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The star of Suno Chanda – Farhan Saeed

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We got the chance to sit one on one with esteemed actor and musician, Farhan Saeed, to get to know more about his journey through the silver screens to fame!

Given your character has been a huge hit in Suno Chanda previously , what are you expecting from it this year?
Honestly there aren’t any expectations like there weren’t any last season. We tried to give our best and that’s what we are aiming to do this year as well. I’m loving the response we’ve been getting. All I can do for that is thank God and thank the fans. As an actor when you’re on set it would be limiting yourself if you keep expectations. Just play each delivery on its merit, that’s what I’ve learned all my life. That’s what I’m applying here too. I’m very thankful for the appreciation Arsal has received. 

What are the things common between Arsal and Farhan Saeed? 

I think it’s only the sense of humor that we have in common. The challenge is that there are some values important to Arsal but not to Farhan Saeed at all, but when you go on set you leave your own personality at home and follow the script to the best of your ability.

How is Arsal different in season 2 as compared to last year?
Arsal is no different. The situation is different. The two young people who were not sure if they could be together are married now and they’re still learning to live with that. It’s the story of two people who are egoistic and headstrong. One is career oriented, one if family oriented. They’re hardliners in their own regards and that has made the overall dynamic different this season. Only time will tell if they are able to wrap their heads around the new challenges. 

What was the most challenging part of this season’s Suno Chanda? 
Going back into a character isn’t easy. Very early in my acting career I’ve had the chance to revisit a character in a second season, that’s not very common around here. The first few days you take to re-familiarize yourself with his vibe and thankfully I grew back into it after the first few days.

Since season 1 there must have been great expectations to live up to, how did you cope with the pressure?

There was a lot of pressure because last year we didn’t see this coming at all. Season 2 was not really a plan. But the sensational success made us do it and that brought some pressure with it. But the only way to cope is to remain focused at the script in front of you and make sure you give it your full, consistently.

Your character has become a fan favorite. What is the best and worst thing about Arsal?
What I like about him is that despite seeming manipulative and rude, he doesn’t have it in him to break anyone’s heart and deliberately bring pain to someone. He’s a family guy, his values on family bonds is my favorite thing about him. 

Who is your favourite costar to work with?
Iqra, DJ, Nadia Afghan. Action reaction game is very strong with these actors due to great chemistry and that makes it so much fun to work with them.

Could you tell us about your future projects?
Tich Button my first feature film is coming and a couple of drama serials and singles are on their way too. I love my fans and their appreciation too much, so I am going to keep taking everything forward together. 

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Stepping into a Refreshing Lifestyle with Bisha Shabir

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Being one of the popular forms of exercise, yoga focuses on breathing, strength, and flexibility. It has innumerable physical and mental health benefits. Since 2012, the percentage of people practicing yoga has increased to a good number in adults as well as children. It encourages to exercise more, inspires to eat more healthfully, improves sleep quality and reduces stress levels.
In the time of this deadly pandemic, we all are staying home and searching for healthy outlets to survive. Through general research, it has been established that “yoga” is one of the trending activities that people are opting for in this situation to stay positive. Different experts are conducting online yoga classes and Bisha Shabir is one of them. She is the founder of a yoga studio called “The Yoga Wall”. Her tips are as interesting as her sessions to pull through this time in a productive and refreshing way.
We had a short conversation with the yogi and she definitely has important points to share.
Tell us about yourself? 
I first started practicing yoga in 2002 and taught for the first time in 2011; since my first class, yoga has always been a way for me to create greater physical space and emotional awareness in my body.
The joy I feel from teaching comes from being able to deconstruct physical postures and theories (traditional/contemporary) in a way to make them accessible to everyone. Yoga can look and feel so different to two individuals and it is empowering to understand what works for your body.  And that for me, is the foundation of self-healing.
I have studied anatomy and biomechanics in the context of movement as well as diving into work through understanding the nervous system and mindfulness practices. All these help bridge the gap between mind and body. Everyone and I mean EVERYBODY can practice yoga. You just need to figure out what that may look like for you and through this, I hope to inspire my students to develop long-term, sustainable practices for better health. Concepts of mindful-movement and therapies of the like support the development of yoga on and off the mat.
As a teacher, I am registered with The worldwide Yoga Alliance (as an E-RYT 200, RYT 500 and YACEP) and credit my teachers Holly Warren (YogaLondon), Jason Crandall (Vinyasa Method), Judith Hanson Lasater (Restorative Yoga), Tara Brach (Mindfulness Meditation) and Eka Ekong (YogaWorks). I am also fortunate to have studied with and/or influenced greatly by the teachings of Tiffany Cruikshank, Corrie MaCullum, Andrew McGonagall, and Celest Perera.
What exactly is “The Yoga Well”? 
The Yoga Well supports my dream to see the individuals depend on their relationship with their inner selves through practices that promote connection to the physical self and awareness across mental states. The human experience is a closed-loop, with the players being the physical body, the nervous system/mental space and our external environment. Mindfulness (awareness-based practice) helps the circulation within the loop to move smoothly.
The studio plays host to yoga classes, courses, free talks and by the end of the year, Yoga teacher training!
When did you realize you wanted to be a yogi?
A coach of mine made a suggestion that I add yoga to my training; I was 16 at the time and like most, I had preconceived notions on what the practice looks like.
I remember falling in love with yoga in my first class; since then, my personal practice has evolved and been a great influence on the way I view the world.
Teaching was happenstance- I was asked to assist in a workshop and then shortly after cover a yoga class. After that, as they say, the rest is history.
How do you keep yourself motivated for yoga every day? 
After experimenting with different ways, I figured that I am motivated by choosing smaller, shorter practices. This may range from laying on my back with props for five minutes in the day to a stronger, hour-long session. I discovered that the more planning involved kept me from getting onto my mat. So I choose according to my mood at the moment; what is calling out to me that particular day. I do have one requirement though- that I do something for at least five minutes a day.

