Ghazal is visibly amused to hear me tell her that she is still recognised as Marvi, the title role she played in Sultana Siddiqui’s drama serial of the same name that was aired from PTV well over a decade ago. “I know people still remember me as Marvi even though it has been such a long time. I consider myself among the very few lucky actors who got such powerful roles that have left a lasting impression. In my case, Marvi became so real that the character penned by Noorul Huda Shah almost became my identity.”
Since the serial Marvi, Ghazal Siddiq has come a long way as an artiste with her somewhat recent work as a conscientious doctor in the drama series Ambulance aired on Indus Vision, and also a character with a variety of shades in the 100-episode soap, Tere Jaane Ke Baad, on Hum TV.
“Hosting a live show is so much more demanding than acting, and with its own set of commitments. On the one hand, you have to make sure that the content is ethically, morally and politically correct while on the other, you also have to ensure that it does not lose its essence and the message reaches the viewers,” says Ghazal Siddiq
Viewers turning on their TV sets now see Ghazal regularly every morning as the cheerful and inquisitive host of the live show, Morning with Hum. How has the experience been so far? “Previously, I had done a few live shows from PTV but this is a first-time experience. Let me tell you, hosting a live show is much more demanding than acting, with its own set of commitments.
For one, being a host puts extra responsibility on one’s shoulders. On the one hand, you have to make sure that the content is ethically, morally and politically correct since it is watched by almost every segment of society.
On the other, you also have to ensure that it does not lose its essence and the message reaches the viewers. Then, with some guests, we have to make extra efforts to keep them at ease since live programming has its own stress levels. Also, the host has to have prior knowledge of the guest’s ideas and/or work to make the communication effective and meaningful.”
Ghazal says that live shows are drastically different from acting as viewers take you at face value, since you perform on your own behalf and do not appear as proxy. Lastly, it requires die-hard commitment to leave home every day early in the morning, and most importantly reach the studios on time. But being an artiste who believes in quality rather than quantity, it turns out that one doesn’t get to see her very often other than the morning show.
In many ways, Morning with Hum can be considered as a comeback of sorts for Ghazal. Over the years, she consciously did less work since her son was very young and she felt that he needed her time and attention, “There are a lot of responsibilities on parents as far as the proper upbringing of a child is concerned. In a way, I am lucky that my husband and I both have similar ideas about bringing up children. I believe in a balanced life and my priorities are in conformity to that.
I have family commitments plus my own personal well-being, that is sound health, a balanced diet and proper sleep. Then comes my showbiz career which is also equally important. With me, it was never about working on television and doing nothing else. If that was the case, then with the boom in the media and the work opportunities we have today, I would have been working 24/7, becoming a part of the rat race.”
During her so-called sabbatical, Ghazal says she took up voice-over assignments instead. “It does not take much time although doing a voice-over is extremely challenging. I have done voice-overs for documentaries, commercials, sometimes dubbed for other celebrities and even worked for a film, Pyar Hi Pyar Mein. Working as a voice-over artiste takes up a lot less time as opposed to acting, but it is not really that easy. I found it a relatively difficult medium to work in,” she recalls.
Besides being an actress and now a host, Ghazal has also been associated with social work for a while now. She explains, “Doing social work is perhaps one’s psychological need. Although I have not done much in it, what I have managed to do has given me inner peace.” She has been working with the women and water network, rural women in their quest for empowerment and Asean Women and Friends to help the poor in education and health sectors. She opined that through media there is a lot of scope in creating awareness by educating the masses about their rights and obligations, and highlighting the real social issues. “Awareness is the first step towards solving any problem,” she adds.
Ghazal admits and appreciated the fact that whatever work she has done after Marvi was only possible due to the encouragement extended to her by her spouse. “He is very supportive and appreciative of my work which gives me confidence and strength, while making my work a whole lot easier.”
With her focus on the live show, I ask Ghazal if there are any acting assignments on the horizon as well? “The show takes up a lot of my energy and for the moment I am concentrating on it, so no plays for the time being. But sometimes I really miss acting. Nowadays, with the trend towards TV soaps, it takes up a lot of one’s time so I might consider working in a solo play or a serial if my acting instincts make me restless,” she concludes.