Gia Ali – a name that spells trouble. An actress who ends up chasing more trouble than any other actress in the business. Wild. Wanton. Home breaker. Man-eater. One-hit wonder… All these allegations and a lot more resound whenever the name of Gia is mentioned; anywhere. But is she as bad as she has been painted? Let’s ask Gia.
You had to your credit one of the biggest hits of Pakistani cinema, Deewanay Teray Piyar Kay. But even its mammoth success didn’t have directors lining up at your door. Doesn’t this make you a one-hit wonder?
Am I to be blamed for this? I don’t think so. I believe directors or producers should have cashed in on me but no one actually paid heed to the movie’s runaway success. I couldn’t have gone and pleaded with those people to cast me in their ventures. No, thank you! I have my dignity. So I changed tracks and joined the tube.
But don’t you think 70 mm has it own charm and it’s certainly the ultimate?
That is an incorrect notion. The film industry is not the ultimate destiny for every woman in showbiz. Had it been right, Vinny, Imam and Aaminah Haq would have been doing films instead of television.
But what was the focal reason of you not getting more films?
Blame it on the stupendous success of Choorian, because of which Punjabi movies became all the rage and which diminished the trend of Urdu movies once again. After Choorian, all the big ventures that saw the light of day were Punjabi and I wasn’t right for them. I was neither voluptuous nor busty, and I didn’t even have the proper Punjabi accent. I was offered a few such movies but I said no! I would rather chew glass than do such stereotypical Punjabi movies.
But it is reported that Syed Noor tried his best to ruin your career as you offended his ego. No wonder the whole industry sidelined you.
During the making DTPK my father died. I told Noor Sahib ke “Mera Baap Mar Gaya Hai”. Now you being a father figure have to support me. I have to run my family, I have to take care of my widowed mother and five orphaned younger brothers. I know nothing so you take care of the money matters and all – and that’s what irked him.
So money was the bone of contention?
Yes. He took it to heart and put me on his ignore list for three years.
But this absurd because you were asking for something that is your basic right. Who want to work for free – acting is no charity.
This exactly is my point. The bad part about the industry here is that no one wants to talk about money and expects you to do everything for free. Imagine, I was paid an astronomical price for my debut and was then asked to do other movies for peanuts. If I indulged in other sinister activities like other film heroines I would have settled for less money, but money is what I needed to run my kitchen. I simply refused to slash down my price and ended up getting the boot.
But why did he do this you? After all, he is your godfather.
Says who? He isn’t my godfather; Sajjad Gul is. Syed Noor is the one who refused to work with me a week after the shooting of DTPK.
Just because I revealed that I am a year older than Momi. He started degrading me by saying that I am wooden and I look older than Momi. He used to say that ke “Main Panch Bachon Ki Maa Lagti hoon”… Thanks but no thanks. I wasn’t pretending to be a 16-year old Miss Goody-Two-Shoes. I told Syed Noor in the beginning that I have two left feet, but despite that he started the movie with Thaya Thaya, a classical number. “Momi Kar Leta Tha Magar Mujh Say Nahi Hota Tha”, and they used to make fun of me. In fact, I even tried to commit suicide because of his cruel attitude. It was Sajjad Gul who stood by my side and supported me throughout. He made it clear that no one apart from me would play the main lead.
People had high expectations for you movie, Dil Deewanay, but surprisingly it didn’t set the silver screen on fire. Why so?
Syed Noor played dirty with me. He took three years to complete DD, and in all that time he didn’t let me sign any other movies. My loss was Saima’s gain. It was all planned. Then he made the whole movie half-heartedly, so the output was rather bland. The script was strong but the movie had a lot of loopholes. Then he intentionally shot all the songs at one location and released the movie on just two weeks after 9/11, which proved to be the final nail in the coffin. And the result; the movie sank like the Titanic. Though, I won the Graduate award for the best actress for DD, which shows my dedication.
