One remembers Frieha Altaf playing the girl-next-door in the iconic Moin Akhtar-starrer Rozi, wrapped in a voluminous dupatta with a plastic hair-band on her head. It was quite a contrast to the rock-star she’s always been: model, party-girl and red carpet siren, with a wide network of celebrity friends and a knack for adventurous, over-the-top designer statements.
Fast forwarding to a few years later, Frieha became choreographer and event-planner, steering things behind the scenes but never ever slinking into the shadows. It’s what she does even now, posing for the cameras before retiring to her vantage point in the choreographers booth, from where she directs a fashion show or a grandiose awards function, somehow storing away enough energy for the after-party later. In this day and age of Insta-lebrities, Frieha’s the real deal, the bona fide ‘it’ girl, even though she’s now well in her ‘50’s.
The limelight loves her and vice versa – which is why it makes sense for Frieha to dip her manicured toes into cinema’s increasingly crowded waters.
“I have always enjoyed acting and maybe one day, I want to make a film of my own. Right now, I may be representing actors or organizing a premiere. But acting in a movie will give me the chance to understand the nitty-gritties of the business,” she says.
To this end, Frieha is considering a cameo in Wajahat Rauf’s upcoming Lahore Se Aagay as well as playing a role opposite actor-director Nadeem Baig in a venture currently being planned out by Javed Sheikh. Her budding acting aspirations are news – but not necessarily a major headline.
After all, as cinema rises from the ashes, cameos have become quite the order of the day. Very recently, movies like Dekh Magar Pyar Say and Karachi Se Lahore featured appearances from well-known celebrities that went more or less unnoticed. Is Frieha making sure she’ll make a splash? “I haven’t read the scripts yet but of course, I’ll only be willing to do the parts as long as they are meaningful,” she professes.
"[In my work] I tackle security problems, unprofessional behavior and loadshedding on a regular basis. This is what I talk about when I represent my country internationally, shedding light on how we have worked against odds to set benchmarks," says Frieha of her event management career.
Meanwhile, there’s much more up Frieha Altaf’s designer-made sleeve. Her followers on social media – and there are many of them, for she lives a glamorous life and makes sure she uploads images of it on the world wide web – know that she was recently in Florence, attending the 3rd Annual Destination Wedding Planner’s Congress. One in 120 A-listers invited to the event, she hobnobbed with managers who organize high-flying events like the Filmfare awards and Kevin Lee, wedding planner to celebrities like Brad Pitt.
“The internet is a fantastic tool and that’s how the Congress came to know of me,” explains Frieha. “Last year, I was a guest speaker at the event which was then held in Mauritius. This time, I was again invited as an attendee.”
Later this month, she’ll be flying off to Mexico for the tourism-centric ‘Tiangius Turistico’, once again representing the fashion-savvy side to the Pakistani woman.
“It’s important for the world to realize the way we persevere with our careers in Pakistan,” she says. “Planning out local events is a juggernaut that involves more than sensational décor, celebrity attendees and performances. I tackle security problems, unprofessional behavior and loadshedding on a regular basis. This is what I talk about when I represent my country internationally, shedding light on how we have worked against odds to set benchmarks and shattering preconceived notions that people may have regarding Pakistani women.”
Later in the year, Frieha may head off to Turkey, to shoot Javed Sheikh’s movie but before this, of course, she’s show director to the Lux Style Awards, tentatively scheduled for this July. It’s a glitzy, shiny rollercoaster ride, ricocheting through the world, exploring new avenues, experimenting and perpetually being followed around by the spotlight. For Frieha, it’s all in a day’s work.