Sure-shot indicators that our fashion industry is evolving; innovative fashion houses? Check. Eccentric, avant-garde fashion designers? Check. Models literally stun your attention as opposed to be classic beauties? Umm… two out of three isn’t bad. Well, no more.
Like the overkill of the perfectly-coiffed all-American models of the seventies and eighties brought about a backlash of eccentric faces in the early nineties. It seems Pakistan too is ready to embrace a more unconventional type of mannequin. Enter Tooba.
With her doe-like eyes, dusky complexion and a figure in the early bloom of youth, she is a far cry from the voluptuous Barbie dolls that rule the fashion roost, and yet, she has taken the local fashion scene by storm! From the runway, to print, to commercials, Tooba is the first choice for every discerning trendsetter. Let the Barbies play in their perfect dollhouses – this alternative beauty is on a roll!
Let’s get to a controversy right off the bat. Tell us about your spat with Yasir Akhtar during the making of his video.
Yasir Akhtar? Who? Ugh! The guy with the squeaky voice? Is he still alive? I thought he had died a long time ago. I did his music video when I was living in Islamabad and it was a disastrous experience. Probably the biggest mistake of my career!
What was the bone of contention?
I had issues with him because he wasn’t professional at all and it was a nightmare for me to work with such a person. So we had some conflicts then. But this is the second in last six years that I am actually talking about him and look at him, he is mentioning me in his interviews.
But he said that he officially launched you through his music video, but you refuse to endorse his assertion.
What? That’s news to me by the way. I think he is only spreading this to gain some cheap publicity out of it. The only person whom I would like to give credit for bringing me into this field is Tariq Amin.
But there has also been some conflict between the two of you.
This is such a stale piece of news that it has actually started reeking. Ask me something new.
Like your fracas with Iraj during your recent trip to Singapore. That is something new for you to shed some light on.
To be very honest, I love Iraj. I am not getting diplomatic or anything here. I have always admired her and we’ve been great friends. But when you’re traveling together, there are a lot of issues and things that you simply can’t deal with and one tends to get frustrated. That’s exactly what happened with all of us on the tour. We had spent like 10 days in Singapore and it was crazy because everyone was missing home and nothing was going right and everyone seemed to be off at one thing or the other. During such times even the slightest of provocation can trigger off a volcano in a person. So I guess it was the circumstances more than personal issues that instigated the near tiff between us. If Iraj has to make an issue out of it, that’s fine, but I am keeping it under my hat.
What makes Tooba so vulnerable to fights?
I don’t know, you ask the people who get into fights with me on petty issues. I am a very friendly and sweet person; I don’t know why people have coloured me bad.
In Late Night with Begum Nawazish Ali, you mentioned that you are planning to settle down in the next three/four years. Why are you in such a rush? Such an early announcement can adversely affect your career-graph.
I wouldn’t think it would. I am not ready for a commitment at all at this stage although I am in a relationship. Right now my career is very important to me. I really want to make it big in acting now. I will keep working as long as I am in demand. The thing with commitment is that you really have to divide your attention and can’t really focus on your work. Also, there is this absurd mentality in Pakistan about girls in fashion that “Nahin ji, ab tou shaadi ho gayi, ab woh baat nahin rahi,” – which is totally silly, you know.
How did you get into acting?
I love acting. It’s one of my most favorite jobs. I always wanted to be an actor. It gives me an opportunity to bring out my latent talents. I have always been a big fan of movies. Being on a big screen has been my dream all my life. My eventual goal is to be a reigning silver screen queen and that I will be. Wait and watch.
That reminds me of Saqib Malik’s upcoming movie, which has you in the lead.
The movie has already created so much hype even before it has gone on the floors and it is amazing to see that Saqib, who has such a strong background in filmmaking, has been able to garner such an amazing cast for his debut venture.
And what’s your role in it?
I am playing a crime journalist – a very positive character. It’s a thriller mystery set in Karachi. Let’s see how it shapes up.
Be it Saqib, Ali Zafar and now you, everyone seems to be tightlipped about the plot.
That’s exactly what I have been told to do by Saqib. I am not really supposed to reveal a lot about my character. That will kill the curiosity.
