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Spotlight: Tanya Shafi

How would you react if I call you a diva?
Well, Iíd be amused because I donít consider myself as one. But people call others all kinds of things; I have no issues with that. Being a diva depends on how everyone perceives the definition of it. Frankly, I donít see myself as a diva at all. I am very realistic and practical person.

So, whatís your definition of a Ďdivaí?
When I think of a diva, I think of a larger than life personality.

Who do you see as a diva in showbiz fraternity?
I donít see any diva here. (Pause) I do see a lot of aspiring divas though (Laughs). But I think a real diva is Sherry Rehman. I donít look a diva as a fashion or a beauty icon; I look at them as women who really have it in their hands to make a difference in the world. There is an aunt of mine in particular, Beena Munir, who, I think, is a queen of all divas. In fact, most of the people in my auntís side of the family are very amazing and larger than life personalities and can absolutely hold the attention of an entire room of 100 people. They have wit, they are educated, they are entertainers of the first order et al. Even my cousins are divas in the making. I am bit of a slob and have never wanted to be a glamorous person. I am really not into this whole Ďthingí. I should not be saying this here because I am the spokesperson for Pondís and they want me to come across as a glamorous person, but I think they have chosen me because of the kind of work that I have done up till and thatís why many people like you would initially perceive me as a diva.

At what age a female model in Pakistan should technically quit?
Well, whenever people stop using her. I mean I donít think that anybody should decide when a girl should retire when they are still being hired. I recently saw the shoot of Seemi Pasha somewhere and I think she looked great. I feel so happy for her because when I entered the industry she was not only my senior but also took me so personally like I was her child. I just love that woman from all my heart and soul. Now, every time I see her on print or billboard I feel nothing but happy for her. As far as I am concerned, if she is still making good money and there is a market for her then why should she quit?

You are giving an impression that you are not going to quit modeling in near future?
Yes, as long as older models are in the mix, I can slap on as many years as I am younger than them. I am just 31, if a 36 year old is still getting shoots and other assignments, you can easily add up to at least 5 more years in my modeling career.
Quite frankly, I havenít really enjoyed any of this work. I never enjoyed acting either. But it was a business decision after a while. I may not have really enjoyed doing my job, it was good money. Honestly, this was the only thing that I could do at that moment. I have interests but they are not solid interest that one can stick a career path on. As for continuing modeling now, I mean when I am being paid really well then why not? I have always tried really hard to look after myself and not take anything from anybody, so that gives me an ultimate sense of high.

ZQ told me in an interview that ďthere are only two words to describe the new girls in the fashion industry: Cocky and Over ConfidentĒ, to what extent would you agree to her?
I donít entirely agree. She might be referring to a couple of girls. I have said this thing to death and I am saying this again, in every job description you have to allow for a full spectrum of personalities. You will find cocky and overconfident girls in banking, medicine, education et al. I also feel that ZQ is kind of person who welcomes everybody she meets, so if someone doesnít respond to her in a similar fashion than this is going to upset her. Thatís why she must have shared such views about the new girls with you. As far as I am concerned, I am generally very distant person. I will smile and be there if there is any genuine issue but I am not big on finding out otherís entire life histories. I have come across some new talents myself and I have found some great kids that I love madly. I am very excited about the new crop. I donít think at all that when ZQ said that she was referring to people Zhalay, Rabia, Faiza etc. They are brilliant all rounder girls and a powerhouse of talent. I just personally really want them to get ahead. I take it very personally when anyone tries to get them for less money or be nasty about them. I think these are your next generation of very chilled out, solid and good girls.

ZQ also said that these girls try to undercut and outdo each other by charging rock bottom prices. Itís not only denting the market of the senior models, but also their own in the long term. How much would you agree to this one?
If your senior girls are still doing billboards and shoots and all for free then what do you expect from the newcomers. Do you think anybody got paid for the

FTV billboard?
However, there is a barter system and a concept that if I give the impression of being really popular in the press and be on the covers and every other pages of fashion magazine bla bla bla that will attract the real heavy paying work; the big ads, the big serials etc. Thatís the business mould that has now been set and was actually imported from Lahore. I think that as much I am going to piss people of by saying this there will be a lot of people who will be supporting me on this point. Call us lazy or whatever, we, the Karachi girls, were not that happy with this whole concept of doing a lot of free work. But now, that virus has been transmitted to this city as well because what do you do? How do you combat it? You are an up and coming model and you are seeing the same three girls on every flipping cover day in and day out and you are charging and now one is hiring you then you are soon going to figure it out that okay I better need to start working for free a little bit more. Everybody has dropped their standard to a certain degree. I donít say that I havenít got paid for most of the work I have done. If I am working with someone that I know is going to make me look drop dead gorgeous and give me a cover I am ready to discount my price or I do that one for free for you but you catch another shoot for me that pays me an arm and a leg to compensate me for that. But thatís not really professional you see and it make it near impossible for the new ones to make it in the industry.

