. How I would look screaming or running around. Besides, my parents’ roles are being played by Sajid Hassan and Marina Khan. They are both acting legends and its going to be a fun gathering too. I was unsure of the shift in people’s responses after Dil Moam Ka Diya. I signed Bandish for my own entertainment – I don’t believe in magic and working on a magic storyline is quite exciting. I would suggest our audiences to consider television as just that. Take away good messages, if there is something you don’t understand, just change the channel!
Your husband was also your longtime colleague in the television industry – how does the Hira-Mani brand work as a professional relationship?
We don’t have a professional relationship. We got married 11 years ago and that is the relationship we have. We were both pretty young. We grew up together, switched cars and houses together. Its like two people start studying the same subject, one is a pre-schooler and one is a graduate. I was the pre-schooler and Mani the graduate. He is a real trendsetter. The cool and quirky method of hosting that is so big in the industry now was conceived by Mani, it was introduced by him. He has empowered a lot of people to act themselves and be themselves. Hosting with Mani was quite intimidating because I did not want to embarrass him at any point. I took a lot of notes from him. I miss working with him on shows. We both have a very organized, healthy working relationship. I’m not the kind of woman who pretends to not need her better half. He is the support I always need and always get! Our kids Muzamil and Ibrahim have also become quite organized watching us!
Hira Mani is a household name. Any advice you would like to give to the newcomers coming into the public eye?
Please be sure that there is something extraordinary inside you and that if you look for it enough you find it. Life passes on without fame. Fame is in the hands of God. Everyone can act like heroes and heroines on television. The real deal is to be heroes and heroines in real life. Don’t let the industry and its expectations get to your real life. Don’t let it get under your skin – be steadfast. Keep believing in yourself and take that road that pays you off most. Once again, don’t lose the human touch. Being human is being the real heroes!
An Informal Colloquy with Wahaj Ali
After spilling his magic in Haiwan, Wahaj Ali is all set for new and exciting roles. We sat with him to talk about his career, daily routine, his likes and dislikes and many more that you would love to know.
This is what we grabbed from a small meeting.
Q.1. Tell us how it all started.
Ans. My career wasn’t planned, nor was it accidental – it was actually quite sudden. I worked at the theater before as a hobby, and from that I got an opportunity to work on television – that’s where it all started from.
Q.2. Peeking into Wahaj`s daily routine – what does it comprise of?
Ans. Well, it depends! If I am not shooting for a project, I spend time at home with my daughter, and teasing my wife and mother. I am not a very active guy, so when I am not shooting, I am super lazy and I spend most of my time in bed. However, when I have a shoot, my work day starts from 9 am and continues on till 11 pm, and that’s how hectic it becomes. There are lots and lots of scenes that we have to record, and when I am back home, I’m usually too exhausted to socialize much. I’m not a very social person anyway – instead of going to parties, I would rather go and spend quality time with the three ladies in my life: my wife, mother and daughter.
Q.3. What kind of a person is Wahaj?
Ans. Wahaj is vulnerable, but he is indestructible.
Q.4. Did you always intend to get into this industry or you had other plans as well?
Ans. As I said earlier, this was never the plan. I had other things in mind, but this is what life has brought me to, and I am loving it. Life is risky, but it is calculated, and in the face of it taking surprising turns, we should plan out things to achieve targets and keep ourselves motivated to succeed at whatever we end up doing.
Q.5. Other than Haiwan, have you done any emotionally challenging drama? Your views about child abuse – what made you take up that project? Was it the subject matter or you just took it without any reason?
Ans. For that I will be very honest: it was a selfish decision to opt for Haiwan. The cast and the director was the major reason why I signed up for it, as they were experienced and I got to learn a lot from them. However, the fact that the drama is based on an emotional social issue was definitely a plus point, as the script was really intriguing.
Q.6. Who has been your favorite co-star so far?
Ans. For me every co-star is my favorite, since I have had a good working relationship with all of them and I had the chance to learn from them as well.
Q.7. Who has been the most difficult person to work with?
Ans. I think no person is difficult to work with. It’s just a lack of understanding that results in such friction, and I usually make sure I develop that understanding on set and off set if required.
Q.8. Any project from the past that you would love to be a part of?
Ans. What I think is that whatever is written for you comes your way, and if you weren’t a part of something, it probably was for the better. Your focus should always be on giving your best to whatever you have committed to do, instead of worrying about anyone else’s work.
Q.9. Any project you regret saying no to?
Ans. Not really. I don’t regret when I say no. it’s simple – when I take a decision, I think about it thoroughly before I decide on it, and once I’ve made up my mind, there’s no turning back, and no regrets.
Q.10. Any project that you shouldn’t have done?
Ans. There are a few projects which didn’t completely resonate with me, yet I did them. However, I don’t want to name them, and I now take them simply as a part of the learning process.
Q.11. What kind of projects you would like to work on? And most importantly, what is lacking in the drama industry?
Ans. I want to be part of those projects with which I can inspire and educate people. It is crucial for me to use my work to get a valuable message across. It has been noticed that as the number of dramas or actors are increasing in the industry, the quality of work has been decreasing, and I feel quality comes first. We have to maintain the quality irrespective of anything else. Teamwork is also something that our industry can work on.
