Two self-motivated actors assign some together time to multiply their star power; and also let down their hair for some candid back and forth on the demands of show business and life.
Iman Ali: The Real Diva
‘The weather in Lahore is splendid,’ says Iman Ali. The conversation with this mega starlet starts on that note – she begins talking about several things at the same time. ‘I have just now made an Instagram account. My fake one has more followers than real one!’ she says. ‘I hate taking my pictures,’ and you can sense her absolute disdain at selfie culture.
‘But do you think you have to do this because everyone else is doing it?’ And she answers with a question: ‘Why is there a herd mentality? I don’t know the herd so don’t know their mentality. I’m completely out of it. I’ve never been part of a thing.’ Iman is not self-conscious about expressing herself and does not mince her words. ‘The realities of my life are just a little more harsh than normal. Makes me a realist,’ she says, speaking about living with multiple sclerosis and her falling out with her father. She Says On the subject of Pakistani drama serials, she is clear: ‘I don’t watch them and don’t act in them, so I don’t know. Why do women cry in these serials? The baychari aurat concept is something I don’t like.’ While she probably hits the nail on the head, another insight into this actor’s personality is that she is not being dogmatic; she’s just being clear about her parameters. Her gentle tone and easy way of speaking does not put her in the opinionated category. She talks about Whatsapp conversations. She is not a fan and feels she must speak to people directly; ‘after all, the tone tells you how I meant it,’ she says. Iman is an enigma to many since she prefers to keep out of the limelight, she has stayed clear of Social Media so far and her interactions are select and limited.
The Photoshoot: Hitch Your Wagon to a Star
Why Azfar Rehman and Iman Ali?
We definitely think that making a unique pairing is an insight for the creative industry; e.g. for directors to think outside the box, creating possibilities for a future film and collaborations. They say Why? We say Why not! Azfar – this good-looking actor has been on our radar for a while now and putting him together with Iman was a great opportunity to hit the ball right out of the park. Azfar was thrilled that Iman was to be his shoot partner. ‘We’ve never had a chance to work with each other. She is very choosy and doesn’t tie up with everybody! The best thing about her is that she doesn’t care, she just performs – she is the truest definition of a superstar that we have; eloquent, poised, talented … with no air of tantrums – we were partying throughout and the chemistry just had to be good! She is unbelievable.’ Azfar is unstinting in his praise about the effortlessness with which she worked the shoot. ‘Iman is someone who would make a pro nervous. She is unstoppable, so effortless. I’m having a great time with her!’
Azfar Rehman: Honest and Happy
Comfortable in his own skin, Azfar also exudes laid-back charm that is honest and not artificial. At ease with where he comes from, self-deprecating when he needs to be, Azfar tells his story as it really is. a lot of them out there; asking for protocol and faking it that they come from affluent backgrounds, it’s all pretence. We all know from where the other has come.’ Azfar is downright frank when he speaks of his own family; he has a well-todo father in the printing and publishing industry, he is one of four brothers, all of whom are chartered accountants – the fact that he is not one makes his father a little unhappy. Recently married, Azfar has compliments galore for his wife Rafia and how well she has handles his busy schedule and family; ‘She is a family fixture. If I am away, she will make movie plans, cooking, girls’ nights out, etc. She makes home such a better place now. And the best thing is that she doesn’t wait for me, she has her own plans.
He Stands Up for Women
As someone who encourages his wife to take things into her own hands, Azfar feels similarly about women in Pakistan. He has lots of heartfelt advice to give: The best thing a woman can do for herself, he believes, is to stick by her goals and stand up for herself. In his view a woman’s ideal quality
is to try and get an education of her choice; ‘It’s very important,’ he says. ‘She should be a musician and not become a doctor if she doesn’t want to.’
Similarly his view is that women should not give into easily into emotions – or not do something because their husband does not like it! Azfar walks the talk and is adamant that there are many things men should also change about themselves; they need to be patient and more tolerant. As the host for the past three years of Ms Veet Pakistan Model Talent Hunt, Azfar believes that hosting a women empowerment show sends out strong signals to audiences. ‘By picking out ten girls we are grooming an entire nation,’ he says.
Happy go-lucky Azfar Rehman
His entertainment tastes prove his down-to-earth nature; he is a huge Walt Disney fan, loved reading Reader’s Digests as a kid, watched shows like the Twilight Zone, and movies like Pocahontas, Richie Rich, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; grew up loving romantic comedies starring Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, and movies like Sleepless in Seattle and Notting Hill. But his favourite show of all time is Friends! ‘I didn’t have too many friends, except for my brothers, so I loved Phoebe, who had the quirkiest humour and Joey. They were my friends.’