Are you excited about being paired opposite Ali Zafar?
I have worked with Ali before and I think he is a great artist and a very chilled out guy to work with. Yes, definitely, I am excited about working with him as a heroine and we are aiming to set the silver screen afire with our lethal chemistry.
You say that you want to be a silver screen queen, so would you be willing to cross the border to fulfill this long-cherished dream?
Hell No! I have always said this and I am making my point again that I don’t want to go to India because India doesn’t need us at all. They already have a big industry and they don’t want people from Pakistan to come there and work in their movies. People here are so insecure about their identity there. Whenever anyone from India comes here they roll out the red carpets while they never really give a damn about us. I have worked in fashion shows with Indians and literally they treat us like dirt. I am very patriotic and don’t give two hoots about India. I will fulfill my dream in my own country. I will be the queen of Pakistani cinema. I’d rather do something in my own country than just opt for Meera-type roles in India.
Meera-type roles are the roles where you are required to put your anatomy on display with an amazing ease. You can’t just show off skin and claim to be a big star in India. That’s crap. I want to do family films and be popular in them, not such C-grade films aimed at D-grade audiences.
Would you prefer a small or supporting role in a big blockbuster or a tailor-made role in a small budget film?
It really depends. Up till now, I have only done the lead roles. I am all for doing tailor-made roles now. As for the small roles in a big film, I would like to see who is making this big film and whether the project is really worth spending my time on. If I have a significant part to play and have enough opportunities to display my prowess and capabilities as an actor then definitely I would go for it.
You have worked with Zoheb Hassan in his serial, which had him and Iman in the pivotal roles while you played the sidekick. Doesn’t this contradict your statement of playing key roles only?
Yes, it’s totally Zoheb Hassan’s serial: he is singing, acting and producing it; what else do you expect? He is a sweet guy and thankfully I haven’t had any major issues with him. In fact it was a swift ride. He was sweet to all of us and it was fun working with him. I was already in Dubai shooting something else and their crew was staying in the same hotel where I was and there was another girl who was playing my role but she somehow couldn’t make it to Dubai so I landed in her shoes. See it’s all about luck. And well, I don’t say it’s a you-blink-and-you will-miss-it kind of role because in the upcoming episode I get a lot of screen time and have a lot to do in the serial.
ZQ in her recent interview describes new girls as “cocky and overconfident.”
Hahaha! When she gave you this interview she told me when we met that Sunita and I are not in the newer lot so this statement is not for us. Well, as for the new girls, what can I say, she may have come across such girls which is why she made that statement. I have my own attitude and this works for me, you know. I myself am very cocky, and I don’t care whether someone likes it or not. Love me or hate me. That’s how I am.
If you were on a deserted island all by yourself, who would you ask to accompany you?
Ameer Zeb (male model)! He is so hot!
If you were trapped in an elevator with Yasir Akhtar, you would…
I would probably kill him or myself.
Iman Ali’s attitude or ZQ’s down to earth demeanor?
A bit of both. I am quite friendly and down to earth and also have some attitude so I am a mix of both.
Tariq Amin or Nabila? And Why?
I don’t know how to answer this one. I have worked with Nabila but not that much. I started working with Tariq at the beginning of my career but haven’t worked with him for the past six years. We had a tiff. So, if I have to choose, I guess it would be Nabila.
Vinny, Iraj or ZQ?
Vinny. I love her. I love the way she carries herself. I love her attitude. She knows her mind and I love her for that.
Ather Shahzad or Khawar Riaz? And Why?
I have worked with Ather Shahzad before and I haven’t really worked with Khawar, so I would go for Ather Shahzad because I simply adore their work but I would love to work with Khawar as well.
Which female models do you truly detest?
Fauzia. I cannot stand her. I cannot stand a sight of her. I think she looks like dirt in her shoots. She is very bitchy in the sense that she would say things here and there. She doesn’t even exist for us. She is a wannabe A-list model but everyone knows that she is not even a C-grade model. She is one of those people who would go at any lengths to get somewhere.
And among male models?
I hardly know any male model. Our male models are a very ‘bechara’ lot so I think I should spare them.
Where do you see yourself in next 5 to 10 years?
As a big movie star.