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In conversation with Hira Mani

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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! 

Entertainment

The Man Behind The Maestro

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan produces magical music and without a doubt he’s amongst the most sought-after world artists

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Famed Pakistani music maestros Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s producer and global manager Salman Ahmed has said that the 3 UK concerts had sold out completely showing the popularity of Pakistani artist across the South Asian communities.

Speaking to media, the veteran talent promoter and producer said that Rahat Fateh Ali Khan produces magical music and without a doubt he’s amongst the most sought-after world artists.

Salman Ahmed

Salman Ahmed has been managing Rahat Fateh Ali Khan for about 10 years. The music maestro was well known in Pakistan because of his strong vocal skills but Ahmed turned around everything for the artist and had made him a household name in millions of homes in South Asia and beyond. Three months ago, the University of Oxford awarded the music doctorate degree to Khan – a huge personal honour for the musician and for his country of origin.

“When I look back to nearly a decade long association with the maestro, I must admit that what a journey it has been on a global platform, cities across Vancouver all the way to Auckland. Achievements like the Noble Peace Prize Performance conceptualisation, United Nations, Music Room at the Oxford University, Honorary Doctorate for the maestro and hundreds of concerts all over the world. Thank you to all our associates, promoters and most importantly to my PME family who has made this happened with their devotion. I especially thank to our families, who have sacrificed the most perhaps and to all the audiences who have attended our concerts in huge numbers.”

Salman Ahmed said that credit for the success of Khan goes to his entire team who worked hard throughout the year on the shows and on the brand of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

“Behind every show, there’s sweat, blood and toll. We work hard all the time to maintain the highest of standards in what we promise and produce. Ustad Rahat performs for a few hours on the stage but thousands of hours of hard work are invested in the production of his shows and that hard work has worked to make him a mega hit. As a way of example, for our concerts starting this weekend at Wembley Arena more than 35 band members will be touring with the singer. There is a team separately working in an international office here in London on logistics, concepts, arrangements, production and marketing. Once these shows are over, we will start working on the next round of events. There is no break.”

In North America, due to India and Pakistan tensions at the government level, Salman Ahmed accepted that attendance at Rahat’s shows was slightly less, however he clarified that all the UK concerts were sold out. “You cannot deny that Rahat is loved by Indians, Pakistanis and other ‘Urdu-understanding’ communities. There is no alternative to him.”

Salaman Ahmed is one of the most experienced Asian art promoters, who has been in the field of entertainment from the age of 16 and started his business in London in 1987. By playing a big role in music maestro Rahat’s international success, he has now known as a global promoter and music producer. His alliance with the showbiz commenced some 32 years ago when he started organizing Bhangra nights and small British Asian concerts when British Asian singers had started making their mark. There was no social media and no Asian channels around. The BBC covered one of Salman’s first concerts at that time with a report to showcase how the second generation of British Asians was growing with a fusion of British and Asian culture. Salman was then just a teenager.

So far Salman Ahmed has worked with some of the top Indian artists including, Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Sonu Nigham, Mika Singh as well.

“You should only do what you are good at. You can do excellence only in your job if you are devoted to it with full passion and commitment. I believe in total commitment and nothing else.”

Unlike the maverick ways of some, Ahmed believes in treating his clients as a product. “My clients are my products. I promote products in the market. We invest in our products. We take risks and we inject our life into our products to make them a phenomenal success,” said Salman Ahmed acknowledging that Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan has been the biggest hit for him as a producer.

He says he believes in promoting Pakistani talent before the world and for Rahat’s London shows he is introducing around a dozen Pakistani musicians for the first time. “These are young, educated and dynamic musicians who have been playing at the Basement Café and in the underground scene in Karachi and Lahore. They are doing an outstanding job. For the fusion part of Khan Saheb’s shows these musicians will be used. They will be performing in front of the international audience numbering in the thousands and this will bring a unique kind of confidence in them.”

Salman Ahmed said he was very excited about the latest round of shows because Ustad Rahat Ali Khan will be doing fusion, using instruments and sounds not tried before.

