Name to know: Sanam Saeed

Hammy, high-decibel TV serials were on their way out, we knew that. But that their replacements would be quietly riveting shows from Pakistan was a bit of a surprise. Even for Sanam Saeed, the pigheaded protagonist Kashaf of Zindagi Gulzar Hai, a romantic drama referred to as Pakistan’s Pride And Prejudice, which premiered in India on channel Zindagi. “I was blown away by the positive response to our small show,” she says. “Especially since India is aeons ahead in entertainment, with bigger budgets and stars.”

Stardom came easy to the former model, who became the face of Pakistani TV after her second drama Mera Naseeb, “I played an angsty, rebellious girl, similar to Kashaf,” says the 29-year-old. “I’m a bit of a bore, I like to do serious roles with strong women characters.” The London-born actor, who moved to Karachi at the age of six, hopes the success of Pakistani dramas in India will quell stereotypes about her country. “People think Karachi is war-torn and Pakistanis are angry, vengeful and backward,” she says. “With shows like Zindagi you see the power that women (like Umera Ahmed, the show’s writer) have through the stories they tell.”

Though offers from India are starting to pour in, Saeed is hesitant to have her first trip here be about work. “India is very intimidating, I don’t feel confident enough,” she confesses. With two new Pakistani dramas, a film and a wedding next year filling up her calendar, Saeed’s immediate goal is to find time for cook-ins with friends. “I’m booked with work till December, so I look forward to regular things like dinner conversations.”

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