Has Mrs and Mr Shameem revealed too much in the trailer? I throw the question to Saba Qamar the moment she joins the chat!
Aisa kuch nahi. Yeh toh nahi hone wala keh puri kahani trailer mein bata den. Buhat mehnat ki hai. Jab pehla scene reveal hoga toh log kahenge yeh toh dekha hi nahi tha. Aur aagay jo issue hum discuss kar rahe hain, ek surprise hai. Jab aap dekhenge toh you’ll know you were wrong. Humne ghalat socha tha ke trailer mein puri story dikha di hai! Pehla scene open hoga. Toh log kahenge ye toh humne socha hi nahi tha. Logon ko buhat ghalat fehmi ho rahi hai. This is not the whole story.
Saba Qamar as Umaina in Mrs and Mr Shameem
She dialled in on time, on the dot, I could have set my watch. That set the tone for me. A Pakistani celeb with over 5 Million followers who respects the value of punctuality is like a pearl in the ocean, a relic, a nostalgia, a memory. And yet, here she was, living, breathing, in the flesh Saba Qamar answered all my questions on her character Umaina aka Mrs Shameem in her upcoming web series Mrs and Mr Shameem with a grace and fluidity that speaks of her experience and testament to where she stands today.
Every role I play, changes me and adds to what I am as a human being
I grow with every role I take on… with Baaghi, I thought I’m just portraying a person who was a social media influencer, but then after living in her skin, I became more sensitive towards people. I was so disturbed with Baaghi, I had to take a break. I had gone into depression. My gaze had become so intense. Every character I’ve done is now a part of me. And a mix of all of them has become Saba now. A bit of Fauzia from Baaghi a bit of Mita from Hindi Medium a bit of Umaina. These characters define me.
But what of Umaina – Mrs Shameem. How do you relate to her? And how did she change you? I queried curiously.
I’m from a broken family. Umaina is from a broken family. So I connected there, retorts Saba, almost instantly. Umaina will be relatable to every young girl. But then gradually, those who have grown up, and been through relationship dynamics, you will also relate to Umaina at many levels. She addresses the wise amongst us (wiser after watching her web series, I gather).
So you become the person you are off the screen too? I wondered, intrigued, how her family coped with that one!
My friends had started saying I had become Umaina off the set too. I was giggly, happy, energetic. I would have so much energy inside me. I’d go to the gym after work. And then there would be times I’d feel low just like her. I was living Umaina. And today, Saba Qamar is the amalgamation of all the characters she has played on screen!
What of Mr Shameem then? I asked. Audiences are betting on whether he is a trans?
Shameem is a complete man. He’s not a transgender or gaye. He’s just effeminate. But he’s a proper man, responds Saba.
Kabhi kabhi aise logon ke saath unka partner comfortable hota hai. Lekin society usse jeenay nahi deti. Umaina ko masala nahi hai lekin uski apni family usko izzat nahi deti.
She went on to explain:
Saba laid out the biases in our society with an intensity that will probably match Mrs Shameem’s. I could see how the character had taken over, she hadn’t let go of it, and probably never would. It was, as she said, a part of her now!
Saba followed up her rhetoric with a woman’s right to choose, something we often forget in our passion to push our agenda
A woman should have a right to choose her husband… Islam has given us this right. We can’t keep thinking of log kya kahenge. If two people are happy in marriage but they don’t have a son, couples will keep trying for one. What is the sin in having a son or a daughter only? On couple expectations, she questioned: Why expect one person to be pressurised into running a house. A husband and wife should both be earning, growing together.
Even our expectations for a bahu, she went on, now visibly passionate. She should be a perfect ‘khaandaani’ bahu. What does khandaani even mean? Your son might have multiple flaws but your bahu should be perfect.
Despite that, Saba is quick to add, throughout the story a message will go out that no matter what, we must respect elders.
So what of the execution of this very novel idea? Was it a ‘go with the flow’ sort of approach, or planned to every minute detail?
Noman and I would visit Kashif Nisar’s office together every week and read up on the characters. We all 3 believe in ‘on the spot’ magic. She quipped.
I am a director’s actor, she added. However, there is a trust in the creative process.
Oh there were roadblocks, she interjected laughingly.
Sometimes I used to get a laughing fit. Sometimes it would take an hour for me to settle down. I would have no idea why I couldn’t control myself. Kashif bhai would call a break then.
Was it easier to address certain issues on OTT platforms? I asked, referring obviously, to all the points she had laid bare. Though I wondered, isn’t it the masses who need the change? The ones who need to view Mr Shameem as possible husband material?
We have some values where we cannot discuss somethings on our TV channels. OTT platforms can do that better so we create awareness. But yes, we must talk about these things. And I’m hoping that with this content being streamed as Web Series, our TV channels might also become more advanced? Saba retorts hopefully.
Hmm, naya PTV might just happen with all the web series floating on air, I wondered if that is on the cards, one day, or not!
“Oh so heavy”, I almost uttered under my breath, but then she laughed out loud, which she does often. The three of us would have a time on the sets! Other than my laughing fits, we would have an amusing moment daily. Since we all 3 knew each other well, we gel in off and on the set. At one point, we were shooting at Kanpur. I have a crazy fan who sent me red roses. The team obviously had a field day and made fun of me. He ended up coming over to see me. They wanted to call him over for lunch, but of course, we had to end it there.
What of feedback on the trailer. How has that been?
I have received positive feedback from everyone on Mrs and Mr Shameem. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Mehwish Hayat, Maya have all loved it. I’m so humbled people are sending love from all over.
And for those who criticize, she has a message
There are people who understand the message is correct. Safed ko safed hi kahenge. Jahaalat ke saath toh muqaabla buhat mushkil hai. Shameem jaise log buhat hain. We have to learn to appreciate them.
So your journey towards Umaina, and the message you want to communicate is?
Are you saying that only two imperfect or mismatched people can end up together?
Can a regular girl with no apparent flaws fall for an effeminate man like Mr Shameem? I asked, a bit confused on the agenda here.
Well that’s the thing, nobody’s perfect, offered Saba, with her usual dose of wistful wisdom. Umaina is not perfect but people think she’s pretty, young and has many opportunities so why should she accept someone like Shameem?
As Saba signs off, I wonder how much of Umaina resides in her now. Has she undergone an awakening of sorts, (as she mentions) and will her heroines influence her life story too? If Umaina has staying power, it just might. And that, my dear folks, is why you must watch Mrs and Mr Shameem – to find out if you’re prepared to let in a perspective that doesn’t gel with the crowd.
Mrs and Mr Shameem is set to screen on Zee5 March 11th. The story aims to deconstruct our idea of what really makes for a ‘perfect’ relationship, husband material or even, perfect wives. Starring Saba Qamar, Noman Ijaz, Uzma Hassan and an ensemble cast, the web series is directed by none other than the directorial maestro Kashif Nisar and penned by Saji Gul.