This has been my personal experience but not necessarily how others may work. Some individuals thrive by setting out a specific time each day to do something on their mat; others need guidance in a class setting that may motivate them to practice regularly.
“Yoga doesn’t help you lost weight” – Your views? 
I think weight loss through yoga is an individual experience but cannot be marketed widely. Weight loss through yoga may be a by-product for some individuals but it is not guaranteed for all; burning fat is a metabolic process and while some people’s fat-loss is supported through a yoga practice, they are likely making other lifestyle changes to facilitate it.
I believe that yoga should not be approached as a means to influence the physical shape/outline/body fat percentage but to better understand what your mental habits are, how you move and how all of it reflects in your overall lifestyle.
It is important for me to reiterate here that yoga is a practice for the mind more than the body. Working in a physical way is a resource and tool to prepare the mind space.
Depression is home to the empty mind, what do you suggest for working women\men to do while working from home? 
I encourage everyone I meet to take some time to develop a short mediation practice every day. It takes five minutes to sit and notice your surroundings, eventually resting the attention on the breath to get you in the habit of meditating regularly. There are many helpful phone apps that can set you up!
5 general steps to stay away from depression these days? 
– Movement of any kind: yoga, training, running, climbing stairs, whatever gets your muscles moving. Remember to start small!
– Talk to people! Social engagement is important; it stimulates a safety response in our nervous system; thus alleviating stress and anxiety from being in self-isolation.
– Eat nutritious food; healthier food boosts your immune system, keeping your energy levels (and your mental state) balanced
– Take a pause every now and then. Just a minute or two to connect to your breath. Notice what it’s like. It’s depth; how it makes you feel. Is it full? Shallow? No matter what the reasons may be, simply notice what the breath FEELS like.
–  Similar to the breath practice, it helps to journal your thoughts a few minutes a day. Write about ANYTHING that comes to mind.
Are energies real? Do they really affect us?
You’ve probably heard the statement “your vibe attracts your tribe.” 
What we as humans project out energetically is what you bring back to ourselves. If you view the world through a guarded filter, you in effect, bring more of guarded energy to your life. If you view the world through the lens of understanding, compassion, you can better respond to challenges that arise.
How important is it to introduce physical activities in our routine in the current situation? 

There is an anatomical principle: “if you don’t use it, you lose it;” It’s super important for our muscle and mind memory to continue working, even from home. 
Movement and brain health are interconnected; doing something every day can reduce a feeling of restlessness. Our landscapes have changed drastically and the mind is still trying to catch up. By moving, you can bring back familiarity to your routine.
What has been your favorite spot in the north where you love performing yoga? 
I can’t choose one spot but I’ve had the pleasure of practicing outdoors in spaces with minimal human intervention. There is a certain peace and joy from being in an open space.
What are the 5 yoga poses that can help reduce stress and should be incorporated in daily routine?
1. Savasana (Corpse Pose)!
 It’s usually the last and final rest pose we practice in all yoga classes. A little tip though, you can practice Savasana on its own too! I teach restorative classes that only focus on different shapes of this pose and it’s incredibly grounding and stimulates a healing response in your body. It’s also very simple to do!
2. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
 Downward Facing Dog is incredibly therapeutic. It energizes the body through strength as well as stretches bigger sets of muscles.
3. Viparita Karani (Legs up the wall) 
Laying on your back with your legs elevated is deeply relaxing and soothes the nervous system. Great for those who have trouble sleeping.
4. Set Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge pose- best with props) 
Laying in the bridge, with support under your sacrum is quite comforting, You can add some stretch by straightening your legs forward.
5. Balasana (Child’s pose): 
Again, a passive pose to help you slide inward.

