Interview: Juggan Kazim
“I am doing films because I believe in the
revival of Pakistani cinema”
- Juggan Kazim
Juggan Kazim is an interviewer’s delight: she loves talking, has an opinion about everything under the sun and keeps no secrets. Sexy, sassy, smart – she is not boring copy and she knows it! In an animated conversation with Newsline, Juggan talks about her film career that is about to take off with a bang, her failed marriage, and the love of her life, her son Hamza, who is being raised in an extremely supportive extended family environment.
Q: What projects are you currently working on?
A: I have switched over from my morning show on Hum TV to do other things. Although I love Hum to death, it was becoming difficult for them to do a recorded programme from Lahore and I, too, prefer live morning shows. I was asked to move to Karachi when they were changing anchors but that was not an option for me, simply because my family is in Lahore and my son goes to school here – I just couldn’t uproot him. Where my work is a priority, it is not as important as my son. Eventually, I want him to go to Aitchison College, which I believe is the best school for boys in Pakistan.
So, I am going through a transition. I am switching to another morning show but a lot of things remain to be finalised for that. Anchoring is something I fell into and now I can never leave it. I just love it. I meet such interesting people every day who simply blow me away. When you sit down with them for an hour, you find out so many interesting things about them – especially during commercial breaks. People have so many layers and facets; we process them as being one-dimensional when there is actually so much more to individuals.
I have taken up more modelling assignments, even though I have never considered myself to be a model. The movies are finally making headway. The acting projects are ongoing. I have never done a sitcom before, but currently I am acting in one directed by Mairajudin Mohsin, in which I play a really fun role as a Pathan boy. There is a bunch of other stuff that I’m doing: Honestly Speaking with Juggan Kazim on PTV and VIPs Only on Aag.
Work has been coming my way and I have been taking it on.
Q: Is money a factor, considering you are a single mother?
A: Of course it is, but modelling is the lowest paying job you can do.
Q: Really? Even as compared to acting?
A: As compared to anchoring. Anchoring pays extremely well in comparison to modelling or acting. You can charge Rs 50,000 per episode for a 45-minute show – even Rs 100,000. For a sponsored show you can get any amount. Mashallah, I am paid very well as I have a certain amount of recognition as an actor.
Q: When you say modelling, do you mean ramp or campaigns?
A: Not ramp. Even though I have lost a lot of weight, I don’t have the height for it. And when there are taller, more suitable girls for the ramp, why would I start doing it? I like to create a niche for myself in situations that suit me.
I have done make-up, jewellery and even fashion shoots at times. I did Fahad Hussain’s campaign, Ammar Belal’s, Tipu of Allenora in Karachi, Sanober Salon in Lahore, some work for Luscious, as well as the high-profile Garnier campaign. I guess losing weight helped because now I fit in the regular model size.
Q: Why did you choose to sign a three-movie deal with Shaan?
A: I understand Shaan’s point of view as a business person. He felt that if he was investing his time, money and effort in me for one project, then I should be on board for others so he can get his mileage from the pay-offs. See, in any situation, I will always put up a front and say no if there is reason to, but given a logical reason, I am all for it. When he explained the situation to me, I understood his point of view and that worked out well.
Q: Have you started shooting for Shaan’s movie?
A: No, there were some technical issues and Shaan didn’t want to rush things. It’s a commercial script; a romance between two people in the media, the ins and outs of being a part of this life and the consequences that follow. It has been scripted by Mashal Peerzada – my cousin. Pappu Samrat is going to teach me how to dance; I am looking forward to that.
Q: Are you a good dancer?
A: Mediocre. But obviously Pappu is going to teach me. It is a good team. Zeb and Haniya are doing the music, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan has sung a song. Shaan is really going all out.
Q: When is the targeted release?
A: Hopefully, the middle of this year.
Q: That’s pretty soon considering you haven’t even started shooting. Isn’t that overly ambitious?
A: Shaan works fast. He is a good director; he has his grievances about other projects but one tends to make an extra effort for personal ones. We might shoot two films back-to-back and release one this year and the other soon afterwards. Each film is a mission-and-a half when you take it up.
Film is not easy, especially with the tiny budgets we have in Pakistan. I am doing it because I believe in the revival of Pakistani cinema, and secondly, because I love cinema. Who doesn’t? Anyone who says they don’t love cinema is talking rot. Every actor wants to do cinema. Theatre has its own charm. It is a live performance – there is no margin for error. Theatre is an actor’s true learning ground, and that is where I started when I was 14. You do TV because it is the one money-making medium you have. I love television – it has given me so much. It has trained and groomed me, but cinema is cinema.
