It’s true that on-screen chemistry counts a lot when it comes to making a hit movie, but what happens when this chemistry is carried off-screen too? It was aww-inducing to witness the hit screen pair and real-life couple, Hira Mani and Salman Saqib Sheikh, entertain us with their charm and witty banter when they visited the Khaleej Times office yesterday.
The vivacious and happy couple are in Dubai to attend the upcoming Pakistan International Screen Awards (PISA)Â where Mani has been nominated for Best Actress (Critics) for her performance in the drama Do Bol. PISA is taking place at the Coca-Cola Arena on Friday, February 7.
Hira, of course,Â is mighty thrilled to be nominated. “I feel so honoured to be nominated, but my main award and reward is my fans. It feels nice to be rewarded for your hard work. It has brought me so much recognition. People now know me by my character’s name. For instance, when I was walking in for my interview today, a member of the security staff called me (my character’s name) Gaiti from Do Bol. It felt gratifying to hear that. Winning or losing does not matter for me, it’s the celebration (PISA) that’s important,” Hira said.
Fans from all across the subcontinent have loved the couple for their work on screen. “Besides Pakistan, we have so many fans from India who communicate with us through Instagram. Social media has brought the world and our fans closer to us,” Salman added.
“In fact, some of the best compliments we have received are from our fans in India. I have so many people from Mumbai connecting with me through my pages,” said Hira.
PISA is one of the biggest Pakistani film events to be held in Dubai. It brings together some of the best from the film, television, fashion, music and other industries.Â
“Such events make for a great opportunity for the fraternity to get together. You know we lead very busy lives, at home and on the sets, and here at PISA, I will get the chance to meet several people I have worked with, like Sara Loren who dropped into your office,” says Salman.
An esteemed panel of judges will be selecting the winners of the PISA Critics Choice award. Hira considers herself fortunate to make it to the list of nominees. “I’m so happy to receive this (PISA) recognition in such a short span of my career. I am also happy for the others who have been nominated with me,” said the actress.
On Mere Paas… controversy
People loved Hira in the hit drama Mere Paas Tum Ho, but it came under the scanner due to the controversial nature of the relationships portrayed in it. Hira, who plays a teacher in the show says: “When I got the offer for Mere Paas Tum Ho, I had no idea about the story. I didn’t even know how much of the show had been shot and what was left. It happened that, at that time, after Do Bol, I was absolutely free and I was looking out for good scripts. Just then, Humayun (Saeed, producer and actor) called me and offered me the heroine’s role in Mere Paas Tum Ho, I jumped at the opportunity and when I read the script I found it was apt for me.”
Hira is a great worrier according to Salman. She is greatly concerned and worries about any show she’s working in. “Out of five shows Hira has played the lead in, at least four of them have been hits. Yet she complains about leavingÂ shows to stay at home and look after the kids and family! In fact, most time it’s the opposite of how Hira feels. Whenever she feels a show is not good, it goes on to become a hit,” Salman laughs.
But Hira contradicts Salman’s assessment. “That’s not the way it is. Whenever I work in a drama, I don’t really don’t care or worry about it becoming a hit or flop. All I do is read the script, put on my costume and delve into my character, that’s all that matters,” she says.
Hira did not have any background in cinema said Salman while talking about his wife’s early days in the industry. “She did not have any screen experience. She was actually my fan. We used to host a show together. Until that time, I did not know whether she could act. And many of you may be interested in knowing that Hira actually started her career with comedies,” Salman explained.
Talking about Hira’s dream project, Salman let’s us in on an interesting spoiler. “Let me tell you’ll, one of Hira’s biggest dreams is about to come true. I can disclose that she is appearing in a show alongside Bollywood’s biggest star this March in America. But I will reveal the name of the star only after this event…” Though we can guess as to who it could be, we will have to wait till a formal announcement is made.
On coming to Dubai
“I have come to Dubai often. Dubai is like a second home to us. We have a lot of fans in the city – Pakistanis, Indians, even Russians. People here appreciate our work and give us lots of love,” says Salman
“I recollect a few years back, we were at The Dubai Mall and there was this tall, blonde Russian woman who started shouting ‘Hira Mani, Hira Mani, I follow you on Instagram’. I was surprised. That’s the day I realised that I am truly popular (outside Pakistan also). I feel very welcome in Dubai,” adds Hira.
On their PISA performance
“We will both be presenting an act together on stage at the PISAÂ ceremony, but we haven’t planned our routine as yet. We’ll work that out later,” says Salman
Hira who is a keen follower of Bollywood said: “I am performing for the first time on stage. I’m a huge fan of the late Bollywood actress Sridevi and I’ve been following her since childhood. Surely I will be incorporating some of her moves in my act. I listen to songs by her all the time, in fact throughout the day.
“If there is a Sridevi in Pakistan, it’s me (laughs). You can’t get Sridevi and Salman out of my blood. Can you?”
Message for Khaleej Times
“I urge allÂ our fans to come out and support PISA. I don’t think there has ever been a Pakistani event of this stature in Dubai before. Spread love, relax and chill. Don’t fight online, love is one of the most important things and we would love to see you all. I also congratulate Suhail Galadari. May you progress and enjoy more success and rewards. Lots of love to you from us.”