Gup Shup with Meera

With the education scene in the country being a focus group from all kinds of industries, be it the corporate sector or health services, the entertainment industry finally joins the bandwagon. After corporate giants visiting and looking for talent in universities, things are finally stepping up and A-list actors from the glitzy world are making an effort to connect with students and normalising the film industry as a career path to be considered.

On a fine Tuesday evening I made my way to Newports Institute of Communications and Economics for an interactive session with the queen of the film fraternity herself, our very own Meera. In the open air hall, the university set up a make shift stage with a few dozen camera eyes focused on it. The hall was packed with students and faculty members; the overhead suspension bridge was crammed with young men, shoulder to shoulder. The gender gap in the engineering field very transparent from the handful of female students in the crowd.

The event kicked off with a qawwali and an over-enthusiastic host who welcomed her co-host Kashif Khan. Khan talked about how he was glad that entertainment industry is working with the education sector front and center these days and aspire to connect more with young minds. He talked more about how the media was just another industry, subjected to unnecessary stigmas and taboos and how it was irrational that a career path in this industry is not considered by many.

Welcoming the principal of the university, an educationist and social worker, Ms. Huma Bukhari talked about how she was grateful for the step-ladder role Newports could play in bringing together the worlds of the media industry and education.

Grateful for her time and presence, the hosts of the evening introduced the lady of the hour, honouring her with an acknowledgement of her achievements. A little known fact about Meera, she started her career at the tender age of 10 with a TV commercial and never stopped seeking the light that led her to her fame. At one point in history, she also posed as an ambassador of peace between India and Pakistan and worked in Bollywood.

Accompanied by a thunderous round of applause and a couple of whistles or more, the queen of Lollywood makes an entrance, dressed in the magic of yellow and keeping it simple with her signature loose mane and chand balis to die for. When the ovation finally did die down, Meera came to the podium to talk about her appearance and purpose at the institute. In a storyteller disposition, Meera recounts her struggle and her story and talks about how it has been an epic journey. This was the first time she made an appearance at an educational institute and urges students to choose media as a career choice. She highlights the fact that acting and dancing are talents nonetheless like any other, and the arts deserve to be respected.

Ending her speech, she announces that she wants to work with students and conduct acting sessions at the university. She went on to have an interactive session with the students, urging students to ask questions about her journey and how to make it in the media. Enthusiastic hands shot in the air. Meera brought her sense of humour and said how she was intimidated by the students and their boldness. When being asked any question, she asked the students for their names and embraced first name basis succeeding to ask them what their future plans were. While some students asked genuine questions, other proclaimed love and in nectar-sweetened words, requested for selfies. One can expect the whistles and hooting that accompanied the acceptance on this request.

Wrapping up the evening, Meera acknowledged a student’s request about how more artists need to visit educational institutes and play part in keeping the entertainment world rolling. She was honoured with an ornate bouquet and ajrak to go with the endless love showered by her fans. After all, it was our very own Meera Jee. •