Sara, Hareem all set for PISA in Dubai

Hareem Farooq, Sara Loren, Pakistan International Screen Awards, Dubai
Sara Loren and Hareem Farooq at the Khaleej Times office

Actresses lauded the Pakistan International Screen Awards to be held in Dubai this weekend as they dropped into the Khaleej Times office for a chat

By Enid Parker

Published: Sun 2 Feb 2020, 5:16 PM

Last updated: Tue 4 Feb 2020, 6:40 PM

The upcoming Pakistan International Screen Awards is a grand celebration of contemporary arts and culture from Pakistan, including films, television, fashion, music and more, and will be attended by popular industry figures like Mahira Khan, Javed Sheikh, and Ali Zafar, among many others. An esteemed panel of jury members will pick the winners in the critics' choice categories whilst other categories are voted for by the public.
Ahead of attending the highly anticipated event at the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai on Friday, February 7, actresses Hareem Farooq and Sara Loren dropped into the Khaleej Times office, for a light-hearted interaction, dazzling us with their charm, wit and style.
Hareem, the pretty and poised star of films like Parchi and Dobara Phir Se, expressed delight at her romantic comedy Heer Maan Ja being nominated for five awards at PISA, including a leading actress nod for her.
"It feels great. I'm absolutely humbled. It's always good to be recognised for your work, nobody can deny that. Do I win or do I not win? That's not in my hands, Allah knows better. But there is happiness, and I hope I win! I congratulate all the other nominees as well."
What does she think it was about Heer Maan Ja that struck such a chord with audiences?
"When we conceived Heer Maan Ja we were very conscious about the fact that it needs to be something that the Pakistani audience, the masses, can relate to - the jokes, the situations, the relationships. Unfortunately, while very good films are being made, they fall into two extreme categories that cater to either the elite class or the lower class. There was something in the middle that wasn't being filled. So we were really conscious of the fact that the film had to be for everyone. For us the biggest achievement was (I used to hide and watch reactions from cinema-goers...) that people would laugh with the actors, with the situations and cry with the actors, and with the situations. There's nothing better than that!"
She said she had many favourites amongst the PISA nominees. "All of them are talented and have done great job over the past year but my favourites are Ahmed Ali Akbar, Osman Khalid Butt, Ali Rehman, Zara Noor Abbas and Meera."

No shortage of entertainment
Dubai-based Sara revealed she is practising a special dance number for PISA, which features a mix of original Pakistani music as well as film songs and Punjabi numbers.
"I think it's wonderful (to be part of these awards). I have prepared a very interesting performance for my fans. It's a very special segment at PISA. So I'm looking forward to it and am very excited about it."
Both Hareem and Sara endeared themselves to us with their banter throughout the interview, with Hareem all praise for Sara's upcoming performance at PISA. "I can vouch for her performance and I don't want to reveal a lot but I can say it's going to be the highlight of the event," she said, adding that there will be a performance by her as well, and there would be no shortage of entertainment, fun and masala at the awards.

'Actors shouldn't restrict themselves'
Hareem who has worked across mediums, in Pakistani theatre (she began her career with the play Pawnay in 2012), films as well as television, spoke of her passion for acting. "For me, acting is one of the most sacred things. I love acting. Be it theatre, TV or films, the platform doesn't make a difference for me. The story, character and script does. Every platform comes with different dynamics and with every project that you do, you keep on learning, you keep on growing. I believe actors shouldn't restrict themselves to a certain medium. I've been lucky. I'm grateful that I've had the opportunity to experience all three categories. Let's see if a fourth one pops up!"
Sara who has starred in Bollywood films like Murder 3 and Kajraare and is all set for her "Pakistani film debut", spoke about straddling both Lollywood and Bollywood. "As an actor it's very important to explore. For me India and Pakistan are both like home and very close to my heart, as my father is from India and my mother is from Pakistan. By working in Bollywood you get more experience and knowledge, I believe, from the kind of people you work with and when you come back, and do work in Pakistan, you can add a few things to your roles - a little more maturity, a different shade. I have done that, and I will be making my debut in the Pakistani film industry with Ishrat Made In China, which will release this year. So people are looking forward to that; it's a film which will see me do much better work."
Award shows are much more common now, in both Bollywood and Lollywood and at international venues, such as Dubai. How important are such shows, according to Hareem?
"It's very important for the Pakistani media industry and also a milestone in enhancing the international image of Pakistan. It's been a long time since we've had awards that celebrate the whole Pakistani media industry, not just film or drama. At the end of the day everyone is working for recognition. Appreciation matters. So awards are just a way to recognise the hard work you have done throughout the year. It's just like in school, how you work towards a certain degree, distinction or result. Everyone does that in life, no matter what profession you are in. So for us, in the acting profession, this is our 'result', for the entire year! Did the teachers like it? Did the public like it? Let's see. And added to that it's an excuse (for the acting community) to get together, be it anywhere in the world."
Sara added, "I think the performances, the glamour element, the red carpet, are all beautiful and everyone looks forward to such shows, especially the actors because that's the only platform where you actually get to be yourself! Being an actor, I'm just playing roles all the time. So sometimes you're like, where do I stand in all of this? But once you're on the red carpet, you're like, this is me!"

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