Q: Are you going to Bollywood?
A: We will talk when it is formalised. People keep shooting in the dark, but there is no point in talking about something unless it has been finalised. With Shaan, I have signed the contract, received my money and he has given me the go-ahead to talk about it. Two other offers have come my way. One is from outside Pakistan and the other was made by a local actor. So let’s see if these end up happening!
Q: You are obviously very busy. How do you manage everything with your son?
A: I am in Karachi for a week every month so I bring him whenever I can. In Lahore, he is with my mother on the weekends, and my Amna chachi on weekdays. He loves the pampering he gets there. When he is travelling with me, he loves meeting new people and the excitement of planes. He is well-adjusted to this lifestyle.
Q: How does he take to being away from you?
A: That is hard on both of us. I can’t sleep without cuddling him. He is my reason for everything. Many of my career decisions are inevitably for him. Yes, I could switch to a nine-to-five job. But if I am committing to a morning show, it is for my child because with this arrangement I am there to send him to school everyday. It also translates into me cutting down on the number of serials I do to about two to three a year instead of two to three different projects every month.
Film is beautiful in the sense that you don’t have to be on the set for 12 hours every day because then you don’t look good on screen. I have to get up at 7 a.m. to send my son to school. Then I sleep for a couple of hours because no bloody shoot starts before 12 p.m. in this country. Only directors like Babar Javed and Asim Ali start work at 10 a.m. and wrap up at a decent hour. With Hamza in school I like to be home by 7 p.m. Lahoris, by the way, are amazing people. If you tell them that you have to finish by 7 p.m. they will free you by 6:30 p.m. Babar and Asim always tell me to bring Hamza along to the shoot. It works. The problem is, people in the media want to hide their children. Hamza, mashallah, turned four in March and every birthday of his is an achievement for me. I am very proud of him.
Q: What about the dad – is he involved with the child?
A: No, he is not and that’s a decision both of us took together. Raising a child that’s torn between two homes makes him grow up to be very confused. It happened to me – [because of my parents’ divorce] I grew up very confused. Weekdays it was mama’s home, weekends it was dad’s – I felt I had no home. I make sure my child knows his home is his home.
Q: Are you living by your self?
A: I am living with family. I have the upstairs portion and my cousin lives downstairs. My mother has her own place with my brother living in the upper portion of the house.
The fact that we don’t live together translates into Hamza having a whale of a time when he goes to his grandmother’s house. It is vacation time for him. My mom’s a great grandmother. When I was growing up I had a lot of issues with her because I was very hyper and crazy. She had little patience then, but now when I see how she is with my son, I am amazed and angry. I always tell her that you never scream at him while we, as kids, were frequently slapped around.
Q: How is your relationship with Hamza?
A: I have never raised my hand at him. I don’t scream at him. Usually, I sit him down and tell him that something can’t be done and now he has started doing the same with me. He tells me, “Mama, this can’t be done.”
As I am getting older and as my son is growing up, I am becoming very scared and frightened of the possibilities of things that can and cannot happen. To say that I have become religious would be an overstatement, but I have become very fearful of God – fearful in a good way, not bad. We have lost the sense of right and wrong. There are only extremes now – fundos who want to blow up half the world and the other half that only wants to party, get drunk and fall over. There is no balance now and we have to find that balance.
Q: Would you call that religiosity or morals?
A: Moral fibre in society all over the world has disappeared. I saw a friend of mine climb into the lap of another’s husband and when I criticised her, the wife turned around and said to me: what’s your problem? I was like, dude, inappropriate!
I like boundaries. Joking and kidding around is fine – I do it all the time. But there has got to be a limit. We have no limits now. There are no physical boundaries anymore. Everybody is touching and feeling each other, everybody is saying what they want to say – this is not on.
Q: Newsline profiled you a few years back and you mentioned you were in the process of writing a book. What is happening on that front?
A: Done! But I am not willing to part with it now.
A: Because it’s become a very big part of my life and the lives of some women I know very closely. It has become such a personal account that I have to make it a little impersonal; basically fictionalise it.
Q: Do you have a publisher?
A: I will probably go with Still Waters. Why go for international publishers when you have such awesome local ones? The point of the book was not to make millions. I had a story to tell and I wanted to tell it. Everything in life cannot be about money.
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