Sana Fakhar - Going Slow & Steady

Whether you are an oblivious millennial or grew up watching Pakistani movies in the 90s, Sana Fakhar’s name needs no introduction to many. From movies and television to reality shows and fashion shoots, the actress has been unstoppable, and it’s safe to say, she may be the only Lollywood actress from her generation who is still working this actively, which is an achievement in itself. From Sitaara (her character in the very well-received 2002 movie Yeh Dil Apka Hua) to Nigaar Begum (her award-winning role in the recently concluded serial Alif Allah Aur Insaan), Sana lays bare her experiences, hopes and achievements for MAG. Excerpts:

For our young readers, I think it’s pertinent to start her story from the time Sana was a little girl who grew up in Multan and was “not as expressive”. After completing her initial schooling from Aligarh School in the city, she graduated from Queen Mary University, Lahore. Youngest among her siblings, Sana is closest to her older sister Shagufta. “We are like best friends,” she says lovingly. But she wasn’t always the feminine beauty she has groomed herself into now. Among her favourite childhood memories, Sana shares, “I was a sports-loving person and loved playing football, and cricket. Likewise, when I was 12, I used to love riding a bike.” Not only was she a stereotypical tomboy, but was into fitness and didn’t bother about any form of art at all, surprising and understandable at the same time; as it is because of the same inclination that the actress had an image makeover by shedding considerable amount of weight.

“I gained a lot of weight after [having] my babies but I never accepted myself as fat. I took it as a challenge to lose weight and wanted to show people that you can do and achieve whatever you decide to.”

It was her uncle, director Mohsin Jaffery, who gave Sana her first acting role at the age of 12. “It was the role of a doctor and I still love it,” she reveals. Coming from a small town to Lahore was surely not easy and as expected, Sana had to face her share of hurdles. “It was a new experience for me, but I was super excited that I would be famous.” Here, she also thanks her family that, despite being conservative, was supportive all the way. “I had never been double-minded about entering this field because I was so passionate to become an actress. The little girl within me, who wanted to be famous, kept me going.”

Among a few of those challenges, Sana narrates, was and still is finding good, strong roles. “Our industry has very limited roles [for women], but I have always loved and wanted to play roles through which I can show the stronger side of [being a] woman and what they can achieve.”

Sana wasn’t always so lucky back then, as she says there have been projects she has regretted taking up. “Before, when I would sign a movie, I had to face many problems because I had no proper team to guide me through it (the process and technicalities). I was not mature at that time. Moreover, I have regretted some projects in which they didn’t portray me the [right] way.” Today, having done so much work already, she doesn’t have any more preferences in particular, but thinks “protagonist [roles] suit my personality because the opposing roles don't really go with my [dialogue] delivery”. But whether she plays an antagonist or a protagonist in her next, one thing’s for sure, she wants to keep acting “till the last breath”. But still, she says dreamily, “I have a lot of things to do, so I never stop dreaming.”

Not all of her past stories are full of difficulties and disappointments, though; some are funny and inspiring too. Sana lets on that she has had lots of hilarious moments on sets, shooting with some of the wittiest men in the industry and considers herself fortunate to have worked with people who she learned a lot of good things from. Among the actors who she finds inspiration from are Bushra Ansari and Javed Shaikh. Speaking of shooting with veterans, I ask her how different she finds the craft these days in comparison with the 90s.

“There is a lot of difference!” she responsed and elaborates that back then the stories were simpler, and revolved around one central character as opposed to the complex stories we see on screen these days. She points to her recent work and naturally, Alif Allah Aur Insaan (AAAI) comes up. The serial was a major hit with the masses and even garnered the actress multiple nominations, a Hum and an IPPA award. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the project breathed a new life to her career. But what I wanted to know is, did it need rejuvenating? It is common knowledge that older and married actresses in our industry often struggle to find work, or good work, anyway. But Sana rebukes the notion immediately. “According to me, age is just a number. In my case, having been married never affected my career, [in fact] I have only improved as an actress with time. This is only something people have in their minds,” she states confidently.

She says that she has enjoyed sharing screen space with the younger lot of actors and mentions Aiman Khan and Affan Waheed as a delight to work with. “I look forward to working next with directors like Saifi Hassan, Ehtesham, Ahsan Talish and Kashif Nisar. After AAAI I am being bombarded with so many good scripts but need time to choose ones that have ample margin to give something different and exciting to the audience.” But come what may, with hope in her voice that had an almost lingering effect, Sana says her only dream for the future is “to see a better Sana than [she is] now.”