Best of luck, Iman
I want to clarify that I am not going to Bombay to make films;
I am going to Dehradun for alternative therapy on multiple sclerosis."
– Iman Ali talks to Instep before heading out to the hilly
resort of India
Aamna Haider Isani
Ali is a brave woman, a woman who has learnt to swim against the current
and fight all odds. In her first film, Khuda Kay Liye, she stepped
into a role that did spell 'trouble'. She walked away with critical
acclaim for her performance but also with a fatwa against her. Both
have left her unperturbed.
Iman is also someone who takes up challenges. Rejecting social taboos,
she agreed to dance in the Jazz Budget ad; it wouldn't be wrong to
say she helped start a trend on television.
Perhaps it's the personal battle she has been fighting with multiple
sclerosis that has toughened her up. It's an ailment that still not
many people understand in Pakistan and she has taken it upon herself
to spread awareness so that other women may benefit from her experiences.
Instep wishes Iman the heartiest of best wishes as she prepares to
travel to Dehradun (India) later this week, for alternative therapy
this brief interview Iman talks about the road she has been traveling
through films, fashion, television and also multiple sclerosis….
Kay Liye has been doing so well despite your early apprehensions
that it wasn't a commercial film. Your role has been greatly appreciated
and you must be basking in glory these days?
Iman Ali: There's no glory as such. I haven't seen anything change.
People's behaviour towards me has not changed. The one most touching
moment for me was when Babra Sharif called and told me how good
I was - now that really mattered. She threw a party for me and all
that appreciation coming from her was humbling. I'm such a big fan
of hers; to be appreciated by her felt very nice.
Instep: Do you think the film does a greater service to reviving
cinema in Pakistan or to changing mind sets?
IA: It's a little bit of both. What this movie has done is start
a dialogue. At least people are talking about it and the issues
it takes up. Reaction, any reaction, can only be positive. Plus,
before this film people thought that only Punjabi films do well
in Pakistan. This broke the stereo type. The perception has been
proven wrong. Those films have flopped and Khuda Kay Liye is still
running to packed theatres. No cinema is willing to take it down.
Now hopefully other film makers will get the finances to take up
equally stimulating projects. The people are ready for better cinema.
Instep: You've had nothing but good reviews from the film. Are film
makers hounding you with offers now?
IA: Interestingly, I had offers even before the film was released.
People who were interested had seen me act on television and they
had seen me dance in the ad. So the offers were already there. What
I'm extremely pleased about is that it has opened doors for Fawad.
He has been 'discovered' in this film.
Instep: Are you working on a new project?
IA: I've been in dialogue with Amena Khan (from the former Amena-Ahsan
video directors-duo) for some time now. I've always loved her work
and she has been eager to make a feature film. I still don't know
what she's making but I'm onboard the project. There have also been
discussions with Asim Raza. They're all ready to step out but are
looking for financiers. I have to say that I may have done serious
cinema, but I'm up for all genres of film. I want to do the comedy
and the dancing. If it's good, it'll be good.
Instep: You love to dance, don't you?
IA: I absolutely love it! You know that I was supposed to dance
at the Lux Style Awards this year but couldn't because of my health.
I'm hoping I will be able to next year. And I want to do it with
Pappu Samrat. He's very good and I believe in giving our own people
a chance. Talking about the LSAs I must also say that while we're
all hunky dory about creating new stars, we mustn't let go of our
legends. We should take our older generations of celebrities forward
with us. Television is what influences our masses the most and the
second LSA was so strong in that it brought people like Moeen Akhter,
Samina Ahmad, Feryal Gauher and many others together. Films are
still a flop medium in Pakistan and fashion is still relatively
inconsequential. It's these people who can still bring more life
and even class to a show.
Instep: Iman, you have always been very open about your health,
despite the fact that it could have jeopardized your career. What
has motivated you in being so vocal about it?
IA: I've been open because people in Pakistan don't know about MS.
I've seen a lot of cases where women have not taken it seriously
until they're in a wheel chair and their condition is out of control.
It targets mostly women so people find it convenient to ignore.
Awareness has to be created: it was recently discovered that multiple
sclerosis is life threatening. I motivated Nadia Khan to do a show
on it. I don't understand why anyone would hide it? Alopathic treatment
is unaffordable to most people and I now want to spread awareness
about the alternative methods available. I really want to make some
difference and share my experience once I'm back from India where
I'll be gone for around six to seven weeks. Before leaving I want
to clarify that I am not going to Bombay to make films; I am going
to Dehradun for alternative therapy on MS.