Brought up in an aristocratic household enriched with art, history and classical music, social heiress to two of Lahore’s well-heeled families — the Saigols and the Kazims — Juggun’s demeanor is belying. She is blue-blooded agreed, but you could be fooled as she blends in with the crowd whether she is offering fateha at Shah Jamal or is seated in the front row at a fashion week. Petite, animated and always wearing her heart on her sleeve, Juggun Kazim certainly isn’t your average high society butterfly.
Much more like the girl next door, she’s someone who has been taken to task for her relationships, her fashion faux pas, someone who constantly struggles with weight issues and someone who has a penchant for being politically incorrect in public. She has a delightfully crass sense of humour and often bursts out into laughter at her own jokes, which she repeatedly did as she offered reality checks on most of Lahore’s top models during the fashion week — much to the horror of her relatives who were watching closely.
She is also someone you can easily warm up to, as foreign journalists did when Juggun offered to take them to Shah Jamal for a dose of Pappu Saieen unplugged. That also happened during the PFDC-Sunsilk Fashion Week; an evening that began with high fashion and ended with spicy mutton chops and rickshaw rides all over Lahore. As unorthodox as the silver stud that pierces her tongue “a painful college experiment in Canada,” she remembers, Juggun helped designer Yusuf Bashir Qureshi orchestrate this midnight adventure.
She’s lively, sure, but her buoyant façade belies the sadness she carries as she talks about the harsh realities that have hit her: “soured relationships, being a single mother and being alone” — for most of her life — in the midst of a madding crowd. Emotional is therefore what describes her best though she keeps it well under control. Despite the odds, and there have been many, she lives life as “someone optimistic, sensitive rather than being a snob, valuing friendship over social bonding.” She is fiercely protective of her son Hamza, describing him as “the best thing in my life” and talking about him incessantly.
Personality aside, Juggun is also quite talented — liberal arts run in both sides of the family (Rehana Saigol is her maternal aunt, Raza Kazim her paternal uncle) — stealing the spotlight be it modeling, acting, hosting her own TV show or appearing in music videos. Lately, she has been signed on as the Garnier brand ambassador in Pakistan.
The going wasn’t always this good for Meher Bano (her real name) and while she had been part of the fashion/entertainment scene for many years, it was Jal the band’s Sajni video in 2007 that brought her back on the radar as a star. Fast-forward several years and today she sits on the industry’s A-list with three television plays, two talk shows and several feature films which are in the pipeline.
Chup is the first of the three-film deal she has signed with producer-director Shaan and it promises to be the latter’s answer to all those critics who have been taking his genre of commercial cinema to the cleaners. Juggun refuses to divulge information on the story but the fact that you have an avant garde cast and crew (Zeb & Haniya, Shafqat Amanat Ali and possibly Rahat are on the musical score) says a lot about the sharp twist the producer-director is about to take.
“It’s a family film,” is all Juggun offers. “Mashal Peerzada has written the script and we have all taken a year-and-a-half to work on it. I play the character of a singer and Zeb & Haniya will be singing for me. Can you imagine me singing?” (She breaks out into laughter). “Shaan gifted me a guitar to get comfortable with my character because it has to look natural.
“I had to lose weight for the film,” she adds, “but I intend to gain every single pound back once the shooting is over. I’m not big on the emaciated look.”
Juggun may want to hold that thought as she already has a Humayun Saeed and Mahesh Bhatt joint production in the works, while she also is in talks with Moammar Rana for a third. Certainly on a roll here, can Juggun step into the role of Lollywood’s next big thing, if that is what she wants? Hardly a Reema or Meera, does she fear that she will rise to fame much like Iman and then fizzle out due to lack of appropriate projects?
“I have a child and a home to run and I’d ideally want to follow the career path of Shaan and not Reema, Meera or Iman. I’d like to be the next Shaan, who appeals to the masses as well as the elite. He does quality films and he does commercial cinema. I wouldn’t mind doing commercial films for the experience and experiment with both. I think that educated people need to get into films to make the necessary changes.”