Pakistan’s drama industry is blessed with exceptional talent. Our dramas have always had a streak of finesse with respect to their story, script, direction and, obviously, the actors. In the past few years, Pakistani television has exuded a breath of fresh air after new faces with extraordinary talent entered the métier. Among this talented lot, a lady named Sumbul Iqbal stood out with clichéd, yet admirable characters to her credit and became a household name with hit drama serials like Roag, Meray Khawab Raiza Raiza, Dil-e-Abad, Morr Us Gali Ka, Hawa Rait Aur Angan, Raju Rocket, Neelum Kinaray to name a few. MAG chats with the young lass as she spills the beans about her career and aspiration on becoming the most sought after actress in Pakistan.
The 26-year-old star is currently enjoying all the attention she is getting for her new avatar. According to her, a lot has changed ever since she joined the industry. “Things have changed immensely. There is a lot of competition among co-stars and things (style of work) have developed gradually. Actors have started concentrating on themselves. There is a lot of modernity; everyone has something new to offer. Everybody has groomed (themselves) and so have I,” she says candidly. Sumbul believes that actors are now more connected to their audiences, sharing each and every second of their lives with their fans and things have changed on the whole with time and social media, especially has a huge role to play in this.
Her drama serial Ghayal, wherein she appears opposite singer-turned-actor Goher Mumtaz, is currently on-air and she deems it to be a rather different story. “The drama is doing well so far, as it is based on an unusual subject that caters to the society. It has a message for its audience and does not revolve around the typical rona dhona or saas-bahu story; instead it is a thriller, filled with suspense,” she asserts, while she gushes about receiving good response from her viewers.
Like any other male or female actor, Sumbul too, aims for the big screen and has also been one of the lucky few to have received offers from across the border after her play Meray Khwab Raiza Raiza was aired on an Indian channel. Considering the uncertainty of relations between India and Pakistan, with celebrities as popular as Fawad and Mahira being asked to leave India, I ask the young actress about her expected entrance into Bollywood, to which she responds cautiously. “I cannot disclose anything unless things get finalised because I have only received the script up till now. I don’t know what exactly I will be doing in it and I don’t want to end up doing something where I don’t represent Pakistan properly,” she reveals and explains further, “Keeping in mind the situation between the two countries at the moment, I am going to take a very well-thought-out decision. If I think the character is very good, conveys a message and allows me to represent Pakistan in a good light, only then will I agree on doing it.”
One does not need to rethink about the skills Sumbul possesses when it comes to acting, but one may feel that the actress has been stereotyped with the usual damsel-in-distress roles. The actress, however, has contrary views about the supposition. “Women shown in our dramas are usually there to gain sympathies from the audience, which is mostly because females who are watching them want to see themselves in those characters. Also, people in our industry are not ready to experiment at the moment. We usually portray (the life of) our viewers which appeals to those watching it.” Even though she has done two projects where her characters have had a witty side (one of her serial’s Raju Rocket also won her an award for her role), but these characters, according to her, are only appreciated occasionally.
“As far as comedy roles are concerned, I would love to do them because I can relate to such characters. However, they are not done a lot here and people do not make comedy dramas as such, but if they do I would definitely want to experiment with my characters,” she says, opening up about her will to experiment with her roles.
"I am never satisfied with my character or myself. I feel like there is always something better that I can do."
Sumbul says she has received film offers in Pakistan too, but was unsure about the ventures. “I did receive one or two offers, but I did not accept them because I could not decide. Nevertheless, I wish to work in a Pakistani movie before being cast in an Indian film,” she wishfully states.
Sumbul will soon be disclosing about her upcoming film and says she has a lot in store for her fans. “I am working on my first film at the moment during which there will be a short break from TV, though Ghayal will be on-air in the meanwhile,” she says, while not revealing much about the project.
The actress is not one to fall for glitzy awards, instead, she is satisfied when she receives love and positive feedback from her viewers alone. “One does feel happy on receiving a reward for something worthwhile. I was nominated for Roag, but I did not win the award. However, that does not mean that the audience didn’t like me. For me, getting feedback from the audience is more than an award. If you do get one, it motivates you, it strengthens your personality,” Sumbul shares. She is quite certain that awards in our country are not credible enough for a person to know their worth. “Until and unless you do not step out of your circle, and do not reward a deserving person, then it cannot be called an award. There is a lot of lobbying and that is (probably) the reason I didn’t get the award when I was nominated. But I also think that the person who won back then was more deserving and better in the jury’s eye. For me, being appreciated by my audience is more important,” she retorts bluntly.
When asked about ways to sustain in this industry, Sumbul sounds determined as she responds with an astute answer, “To be successful in life, and especially in showbiz, you need to be very patient. So, I do what I like and avoid limiting myself. For the last three years, I was not much into fashion and was so busy with my projects that I could not do anything else. Now that I have done all the conventional characters, I feel like I can work on roles that give me pleasure. But patience is the key to success at the end of the day.” Talking about her growth during all these years, she adds, “I have definitely seen myself grow as an actor in all these years. It is disastrous for you to put a full-stop; one should never stop growing with respect to life and the work they do,” Sumbul proudly utters as she signs out.