Talking of Lahore, whatís your take on this whole Karachi-Lahore rivalry and the Fashion Council controversy?
I would strictly want to steer myself far away from this whole politics.

You seem to be having many issues with professionalism in fashion industry.
For this you have to first look at the country as a whole. No one understands the meaning of the professionalism darling from top to bottom so who the hell are we?
How did you land in your show, ĎSilver Screení?

Well, it was Khalid Surtiís brain child and Khalid and Khusro Mumtaz, who has been writing for DAWN as a movie critic for a long time, are good friends. He wanted him to anchor this show but as Khusro had never been in front of the camera before, he was looking for a co host who would be familiar with the camera. One day he was just flitting through TV channels and he happened to catch somebody taking an interview of me and asking me about my favorite movie and I was talking about ĎGladiatorí as usual and how the movies starts and ends with pretty much the same shot and music, and he was like okay this is my co-host. Then he called me and as far as I am concerned a personís dynamic on a phone and how professional they sound on a phone can make or break a situation. Either I have hated you on a first sentence and I am not giving you anytime or you have handled me right and I will go with it.

His whole approach to this show is very professional; I have never had an issue with payments, timing etc. It has gone so smoothly and we are about to start our fourth season and I have enjoyed it thoroughly because itís me talking about a topic that is generally intriguing to me. I come from a very opinionated family, God bless us, and with this show I have got a very solid platform to express my opinions.

Where do you yourself in next 5 years?
It seems that everybody just loves this question. I have absolutely no clue. I am working with AAJ TV and helping them launch a new channel which is a youth oriented channel targeting to FM89 type of market. I am very comfortable with doing the channel work that I am doing with this channel. It is the most sought after media group out of all the media conglomerates, barring only the DAWN group. I have been dealt with the right people from day one. Not only they are paying me well but making me learn on their time and money. So for next few years, I am all set.

You seem to be pretty much done with acting?
Yea I am pretty much done with it. Only if I get a damn good telefilm with a kick ass script and it is coming from people I respect and wouldnít mind working with then I will be excited about it. But I am done with the soap operas and serials because I am not ready to spend two three months of my life with horrific make up, terrifying clothes, boiling locations, inane characters and asinine scripts.

Ather Shahzad or Khawar Riaz? And Why?
I think both Ather Shahzad and Khawar are like at the top, they are the best. I think they do amazing work, I think they are unbelievably sound in the technical departments. They can make a bull terrier look like Cindy Crawford. I have had a lot more interaction with Ather Shahzad and I am very comfortable in Ather Shahzadís salon because the people there are very sweet. I am madly fond of Ather. I really think that if there is something as heaven, wings and hallows, Ather is going to be definitely donning those wings and hallows and going to heaven. He is an angel. I have never heard that man saying anything negative about anything or anyone, which in this industry is HUGE; you have to do it because you are driven to do it. Itís just natural to this man to be an angel.

Nabila or Tariq Amin? And Why?
Ooh! You cannot possibly ask me this question. I have known Tariq all my life. My familyís relationship with his family goes back to four or three generations. My God! I love him madly. Any issue that I have had in my life, from ridiculous to sublime, he, Faiza, kids and all the paltan have been there for me.

As for Nabila, the day I had started working with her, we just hit off. I met her on my second assignment and since then there have been no fallout between me and her, both professionally and personally. I think she is really aesthetically sound in many ways and now I have come to the point where I have such a long strong personal relationship with both of them that itís impossible for me to choose among them.

Sushmita Sen or Ashwarya Rai? And Why?
Sush anyway. Ashwarya really annoys me. I find her very fake. God knows may be in real life it may be the other way round but she comes across as very plastic in interviews. On the other hand, Sushmita is very spontaneous in her interviews. Not only that, I just love her. I am just crazy about her. She is elegant, she is cool. As for Ash, I am really not into that look and not into that prototype personality.

Vinny, Iraj or ZQ?
ZQ. ZQ. ZQ all the way. She is like a sister to me; she comes and stays with me whenever she can.

On a final note
Both fashion publications and journalists have a long way to go. I think what everybody needs to get their heads around is identity. Magazines should follow a certain theme, which is a basic element for any fashion magazine and thatís why I say that both fashion journalists and magazines have a long way to go. But in general, we all have a long way to go in the fashion industry.

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