Posted: 18 November 2005 at 12:03pm | IP Logged
Iffat Umer was a reputed model who started off with television as an anchor and swiftly became a part of major Pakistan television plays. It didn't take her much time to produce some of her own magazine programmes.
She has now come a long way from her fashion photography, modelling and compering, but the lady left her mark on all the fields she stepped into. Despite all her creative energy though, Iffat has never shown any interest in working for the movies.
Whenever she is offered a role, she has something or the other to take care of immediately, and that of course proves to be a hindrance in her signing up for a movie, even if the project's the one that allows her to be creative.
When she was offered for the very first time to do a movie, she was far from television; she had not even started off as a professional model. She was about to say g'bye to studies and was wrapping up her courses in university.
However, she still had almost a year of university to complete when she was offered this project. It was the director's debut, and it cast a new hero, and when it was released it turned out to be the biggest hit of the year. The director was Syed Noor, and he offered Iffat Umer to play a starring role in his debut movie, Qasam.
Alas! Alas! Weep! Weep! But it was not the only offer she had. After wrapping up her studies, she started off as a model and soon turned into a very successful TV actress and anchor.
She was offered a movie again not so long ago, but she had to decline the offer. Is it that she is like some of the other shallow and phoney people of the showbiz who pretend to be very close to movies, and to know all about them, and insist that new faces and educated artistes should step into the industry, but do not apply this to themselves.
"No," says Iffat in her very anchor-like voice: sure and confident. "That's definitely not it. Actually things always come up at the wrong time. Or shall I say that I'm always at the wrong place at the right time.
When I was offered 'Qasam', I was busy with my studies. I wanted to act in that movie but I had to choose one out of the two, so I chose to graduate from university first.
After that I became too busy working for television. And when I was offered the second movie, I was about to get married. So I thought it was not the right time to start off as a film actress.
That's just about it. It has nothing to do with phoniness. Not the slightest bit. I still say that new faces and educated people should become a part of Lollywood and contribute in improving the standard of our films."
Well, everybody is talking about improving the standard of Lollywood these days. Its condition doesn't look too encouraging either. It's possible that the situation is so bad that Lollywood is not fit for educated female actresses.
"To a certain extent. But it also depends upon the aptitude and the style of the potential actress. Some women, who want to get in touch with the public through media and earn fame, opt for radio.
There are many talented women who limit themselves to being radio presenters. Some join the television and few go as far as the hotshot cinema screen. I, personally do like films, but the way our film industry has steadily declined in these past few years, I admit that I'll have to think twice into a hundred times before I decide to act in a movie."
"Television programmes do engage in constructive and sometimes crude and insensitive criticism of movies, but the objective is one: to improve the movies. Television also plays a major role in making films successful, as the basic publicity that a film gets is through television.
People who are not a part of the showbiz, but are nurturing such a dream, are sort of mesmerised by the movies, reason being films are the ultimate department of media. They make stars overnight having projected them on to the silver screen of cinemas.
Television on the other hand is different. It is switched off by a click of the remote. If people don't like you they just change the channel. But now the situation is changing.
More and more educated and well-bred females as well as male artistes are stepping into showbiz but are going for television instead of films, because of the state our movies are in; they're not a pretty sight. That's probably one of the reasons the film industry lacks talent."
In almost all of your programmes you talk about the film industry in general. You also impart information about current films, the hits and the flops, the actresses' troubles and the actors' problems. Why do you like the idea of people knowing about the film industry to such a great extent?
"Simple! So that more and more people become aware of the extreme need of new talent in the industry, and those who have some streak of talent in them can come forward and start working for its improvement.
Awareness and knowledge of what the industry is like right now will help people make up their minds. Of this can lead to an influx of new artistes, the standard of our films will improve a great deal."
What if a film actress starts judging television? What if she criticises the television programmes, especially all the magazine and film oriented programmes the way you pass judgment on the movies?
"I cannot say anything about it right now. If something of this sort happens, only then will I be able to calculate what I'll think of it."
It's true that whatever you say about the film industry, in whatever way you criticise it; nobody is going to question that. Is it the fear of being treated in the same manner that keeps you from signing a good movie?
"It's possible. I haven't ever contemplated this idea. But now that you mention it, it seems but natural that I would be a little uneasy starting off with a job that I have spent so much time commenting on, and aware that I'm being closely watched by so many people and can be talked about at any moment.
That is a scary thought of course. But even if I do not work in movies for this reason, which is certainly not true, my fear would be adequately justified. Also, my conducting film-oriented programmes have given me a lot of knowledge about the industry. I have never engaged myself in damaging criticism, and the scripts of all the programmes that I have hosted so far are perfectly decent and fairly just.
A little spice here and there, and the mention of which movie did a good business and which slumped at the box office and who's acting is good and who's is lousy is the basic requirement of each and every film-oriented programme, and there is obviously nothing wrong with it.
Besides I do know that if at all I work in movies, I will make sure that I act in strong projects, which would minimise the fear of being criticised. Also, an artiste is always commented on.
I'm sort of used to it through television, but I do know that for films it's different. Films never made me nervous. I was ready to do Qasam and the other movie as well, but at both times I had valid reasons to refuse."
So, is it not true that film-oriented programmes are actually proving to be a hindrance in the way of potential film actresses. Also, television programmes are not always best supporters of films, so how can films benefit from them?
"Firstly, television programmes present a true picture of the film industry. If it's proving to be a hindrance for potential actresses then too bad, the film industry should improve its ways, so that when the weaknesses are absent, there will be no problems for people to join the industry.
Also, television programmes aim at improving the standard of filmmaking in the country to the level that our films can be shown at a very basic international level.
These shows are always a friend of the industry, even if they don't seem to be. It is the flaws that these programmes point out, which if condoned would let the filmmakers escape the reality checks.
The criticism of the artistes is also correctional and aims at letting them know of their flaws so that they can improve them. As for me, if circumstances allow, I may give films a try. I might, when the right time comes."