But another film and more shoots aren't the only thing occupying Zara's future plans – there is talk and pretty serious talk of our young damsel branching out into singing. She has already given a performance at Yusuf Salli's haveli where she accompanied Khawar and Ali Haider for a Basant night celebration; on a special request from Yusuf himself, Zara agreed to an impromptu performance. Those who were there are still raving about her husky voice and Malika Pukhraj-like expressions.
According to Zara, a future album with Ali Haider is in the pipeline;
Why Ali Haider?
" Because he asked me first."
But why do you want anyone to ask – why can't you just take the plunge on your own? "Because I don't think I'm famous enough to be able to ensure the success of a solo album". Is she just being modest or has Ali made a too-good-to-refuse deal?
It seems as if things are flowing along pretty smoothly for young Zara Sheikh right now – during this interview alone, Khawar received a call from a TV producer willing to offer Rs. 40, 000 for a long play requiring only a day's commitment from Zara. If this is her current going rate, God only knows where she'll end up after she wins a National award.
But the question now is why, if life is being so good to her nowadays, is she smoking like a chimney? During the few hours I spent with her, she smoked at least six if not seven cigarettes. Zara claims that she started smoking recently, after the release of her film to be more specific.
"I know a lot of models start smoking because they want to kill their appetite but with me, I had to with the tensions that were suddenly invading my life and the company I was hanging out with. When everyone around you is smoking, you end up picking up the habit too – right chanda," chanda being Zara's favourite word and she uses this ruthlessly for anyone ranging from a journalist to a make-up artist to a fellow model lighting a cigarette for her.
But isn't she afraid of the nicotine damaging her skin?
"That is the only factor which restrains me from lighting a new cigarette. I'm unbelievably finicky about my skin and don't even bother doing make-up if I'm not working. My skin is my biggest asset and I take care of it in the same spirit."
And what would your biggest flaw be?
"My figure? I wish I had more curves."
When we put your assets and flaws together, do you think we end up with a product that is beautiful?
"I'll say you'll end up with a product that satisfies the requirements of the modelling world but that is from nowhwere Miss World material."
And who do you consider as Miss World material?
"Meera and Aaminah Haque."
Khawar Riaz and Mekaal (the male model accompanying us) groan and get Zara all flustered up to which, she replies;
"Well, I actually meant Vinny,"
Vinny and Aaminah – there is a big difference there, a difference of many inches if I am not mistaken.
Is there anything in her short career that Zara regrets so far? Any project that she wishes she had not said yes to? The Jazz ad campaign for instance;
"No, I don't regret that campaign at all – true the maulvis did give it a lot of bad publicity and some people pointed fingers at me but overall, I think the campaign managed to make some important statements about liberalism in a democratic society and I'm glad to have helped make them. As far as the maulvis' point of view is concerned, even if they did have some sensible arguments on their side what I fail to understand is why did they just find fault with the Jazz billboard – how come they never object to the half nude women painted outside cinemas. If the Jazz board is un-Islamic then so are those boards?" [Point taken, Zara]