On-screen pairings can either impress or depress. Sonya Hussyn and Zahid Ahmed happen to be an exception. Their appearance in the popular drama Mohabbat Tujhe Alvida caught everyone’s attention. Thanks to their wit and acting talent that sparked more interest, they have reunited once again in Mor Moharan, a drama addressing climate change. Unlike any recent drama script, this play sheds light on an issue affecting the world at an alarming rate. Dive deep into our pages as Sonya and Zahid break the ice and give us a glimpse of their world.
You expressed disappointment at the Lux Style Awards nominations last year, as they reflected “double standards” in your view. What made you say that?
SONYA HUSSYN: Yes, I feel that the jury members for our dramas should be people who are very much acquainted with the drama industry. They should have knowledge about different concepts such as screenwriting, the craft of acting, and the technicalities involved. Fashion and television dramas should have different jury members, which, in my opinion, is a fair requirement.
What keeps you afloat in the showbiz world?
SH: Having a close-knit circle of friends and family is a blessing for me that always keeps me motivated and grounded. I think having that support system is very essential to survive in this industry and to stay sane. Other than that, meaningful content, strong characters, stories that have power to bring a positive change in the world, keep encouraging me to work hard. Of course, the insane amount of love that I get from my people is priceless, too!
Talk to us about your upcoming action movie Daadal and drama Mor Moharan.
SH: Daadal revolves around a beautiful subject. I am playing the role of a boxer girl from Lyari. She is also part of a gang. Her goal is to achieve something big in life. When we went to Lyari for the shoot, we met a lot of highly motivated, impassioned girls who wished to serve Pakistan. They have no facilities or representation, but their passion is unbeatable.
Mor Moharan discusses the most alarming social issue at hand, which is climate change. Our agenda is to spread awareness and make people realise their social responsibility towards solving this global issue.
For climate change deniers, why is Mor Moharan an important story to tell?
SH: It is important because we need to know the grave reality of climate change and we all have to practically work towards fixing the situation by increasing plantation, reducing plastic use, protecting and restoring nature. This is what the story stresses on.
What other projects are you working on?
SH: I have signed a drama with HUM Television. Zanjabeel Asim Shah wrote it. She is an amazing writer. It is a great script. Let’s wait for it!
Are you satisfied with your progress as an actor so far?
SH: As an artist, you can never be fully satisfied with your current progress. You always crave more perfection and thirst for success. Progress never stops. It keeps evolving with time, and I believe there is a lot that I still have to achieve.
That said, it is quite satisfying that through dramas, we are bringing some form of change into people’s lives by giving them different perspectives and spreading awareness on several social topics. No matter what story we tell, if it can change a person’s life or the way he/she thinks, the story has achieved its purpose.
Which project in your career do you regret doing, and why?
SH: None! I don’t think there is any. Yes, there are a few game shows I don’t feel comfortable appearing in because my statements can be misconstrued and you can’t do anything once they are on social media.
Do you feel that our writers need to do better research when writing drama scripts that centre on mental illness or medical disorders?
SH: Obviously! The more you research, the better you can communicate with your audience. I am not talking about using technical terms because when viewers watch such dramas, they are expected to understand everything. So, it is not just a writer’s responsibility; the whole team has to play a part in imparting the right lesson. Be it a director, producer, or actor, everyone should know what message they are trying to communicate.
Last year, you mentioned in an interview that Urwa Hocane did not pay you for the film Tich Button. Is your experience part of a broader problem that young, newbie actors go through in the show business?
SH: I can’t speak on someone’s behalf and their experiences because I haven’t really been part of such a conversation with any new talent in the industry. However, I would like to say that producing a movie or a drama comes with a lot of responsibilities. You need to be careful about maintaining an emotional balance. Making prompt payments is the most important because everyone works really hard and deserves to be paid on time. Don’t sign up for a post if you are not eligible or ready for it!
Zahid, what character do you play in your new drama Mor Moharan?
ZAHID AHMED: I play Ahmed Khan Gardezi, son of a feudal family. Rich because of his sugar and rice mills. Well-educated, too, but reeks of a feudal mindset.
What other real-time issues aside from climate change will Mor Moharan bring to the forefront that the viewers haven’t seen before?
ZA: The suffering of people whose livelihoods are dependent solely on the soil and the feudal mindset, which stands as a barrier between them and potential prosperity.
How does it feel to be paired with Sonya again?
ZA: Always a pleasure! She is one of my favourite co-stars and a brilliant actress!
What role do you want to play that you haven’t yet?
ZA: I would love to embody Muhammad Ali Jinnah for television or film, having played him on stage already.
What other projects are in the pipeline?
ZA: Oh, plenty! Two very special projects titled 101 Divorces and Idiot for Green Channel. Several others are under discussion.
How has your craft evolved as an artist?
ZA: It’s constantly evolving. The secret lies in the details, so I am constantly working on the subtle nuances.
What makes acting challenging?
ZA: Everything! From gruelling hours, severe indoor and outdoor conditions to delivering performances despite all of the challenges!
How do you keep yourself optimistic being in the public eye?
ZA: I don’t think about it much. I keep my focus on the work and appreciate whatever fans have to say.
How has spirituality changed your life?
ZA: It has shifted my focus inwards. Beyond career, family and everything else, the real work is to be done inwards, and the real destination is in the hereafter.
What fact do people not know about you that you can share with us?
ZA: Sorry, you can’t know that either! (Laughs)
INTERVIEW: HAIDER RIFAAT
PHOTOGRAPHS: SHAHBAZ SHAZI
STYLING: RAO ALI KHAN
SONYA HUSSYN’S OUTFITS: NILOFER SHAHID
ZAHID AHMED’S WARDROBE: HUMAYUN ALAMGIR
JEWELLERY: ROUGE BY ROOJ AHMED