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Spotlight: Saima Rasheed

Not many know that the fairy godmother whose magical touch transformed Reema's typical filmi looks into a marketable commodity for a major soft drink commercial recently is Saima Rasheed.

While her artifice adorns the covers of leading urban glossies, sizzles the ramp and sells like hot cakes with top-notch advertising agencies, Saima today reaps the fruit of success after giving 15 years of sweat and blood to a vocation that is genius to spectators but religion to her.

As soon as you step inside the yellow door of Saima's salon you are welcomed by a sudden burst of life. Chirpy females of all shapes and sizes rejuvenate you, along with a steaming cup of coffee and groovy music.

Saima herself, in knee-torn jeans, a casual kurti and a fluorescent bandana, together with her cheerful, hyper-energetic persona, makes both customers and visitors want to visit again.

In an industry where originality is replaced by ostentation and insecure egos are cloaked within candied flamboyance, Saima has made it through sheer commitment to her work - no shortcuts and no conniving connections.

Having earned the unflinching faith of her clientele that includes celebrities, professionals and laymen alike, one wonders why fellow stylists from the top-most league that she is a part of are more in the limelight than she herself?

"I don't like to project myself too much. There are times when even though I have done make-up for a fashion show, I don't call up magazine editors to have my name included. The bottom line is how much work you are getting and whether you are content with what you are doing or not."

Though she believes in taking life with a pinch of salt and criticism, no one can move the strong-headed woman from her standpoint when it comes to work. "When I am hired as a professional, the client should put his/her faith in me.

If they want me to work within set parameters and not to go beyond that, that makes my life easy. But when clients say we don't know and we want you to create something, then give me the freedom and respect to create something because I do everything with heart and soul."

Saima also shuns gossip pertaining to other stylists with a casual shrug of her shoulders. "If somebody doesn't come up to me and acknowledge something on my face, I'm not going to take it as a fact. I've never heard Nabila or Tariq Amin say anything about me, not even a single word. That's all propaganda and marketing. I don't believe in it." The firmness of her tone reveals a woman grown wise over time.

On being inquired as to what forms the crux of the much-talked about rivalries in the beauty business, Saima says it happens in every profession and that the style mafia is no exception. She sums the much propagated instance of her fiery wrangle with a leading stylist at a much-hyped show as "much ado about nothing." She denies ever having an encounter with the person or the fact that it is still a source of hostility between them.

But does denial absolve her that easily, especially when there are enough witnesses to bear testimony to the fact that she pulled all the right strings to throw him off the panel of judges? "It is entirely an agency's prerogative to hire and fire whoever they want to.

Since I was hired as the make-up artist, I made it clear to the agency that I would do that till the end. But this person had an entirely different perception and in spite of being on the panel of judges, wanted to do make-up as well. I had nothing to do with individuals."

Wasn't there also a similar strife on a magazine shoot with a contemporary photographer with whom she didn't share a very nice relationship till recently? Surprisingly, Saima is not in utter denial. She admits of having had bad blood with the photographer who has just recently made a name for himself.

The estrangement went on for months until things got clarified by the magazine editor that the credits were omitted by mistake and not through any ill motive on part of the photographer in question. As to whether they are still daggers drawn, Saima breaks into her characteristic wholehearted, enlivening laughter. "No," says she.

Talking of rivalries and friendships, we touch upon the most sensitive issue pertaining to the style industry. In spite of preferring Mirza Khursheed Baig over other photographers and Moazzam Abbassi over the designers, Saima doesn't in the least consider herself a culprit in plaguing the work atmosphere with nepotism.

There are many television directors with whom she has been working for and who wouldn't want to change the way things are. To her, it is natural and in order to create harmony, she expects others to respect and appreciate it. She cites the example of Frieha Altaf and Tariq Amin.

"When I was going through a tough time as a single parent, Moazzam was always there by my side. He guided me and I respect him for that. And no, I didn't introduce him to people. We are close friends and it's natural for us to hang out together."

I take the drift and steer the course of the conversation towards Saima's fellow stylist Huma's marriage. "Good friends are hard to get and whether it is a personal relationship or professional, if you know the art of sustaining it, you can never lose it. They very second week of her marriage, Huma was back at the salon. It's her passion for work that pulled her back. She missed the place."

The best estimation of man is his anger and even better, love. The thought drew me to the most cliched question that I felt so tempted to ask. Has she been in love? Saima reflects on the unfathomable emotion that has played its prank on her. "Yes, we all do. It brings you closer to your creator. To be in love has brought some patience in me.

It has made my faith and belief stronger in my creator. It makes you more understanding towards others. You set your ego aside and place the other person's wishes ahead of it which makes you more flexible."

Somewhat free from the responsibility of her son's upbringing who is now in his teens, Saima has finally decided to tie the knot with her German beau.

When exactly, she refuses to divulge. So love makes you a better person, I flippantly ask to pull her out of her meditation. "It makes you a happy person," she says gazing intently at the yellow door.

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