Senior drama artist Shazma Haleem has said that upcoming female performers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have a bright future if they enjoy support of their families and ample opportunities to bring out their talent.

She expressed these views while talking to this scribe at an event organised by a private TV channel wherein she was given a life achievement award in recognition of her contribution. She said female artists had great talent but it required a space to display it if proper guidance coupled with family support was provided.

Recipient of numerous awards, Ms Haleem launched her acting career from Radio Pakistan, Peshawar when she was a student of 8th grade in 1986.

Born with a talent, she all along from district Swabi made it to Radio Pakistan Peshawar where Laiqzada Laiq, the then head of Pashto current affairs programme, put her voice on air and got an instant fame for talent. A year later, she was offered to relay Pashto news from Islamabad and she became the first-ever Pashto newsreader.

Scaling heights of success, Ms Haleem said PTV Peshawar producer Jahanzeb Sohail offered her a role in a Pashto play ‘Dangay Sooky’ way back in 1989 and since then she never looked back and did multiple characters in over 100 hit Pashto and Urdu serials and assorted plays. She has received award for the best actor from PTV, Peshawar centre six times and has also represented Pakistan in China, Afghanistan and Gulf States.

“I have played out many roles but playing tragedy is my forte. I have hosted different magazine shows and also have anchored various types of soap shows but drama is my favourite field. Had my family not supported me, I would have not stood on the pedestal where I am today. I believe our young female artists are more talented but they just need a push of their families,” she said.

The artist said that female performers required a due space where they could exhibit their inborn talent. She said that she was fortunate to have had devoted producers, who guided her at every step.

“My mentors include playwrights late Prof Mohammad Azam Azam, Noorul Bashar Naveed, Prof Afzal Raza, Saadullah Jan Barq and Prof Humayun Huma while TV producers Masood Ahmad Shah, late Shaukat Ali Khan and a few others instilled a spirit of hard work in me. Despite odds, I did my graduation and reared my children through thick and thin. I would advise the upcoming performers to be true to the respective field of art they want to join and also take art as a passion, not as a profession because doing justice to both is not everybody’s cup of tea,” said Ms Haleem.

Originally published in Dawn, April 26th, 2019