LAHORE-As they say experience has no substitute. How much do we miss the good old days! From the prominent PTV years, a very familiar face among viewers, Naima Khan, recalls what she used to regard as ‘the golden years’.  “I started with smaller roles, but luckily there used to be PTV only, so it was easier to get recognized. The audience was not divided back then as it is now. Within no time, I started appearing in major roles. I was so young then and got a powerful role of a vamp. The role was of Saba Hameed’s step-mother. In another Punjabi play ‘Chiryan Da Chamba’ I performed the role of a mother, who loses her mind, when her school-going son gets drowned. I played significant roles in Patjhar, Faraeb, Raahain, and in a play based in Kashmir,” she said. 

Naima had to struggle initially, but her love for acting prevailed and she finally got a chance to show her worth among the masses. “My mother, a radio artiste herself, was against me going into showbiz. As most traditional mothers, she was also of the view that my elder sisters would have to face difficulties in getting married, should I step foot into the world of acting. I always had fondness for acting. I used to act when I was still in school. I got married when I was very young. I took it as a challenge, passed the screen test and made my debut in showbiz. My husband has always supported me and I am grateful for that,” she said.

Comparing the old PTV days to the current situation of TV industry in Pakistan, Naima lamented the shortage of talent and the lack of awareness among the new directors. “We used to have rehearsals for 2 to 3 days before the final act. We were given a set schedule, delivered our dialogues in front of the actual co-stars and it was very easy to do that in front of three cameras. It’s difficult to do the same thing in front of a single camera. We used to know how many scenes we were supposed to be in, if the setting was going to be indoor or outdoor and if our shift used to be morning or in the night. Now, you have no idea as to when you are going to get free from the shoot. Back then, we used to perform in front of the original actor, and now they would substitute him with someone else if the actor is busy or has other commitments. Actors are not paid on time these days. We lose 50,000, 70,000 or even 100,000 rupees on average due to their negligence and us not being paid for over a year.”

Naima Khan’s younger daughter, Hifza Khan, has also worked with renowned artists like Imran Abbas and Sadia Khan. “I wanted her to complete her education, which she is doing. In case, she is not able to adjust in showbiz, she will have a second option of pursuing her career elsewhere. Hifza worked in the film Bol initially, later worked in a telefilm before riding her luck in an independent play on A-Plus. She has also had a chance of hosting a show and recently she has appeared in a serial. It is up to her if she wants to continue with it or not. She rejected offers from directors before as well, while she was still taking her O’Levels. My husband and I have no objection at all, and it is entirely her choice.”

“It is difficult to work now, since most of the shootings take place in Karachi. I am based in Lahore, have a personal life as well and have to spend time with my family, hence I cannot travel to Karachi on a frequent basis,” she explained.

Naima Khan paid heed towards the need of educated and talented artists in showbiz. “Acting comes naturally. It is a gift which is bestowed. Artists these days have poor accents, their body language is not up to the mark and they have no sense as to how to act out a particular scene. Parents should back their children to pursue their career in showbiz, but only after they have completed their studies.” Naima has probably worked with top artists. “I liked the singer, Bunny, a lot. I never got a chance to work with him, but I would have loved to work with Roohi Bano. I feel lucky to have worked with Shafi Muhammad, Zeba Bakhtiar, director Khalid Rauf, Yawar Hayat and Shoaib Mansoor.”

On the question of her future projects, Naima said it’s now time to take a backseat. “For now, Saya-e-Dewaar is going on air on Hum TV, a film named Saya-e-Khuda-e-Zuljalal is about to be released, and Khuda Aur Muhabbat will go on air on Geo TV,” she said.

Naima Khan with her daughter