Leave aside Syed Noor. What about Sajjad Gul who, despite being your mentor, never repeated you in his ventures. Was this too a conspiracy?
There is this lethal chemistry between Sajjad and me. The movie he made after DDPK was Niki Jai Haan and I was not right for that. Reema and Saima suited their roles to a T and so he was right to opt for them. Then he made a movie with Humayun Saeed – a copy of Mrs. Doubtfire. Humayun had the pivotal roles, and the heroines were used merely as catalysts – to add the much – needed glamour element. He didn’t want to waste me in both the ventures and that’s why he didn’t sign me.
After the widely-acclaimed DTPK, came back with a dud like Dil Deewanay, and again moved ahead with Nakhra Gori Da and Rukhsti, in which your roles were minuscule. Didn’t you realize such moves would set you back, especially when you are in the driver’s seat?
Both the roles were glamorous but surprisingly the directors didn’t do justice to them. The roles were just like Rani’s and Karishma’s roles in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dil to Pagal Hai.
The graph of hit movies in Lollywood is going downhill. Who is to be blamed for this deterioration?
Producers! The producers we have are either doodh-walas or gosh-walas who make movies not for the public but for their own amusement.
You know, to get a chance to mingle with film heroines and fulfill their desires.
But producers are just like banks; a movie is always the director’s baby.
That’s a very Hollywood and Bollywood concept. Over there, directors call the shots. But here in Lollywood, a movie is the producer’s baby. The movie reflects the producer’s personality and his version, and not the director’s. All the directors have to do is to conceive the idea accordingly. Had this not been the case, all of Syed Noor’s movies would have been hits. But he delivered 17 flops at a stretch!
In a place like showbiz, being hypocritical and politically correct is the order of the day. While you, on the other hand, are known to be very blunt and straightforward. Don’t you think you should tone down this blunt attitude and be diplomatic? After all, you know what they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
The film industry left a bad taste in my mouth. I have been accused of a lot of crimes! Haven’t committed, and this is what has made me so bitter and disillusioned.
You are known to be the boldest celebrity around – someone who has no inhibitions about showing her skin. Do you think this wild and wanton image – as opposed to good acting skills – will keep you in the limelight longer?
I have no problems about showing skin as long it is tastefully done. I still think I don’t have a perfect figure. I don’t have a flat stomach and I just don’t know it off. Yes, I do have nice legs that I like to flaunt. I am not a hypocrite. I have it so I flaunt it. Even in fashion shows I always get the most daring clothes because they know that I carry them well. My problem is that am very good at heart. Usually when the shows start most of the models refuse to wear daring clothes and I am always asked to rescue the designers. I am proud of the fact that my family really supports me in whatever I do, I smoke, I go to dance parties, I date, I wear daring clothes, and they know about it. There is nothing that I do and they don’t know about. When I am on the ramp, I am Gia, and at home I am Baji and Beti.
Do men you come across make moves on you?
I believe both men and women are sexually aggressive these days. Sexual language is a very subjective thing; it’s person-based, not gender-based. But I do believe that women are far more aware of their wants than they were in the past. They are in positions of power in the corporate world too, sometimes even higher than men. So, men think twice before making passes at them. But I am sure moves have been made.
Every model or actress has men coming up to her and telling her they find her attractive. The moves made on me are all very harmless and kosher, I also believe that it depends on how you carry yourself. When I got into the industry, everyone assumed I was an easy lay and people would even treat me like one. Then, once they talked to me. They would realize that I wasn’t the type who was readily available.
Your ‘wild’ reputation seems to be gaining more prominence with each passing day. You are considered to be a man-eater. What is it about you that make the male species go weak in the knees? They certainly don’t call you a hot dish for nothing.
