Mohsin Mirza

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  • An Interview with Yamina Peerzada


    Yamina Peerzada has graduated from Central School of Speech and Drama (UK) with a Masters Degree in 'Acting for Screen'. Growing up amongst artists she was introduced and drawn to the performing arts from a very young age. She performed her first stage play at the age of ten at the 2nd World Performing Arts Festival 1994. She has performed as a puppeteer with the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop in Pakistan, India, Turkey, Italy, Scotland, France, Norway, Denmark and United Kingdom. She was the first Pakistani actress to perform a One-Woman Show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, 2008. She performed 'Dance Without Movement' (One-Woman Show) at the Invasian Festival-Edinburgh Fringe Festival, for 21 Nights, directed by Jim Johnson-Peshkar Productions.

    Q: When did you start acting and what was your first acting experience?

    A: I did my first professional theatre play at the age of 10 at the 2nd International Puppet Festival and continued to perform on stage ever since, both in Pakistan as well as internationally in festivals in India, Turkey , Norway, Scotland, United Kingdom, Italy, and Denmark. But my first television serial was Rangeel Pur directed by my uncle Usmaan Peerzada in 2010.

    Q: Was acting always your passion or was it something that you were surrounded with that helped you develop a taste for it?

    A: I was def initely attracted to the performing arts because I grew up with and around artists. My nana Zia Jallandri was an intellectual and poet, and my dada Rafi Peer was a playwright, actor and radio artiste. Also my uncles being actors, painters, and writers and my father Saadaan Peerzada, being a puppeteer, producer, and considering he had organized several performing arts festivals, I was exposed to artists from all over the world from a very young age. Even my Mother who taught Literature always encouraged me to pursue acting as a career and discussed drama, literature and films in great detail so this is literally what I grew up with.

    Q: Living under the shadow of legends like Samina Peerzada, Usman P eerzada and Saadaan Peerzada do you think there is an added pressure on you to deliver in the acting arena?

    A: Definitely. Generally people tend to think that if you come from a family of artists its easier for you to make your place but in reality it is very difficult to create your own niche when you are overshadowed by towering personalities and there is a lot of expectation from you. A lot of girls who enter the drama industry come through modeling or just a keen interest. I feel it’s a lot easier for them since the audience has nothing to compare them to.

    My uncle Usmaan Peerzada and aunt Samina Peerzada have worked very hard in this industry for almost three decades and made a name for themselves, which they deserve. It would be very silly to compare my work to theirs.

    Q: Do you think education from abroad in acting has helped you polish your acting skills and how has the whole experience of living and studying abroad helped you grow as a person?

    A: Definitely! Although I do believe acting like any other talent is God-given but you can and must hone your skills. I went to an acting school because I respect the craft and wanted to invest the time and effort that it deserves.

    I studied Acting for Theatre at DADA under Amal Allana in India and then did my Masters in Acting for Screen at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. Studying Acting and exploring different acting techniques has been an extremely rewarding journey because it helps you develop your own skills and grow as a person. Even though acting is often taught u sing specific acting techniques, such as The Stanislavsky System, The Chekhov Technique, Lee Strasberg’s Method, The Mesiner Technique, one has to remember that someone created these techniques because they felt they had a better approach for themselves. Therefore, one can pick and choose what works best for them because I believe that being a good actor depends heavily on knowing yourself.

    The experience and knowledge that I gained from studying overseas is priceless and has greatly influenced my approach to work and helped shape the person I am today.

    However, studying Screen Acting in London and coming back to work in Pakistan can be quite frustrating as well as things here work completely differently and we at school are trained for the British Film/Television Industry. I have often had people send me the script 2-3 days prior to shooting and don’t understand what’s wrong with that because that’s just how they work here.

    Q: Do you have any silver screen aspirations currently or are you more tuned towards the drama industry?

    A: I have always aspired to be a film actor.

    Q: Do you think our drama industry has more room for growth and has it managed to portray a positive image of the country abroad?

    A: The drama industry definitely has room for growth, however I still feel there is a dearth of good scripts. Even today the most successful serials are the ones in which the man is rich and good looking and the woman is sweet, innocent and submissive. We still have very black and white roles and very few characters with shades of grey. And I think the producers need to be more brave as they are mostly running after TRPs and repeating the same stories that have been tried and tested which can get very monotonous and uninspiring for an actor.

    Q: Where do you like acting more, theater or TV?

    A: Both. However I enjoy the rehearsal process in theatre a lot more and hope that we get more time to rehearse and do workshops before starting a serial as I feel it really helps an actor get into character and gives him/her time to create little nuances of the character, also in building a good rapport and chemistry with the co actors and director.

    In acting for television you have literally no time. Realistically speaking if one is shooting approximately 15 scenes a day how will they be able to do complete justice to the character and story. That’s the only reason I enjoy the working process of theatre more. However I love the magic that can be created on screen through visuals. So I want a bit of both worlds.

    Q: How did you find working in the drama serial barf? How did you manage to relate with your character in the drama?

    A: Numaira’s character in Baraf was a challenging role for me since she was quite different from me in real life, she is a girl from a middle class family, who marries into a feudal family, becomes a mother, then a widow, and her struggle to becoming a successful politician. It was a pleasure working with Mohib Mirza again after ‘Roag’ and this time we both had completely different characters to play. I also had a really good time working with Sami khan for the first time. However, I do wish we had only 20 episodes as originally written and not 33 episodes, because the pace of the story becomes monotonous.

    Q: Where do you see yourself in next 5 years in the media industry?

    A: Wow, I really don’t know but I would hope to be part of stories that touch hearts, connect with people, entertain people, and hopefully create and be part of meaningful cinema.