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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - As the UAE re-emerges from weeks of staying at home, the temptation will be to try and return to as many regular activities as quickly as possible. While there are a host of avenues to explore, the evenings should still be spent inside.
Streaming platform ZEE5 recently launched across the Middle East with over 100,000 hours of content, including Arabic dubbed Bollywood blockbuster movies, and 60+ live TV channels. Just one of its tent pole productions, however, is Zee Theatre bringing live plays straight into your living room. So as real auditoria may remain out of reach for everyone for a while, you don't have to miss out.
A play currently on show is Mushk, a drama directed by Kanwal Khoosat. It stars two of Pakistan's most versatile film and TV professionals - Sania Saeed as Zoey Kabir and Nimra Bucha as Sophiya. We spoke to Bucha to find out more.
How would you describe Mushk and your character? What drew you to her and what preparations did you complete?
You could say it's a play about ideas, romance and mystery drama. My character was the biggest struggle because Sophiya is not who I am, but obviously whatever character you are playing eventually you get to shed some skin and find that within yourself. I don't think working on a character is so much about donning a disguise as much as just pairing it down to see what is the most basic way to relate the character.
Do you think this is a boom time for Pakistani arts in general?
Pakistani television and films are getting a lot more in terms of international audiences than it was possible before because of all the various digital platforms. I think it doesn't necessarily mean that it's radically changed the way that the work is done here. I think there have always been some very good story tellers in films and in television and, throughout the years of censorship, drama and comedy continued to be interesting and truthful in the way they represented our society. I think we went through a phase where it was a bit confusing, where we were confused about what our identity was in all of this. But, you learn from others. I think there has always been a crop of producers, directors and storytellers whose work has been wonderful.
How does it feel to be in an all-female production? Do you hope this trend continues?
It's a completely female production from the music, to the set, to stage management, to everything being run by women. I think it doesn't take away from working with male directors or male actors, though. When you are working with a wonderful artist I feel, if there is a comfortable creative work environment, it doesn't matter who they are. But here it was like being in a real comfort zone and we could turn up for rehearsal and talk about our aches and pains and then switch to work. We had lots of laughs, lots of things in common. Sania Saeed and I are around the same age. There was always lot to talk about, laugh about. We really enjoyed it.
How are you coping with the current pandemic situation?
I have a young child, so it's been a very busy time because there has been no school or playgroup or anything. I look at my 5-year-old and think what sort of memories he is going to have of this time where he can't just get out and play. I think a lot of my emotions are connected thinking about his emotions. Walks are still happening, we walk around, we live very close to the beach so do walk to the beaches even though we are not permitted to go right next to the water. I think I have been getting a lot less reading and watching done because I have a young child. I will eventually get around it. Audio books have been great, there are always audio books being played in the background and that has been good.
What are your thoughts on the UAE, and do you have a message for your fans over here?
I was there recently for the literature festival with my husband. UAE is really an extended family. I'm very excited about people in the UAE watching Zee Theatre's Mushk. I would really like to know how they felt about it. I hope we could also travel with more work in the near future.
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