Man-eater? Excuse me, but I am not into human flesh! Give me a Spanish dish like Enrique lglesias! I am no cannibal, man! This wild image has to be the most hilarious tag I have ever gotten. I’ll tell you why. A man-eater is someone who flutters her eyelashes at any guy, makes a play for him, hooks him and then books him! And I am the last person to qualify for that label because I don’t do such things. I don’t act coy with boys; instead I backslap them. And behave more like a boy than a proper lady. Then I go and meet all of them with my hair scrapped back with lots of oil and the makeup on. And this is more of a turn-off than anything. I am too tom-boyish to behave like your average man-eater. I wish to change, but I can’t.
But you have been hitting the headlines thanks to your numerous liaisons. Sheikh Amir Hasan seems to head the list. There is not smoke without fire, they say. Or is it just a link-up?
I know SAH like the back of my hand. He is one of these people who have supported me through thick and thin. Our friendship goes way back. I owe my success to him. He is my teacher, my mentor, my friend and my pillar of support. SAH has his sexual primacy and there is no way we can develop that relationship. Ours is a platonic relationship. He is the one who took out the woman in me. He gave me proper training – “Meri Garden Pakar Kar Uss Ne Seedhi Kari, Mujhe Chalna Aur Mujhe Bolna Uss Ne Sikhaaya”. Amir is a genuine friend. Someone I can count on in my time of need. He doesn’t treat me as a woman and I don’t treat him as a man, and this is what makes our friendship rock. I am his in-house model. I do all his campaigns. “Amir Ki Kabhi Bhi Aurton Say Itni Dosti Nahi Rahi”, I’m his only female friend and that’s what makes tongues wag.
Then you have also been liked with Mian Salli (Yousaf Salahuddin). Would you deny him as well?
I dare not deny Mian Sahib but I do deny the allegation Mian Sahib is one of those people I am very fond of. Earlier I was told by different people that Mian Sahib has a bad reputation, that he is a Casanova and that I should avoid him as much as I can; but I turned a deaf ear. I believe in judging people from my own experiences, not from what other people say.
And how did you find him?
I found him otherwise. He is a gem. I have tremendous respect for him because, unlike the others, he didn’t turn his back while I was going through a bad phase. In fact, he supported me throughout. No doubt I like older men because they take life more seriously and have a more positive approach towards life. But affair? I adore Mian Sahib because he is the one who told me know to live life. And that one should not sit and dwell on small matters but should move on. “Main Ne To Bary Dates Mari Hain Mian Salli Ki Haveli Main”.
Then who are you seeing?
Fiancé!! Where did this come from?
Sent from the heavens above. (Laughs.)
Must be ! But who is the guy?
He is Turkish. And he is a pilot.
Good shot! So where did you meet him?
He was introduced to me by a common friend. I recently went to Turkey to see his family. The people are really nice. I don’t want to marry a rich man. I want to marry someone middle class. I once got engaged when I was 16.
So this is the second one?
Yeah. That guy was really nice, but somehow it didn’t work out. There were some family problems, so we called it quits. Then there was this guy from NCA I started seeing during the DTPK days. My father was very fond him and wanted me to settle down with him. He really took care of me and my family after my father’s demise. I was really touched. But he had that typical Pakistani mentality… “Wohi chik chik aur wohi shakh”. So I realized he wasn’t the man I was looking for and we parted ways. Then I met this Turkish guy. He is a thorough gentleman. I can’t get better than this.
When are the wedding bells going to chime?
Now I am 31. It’s about time I settle down. By the end of this year we will be settled.
Admit it! No one has ever captured you as beautifully as Khawar Riaz used to. In fact, he is the one who played a major role in creating this legend called ‘Gia Ali.’ So how come you don’t work with him at all now? Any professional differences?
Khawar is a pro. He is one person I can confide in-a true friend. I met Khawar while he was working with Depilex. He always showed a keen desire to work with me but it didn’t pan out. When I left Santay nobody was willing to work with me apart from Khawar. He took me under his wing and we did some really great shoots together. He used my face as a canvas and did all kinds of experiments. In fact, “Khawar Ne Makeup Meray Moo Pe Seekha Hai”, Zara came much later. Then I put on weight and Khawar switched his loyalties to Zara. But it hasn’t affected our friendship in the least. We are still good friends.
