KARACHI: Veteran actress, playwright and Pakistan’s favourite comedian, Bushra Ansari, was recently asked about her divorce in a candid interview by Ahsan Khan on his show Bol Nights.
Responding to Khan’s question about whether Ansari consciously chooses not to talk about her divorce publically or whether she doesn’t like to talk about it at all, an unfazed Ansari replied, “Actually, many years have passed since my divorce.”
She continued, “Our clan—that includes my friends Rubina Ashraf, Samina Ahmed, Saba Hameed and even Uzma Gillani—had a good image and spent a fulfilling ‘family life’ with our children while being in showbiz, especially during our PTV days. So we have a drawing of a good family life, which is in front of everyone.”
“But when there is a disturbance in that, and since I’m not the sort of who blames people and gets angry, I feel people get very perturbed about such things. I don’t like discussing such things. For example, Jamal Shah and Faryal were such a great couple; even Tahira Saeed and Naeem Bokhari were such a beautiful couple. But when these couples separated, it broke people’s hearts and saddened them.”
“In truth, people don’t know what the actual problems are between couples. And it’s not that only actors go through such things, even bankers and doctors go through similar cases, male or female. So I felt when it came to such a personal issue, there was no need to share it with the entire nation.”
Good on Ansari for talking about it on her own terms; even if you’re a public figure, you have the right to keep aspects of your private life out of the public sphere. We all know that in the world we live in today, there is less if no clarity about what the bounds of privacy are. And in such a situation, the less said, the better.
It is pertinent to mention here that a consummate actor who performs with an ease that leaves onlookers in awe and admiration, Bushra has played a number of diverse roles, each with a different colour and flavour. Her most recent one was the role of an Indian woman in a video on social media that went viral.
Titled ‘Humsaye Maa Jaye’, it was a song performed by Bushra Ansari and one of her sisters, Asma Abbas, presenting a topic that touches the hearts of people on both sides of the Wagah border, even if the governments are at loggerheads with each other.
The sisters play neighbours divided by a wall built through animosity. The delightful song, colourful get-up and lively performances became an instant hit. The lyrics, written by Bushra’s poet sister Neelum Ahmed Bashir, emphasise that the average person does not want war-mongering.
“My sister Neelum Ahmed Bashir wrote this poem and, moved by its message, I thought of presenting it with music and a positive attitude to send the message across along with Asma. The poem has a lot of emotions in it to move the people of both sides,” she shared.
“The feedback has been very good and, though social media has never really been my cup of tea, the countless messages from both India and Pakistan have left me overwhelmed. There has been very little negative reaction as we have not said anything bad, as we want people from both sides to become friends.”
“Kanwaljeet Singh, the Indian actor, also loved the idea and we have received happy vibes from our friends in India. The exchange of dupattas delivered a strong message and we did it to give respect to each other. Negativity must be done away with, we should live in harmony. There have been other reactions too, but I refuse to hear criticism for the sake of criticism. Pakistan’s dispute about Kashmir is political and will continue one way or another. But we have to do away with this animosity.”
“President Pervez Musharraf took the lead to make things better. We have to understand that when army personnel die, families suffer on both sides but we don’t get to see each other’s pain. The Pulwama incident and the Kashmir issue has again put a brake on exchange between artists. But one hopes that the people at the helm of affairs realise that life is much easier when there is positive cooperation, and artists play the role of ambassadors for their country.”
Bushra’s greatest strength, perhaps, is her versatility. The first character that brought recognition for Bushra Ansari was Kaliyaan’s Sharmeeli, a puppet created by Farooq Qaiser, way back in 1977. Bushra then came to Karachi in 1981 and did the delightful role of Bijli (personifying the electricity that often disappeared) for the PTV programme Shosha, written by Anwar Maqsood.
Aangan Terrha’s Jahan Ara Begum followed in 1985-86, but her real crest of popularity came when she brilliantly mimicked Tahira Syed, Musarrat Nazeer, Madam Noor Jehan and Salma Agha for Showtime, which Anwar Maqsood and Moin Akhtar hosted.
“I did single plays but no sitcoms because I didn’t like them, but later I did the Baraat series, playing the upstart Begum Saima Chowdhry,” she recalls. “The serial Bilquis Kaur had a title character who runs a dhaaba.”
“After that came Udaari’s Sheeda, a village singer. A few characters that I did in the past became very popular and Udaari opened up the Pandora’s box as far as the story was concerned. Sheeda was a meerasan singer and a strong character, helping the character on which the story was based. People gained awareness about child abuse through the story and the serial became a hit with the masses by focusing on this extremely sensitive issue.”