Saboor Aly made her acting debut with Choti Si Kahani but rose to fame for her role in Mehmoodabad Ki Malkain. She further earned praise for a series of hard-hitting performances in Mr. Shamim, Rang Laaga, Bay Qasoor, Bhai and Visaal.
Her sister Sajal’s high-profile celebrity status sometimes overshadows hers but fortunately Saboor Ali has no complaints. She considers her sister to be her role model, both personally and professionally. Saboor elaborates, “We’re different individuals, yet associated as one.”
Today the highly talented and hard working actress is firmly ensconced in a space of her own. In an interview with OK! Pakistan, Saboor gets candid discussing her success, her upcoming projects, creating her own identity, and so much more…
How did your career start? Was it by chance or a conscious decision?
Saboor Aly: It was accidental as well as a conscious decision. We are originally from Lahore and had to move to Karachi, where I learned about an audition taking place so Sajal and I showed up. When we got there we realised that we didn’t even have to audition but were luckily selected for roles in Mehmoodabad Ki Malkain. Fortunately, I got my first role without too much effort.
Everyone recognises you as Sajal’s sister. How have you managed to hold your own and create your own identity? Did it bother you? And are you happy that you have now created your own niche?
SA: Yes, for a while despite all my efforts, struggles and hard work, I was recognised as being someone’s sister, which is something that I think a lot of people go through. A lot of people, especially in this industry, are often identified as someone’s daughter, or sibling or parent. I think this is difficult to go through as from the very start people create this competition for you and you are constantly compared to someone who already has a big name and is of course highly talented. Creating space for your own self or creating your own identity becomes very difficult. However, whenever anyone refers to me as Sajal’s sister I’ve always felt a sense of pride because she has actually worked really hard and put in a lot of effort to make a name for herself. In fact I’m sure people from across the country are very proud of her. So yes, it’s been difficult for me to be identified as me and people have assumed I’ve had it easy simply because I’m Sajal’s sister, however, that has not been the case. In fact, it becomes even harder because people expect me to be exactly like her. So I’m proud to have created a place for myself and my own identity despite coming from that.
In a recent interview you said “I believe that the characters I choose should in some way depict my personal life, struggles, and choices”. Why do you want to be so real in the choice of roles that you play? Isn’t acting more of a platform where you can adhere to fantasy and not just reality?
SA: I don’t think the dramas or generally any of the work that is done here allows us to fulfill our fantasy roles. The role of an innocent girl tends to appear a lot more than that of any imaginary or out of the box characters. However, I’m grateful for all the roles that I’ve played and I’m happy to have portrayed all that I have. That being said, I admit that when it comes to playing a role that you can connect with in reality, that role can be played with a lot more feeling and a lot more passion.
Tell us about your upcoming roles. Is there anything interesting in the pipeline?
SA: I have two projects coming up, Wajah Tum Ho and Fitrat. I’m really excited for both and play completely different characters in both. In Fitrat, I think you’ll hate me at times and love me at times and in me Wajah Tum Ho, I’m sure you’ll pity me.
What does acting mean to you? Are you a method actor or more spontaneous? How do you prepare for your role?
SA: I was never too passionate about acting and I approached it as a job that I had to do but there are some characters that compel you to become passionate about the role you have to play and put a lot of thought to it and how you can go about playing that character. I don’t really follow a method so in a way I’m a more spontaneous actor, especially when I truly come to feel the character, which is when it all just comes out on cue.
Do you want to work in films? Although the industry is still growing, our films are still far behind and they need a lot more investment, better scripts, etc. What do you think?
SA: As far as films are concerned, of course everyone wants to see themselves on the big screen, including me, but with a good script. I tend to prefer art movies, where I am given a margin to perform. That being said, I have a lot of time so even if I don’t immediately work on a film it’s okay since I’m in no hurry. I would just like that whenever I do a film, it’s a good film in which I have a margin to act. For now, I feel like I myself am not prepared for a movie but I’ll quickly be prepared and do a movie [Laughs].
Did you think about doing Bollywood too when Sajal went to act in the film Mom?
SA: No, I’ve never thought about doing a Bollywood film. It has just never come to mind but you know art has no boundaries so whether you’re performing here or there, it doesn’t matter as long as you’re doing what you feel like doing and following your heart.
You said in a recent interview, “My mother was my world, my best friend, my confidante, my saviour, my trusted ally, and ironically, I lost it all in an instant.” Has Sajal taken over the responsibilities of looking after the house? How’s your relationship with your sister? Do you take advice from her when signing projects?
SA: Yes, unfortunately my mother left soon but I believe she’s still with us and she has always supported us and is the reason I am where I am today. She convinced me and she put in a lot of effort with all of us. In terms of the responsibilities, I’d say most of the responsibility falls on me with regards to taking care of the house and my brother. When my mother was on her deathbed, her last few words to me were to take care of Ali (my brother) and that’s a massive responsibility that she’s given me due to which I’m always frightened of messing up and not being responsible enough. As far as advice is concerned, Sajal and I tend to turn to each other whenever we’re in a rut.
What’s next in 2020 for Saboor Aly, in terms of roles that you want to take on? Any specific director on your wish list?
SA: In the future, whichever character I want to play, I just want it to be really heartfelt because whenever you do anything from the heart, the result is always good and the audience’s level of interest is always great. There are a lot of directors who I want to work with, including Haseeb Hassan, Farooq Rind, and Yasir Nawaz – so it’s a long wish list that will Insh’Allah slowly become a reality.
INTERVIEW: MAIRA PAGGANWALA & RAO ALI KHAN
STYLING: RAO ALI KHAN
MAKE-UP: NABILA’S SALON
PHOTOGRAPHS: UMAIR RAZA