While we were expecting to see television’s fresh catch – Zara Noor Abbas – as Shabbo in Parey Hut Love (PHL) on Eid-ul-Azha, it comes as a surprise when Wajahat Rauf announced that Mehwish Hayat and Zara Noor Abbas will be seen in his forthcoming untitled feature film which is supposedly a romantic comedy.
Speaking exclusively to Something Haute, Zara Noor Abbas tried to keep it all hush-hush as she was reticent to disclose more about Wajahat’s project. What we know for sure is that she is paired opposite her husband, Asad Siddiqui.
“I had certain preconceived notions about a husband and wife working on the same project. I expected that arguments and banters are bound to happen when partners work together as you tend to act like a husband and wife rather than co-actors. Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t like that at all. Asad and I are so comfortable with each other on sets,” Zara said.
“I am more of a prankster on sets and he is not. Asad told me that we are seeing a new side of each other. It’s so funny because we have been married for a year and we had no clue how each of us behave at work. We joke and tease that ‘ye unprofessionalism nahi chalega ya makeup pe bohat time le rhe ho’ [This unprofessionalism will not work or your makeup is taking too much time],” she said.
Wajahat’s film happened right in between when she was shooting for PHL. Which film will be her debut is still under wraps as it is not clear yet when Wajahat Rauf is planning to release his film.
“I always tell everyone that I have learnt everything from Asim Raza’s school as I have worked with him first. Asim and Wajahat are on a completely different scale as directors, but both of them are highly professional,” Zara shared.
Talking about why she opted for a supporting role in PHL, Zara has a different take on choosing scripts.
“My role in Wajahat’s film is very different from what I have done as Shabbo in Parey Hut Love. People in our industry hesitate to take supporting roles, but I think the only pre-requisite is that a role has to be well-written. I recently saw Gully Boy and look at Kalki Koechlin’s character in it; she wasn’t playing the lead but she was so impressive. International actors see beyond these concepts. They want a character who takes the story forward and perform in a way that people will remember it. That is why Indian cinema is strong because they take good actors in every role,” Zara said.
Another significant reason was to break the monotony of characters that Zara has played in dramas so far.
“At this point in time in my career, I really want to get out of that ‘damsel in distress’ persona that I have been playing again and again. Khamoshi was a hit and I appreciate it, but I have done the same character over and over again in the other two dramas. So, my arc was identical in all of them. I am not growing as an actor,” she said.
The actress, like her husband, also wants to explore the digital world of web-series. “It would be interesting to work on a story with only 12 episodes, rather than at least 24 episodes that we shoot for a drama,” she said.
This led us to talk about Deewar e Shab, Zara’s next drama serial in which Bushra Ansari will be playing the role of her mother and Asma Abbas will be essaying the role of her maternal aunt. (Indeed a confusing role reversal!)
“I am playing a courtesan who sings and dances in mehfil. They are artistes, but the neighbourhood condescendingly calls them ‘ganay bajanay wali aurtein’. I had to work on my dialogue delivery as it needed a musical tone, so it was a different learning curve altogether,” the actress shared.
How was it working with her mother and aunt in a drama?
“I felt like I was at home. Khala baal sahi kr rhi hein, Amma dupatta sahi kr hein… I was their center of attention on sets. I felt embarrassed that people will think that Zara is behaving like a star. Though it was important to work with such exceptional actors, but I have realized that they love me overwhelmingly,” Zara added.
Moving forward to the buzzword of current times i.e. nepotism, Zara thinks that only talent survives in the entertainment industry.
“Sajal and Iqra don’t have any backgrounds, yet they have made it big on sheer basis of their talent. The only advantage I have as an insider is that I have access to the right people through my mother and khala. However, as a result directors/producers will meet you nicely or invite you to social gatherings, but you will only get work if you’re capable of performing. I have a privilege in comparison to girls who are struggling to get the first opportunity, but it will only take you so far,” Zara said.
A graduate from Beaconhouse National University, Zara has studied filmmaking, film design and theatre as a minor subject too. However, she believes that the craft of acting is inborn. “Intelligence and academics are two different things. Academic knowledge will help you understand the technicalities of the craft but you have to be smart enough to use theoretical concepts for practical purposes,” Zara said.