Azfar Rehman: Going Places
Azfar’s career began with an internship after graduating with a degree in advertising. Soon he was spotted for a talk show called Spotlight with Azfar
Rehman interviewing all the big wigs of the industry, which is what he calls a turning point in his life. ‘Whenever I interviewed people I was inspired to work as an actor. A few lucky breaks and he landed several serials including those with well-known director Rana Sheikh. His career on TV has been consistent: ‘I’ve done a lot of nice television serials,’ he says, including the most recent Nazr-e-Bad, (on black magic) in which he plays a bad guy – ‘The hype for this serial was phenomenal’— and Adhi Gawahi which has a strong social message of female empowerment. ‘Azfar also speaks about being very selective about choosing from the several movies he had been offered. He is the second lead with Humayun Saeed in the upcoming release Mein Punjab Nahin Jaoongi in which he is part of a love triangle – directed by Nadeem Baig, for whom he has a lot of respect. ‘I’ve just signed up as the lead on Saqib Malik’s debut feature film. I can’t reveal much, but it’s about a boy who is a stringer and is unable to make his place in the music industry.’ A movie with Suhai Ali Abro as the co-lead is also in the works, project he is excited about since,’Suhai is so energetic and full of fun!’
Iman Ali: FROM Supermodel and Filmstar to Scriptwriter
She is many things and being selective is her hallmark. ‘I have liked just one more film script after Mah-e-Meer but it didn’t happen.’ Wanting to
take her work to the next level, especially after being disappointed at the dearth of intelligent film scripts, she decided to write a few scripts herself. ‘I
have always had a thing of writing and reading and I have now read so many scripts that it isn’t funny! The reason I first acted in a film was Shoaib
Mansoor – we did not even change a comma in Khuda Kay Liye. It was just so perfect and spot on. It did not err and was committed to what it needed to say – it was the most delightful and delicious script.’ She is right when she says that the most beautiful films are made with the most difficulty. ‘The story must go somewhere. What we have now are goalless films with vacuous scripts and an item number. I can’t see their intention.’
For quite some time now Iman has been working on her own writing: ‘My scripts are relevant to this part of the world. Life here teaches you stories.
The first script that I have worked on is about relationships and marriage, what’s wrong with the institute and what to do to fix it. It’s a light take on the subject but it’s not a rom-com, it’s a very sensitive film, a romance about the modern people about Pakistan. It’s not rona dhona, and it’s not
comedy. It’s neither. It’s tricky to deal with something like that and I am unable to decide who to give it to. Another script is an action film. Both are complete. The third script is a personal journey, about a character dealing with an illness and how it changes that person completely.’
The Films That Rock Her Boat
Iman has an eclectic taste in cinema, and for someone who wants to go beyond the range of acting to the challenges of filmmaking her choices are surely to be noted. She is clear about wanting to make films where the woman is not the supporting cast. ‘I loved Queen starring Kangana Ranaut, it was going somewhere; it was a journey. Similarly, Jab We Met also had a strong female lead and focus.’ She’s pretty vocal about this: ‘My point is that
female cast is always the supporting cast and I, personally, don’t want to be the supporting cast. I only agreed to be cast in Mah-e-Meer in that particular role since it was my friend’s directorial debut – a personal decision. I did it because I assumed it was only meant for festivals, it was never
supposed to have a commercial release.’
She continues talking about her preferences dissing pretentiously serious cinema; ‘I love Iranian cinema; Majid Majidi’s family drama Children of
Heaven was light, easy and delightfully perfect; and Abbas Kiarostami’s Taste of Cherry – beautifully made, without pretension. These are the scripts I am inspired by! I don’t like films were people say: Oh please look how smart I am.’
The Future As They See It
So what do Azfar and Iman have in common?
Their desire to be effortless in what they are passionate about – for now, Iman wants effortless ease in her scriptwriting, and Azfar in his acting. They both profess to detest pretension – to hold one’s own strong values and be true to oneself in any entertainment industry is worth appreciation! Kudos! And the future as they see it? Everyone moves in the direction that they set out for themselves – which can be immensely different. But every creative vision has a fundamental foundation. Dream, work, dream, repeat! Iman Ali and Azfar Rehman would vouch for that!