Salman Ahmed with Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

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Lightingale Records: Ali Zafar Launches Record Label for Youngsters

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Ali Zafar Plays harmonium in a winter sun

Ali Zafar needs no introduction when it comes to performing arts in sub continent. Started his career as sketch artist in late 90s and then came as an actor and finally a vocalist with outstanding skills, releasing numerous hit singles and albums Ali has always managed to keep his job stable and thriving even during the most difficult times of his life.
Considering music is his first love, Ali Zafar has recently announced his record label, Lightingale Records, under which he aims to promote new musicians and artists.

Lightingale Records

Lightingale Records Logo

In his recent instagram post, Ali explaining the reason of starting this label, said, “Our land is ripe with talent waiting for the slightest of opportunity to flourish. However, due to lack of understanding of the importance of the Arts and Humanities in our society, we have been unable to develop a culture where talent can be nurtured, groomed and guided to reach its true potential, nor build an industry.”
He further said, “During all these years as a performing artist, I have had the great fortune of learning about different aspects of the music industry. As artists or human beings in general, we are intrinsically prone to become self-indulgent or internally focused, but that is the mistake that most of us make. I feel the only thing that carries on beyond our existence, is the honesty in our work and the sincerity of our intentions. An artist leaves a legacy, and surely that should not just be about him or her. In an era where we are bombarded with tools that bring out the vanity in us, I think it’s important to see the beauty and talent in others and help them achieve their goals and dreams also. Become a part of their struggle and journey and help them in any way you can. As I said before – “you are not a star if you can’t shine for others.” Let’s shine for each other and share the light.”

At the end of the post, Ali announced the launching “Lightingale records” and said that through this endeavour; he would personally mentor, produce, record and showcase talent of young and upcoming artists.
He further explained that their goal is to bring to light at least 10 new artists this year and give people some great songs to cherish.
He also asked his fans and followers to share more ideas for his initiative, “If you have any ideas that can augment this venture, do share. Stay tuned.”

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Our Favorite Fashion Divas that have Evolved Over Time

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While reading the title, you must be thinking about the acting skills and how these ladies have made their name in the drama and film industry. But no, here we are talking about the fashion game of these actresses that have taken us all by surprise. Perking up their style statement and emerging as few of the finest actresses in terms of being glamorous and presentable, they have absolutely conquered the fashion world. 

These are our favorite Divas who have proved that working on oneself is never a selfish thing and this hard work can eventually help you in the long run.

 

Saboor Aly 

Starting from soaps and not so glamorous dramas, we never saw Saboor Aly dressing up as impressively as she does now. Probably, this is the social fashion awareness that some choose to pick and some don’t. And, we have to say that Saboor is doing quite well with her dress sense while earning a huge fan following at a great pace. She is one of those finest actresses who keep us hooked to their gram-game as something cool and happening just pops up out of nowhere anytime and any occasion.

 

Nausheen Shah 

Our fancy-pants; Nausheen Shah has instantly beefed up her fashion game and we cannot stop admiring her taste and style in whatever she wears. She has definitely come a long way. Also known for carrying bold statements just like in a recent awards show, her hairstyle was quite eccentric perfectly aligning with a blingy Hussain Rehar attire.

Sadia Ghaffar

Her vibrant tops, glowing face and quirky pants have got our attention and we, indisputably, give her the award of being the most stylish actress among the lot. This was never the scenario from the day she joined the Entertainment industry so, she came this far and has definitely grown into a woman who keeps herself up-to-date in every trend and fashion.

Iqra Aziz 

Our recent favorite bride, Iqra has polished herself over time and we love how effortlessly she carries every outfit in sheer grace and pizzazz. Recently, she has been appointed as the face of Al-Karam and this was all a result of gradual progress and immense effort she has put into building her powerful aura and strong-headed personality that beautifully harmonizes with her chic and classic sense of styling. 

Sonya Hussyn

 

If Sonya had a synonym, it would be the word “grace”. We love her for her impactful persona, the way she dresses up and the way she owns everything she wears with undying confidence. There are very few celebrities who have evolved to be steezy and sassy in a way that they know what they should actually wear. Unlike some who do not even know their body type. Sonya Hussyn proves that style is always within, you can improve with time but class remains constant.

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