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She's the youngest of four sisters; he's the only child of Mr and Mrs Behroze Sabzwari. She's composed, with a charming, girl-next-door appeal; he's the talkative and hopelessly romantic ladla. Meet TV actors Saira Yousuf and Shahroz Sabzwari, who got hitched last month after years of on and off romance.
Welcoming The Express Tribune into his home on Saturday evening, 25-year-old Shahroz and his better half were ecstatic about sharing their romantic journey and their intimate nikaah ceremony.
"We met at a mutual friend, Ali Tariq's wedding," Shahroz begins, talking about the first time he saw Saira before she joins us. "That was six years ago! I was 19 and she was 18. During events like the mehendi, dholkis, dance practices, I started to like her," he says. Abandoning all notions of bashfulness, he adds: "Before that, I had seen her in a couple of ads and had thought to myself — who is this cute girl in town?"
Wearing a casual red shirt with jeans, Shahroz gets comfortable on a sofa and talks about his induction into showbiz. "I am a parchee," he says, admitting that he had help from his father Behroze, who is a senior actor in our entertainment industry. He also says that his father saw the talent in him. "Dad would initially make phone calls [within the industry] to cast me as an actor in upcoming plays," he adds. He then smiles and reiterates his initial view: "That makes me a parchee."
As the conversation progresses, Saira walks into the room, radiant and adorable in jeans and a white top, bearing her contagious trademark smile. As he glances at his pretty 24-year-old wife with Afghani features, his eyes light up. Clearly, he is head over heels in love.
But while the young couple started dating in 2006, their relationship saw its shares of ups and downs. Both, however, refuse to acknowledge that they had ever completely broken things off. "We were together on and off," Sabzwari says disappointed. "Other things mattered more at the time and we grew apart."
Shahroz adopts a sincere and open stance as he explains the shortcomings he had when he was younger. "For a 19-year-old, I was really immature and Saira was way more mature than any girl at 18!" He adds, "I was very insecure and over-possessive about her then."
He fondly recalls memories of their teens. "She literally grew up in this house! We used to hang out so often. Our families knew each other and her parents often visited our place," he says.
At this point, Saira speaks up. She says that even during their break-ups, she knew they were made for each other. "He started dating again and went out with a couple of other girls," she says, in a playful tone. But Shahroz is quick to interrupt her as he interjects with "just a few!".
With a chuckle, Yousuf continues. She explains that in her heart, she knew that there was a strong connection between them. "I somehow knew he will come back to me!" she shares.
Shahroz continues, saying that the couple has scores of mutual friends who always pictured them together, despite them being apart. "It was always 'Saira-Shahroz' for them even when we weren't together," he says with a smile. Even when they were not dating, they say they were always civil towards each other and accepted TV play offers, when they were cast in the same production.
It was the new drama, "Tanhaiyaan: Naye Silsilay" that brought them back together. "In this play, there were love scenes between us; either she was wooing me or I her," Shahroz says with excitement. "Although we were always civil with each other, the passion was there and I fell in love with her again."
But Saira felt differently. "I was cordial and the attraction was there, but at the end I knew it [being formal] was going nowhere!" She continues, "I told him we should stop fighting. For him, whenever we were civil, we ended up talking about marriage."
He took the plunge and popped the question, asking for her hand in marriage and — like the romantic that he is — wanting to elope. "Let's go to the mosque and do it," Shahroz had said to her at the time. "We will let the families know later."
Saira was more composed, and decided that involving the families is a better idea. "Let's go the right way," she had told him. That's when Shahroz told his father. From being a 'baat pakki' event, upon the parents' insistence, it transpired into an intimate nikaah ceremony. Shahroz's mother designed an ivory-coloured chicken-kari outfit with kaamdani work for Saira. Thus, on October 21 — the date when they were supposed to exchange rings — they became husband and wife.
Saira shares how their friends' reacted to the development. "When we were hanging out, it was acceptable to everyone because dating and party 'scene on hai'," she says. "But when we announced our marriage, they felt it was too early for us to settle down."
"They forget that we grew up together," Saira adds. "We experienced each other as friends first; then we grew apart and came back to one another. I believe we are good together."
Since then, some friends have bombarded Shahroz with questions like: "When is the doomsday, yaar?" Other people in the media industry, have said: "Your career is over, dude!" Shahroz doesn't appreciate such remarks, "Bakwas! We believe in fate, we will be together," he says with pride. "With this development, we have gained immense popularity and respect from our fans."
Agreeing that the feeling of being married has not sunk in yet, both of them say that they will support each other in their professions. "We don't like to control each other. We give each other the space that's needed. I don't like to interfere in her work or her life and neither does she in mine," says Shahroz.
With a rukhsati ceremony scheduled to be held in December this year, the honeymoon is likely to be in either Australia or Europe. "We like old heritage buildings," says a beaming Shahroz. "We're fine with a cup of tea at a roadside caf," he smiles.
As our meeting came to an end, Shahroz lovingly put his arm around his wife. The couple laughed as Shahroz said he is happy to spend money on their honeymoon, cheekily adding that she is a shopaholic. We wish them a happily married life!
Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2012.
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