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In Conversation with the Heartthrob; Usman Mukhtar.

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We all have been drooling over this IT couple of Altamash and Izzah. Now that Anaa has come to an end, we got a chance to talk to Usman about his character, his upcoming projects, his take on harassment and women empowerment and that’s what we found out.

How is Usman in real life? Is he just like Altamash or totally opposite to him? 

I’m not like Altamash in real life, but I’m not totally opposite to him. Altamash is always dressed up, I’m not. I’m very comfortable wearing my shorts and my T-shirt, I love dressing up casually. Altamash is a big businessman, I’m not. I’m a struggling actor. He’s very serious; I’m not that serious in real life. There are not a lot of similarities between me and Altamash.

According to you, what is wrong with directions and directors these days? 

I feel like directors here don’t direct the actor, that’s one thing that they need to do. They need to work with the actors. Directors here think they can just sit on a chair, speak on the big microphone the word “ACTION!” and everything is going to take care of itself, that’s not how it works. Especially in advertisements, I think the director of photography is considered the director. Having said that, there are also some good directors in Pakistan as well but yes the director is basically the captain of the ship, he needs to be involved in everything from the sound design to costume design to the set design and also he needs to work with the actors and help the actors which unfortunately most directors here don’t do.

Name one movie that you think would have been better had it been directed by you.

I don’t think I would have done a better job at directing it but I would have really liked to direct Laal Kabootar, that’s the kind of genre I would like to direct but again I’m in no way saying that I would have directed it better. Kamal has done an amazing job and I really respect him as a director.

If it wasn’t acting or directing, what would have been your choice? 

Well, my grandfather wanted me to become a lawyer and I wanted to become a cricketer. So either or.

we saw someone calling you “JOEY”, how true is that statement?

Yes, my friends call me JOEY, which is based on Joey Tribbiani from the television series “Friends”, because I have eating habits like Joey. I love food and I don’t share my food, I get really possessive about my food and I get really pissed off if somebody takes food from my plate.

Movies or Dramas, what would you prefer? 

In an ideal world, I would love to do movies but right now the movies that the Pakistani film industry is producing does not have that standard and the audience has not been developed. There’s a lot that needs to happen in the film industry. Stories and script writers are very amateur, and sound is not up to par. So right now, I’d like to do dramas. If a good script comes my way I’d love to do it.

Cheesiest fan moment? 

It’s not a cheesiest moment but a bit scary and creepy. Somebody dropped off a letter at my house and that letter started off with “Usman, I have been stalking you” so I don’t know if it’s cheesiest but I’m sure it’s very creepy.

One male and female actor that you really look forward to work with? 

I think Bilal Abbas and Imran Ashraf are great actors and I would love to work with them because you feed off each other’s energy and if you have a great performer in front of you, you can also give a decent performance so I’d love to work with them. In females, I think Sajal Ali is a great actor and so is Sanam Saeed, they both are amazing actors and I would love to work with either one of them.

 

Any drama from the past that you would have loved working in? 

Yes. Yes. Yes. There are two dramas that I would have loved working in. One of them is Dhoop Kinaray and the other one is Alpha Bravo Charlie.

After researching a lot, we still couldn’t find your relationship status. Would you like to comment on it? 

It’s complicated, that’s all I can say.

Define feminism from your perspective. 

 

From my perspective, I think anything that a man does; a woman should be allowed to do as well and anything that a man is not allowed to do, a woman shouldn’t be allowed to do it either. We need to be equals and we are equals as human beings and I’m a strict believer of equality and that is feminism to me.

What’s your take on sexual harassment in media/entertainment industry. 

