By Rozina Bhutto
The rain pattered away as I finally reached Syra Shahroz’s home tucked away in an unexpected bout of greenery in one of Karachi’s posh neighbourhoods. I hopped from my car, took shelter under the leafy tree, and pressed the doorbell. It was time to meet Syra Shahroz – the woman who had been rather off-handed with her comments on Tonite With HSY. Was I apprehensive? Yes. Was I excited? YES. Project Ghazi – Pakistan’s first superhero movie – was around the corner and I was going to meet the girl who had essayed the role of Pakistan’s first female superhero!
Of course, at that time none of us were aware of the impending doom that was Project Ghazi’s premiere. We met, she lead me to her cosy all-white living room, and uttered the most beautiful words: Do you want chai? That’s when all the apprehension flew out of the window and Syra Shahroz quickly rose to top my ‘Most Favourite Celebrity’ list. My accepting the offer, or not, is a very personal discussion (which we might never have) but we will discuss what Syra had to say about Project Ghazi.
“It was quite random actually,’ Syra said while explaining how she landed the role. “Sheheryar [Munawar] told me about the superhero film and it sounded extremely interesting so when Nadir approached me, I said yes. I am a huge superhero fan you see!”
I could see that. Her smile had widened and eyes shined bright as she shared a list of her most favourite superheros of all times.
“I have a few actually. My recent favourite is Wonder Woman for the obvious reason. She’s such a fierce woman, who is strong and is capable of taking care of the entire nation. And she’s got an amazing body! But most importantly, I admire her values.”
Guess who were her other two superheroes?
“Iron Man – Tony Stark – is so cool and intelligent! He makes his own costume and he is super rich,” exclaimed Syra getting me excited too. “And who wouldn’t love a man with steel claws that get healed almost instantly?” She was talking about Wolverine.
Those healing powers could’ve definitely come in handy during the strenuous shoot for Project Ghazi, I wondered out loud.
“You’ll need to ask this question from Humayun and Sheheryar,” Syra replied.
But surely she had her set of action sequences and that required special training? A superhero flick meant jumping from sky rises and climbing over vertical mountains?
It seems not.
“Initially, my character [Zara the scientist] was supposed to do a lot of action scenes, but then there were time constraints and I was juggling between Chalay Thay Saath and this film, so hard core action didn’t happen. I wish it had.”
We wish so too Syra!
This meant I couldn’t ask her the next question: How did she manage to give fierce expressions while hanging from stunt ropes for dear life? But I did ask her if Project Ghazi would make the audience – who is used to watching movies like Iron Man and Wonder Woman – cringe with its special effects?
“Firstly, let’s not compare our films to Hollywood movies because look at their tech support and then ours. You know the budgets they work with? The trailer of Project Ghazi looks pretty good for a first attempt,” said Syra and I agreed. “I am impressed by the stunts and special effects [in the trailer], but I haven’t seen the movie myself so can’t really answer this question.”
I nearly had a meltdown. And it seems, so did the cast and crew only a day after this interview. Unfortunately, their meltdown was witnessed by a crowd of 400 journalists.
Recovering from that piece of information, we went onto discuss her co-stars and the funny incidents on the film set.
“I have these laughing fits and I used to think everyone has them, but it turns out, I’m a special case. It was really funny, because Sherry likes to be “in his character’s zone” and my hysterics didn’t help the cause,” Syra shared.
Is there anything else we don’t know about Sherry and his senior co-star, Humayun Saeed?
“Sherry is obsessive compulsive about perfection, cleanliness, symmetry. I think he has OCD,” Syra revealed. “And Humayun is shy in a strange way. I’ve realised when he’s not in his comfort zone he gets shy.”
Wrapping up the discussion about Pakistan’s first ever super hero film (which still hasn’t come out), we moved to discuss the REAL Syra Shahroz and how she became Syra ‘Shahroz’ in the first place?
“Shahroz and I met at my friend’s brother’s wedding,” Syra narrated the story of how she met the love of her life. “Then we continued to meet because of all the shaadi hungama…”
“Dance practices and all,” I added helpfully.
“Yes, you know how those are” she said waving her hands to demonstrate the madness that are desi weddings. “Bas then we became friends and started hanging out together. Eight years went by when one day Shahroz said, ‘let’s get married’, and I said okay!”
And here I was thinking about a candle lit patio and fairy lights. But Syra did have an interesting piece of anecdote up her sleeve.
“Shahroz always used to say let’s go to a masjid and get married and I used to be like, ‘your parents like me and my parents like you too, so why should we run away? Why not have a proper wedding’, masjid mein kyun jaayen bhai?” she laughed as she shared Shahroz’s peculiar wish.
The wedding took place and now Nooreh – who happens to be as obsessed with smartphones as kids are these days – is part of their life. Has that awakened the paranoia in Syra and does she find herself behaving the exact same way as her mother behaves?
“Yes!” she nodded her head vigorously. “You don’t even realise and the paranoia kicks in. my mother will imagine the worst thing possible if I don’t pick up my phone. If it happens the second time then all hell breaks loose; She’ll call Alishba, Palo and all my friends to know where I am. I’ve also become like that [when it comes to Nooreh] but I try not to show it.”
But mothers are our very own real life super heroes, aren’t they?
“My parents are my superheros for sure. My mum has done a tremendous job in bringing us up through happy and difficult times,” she said. “A daughter’s first super hero is her father. My sisters, for being strong women and the loving sisters that they are. My husband, for being such a great father, son, husband and such a hardworking man!”
How could we interview Syra and not ask her her peers reacted after that certain episode of Tonite With HSY went viral.
“People didn’t understand that a lot of that was plain humour,” she admitted with a certain amount disappointment in her voice. “I’m the kind of person who believes in total honesty and I joke a lot. Especially when you’re sitting with your sister, your funny side comes out and you go with the flow. That’s what I did.”
She was disappointed that her industry people didn’t take it lightly.
“I expect my co actors to understand that I was paying my part on that show. I got really uncomfortable how people reacted to it and I believe they wouldn’t have been this offended if it wasn’t blown out of proportion.”
We agreed that the industry you work in, shouldn’t change the real you. I did listen to her once admitting that she was “often misunderstood”, which doesn’t help the case.
“Shahroz often tells me that you don’t convey what you’re trying to say correctly,” Syra said. “People think that I give off an unapproachable vibe, and have a holier than thou attitude, which is absolutely untrue! I certainly do not think of myself higher than anyone. It’s probably because I can’t socialise with people easily.”
Who knew? Syra Shahroz is shy! And guys, she’s certainly not rude, I can vouch for that.
While giving a message for people of Pakistan, she said, “I wish people weren’t so quick to judge.”
After feeling a bit emotional listening to Syra speak about her family and being misunderstood with such earnestness, I moved to the rapid fire in the hope to lighten the mood. Thank you K Jo for introducing this into our lives; it certainly makes life, and interviews, interesting. But you’ll have to head to our website in about a week’s time to read the rapid fire.