Savera Nadeem is undoubtedly one of the best actresses of Pakistan, with quality drama serials, telefilms and series to her name, such as “Baji”, “Mera Sayeen”, “Ghuroor”, “Mera Yaqeen”, “Miley Kuch Youn”, “Bari Aapa”, “Qaid-e-Tanhai” and “Woh Chaar”. She is one of those few performers whose eyes are equally involved in the conveyance of feelings while delivering dialogues. Be it a dominating character, such as the one in “Meeras” or an abused character, the kind of which she performed in “Diya Jalay”, this actress makes us love and hate her in accordance with the given character’s traits. A music video by Haroon, “Dil Se” based on the emergence of Pakistan and the classical PTV drama serial, “Saawan” in which Savera played the role of a teenager’s beloved are among her most endeared works.
Savera Nadeem in "Saawan"
Recently, she also appeared in Sarmad Khoosat’s film “Manto”, playing the protagonist of the short story, “License” who turns into a prostitute from a cart-driver. Savera Nadeem’s latest works have been one episode from the series, “Kitni Girhein Baqi Hain” and one from the series, “Dhund”, in both of which she surprisingly played a murderess. I asked Savera a few questions, which are as follows along with their answers.
While I was interviewing Ali Tahir once, he said that we are not producing dramas which match the calibre of Sawera Nadeem’s acting. What is your own take on this statement?
(Laughs) Well, it would be arrogant of me to say so of myself, but I do feel at times that I am a little bit of a misfit and also ahead of my times. But that too is something that I do not feel all the time or for every project that I do.
We have usually seen you playing two kinds of characters, either influential ones such as in “Bari Aapa” and “Meeras”, or oppressed ones such as in “Qaid-e-Tanhai” and “Diya Jalay”. Which of the two kinds do you relate to?
I cannot say with certainty that I am either of them in rigid terms. I am one of those actors who feel the need to observe people around them and take inspiration. I do not consider myself a victim in any way but a strong person. Moreover, those characters which people think were victimized had various shades and layers. They had sensitivity, suffered from loneliness, and faced tragic experiences. I identified with those traits and that is something you must do as an actor. It is only when you identify with another person’s feelings that you are able to do justice to the given character.
Savera Nadeem in "Qaid-e-Tanhai"
You acted in some drama serials based on social issues in the start of your career such as “Inkaar” and “Janjaal Pura”. There were the PTV times when tabooed aspects had to be addressed in a very subtle manner and there are modern times in which we talk about a lot of issues very openly. Which style of addressing social issues do you adhere to?
I would prefer the subtle style. I do not like “in-your-face” messages. The blatant style of presenting issues is not creative and cannot be considered as entertainment. What happens when you repeat strong words is that the topic loses its significance and people start backing off instead of showing curiosity to receive important information. It is important to be bold about certain things but there are other platforms for that, such as talk-shows or reality-programmes. You must be explicit on these platforms and present things as they are. But as far as drama and film are concerned, one has to be subtle considering that both are art forms requiring creativity.
You acted in a drama serial, “Kaisa Yeh Junoon” which was written by Haseena Moin. It is a serial that was written by Moin in her old-age and does not belong to her peak-time in which she produced blockbusters like “Dhoop Kinare” and “Tanhaiyaan”. Did you find the script of “Kaisa Yeh Junoon” as strong as Haseena Moin’s old dramas?
Certainly! “Kaisa Yeh Junoon” was very different from the kind of stories Haseena Moin had been writing before; light-hearted romantic comedies. This serial was intense and she did a wonderful job. The character was quite complex which I really enjoyed doing. The credit for its fine execution also goes to Raana Sheikh, the director of “Kaisa Yeh Junoon”.
Your drama serial, “The Ghost” was adapted from an English novel. “Janjaal Pura” had initially been performed as a theatre play, and your character from the film, “Manto” was based on a short story by Saadat Hassan Manto. Do you read the original writings when you are given such roles in order to see how the writer actually conceived the character?
Yes. While doing all of these projects, I went through the original writings. Every actor has his or her own way of perceiving characters and this is something not necessary. But I follow this technique and revisit the original versions of adapted writings. I feel more confident when I acquaint myself with the background of the story. It results in the expansion of your perspective.
Savera Nadeem in "Manto"
You have been a director as well. Tell us something about your directorial works.
The time during which I was directing was the golden time of my life. I would also produce works and if required, act as well. So, I was performing multiple tasks in those days. I was single back then and did not have other responsibilities to fulfil, so I would work only and stay engrossed in it with passion and dedication. My first directorial project was a telefilm called “Kal” which also got selected for screening at Kara Film Festival. It starred Ali Tahir who often used to be a part of my projects, for I really admire his acting. Then I did “Ghar” which was a play divided into two parts casting Nadia Afgan, Mandana Zaidi and Ali Tahir. Then I made a telefilm after coming to Karachi which was called “Shanakht”. I did a lot of experimentation in “Shanakht” and directed and edited it in an entirely unique manner. My assistant director used to get fearful whether it would turn out to be a successful work or not. But everything turned out to be perfect and in accordance with our plan. It happens to be my personal favourite, also owing to its mystery genre for which I hold a predilection. I made a number of short works in Lahore, for the city and its beauty would inspire me a lot back in those days.
You have worked a lot with Ali Tahir in both your acting and directorial works, such as “Kal”, “Ghar”, “Diya”, “Ghuroor” and “Pankh”. What is it that inspires you about his work?
Ali Tahir is a very blessed person. He comes from a long line of cultured, refined and talented people. His whole family including his parents and grandparents has been a part of dramatics and that is something which has also made its place unconsciously in Ali’s personality, causing him to acquire the art of appreciating literary work in its full richness.
Savera Nadeem and Ali Tahir in a Commercial
You recently appeared in an episode of the mystery series, “Dhund” which was based on the exploitation of artists in Pakistan. Did people easily digest that unusual piece of work? How much do you think that kind of work is needed?
Right now, there is a need for every flavour. We must move beyond the emotional dramas which have grown mundane. It is said that people demand such works but I believe that it is our duty to develop a certain taste among the viewers, otherwise they will never learn to digest something different or new. Opportunities should be given to new story-tellers, film-makers, camera-men, editors and all those people who wish to bring something off-beat. It is currently difficult for the viewers to watch a novel idea but that is something that may change with time. We should never underestimate the viewers’ intellect.
Sawera Nadeem’s upcoming projects include “Baba Jani” and “Haiwaan”, the former for GEO and the latter for ARY. Whereas her future prospects are concerned, she shows a keen desire for direction and is confident that she will pursue it whole-heartedly whenever provided with time and opportunity.
“I do not consider myself a born actor. It is direction that I feel more passionate about.”
Savera Nadeem 's Upcoming Project, "Baba Jani"
Savera Nadeem 's Upcoming Project, "Haiwaan"