Pakistani film industry seems to have found its new muse; Sadaf Kanwal is bold, has looks to kill and seems to know her way around the camera. If her belly dancing moves as a seductive enchantress in Kaif-O-Suroor are anything to go by, this 23-year-old is fast on her way to becoming industry’s favourite ‘it’ girl. But there is more to her than her glamorous shell – she his humble, kind and a complete home person. In an exclusive chat with MAG, Sadaf opens up about her aspirations in life and what her glam doll image means to her. Excerpts:
adaf Kanwal – the name is synonymous with glamour in the world of fashion. Sadaf has been on countless billboards across the country and the face of many fashion campaigns ever since her debut in the modeling world at a tender age of 16. Owing to her natural charisma, ease with the camera and slender stature, it didn’t take her long to become one of the most sought after models from her lot. It was no surprise that the leggy lass went on to win Best Emerging Talent at the Lux Style Awards (2015) and won the Model of the Year (Female) trophy just two years later in 2017 after having been nominated once in the same category the year before that. Having worked with crème de la crème of the fashion fraternity and bagged a couple of prestigious awards for her modeling stints, it comes as a big shock when Sadaf discloses that modeling is something she never meant to pursue and that her heart actually lies somewhere else.
“Acting is something I’ve always wanted to do. Modelling just stumbled in my way and I happened to be good at it. Rest is destiny really!” For her, acting was always the ultimate goal, as she explains, “It was way beyond understood. It’s [acting] something I’m passionate about, [it] also it runs in my family. My aunt and my grandmother [Salma and Nida Mumtaz, respectively] are renowned actors.” Sadaf did a few minor stints including commercials and a music video that got her much attention before making her big screen debut in Osman Khalid Butt and Ainy Jaffri-starrer Balu Mahi earlier this year. One would think offer of a glamorous role as the one she played in the movie wouldn’t take a natural like her much time to decide in favour of it, but quite opposite seems to be the case. “All the time in the world was taken to carefully analyse the role, character and script of the film,” she clarifies. While most actresses today want to opt for main leads and protagonists, especially in their first few projects, Sadaf, already shining bright in the runways, dared to take the road less travelled.
Much like her off screen persona, Sadaf played Sharmeen in Balu Mahi, a fearless go-getter who flirts with Osman’s character relentlessly. “I wanted to stand out plus I also have to admit that at that time I wasn’t like any other regular actor, so it was more like a trial and error step but it turned out amazingly and I treated it like I was playing the lead role, so I guess that worked for me greatly,” she explains why she was comfortable playing Sharmeen as her first character on big screen and how she made it work for her. Sadaf’s performance, however brief, earned her a lot of praise from the insiders of the industry as well as the audience. But the attention is nothing like what her dance number in the upcoming Na Maloom Afraad 2 has been getting her. With Kaif-O-Suroor, Sadaf explores her potential as an item girl, an onscreen temptress and an excellent belly dancer. She dazzles in glittering garbs in an Arabian night setting on Aima Baig’s tantalisingly deep vocals. Understandably, the item song has raised a lot of criticism as well for its boldness; nevertheless, Sadaf remains unfazed by them.
“All I was concerned about was the kind of people I was working with, but when I got to know that Nabeel and Fizza are behind it, it wasn’t an issue for me to pull it,” she shares her apprehensions before the song, pointing out that, you need to have the right people with you to be able to give your best. “I was reluctant at first about whether or not I’ll be able to pull it off but they all helped me, from Waqar to Nigah jee to the producers and the entire crew. It was a fantastic experience,” she adds. Deeming such performances to be a dangerous territory for anyone, Sadaf continues to give her verdict on the matter, “Regarding the criticism, item numbers are controversial in our industry regardless because you never know how anyone will perceive it. You can’t please everyone, and it’s just some light-hearted entertainment. If you happen to not like it, it’s alright!”
Sadaf embodies some of the strongest qualities of her star sign Virgo, her generosity, discipline and quick mind, are all characteristic of her. But she also describes herself to be a “shy, eccentric, lively and passionate” girl growing up and being “extremely attached to my mum”. Having always had a glamorous image both, on and off screen, I inquire whether being on the fashion high is something she actually relates to and if, given a chance, the perception is something she would like to change, even if its just on screen. But she owns up to the image and says she conforms to it “to an extent”. “But I’m also very realistic and normally relaxed in my personal life. Our professional life has a glamorous depiction for everyone in it,” she clarifies. As far as her work in front of the camera is concerned, Sadaf has no plans of bidding adieu to the world of glitz and glamour. For her, modeling and acting will go hand in hand, at least for the time being. “I’ll try to manage both professions and have a balance. But it [modelling] definitely won’t take a backseat right now. I have no plans of leaving it instantly,” shares the award-winning supermodel. Keeping mum about her upcoming acting projects, she further reveals that she has “Eid and winter campaigns and other exciting stuff coming out soon”.
With a successful modelling career to boast of and an acting career that is just starting to take off, what does future look like to her? “[I will be] working on amazing projects with top notch directors/producers, [have a] few awards in my kitty and a small happy family of my own,” she proudly declares her 10-year plan in a self-assuring tone. The professional part of the plan may be taken care of, but is she any closer to fulfilling any of her romantic fantasies? “Whatever and whenever God want it to happen, honestly,” she says in an absolutely carefree manner, sharing that she is currently single. “Haven’t you seen my Snapchat stories lately?” the chirpy and quirky Sadaf signs off with a hearty laugh.
Hair, Make-up & Photography: