She is the undisputed Queen Bee of Lollywood. Armed with talent , grace and charm, Reema has come a long way from the shy lass who made her debut in Bulandi more then 10 years ago. Today she is not only going places but has hit an all-time high with her mega film project, KOI TUJH SA KAHAN , which is currently in the making , and her debut appearance on Geo Television in the Drama serial Yaad Toh Ayaen Gay which was aired recently. Here Reema talks about her life , work and the controversies which somehow always seem to surround her.
People are saying that Reema is looking more gorgeous than ever! So have you gone under the knife?
All this has been started off by one of my dear contemporaries. It is said that one rotten egg spoils the pudding. Everybody is asking this question as to what is the secret of my beauty? I would say it is in the eye of the beholder. But seriously, if I had gone under the knife, my features would have changed. I call plastic surgery a curse. You get caught in a rut and constantly keep on going back for it because if you don’t follow up, you will end up scarred for life. I believe in eating right, exercising and taking care of my health. Yes my weight does fluctuate, but I try controlling it through my diet. People want to see a heroine who looks cute and pretty, but if we get too thin, they think there is something wrong with us or we are ill. So one has to maintain a balance.
The general impression is that surgery is like a magic want – a light or laser is put on one’s face and hey presto! You become younger and more beautiful. Your natural features are God-gifted and trying to go against nature doesn’t sound sane. I would much rather improve myself personally, pay attention to my studies, groom myself and work hard. Another aspect of my personality that I have given utmost importance to is conducting myself with grace and dignity in regard to my profession and my dealings with the public and media. That is what counts.
So when is the beautiful Reema getting married?
Not right now. I am busy with my debut film as a director. What I would like to say is that all my concentration is on work right now. At the moment, I have no inclination of getting married for at least two years
Tell us about you much talked about film venture, Koi Tujh Sa Kahan.
It’s a female-oriented film and carries a family subject. Inshallah, people will like the dialogues, the make-up, dresses and costumes, as all of these are according to the characters. I have paid utmost attention to small details. I am shooting on the latest camera 4.35, on which Hollywood films are shot. The story has been written by Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar with whom I worked for one and a half years to develop the story. From characterization to costumes, I have done whatever my story demanded – meeting with the designers and discussing each and every role and selecting the clothes in accordance to that. The viewers will get to see a detailed and different film. For the husband-wife duo (Momi and me), I had a special bridal shoot taken, to put up wedding pictures on the set, so that their house looks like the authentic home of a happily married couple. In short, I have tried to maintain authenticity in the environment, story, characters and every other aspect of my film so that it appears true to life.
You faced a lot of difficulties in finalizing the cast and the location. Tell us about that.
Yes, I did face a few hitches, but all’s well that ends well. My cast includes Nadeem Baig in an important role. As an actress I started my career with him and I also wanted to start my directorial career with him. Beside myself, there will be Moammer Rana who will be portraying a very different role. He will definitely create an impact and will not be just a ‘chocolate hero’ – that’s what he’s usually referred to as. For the central female character, at first I had signed Resham but she showed a lot of attitude, so she is out of the project. Then I signed Sofia Mirza, the Jazz girl, but at the eleventh hour she got married and that choice went kaput. She would have been a fresh face that I was introducing, but she got married before she was launched, so naturally that becomes a negative point for the film. So again I went heroine hunting and met this nice girl who lives in Karachi. She was very interested in working in films but her family was against it, as they would not allow her to work with a male director, but they agreed to let her work with me. I don’t want to reveal her identity right now, but she is going to Malaysia with me for the initial schedule. In due time. I will introduce her to the media. I am also introducing a new boy, Babrak Shah. Then Veena Malik is also essaying an important role. My film is collaboration between senior actors and newcomers.
As for the shootings going haywire, first I have planned to shoot in London. We got the NOC and other details were also taken care of, but we couldn’t get visas for some of my technicians. I didn’t ant to compromise on this issue, hence I decided to shoot in Malaysia instead.
A rumor that was doing the rounds recently was that your recent visit to India was not really a goodwill trip but an effort to get some work done on the music of your film. Your comments?
I did not go to India for the music of my film. These are just rumors, but when you set out to do a big project these rumors do circulate. I went to India in February and the music for my film was over and done with in October 2003, in October, I did go there to make use of their instruments, equipment and recording facilities. I didn’t just go there for the heck of it – there were some finer details that I could only get in India. For example, for the chorus. I wanted some powerful voices, which unfortunately we didn’t have here, so I took those from there. No doubt we have an abundance of talent here, but few singers whom I approached were asking for a bomb and I was getting big names in playback singing from India for almost half the price, so obviously, I went where I could not only save money and but also get quality and known voices. When I started working on the music of my film. I had a chat with Adnan Sami last year in july because I wanted to take him as the music director, but his album had just been released and he was on a world tour. He was, naturally, extremely busy and he declined. So I approached Amjad Bobby who is now my music director. The songs have been written by Aqeel Ruby. I have worked on a professional level throughout.
