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3 Oct

Sajal Aly talks about Sassi

Sassi’s got sass. That’s what anyone who’s watched O Rangreza will be able to confirm. Sassi is a character that has a mind of her own and you’d generally expect that individuality of any human being, except Sassi isn’t your average girl and ‘average’ is unfortunately the yardstick by which most girls are characterized on television. She idolizes her father until she sees the hypocrisy by which he lives by and once she realizes how flawed he is she makes no bones about expressing her disgust to him. Sassi is fearless, whether it involves stepping out of the house in search of her dream to become an actress, dancing in a mehfil hosted by her father (without telling him, much to his shock) or jumping off the roof to detract a potential suitor.

Sassi’s sass is her fatal flaw and one does expect this heroine to fall to a tragic end but to see her get there is fascinating because she’s been embodied so perfectly by Sajal Aly, undoubtedly one of the most talented actresses of the day. So far one had seen Sajal portray the average girl – albeit perfectly – in plays like Gul e Rana or movies like Zindagi Kitnee Haseen Hai and Mom, her Bollywood debut, but in O Rangreza she allows her skills to take off on a completely different level.

Do you think that girls like Sassi, who are totally reckless and fearless, exist in our society I asked her?

“People of all sorts live in our society; all kinds of girls exist from the bravest to the cowardly, rebels to complete submitters,” she replied. “Humans are instinctively unique. Life is a track travelled in a million paths, each by an individual only once. What the majority does is considered ‘sane’ hence appearing and accepted in mainstream. Meanwhile we choose to ignore, for our own comfort, all those who don’t fall on common ground.”

How difficult was it to prepare for Sassi’s character? How did she research for her character? Were there any real life or fictional people that inspired her?

“Independent women exist in our society in abundance,” she replied. “We don’t need to find them because they are all there in front of us all the time, from the maid that works in our homes to the super stars on our TV screens, from a lady constable to the Prime Minister of our country, they are all there. Urdu literature is full of these strong headed female characters. Read Manto, read the character of Shehzad in Mumtaz Mufti’s Ali Pur Ka Aili or watch Tanhayian and Ankahi and you’ll see these fearless women everywhere. Even our Punjabi cinema is full of strong and powerful female characters.

The only problem is that as a society we are afraid of a woman that challenges the norms, no matter how decadent those norms are. We easily judge them as ‘bad or fallen women’ to justify our egos.”

Do you think girls like Sassi can ever have a happy ending?

“Happiness is relative and something that gives one person utter happiness cannot even get the attention of the other one. In our society getting married at the end or finding the love of one’s life is considered as a ‘Happy Ending’. By those standards no, she can’t have a happy ending. Independent women are never accepted as happy beings.

Sassi will find utter peace in the end though…”

 

Aamna Haider Isani

The author is Editor-in-Chief at Something Haute as well as Editor at Instep, The News. Full time writer, critic with a love for words and an intolerance for typos.