Q.12. Are you ready to slide into movies any time soon?
Ans. I’m not prepared for movies yet, however it can be something I can look forward to sometime in the future maybe.
Q.13. Tell us about your future projects?
Ans. There are a couple of projects that are in the pipeline, and one of them is on child abuse which is under production currently. Another one is also in the works that will surely surprise you all!
Guess Who is Winning the Hearts Now-a-days!!
Innocence on face and talent dripping out of each character, we had a mini conversation with the real star of “Inkar” – Yumna Zaidi and this is what we talked about.
1) We always see Yumna playing innocent characters, Is it because you always choose such roles?
I think my innocent characters have been registered more than the other characters I have played. Out of 12-14 shows, I have done two negative roles and two light comedy
2) Are you willing to opt for the role of an antagonist in future?
Yes, waiting for that.
3) Which drama and character from the past you would love to do?
4) Which one has been your favorite out of all your dramas up till now?
Yeh Raha Dil and Inkaar
5)Your weirdest fan moment?
A guy at the airport on counter, out of excitement, gave me the wrong flight boarding card.
6) What’s the best and worst thing about living a star life?
Best. Everything is best about this life. I cant thank enough.
7) People have loved your character in “Inkar”. What do you love about this character?
Her strength and truthfulness
8) We have heard that the drama is based on a real life incident, how true is that?
Inspiration from Khadija’s stabbing case but it was just an inspiration.
9) In the time when there is “me too” and “importance of consent” movement going on along with a deep rooted misogyny embedded in the society, how do you think Dramas like “inkaar” can impact a society?
I feel that women in Entertainment industry are very strong. I think they can take a stand for themselves. But a common woman\girl can relate to this drama very well and can also learn from it. Always remember that If something bad has happened, do take a stand for it.
10) Which role was the biggest challenge for you to perform out of all your characters?
Samera\Shakra in Ishq Zahe Naseeb
11) You picked up the real game from the drama “Zara Yaad Kar”. You had a very strong character, how did it impact you and how much can you relate to that character?
That was the only script which I didn’t read and asked my mom to do it. I was so confused that whether I should do it or not. Khalil Sahab’s script is always beautiful but the dialogue delivery is always difficult and is expected to be excellent . Initially, I gave up because i thought I wasn’t doing it well. But, i was so conscious while working that I tried to give my best shot and this way I learnt a lot. I enjoyed that character and i still remember that drama.
12) What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I don’t want to answer that. There are many actually.
13) What is one piece of advice that you always keep in your mind?
Stay strong and always keep a firm belief in yourself.
15) Out of all your dramas, Which role can you relate to the most?
I think I can’t relate because we all are different in real life. I just want to mention one thing here. Every character that I have played up till now, I have tried to pick up good things that eventually became a part of my personality.
16) Tell us about your future projects?
My future projects are very interesting. One is for Hum TV and the other is for Geo. I am sure people would love it because one is a bubbly character and the other is very simple and of kind nature.
Is it true that Ehd-e-Wafa is Giving us Major Alpha Bravo Charlie Vibes?
All of us remember the moment when it was rumored that the sequel of Alpha Bravo Charlie(ABC) was being made. It definitely scared the living daylight out of us. Not that we do not like our current actors but there were some sentimental values attached to ABC that have left some footprints in our hearts for life. On a side note, it would have been a treat to see the modern version of ABC and a contemporary love story of Shehnaz and Gulsher once again.
Well, it is time to sit back and relax because the news is entirely different. The reason why the news pinched us really bad was the fact that we were also dreading about the idea of getting our childhood ruined because sequels and remakes are not always as amazing as the original work.
According to one of the leading actors of the drama, it has been confirmed that Ehd-E-Wafa is not a remake of Alpha Bravo Charlie or Sunehrey din. “I am glad that people are connecting this with such legendary dramas. The style and genre are similar but the story-line is totally different.” – Says Wahaj Ali
This new drama serial Ehd-e-Wafa has come up with such a powerful cast including Osman Khalid Butt, Wahaj Ali, Ahad Raza mir, Ahmed Ali Akbar, Alizeh Ali Shah, Hajra Yamin and everyone’s favorite Zara Noor Abbas. The drama is directed by Saife Hassan Sahab and is written by Mustafa Afridi Sahab.
It is a story about four friends, their struggle and their journey. They all belong to different parts of the country. They have different family background along with different characteristics and values. But their bond is extremely strong. There is understanding, fun, love and responsibility for each other. Apart from this, every persona of all these incredible women in the cast is meaningful and there is a proper reasoning behind every character. Zara Noor abbas is paired along Osman Khalid Butt, Alizeh Ali Shah with Ahad Raza Mir and Hajra is playing against Wahaj Ali. Wahaj says, “I am sure the message we want to deliver through this screenplay is meaningfully important as well as an easily conveyable idea for which the drama is being shot. We all are super excited to see the modern age plot and story-line of an army life and we also wish the cast a very Good-luck for their drama.
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