Our industry is basically dead at this point, not because we lack talent, but because movie-goers have started to demand the quality that they see in international films – clarity in picture, sound, storyline, etc. when one doesn’t find these facilities here, naturally one will go to India, Bangkok, London or America – wherever the budget permits. I have no intention of having an Indian tag pasted on my project, but the simple aim is to produce quality work. I am, after all, making the film for Pakistan and using my hard-earned money to work towards the betterment of my project and to give my industry a good image. Our films, that the public has rejected and forgotten, should be revived.
Another story that the gossip-mongers are talking about is that your India yatra was to hunt for some plum acting assignments. So Reema, what’s the truth?
I simply went for a peace mission. I wanted to give a peaceful and positive image of the country as well as of our film industry. It wasn’t the first time that I had gone to India. I have been moving in that circle for four years, from the days when relations between the two nations were not as cordial as they are today. I have also interacted with Indians while touring abroad for concerts.
Offers have also been made to me but I am not like other actresses who just want to gain publicity claiming kay ji I have received a lot of offers from Bollywood. When I was questioned by the Indian media if I had come to work in Indian films, I told them, ‘I don’t have any sort of complex because I have already done 175 films in my own country. To be very honest, I have not come here for movies. I’ll think about it, but right no I am here for a peace mission. My first priority is to help build a good relationship between Pakistan and India.’ Believe me. The film and media people were stunned that this girl who has come to meet the people of one of the biggest film industries in the world says she hasn’t come looking for work. I truly respect the Indian industry and their media because they respect me a lot, to the extent that I was compared to Ashwariya Rai! All the big names of the industry personally invited me over – from Amitabh Bachchan, and Rakesh Roshan to Dilip Kumar. So far the actresses who have gone to India haven’t been given the kind of projection that I was given or bestowed the same welcome. Here I would like to say that some girls who are going there and paying money to work in Indian films. It is not just disrespectful towards oneself but disrespectful towards Pakistan as well. As for me, a lot of discussions did take place, but you see, I would demand a certain price, also my costumes and the scenes shouldn’t be demeaning.
Right now I want to do something for my own industry, the industry that has made Reema a star. I feel the one who doesn’t respect his/her own roots, cannot climb the ladder of success. Whatever I am today is because of my country. Inshallah, as things improve more between the two countries and then if my government and my public gives me permission and I get a worthwhile project, I’ll think about it.
Reema on the small screen means Reema doesn’t have any work left on the big screen. What do you say to that?
At this point of time, our whole industry is working in television projects, then why not me? The general view is that the girls who don’t have any film work left opt for television, but I signed up for this project, Yaad Toh Ayen Gay (a 13-episode serial), two years ago. Since then, I haven’t accepted any other offer to work for a tally play, because my dream is not to work on television. I am here because I was interested in being here. Not that my film career is going haywire, but when good films are not being made, I have to satisfy the actress within me, hence I am here. And here too I haven’t done a role that requires me to look like a glam doll only – the role has some substance. I have truly worked on my character and made a point not overdo anything and keep it as true to life as possible.
Recently there was a huge controversy surrounding the Zee Cine Awards where your industry friends did not allow you to make a speech in English. What was that all about?
I don’t have any kind of inferiority complex that makes me talk in English but the simple reason was that I was representing Pakistan in a global ceremony, so I felt I should converse in English. I feel it is matter of pride to be able to talk in English, it is nothing personal. The circumstances that were created at that point by my colleagues and the organizers were such that they insisted that I talk in Urdu. My point was that there were Indians who could very well talk in Hindi, but they were conversing in English. Why? So I felt I should converse in a language that the majority was speaking, that’s all. But my contemporaries felt that it was a matter of pride and honour that I converse in our national language.
I feel my fans and the media expect me to make an impression and the fact is that wherever Reema goes her conduct speaks for itself. So I decided I would not speak a single work in any language. But let me tell you, I took sweet revenge by winning the hearts of my fans when I was in Atlantic City recently for the Bollywood Awards. I performed on a classical number wholly and solely made in Pakistan and the speech that I made was in English! I am also very proud to say that I am the first actress from the Pakistani film industry who has been given the goodwill Ambassador Award by the UN. You know, one should not think individually and make a big issue out of things but think collectively. If someone is trying to put forth a better image of their country as well as the industry, that person should be encouraged.
Lastly let’s talk about the crisis that our film industry is going through and all the brouhaha over allowing Indian films to be exhibited in Pakistan, and of course the recent trend for co-productions.
I do not want to get into an argument or say something just to get applauded. I am not going to talk against the Indian film industry. People have a dual personality here. Just to get appreciation from their own personality here. Just to get appreciation from their own crowd, they talk against the Indian film industry, but on the other hand, they pamper them aur unhein minatey kar rahe hotay hai… I don’t have double standards. If we release Indian films here, only the theatre owners and the film industry will benefit and our artistes will not get anything from it, period. But if we work on co-production at a mutual level, with actors and other technical facilities taken from both sides, with the film also getting released simultaneously in both countries, that would be beneficial. Also, in return we would be able to get some financial backing as well as extra exposure. In any case, our public will get to see competition and will be able to compare. Finally, we will land up with films with rich production values. But if Indian films are individually released here then our industry will vanish forever.