Your name has been dragged in lot of controversies and one that tops the list is of your being a sweeperess. Don’t you feel hurt by such insidious accusations?
Sweeperess is a mild word. Use the exact word: Bhangan. Wasn’t this what I was called? For this I must thank a famous Lahori beautician who played so many dirty tricks to tarnish my image. But it never worked out. In fact, these allegations made me thick-skinned. Yes, I did start from a scratch: I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. We were really poor and we still are. But I am not ashamed of it. I am proud of it there were times when I had no money to eat food but I didn’t give up. I took as a part of life. Okay, I am a Bhangan, But what’s big deal? Aren’t they human too? They are also a part of society. I could have retaliated but I didn’t. I still don’t. I am not the vindictive sort. Let the dogs bark. I don’t want to stoop that low: I believe in dignity. I know a lot of personal details about her but I never talked about them publicly. I don’t believe in washing dirty linen in public. Petty people always think petty. I have moved on, but she is still wedged there. Life is beyond all this.
She has all the right to do so, after all, you tried to snare her husband .
She thinks I tried to steal her husband but, then, so have other people. Why me? Because I am a threat. Because she sees me as competition. Because I am a beautiful woman. You know she does it intentionally because when she throws mud at me she gets good publicity out of it.
So do you ?
But she gets good publicity and i get negative. if i were trying to steal her husband , You’d assume that I was the kind to steal husband. But, how many other married men I have seduced afterwards? How many houses have I broken? I am always interacting with rich, married men-know a lot of directors, producers and entrepreneurs who are married- But why didn’t I hook then? How much money have I made? “Kitni Main Nay Gaarian Khareed Li, Kitni Buildings Bana Li”? None at all. I believe in karma. If you do bad things, bad things will happen to you. Had that accusation been right, would I have gotten the golden chance to do DTPK? I didn’t deserve that then. “Log To Kehtay Hain Ke Uss Ka Mian To Shukar Ada Karta Hai Ke Tumhaari Waja Se Usski Uss Aurat Say Jaan Chhoot Ggayee”. You know deep down inside I am a coward. I have seen her in person. I know what she is capable of. How low she can sink. She tried her level best to tarnish my image but never succeeded. There was a time when people like Beegee used to be her friends; now they are my friends. Because I didn’t use them: she did.
Your religious conviction has also come in question. Some people say that you are a Christian while some say you are a Muslim. What is the reality?
I am a true blue Muslim. And there is no question about it. It has been spread by you-know-who. A handsome amount of money was paid to a famous newspaper by you-know-who to publish the news. My stepfather was a “Daari Wala Maulvi”, so was my real father. So how could I be labeled a Christian? This is such a petty issue but it has been highlighted and has been used against me schooling from St. Mary’s and I used to hang out with Christian friends. I don’t believe in discrimination. “Hum Christmas Me Apnay Friends Ke Sath Christmas Manatay Thay Aur Eid Pay Eid”. I am not an orthodox Muslim nor an extremist. If we recite the Quran or say our prayers we do it for ourselves and not for people or to show off. I do admit that I am inspired by Christianity. I wear a cross a lot. Then Hinduism also inspires me. I love rakhi bandhan in Hinduism, like the idea of touching feet. I like the equality of Islam, like the Buddhist idea of living life. I adopt all the good things, which all religions have to offer.
In your struggling days, you have faced a lot of rejections. Have those bitter experiences made you reciprocate in a vindictive manner?
Bitter experiences happen. It is not written on my forehead that I am good at acting. It is only over time that people realize your capability and talent. And then they respect you. When some new directors approach me I don’t dismiss them because they are raw; someone has to give them a chance. They can’t prove their mettle until you show some faith in them. I wouldn’t want others to go through what I have maybe that’s just the way I see it.