After Nanhi and Chup Raho it was all down the lane of incredible success for this younggun. Her confidence and presence on screen, to her way of delivering dialogues with a flawless flow, not only did she rule the television charts. But also won hearts of a million viewers admiring her. The multifaceted actress is all set for her film debut with Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai opposite Feroze Khan. And as I speak to her in a candid conversation, I present to you the powerhouse of talent, Sajal Aly!
PakiUM: So first of all what are your current lineup of projects, what’s coming up for Sajal Aly?
Sajal Aly: Right now I’m shooting for my debut film called Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai opposite Feroze Khan and directed by Anjum Shehzad. It’s scheduled for an Eid-ul-Fitar release. Besides that I did a serial called Mera Yaar Mila Dey, again directed by Anjum under the banner of Big Bang productions. I am working alongside Faysal Quraishi and Ahmed Ali of Karachi Se Lahore fame. This will most probably air in April. After that I intend to take a 6 to 7 months break, that I truly deserved!
PakiUM: How was your experience with the film and what sort of a character will we see you portraying?
SA: Well the film is an intense love story. I play the character of a girl who evolves as the film proceeds. My experience was great, I’ve done a lot of dramas, but I was frightened when I started shooting. It was after all a ‘film’. The way you deliver your dialogues or your expressions, everything needs to be perfect as the big screen can’t lie or hide anything. You’re answerable for everything that you do. Anjum gave us the much needed space and created a very comfortable environment to work in, which really helped us give our best. Hope for the best now!
PakiUM: How do you think your film would prove to be different from the ordinary and how did you know this was the right option for your film debut?
SA: I think I’m ready to portray anything as long as I stay inside the boundary that I have created and I believe there’s a lot that can be done even then. The film has a song where I dance as well but there’s nothing over the top. If I’m offered with anything different and something ‘hatt ke’ from the ordinary, where I have a margin for performance. Whether it’s a drama or film. I haven’t and won’t ever hesitate in taking up that project.
PakiUM: Amongst all the projects that you’ve done, which one has been your personal favourite and why?
SA: Well I have a lot of favourites but Sannata was a serial where I had a very different character. On top of that I don’t know why, but I effortlessly portrayed that. And of course Nanhi changed my career. People actually started expecting something from me after that. Chup Raho is again a project very close to me. Finally, my current on air serial Gul-e-Rana. The character I portray is different from the usual hopeless women we see in serials, she knows how to take a stand for herself and that’s what I love about her. But I still believe I have to do a lot more of quality work. A lot is yet to be done!
PakiUM: You’ve mostly done hardcore feminist characters, how does it feel when you do such powerful projects?
SA: To be very honest, it feels beyond great. People see you in the same way otherwise as well! When I meet people, they actually believe that I can take a stand for women and I can do something for them. And I think viewers mostly relate and accept my work. I really don’t know if it’s the script or the way I act but they actually believe all of it is real and it feels nothing short of amazing!
PakiUM: As you mentioned earlier that you’ll be on a break after your current projects, what are you plans after that?
SA: I just completed my second year as I moved from Lahore to Karachi and half of my studies took place there. So I might go abroad for higher education. You cannot gain a lot of exposure in Pakistan, so maybe that’s next for me. As far as acting projects are concerned, if anything worth the while comes up I would love to do another project, there’s no question about that.
PakiUM: Is Bollywood or any other international project on the cards for you?
SA: Well I have received a couple of offers but none of them really attracted me. And before I sign any project there I need to know why they are casting me, I need to know whether the role that I’m offered is a filler or actually has importance in the film. And they need to know that I’m already a known artist here and people like my work. I’m not desperate for Bollywood!
Even if I do a film there, I need to know that will I have the same dignity and self-respect. I’m not only going to be there myself but I’ll represent my industry and I won’t do anything that I would or my country would regret at. I think Fawad and Mahira Khan are reflecting the talent of our industry in the best possible manner and if I get such an opportunity, I’d more than love to!
PakiUM: So have you watched any of the films that Pakistan has recently produced, which one is your favourite?
SA: I watched Bin Roye, Wrong Number, tad bits of Karachi Se Lahore. But I am a true fan of Jawani Phir Nahi Ani, it genuinely made me laugh and there wasn’t any dull moment throughout. I liked all of them to be honest, but above all I noticed that if these films are first attempts of everybody involved, then gradually things will get better. Scripts will improve, actors would know what the cinematic requirement is, filmmakers would know their craft. Local cinema has revived and I’m happy to see the growth of it with every step that it takes.
PakiUM: The jump from dramas to films is usually quite challenging and risk, what did you keep in mind while shooting for your debut film?
SA: We have a small industry, so the actors who work in dramas would ultimately venture into films. Only the ones with an overall package would survive and they can latter get choosy about work as well. But I never thought of it that way, I rather focused on my character and its personality. I don’t know how all of it works until the camera rolls. I can’t decide anything before I’m on the set. I was definitely more careful about the way I performed, but only the audience can tell what they thought of my work and as I said, I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
PakiUM: On the ending note, what would be your message to the PakiUM followers?
SA: I’d just like to say that please support Pakistani film industry, films have started being made and they will slowly improve themselves with error and trial. Educated people are coming forward and trying their hand at it and we really need our viewers to support us right now for a brighter future!
By Ahmed Sarym