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The many faces of Bushra Ansari

Bushra Ansari’s name needs no introduction. She has been mesmerizing her legions of fans with her acting, singing and writing for long. She has immortalized many of her characters with riveting performances, be it comedy or serious roles. Recently, she got an award for Best Actress for her play Kuch Dil Ne Kaha (which she also wrote); this is testament of the fact that she is still going strong after so many years and is a force to be reckoned with in this field. Here she talks to Sehar Zaman about her notable career, family and evergreen good looks.

Now that you look back on your career, which do you think is your most memorable performance?  

 If I had stopped working then it would be easy for me to choose a play or serial that made me proud of myself and I thought was the best work that I had done. But I am mashAllah still working and have done some very good projects recently, so what I thought was a memorable performance fifteen years back doesn’t seem all that good now because I am continuing to learn and improve myself. For me it’s a continues process, so it’s very hard for me to pick just one play or serial.

How did your mother influence you?

My mother is a very talented woman, she raised five of us and now when I look back I am amazed at how she was able to cope with everything. She used to knit, sew, cook literally do everything around the house. She also used to sing as well and my father kept an ustad for her for five years, who taught her classical singing. She also sang for a movie that my father made. I think she influenced me in the sense that she had many diverse talents and I guess I get that from her. I’m into acting, singing, writing; I guess I inherited my diversity from her.

Given a choice, would you choose acting or singing?

Singing, music is my passion. I always wanted to train as a classical singer, but somehow never got around to it.

Your parents had a problem with you acting, how did you convince them?

 I was doing a children’s singing show, my parents didn’t have problem with that, but they didn’t want me acting. I was in third year when Iqbal offered me a role in a long play, he said the shooting would be done in just two days, so I very reluctantly agreed and that is how I got into acting. After that I got married, so there was no problem.

What are your daughters doing these days?

Both my daughters are married. The elder, Nariman has a son. Both my daughters are working, Nariman is working part-time because of the baby in Indus as creative manager and the younger one, Meera is teaching photography and illustrations at two institutes in Karachi.

You are a grandmother now, how is the experience?

 It’s a wonderful feeling! I just love my grandson, Izdeyar. He is one and a half years old and the apple of everyone’s eyes.

I guess you love your grandchildren more than your own children.

 I love my grandchild, but I also did a lot for my daughters. Even thought I was working, I used to do all the cooking at home, take them to school, to their friends place etc.

You don’t look like a grandmother at all! What secret fitness regime do you follow to keep so fit?

 I go for a walk regularly, that’s about it. I really don’t have a special fitness regime or anything. Its in my genes as well, I don’t have the tendency to gain weight, although I think these days I have put on a few extra pounds!

Being a working mother, what difficulties did you face while raising your daughters?

It was hard, especially because I had daughters. Raising daughters is more difficult. I not only had to prove myself in my field of work, but also as a mother. It’s been only eight to ten years that I have hired a cook, before that I used to do all the house work myself, along with maintaining a career. I was a complete housewife, my husband, who is a perfectionalist, expected garam chapatti and I had to be there to make them. It was tough to handle both these jobs, but now that I look back I think I handled everything pretty well.

Who is closer to you, Nariman or Meera?

 Nariman is much closer to me and the younger one is her father’s ladli. Nariman is a lot like me, she is very expressive, living in the same city; she calls me four times a day to ask how I am feeling and to tell me what she has been up to etc. Meera is reserved, just like her father; she keeps her feelings bottled up. Nariman is also much friendlier, whereas Meera is very selective about her friends and moves around in a selective crowd.

We know that you are very good at your professional, but at home what are you good at?

 My behndi is very famous, everyone likes it a lot and also my phulkas, I make very nice chapattis.

 What message would you like to give working mothers?

I think it’s great that a lot of girls are choosing to keep their careers even after they get married. They should work for self respect and integrity, so that they don’t have to beg their husbands for money for the smallest thing that they have to buy. It is hard to maintain a career, especially when one is newly married, but they will reap the fruits of their labour later in life. Most women who do not work realise much later in life that their personal growth has stopped, they spent the better part of life looking after the house and kids and when the time comes when the children have their own lives they realise how lonely they are. So I would advice every woman to have a career and maintain a balance between home and work. Children also become understanding, when for some reason I could not pick my daughters up from school, they would be very understanding and realise that I was busy. And I think working mothers are more aware of what is happening around them and take measures to ensure that their children are geared up to face the outside world.

You have started writing as well, how has been the experience?

 I started writing plays about ten years back, my first play was “ Neeli Dhoop”, which was very well received and most recently I wrote “Kuch Dil Nae Kaha”, which got the award for best serial this year and I also got an award for Best Actress for this play. Writing started as a pass time and I had no idea I would take it up so seriously.

What is your take on the influence of across the border dramas on our dramas. Don’t you think the quality of our dramas has deteriorated in the past few years?

I really dislike what some of the dramas are portraying and I do not want to be part of such plays and serials. I have been approached many times to write soaps, but I flatly refuse. I think channels should have standards and take up only quality stuff, but most of the channels are only concerned about money, they air very sub standard stuff. I think a committee should be formed with veteran actors and directors and they should do a through screening of the plays. Most of the plays being aired have no content or script, they just bank on glamour to popularize these plays.

Who do you think is the finest actor/actress in the new crop of actors? And who has been your all time favourite actor/actress?

 There are so many, the list is endless. We have so much talent in this country and some of the people are doing such great work. It would be unfair to mention just a few names, but I think Faisal Qureshi, Shahood, Beenish Chohan, Maria Warsey are doing great and Ijaz Aslam has also improved a lot in the past few years.
Same goes for the older generation, we have so much talent its unbelievable, Shafi, Talat, Behroze, Firdous Jamal, Saba, Samina, Uzma Gillani I could go on for ever!!!

Are there any professional rivalries between you and the other actors of your generation?

 Not at all! Moin Akhtar and I usually joke around with each other, I tell him he’s jealous of my work and vice versa, but it’s all in good humour.

Would you ever go into films? Now that Shoaib Mansoor has made such a wonderful movie and there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for Pakistani cinema.

I will only do cinema if the role that I am given offers me a challenge as an actor. I would not like to change my medium for a frivolous role, I would definitely consider if the role is good.

Any message for budding artists?

 I would just say that hard work and sincerity will get you whatever you want and if you have knowledge of what you are doing that will definitely help you along the way.

To my mother:

I guess it’s strange to put these things down because one’s relationship with one’s mother is so highly subjective and internalized. My mother has always been a strong spirit and defined for us what a woman can be. She has always pushed us to explore our talents and dreams. And stand out as individuals. Infact, now that I’m a mother I keep wondering how she managed everything that she did when she was raising us. Going for shootings, waking us up for school, dropping and picking us from school, cooking, running the house, attending our school events, and helping us with homework, that’s quite a list. She is a full-time housewife and full-time career woman. People used to ask us ‘so, your mom must go for lots of shootings, right?’ with the mindset that we must be some poor neglected ‘showbiz’ kids. But I would always correct them that my mom was home more than moms who worked 9-5 jobs and was always a freelance artist, so she never compromised on time with us.

I feel that an independent working mother gives her kids a real role model to follow. She is a woman who is happy with herself and proving to her children everyday that one person can achieve so much if they apply themselves properly. And that’s what our mom did, always encouraging us to find our own way and never discouraging us to be who we wanted to be. And that’s what I hope to be for my son.
I love you AMMA!

Nariman Ansari


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