 

I think sexual harassment is a very serious issue and I think a lot of women go through that and it is the most horrible thing to go through. But, I also feel that we very blindly believe anybody and everybody and that shouldn’t happen. I think there needs to be a strict check and balance that if somebody is saying something it needs to be credible. I know it’s a little difficult but there are a lot of spiteful people out there and also there are a lot of sleazeballs and creepy people out there who harass women but I do feel there needs to be a strict check and balance.

What’s the reason/idea behind your witty captions? (Even if it doesn’t make sense to you, say something about that) 

I don’t like putting quotes under my pictures, I like to believe I’m a funny person so I tend to write a caption that is funny and bring a smile to my followers, that’s why.

Tell us about your future projects? 

I cannot tell you about my future projects right now but some interesting stuff is coming up so please hold your horses and be patient with me.

One person you secretly stalk on Insta but don’t follow?

If I like somebody I follow them, I don’t stalk people. I mean yes I do, I stalk the people I follow and it’s not stalking you just go through their profile but I don’t really stalk people I don’t follow.

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A confab with Amar Khan, as an actress

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The incredibly talented, multi-faceted, and gorgeous Amar Khan has become a distinguished figure in the entertainment industry with the remarkably unconventional and diverse characters she has played. Her roles in dramas like Bela pur ki daayan, and Ghughi have won acclaim from critics and audiences, alike. Amar started off her journey with a degree in filmmaking, and is now establishing herself as an actress, director, and a writer.

We decided to have a chit-chat with Amar Khan exclusively, to get a better insight into her life as an artist, and her journey so far.

What was the point in your life that instigated you to choose this career, as there aren’t even many acting schools in Pakistan?

“Ever since I was a kid, I was a big film buff, and I always extensively watched films. When I completed my A levels, that is when I decided that I seriously want to pursue this career and I wanted to do filmmaking. So, I attended a film school, and after my bachelor’s in filmmaking, I went abroad to specialize further. I think, the urge was always there to learn about this profession and then pursue it.

And obviously, my mother is one of the actresses who have been working in the field since there was PTV only, so I think it was in the genes as well.”

You’re known for always playing unconventional roles, especially the one in “Bela pur ki daayan”. Most people would shy away from playing a “daayan”. What is your reason behind choosing such characters?

“I think I have always enjoyed performing challenging characters. I have never really liked playing the damsel-in-distress, tear-jerking roles. And I think people identify with that persona of mine. If the script is thrilling and it demands me to perform in a different, unconventional demeanor, I always prioritize doing that. And I believe that even the audience enjoys seeing me play such characters, rather than typical ones.”

You made your writing debut with “Chashm e Nam”. What inspired you to write that script? And which is the one you would pick if you had to, acting or writing?

“I made my writing, acting, and my directorial debut through “Chashm e Nam, which aired on Hum TV. And I think even if I had to choose between writing and acting, I wouldn’t want to pick just one. Because there are so many people in the industry, like Woody Allen and Meryl Streep, who are multi-taskers and do all of these things together and do it really well. I think, all three, acting, directing, and writing, are interlinked as they all are a means of storytelling. And I love all three of them!”

You were born in Lahore, and now you are living in Karachi; how different do you find the two cities, in terms of work?

“I think, Karachi, in terms of work, is very proficient, very professional, and very on-time! Unfortunately. I haven’t worked in Lahore, because there isn’t any work there. So, they are two very different cities; one city I am very emotionally connected with, having spent my entire life there, with all my friends and my family. So, all my memories are from Lahore; I am a Punjabi, a Lahori. And then, coming here and adjusting according to the Karachi, city environment was lovely. Lovely experience in both the cities!”

You have worked in both, films and dramas. Which is your favorite?

“I think, I enjoy all the mediums. When I was in my film-school, I also did theatre; so, I love doing theatre as well. As an actor, you explore so many other avenues, and you think more. So, I enjoy all the domains, because you are performing and telling a narrative as well. Whatever medium is offered to you, you should just go on and see how it goes along with you.”

Tell us about the best compliment you have ever received.

“The best compliment that I have always received is about my rich, beautiful hair. People always compliment me about hair, and that again comes from my mother. Even today, she has the best, the thickest, the most shiny hair; so, I think that’s in the DNA!”

Amar seemed overwhelmed and admitted that she enjoys all the attention and the love that her fans shower on her, even the long paragraphs she receives on her Instagram! She emphasized that being a public figure who is active on social media, one often has to deal with trolls. However, she feels that when people appreciate her work and are kind to her, she can always ignore the negative ones, and had a message for the trolls to be kind and ethical, instead of demoralizing people.

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