Still often referred to by her maiden name Ghazal Siddiq, with which fans had become familiar since the start of her career 18 years ago, Ghazal Salam has had a checkered show-biz career ranging from acting, compering, dubbing and providing voice-overs for commercials and programmes to her latest stint Ė Hosting A Live Television Show practically every morning. And, she has taken on every genre with characteristic ease and pragmatism, making sure that whatever she is involved in, she leads a balanced life. Mag4you.com takes a peek into the life of this down-to-earth celebrity.
You have recently become the new face at the morning show on Hum Tv. Are you nervous, now that you have to appear for two-hours live, five days a week?
No, Iím only relieved that I get the weekend off for myself! Actually, Iím not nervous because I started my television career with Sultana apaís play, ĎMarvií and even at that point I delivered what was required of me, simply because I had confidence in her. Had it been any other director, I would have probably quit after the first two episodes, but she was very encouraging. I remember vividly that in one of the first few scenes I was asked to cry and I had no idea how to do it before the camera. I was only able to perform because of Sultana apaís confidence in me. I share a certain comfort level knowing Iím doing a project for her.
I hear that unlike most artistes, you wake up at 6 am. How is that?
Well, I was as spoilt as anyone else till my son came along and then started school. However, once he would leave at 7.30, I used to go back to sleep till noon! Now, of course, I try and sleep earlier at night and avoid invitations for dinner during the week, since I canít catch up on my sleep in the mornings, and canít function if I donít get at least eight hours of slumber. My greatest bane is that though the show doesnít begin till nine, I have to be at the studio much earlier as it takes over an hour for my hair and make-up to be done.
Do you find hosting live shows more difficult or acting a part that is alien to your nature?
I think, hosting live shows. For in the latter, you play the role of another person, and the audience has no clue as to your own character. However, when compering, and particularly live, your own image is at stake, and you have to be very careful to maintain a balancing act. As I have done live compering for PTV earlier, I have a fair idea of what it entails.
Over the years youíve done a lot of work for PTV, Indus and Hum Tv. Is there any particular reason why youíve never appeared on ARY?
Actually, itís just a coincidence that whenever they have approached me, I have already been busy with some project. It isnít that I am deliberately shunning them.
In your eyes which has been your most memorable performance to date?
I liked some of the Marvi episodes a lot. During those days, I had left everything and given my full concentration to Marvi. I had no other responsibilities then and even if I would go to sleep at 4 am after completing a shoot, I would be up after two or three hours and back at work. I had given it my best. But, admittedly, I have not appeared too much on television to begin with. In fact, Iíve done more audio-work than visual.
Why is it that in the last ten years you have mostly done audio-related work?
Well, I had got married and my responsibilities had increased, as I had a little son to take care of. I wanted to be there for him in his initial years, and doing audio-work suited me as it didnít require time for dressing and could be done quickly. Iíd get a call for recording, go immediately and be free in no time. I also did a lot of commercials in those days. I was satisfied that I was still working and it also gave me the opportunity to try different work and gain new experiences. I have no regrets for I managed to balance my family life and work.
But, did you enjoy the experience, or was it just something convenient to do?
I enjoyed it, because I am very good with voice inflections. I can change my voice and make it sound like a childís or alternately like a seventy year old womanís. In fact, my voice has even been used in Fahim Burneyís film as the heroine didnít have the required voice control, so my voice had been dubbed for her. I have even won an award for a Jashn-e-Tamseel programme on radio, and have done dubbing for cartoons, and voice-overs for documentaries.
How is it that you havenít done any work in theatre when you are so good with your voice modulations?
I would love to do theatre and Inshallah, when my responsibilities become less, I will definitely try my hand at it. Sanya Saeed is a good friend of mine, and she has asked me a number of times to act with her in her plays, but I believe in only taking up what I can do full justice to. That is why I havenít got into production either for if I do production it wouldnít mean just financing a programme, it would also include my involvement in direction.
How did you find the experience of working in a 100-episode soap, ĎTeray Janay Kay Baadí?
Actually, it wasnít as difficult as I had thought, although I had been quite apprehensive that I wouldnít be able to fulfill my commitment. In fact, it turned out to be quite an enjoyable experience.
Are you taking up any serials in the near future?
With the morning show, I donít think it is likely. I donít want to be involved in so much work that it is to the detriment of my social life and my time with my family and friends. I feel you only live once, and you should balance your life so you can enjoy everything. My son didnít ask to be brought into the world, but now that I have brought him, I owe him time and attention too.
Why is there so much confusion surrounding your surname? You have been married ten years, but the press still often refers to you as Siddiq, and seems to think that was your married name.
Actually, when I got married around eight years after I had already made a name for myself, I was in the middle of recording a serial ĎNoori Jan Tamachií. So, thinking it would make my husband happy, I told the director that for the remaining episodes he should use my married name. However, when my husband found out, he thought I had made a mistake as he felt I had a certain identity and I would be confusing it by using another surname. So, after that I relaxed and let people use whichever name they wanted, probably adding to the confusion!
How supportive is your husband to your work?
Very. I donít think I would be able to take on whatever I do if it wasnít for his encouragement and support. Even if Iíve had to come home late and heís had to do my chores for me, heís never had a frown or a complaint. He even encourages me to do courses and improve myself as he is very appreciative of art.
Would you act in films if given the opportunity?
Why not? If I were given the right environment and people like Saqib come into the profession, Iíd be interested. It would have to be an art movie in which I could use my acting talent, though
Any hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
I learn singing. I have an ustaad that comes over and in fact, my husband and son also learn from him. We are all keen music fans and I sing informally in family functions.