Mr.Khan’s Gup Shup with: Naveen Anwar

In the highly acclaimed PTV longplay Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! (1995), the then child actress Naveen Anwar played the role of young Nida, the onscreen daughter of Rahat Kazmi’s character Sikandar. I had the chance to have a quick interaction with her for the review on Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka!, only on Link to the full review at the end of the interview :

1) Thank you Miss Naveen Anwar for allowing me to conduct this interview with you. My first question would be; How did the producers approached you and your family for this role? Was there an audition process? How was your and your family’s reaction when they found out that you would be working alongside a Pakistani Television legend like Rahat Kazmi?

Most welcome, Mr Khan. The Kazmi’s are our family friends since my older sister Sabeen and their daughter Nida were classmates. There was no audition process as I was an acclaimed child artist at that time. My parents were spoken to and they happily agreed. As a child, I was unaware of how famous “Rahat” uncle was and his humble nature made working with him very easy.

2) Being a child actor at the time, how did you prepare yourself for playing the role of Nida? Did you have training/ advice from your co-stars? What was the process behind your performance? 

I was explained the role by Sahira (aunty) and she spoke to me in a clear and candid manner. Her expectations were that my actual personality flows into the role, as the character was not far from my real self. Having their son Ali share the screen with me in most of the scenes made the environment friendly.

3) How was your relationship with the director Sahira Kazmi? Was she helpful in leading you through the script and bringing out the performance in front of the camera?

This was a small role and my existing relationship with Sahira (aunty) helped very much. Her direction is second to none. I remember her being strict with her instructions yet lenient with the number of takes it would take to perfect the scene.

4) There is a scene later on in the longplay where you interact solely with a young Ali Kazmi (playing the role of Suhail) who is the real life son of Rahat Kazmi. In the scene, you both discuss the marital problems that your parents have. How did you two stage and rehearse the scene together?

The seriousness of the scene was explained to us and I was told Ali would deliver most of the dialogues while I had to focus on my reactions. The scene was so natural, more like a conversation. I do remember the name of my character being changed to Nida as Ali would constantly call me Nida during the shoot (his real life sister’s name).

5) Are there any interesting behind the scenes stories that you could share with the readers?

Not much support staff was available at the time and I remember being lost having to iron my clothes for a shot. Guess who volunteered? Rahat uncle. This incident is an example of humble talented artists.

6) How was your reaction after watching the long play on PTV? Was it as good as you could’ve expected?

I was ecstatic. The play was an instant hit! People would refer to me as Nida in restaurants and shopping malls. I felt like a star!

7) After the success of the longplay, did you want to pursue your acting career further? And if the right opportunity arrives, would you ever want to dip your toes back into the world of Pakistani television?

I was often encouraged and told I would be the Reema of Pakistani television but my mother’s vision of this being a hobby was very clear. At turning 10 years old, all this came to an end.

You can read the full review of Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! (1995) here:

Mr. Khan’s Review on Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! (1995)


Mr. Khan’s Review on Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! (1995)

A review on Pakistani longplay Drama, Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! (1995). The PTV classic longplay is directed by the veteran Sahira Kazmi and is written by Dr. Anwar Sajjad. The longplay stars Rahat Kazmi and Atiqa Odho. This telefilm was aired on Pakistan Television in 1995.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Sahira Kazmi
  • Written by Dr. Anwar Sajjad
  • Edited by Salman Zaidi
  • DOP by Tanvir Malik
  • Theme Song Lyrics by Momin Khan Momin
  • Music Composed by Arshad Mehmood
  • Produced by Sahira Kazmi

+ Note

Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! is an in-depth look into such vital themes as marriage and relationship which are the cornerstone of Pakistani culture. Is it better to be married and unhappy or long for the one who you are truly content with? How does staying in a despondent marriage affect your children? Is it better off to be separated but happy instead? The longplay is an exploration of regret and remorse of past decisions and if we are forever damned to perish through them for the rest of our lives. Even back in 1995, this was a very controversial topic to discuss on National Television but Rahat and Sahira Kazmi both felt it was an essential social theme to explore in post Zia ul Haq’s Pakistani society.

 + Main Cast

  1. Rahat Kazmi as Sikandar
  2. Atiqa Odho as Neelofer
  3. Ali Kazimi as Suhail
  4. Arshad Mehmood as Amin
  5. Amber Rizvi as Fouzia
  6. Naveen Anwar as Nida

+ Plot

Sikandar (Rahat Kazmi) and Fouzia (Amber Rizvi) are confined in an unhappy marriage. After years of being together, bearing two kids, the couple has grown apart from one another and Sikandar contemplates if marrying Fouzia was the biggest mistake he made in his life. Upon travelling on a business trip to Karachi, Sikandar ends up meeting his previous love, Neelofer (Atiqa Odho). After a brief interaction with one another, they both realize that they still have feelings for one another. But with Sikandar now with his wife and family, is it wise for him to relive his past love or continue in remorse for the rest of his life?

+ High Points

i – Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! is considered a classic amongst the 90s Pakistani dramas and longplays. It touches upon such intricate yet human themes like marriage and happiness. Dr. Anwar Sajjad’s brilliant writing gives us a keen understanding behind the so-called formula of a perfect, content life. Is it necessary for us to be married at a certain stage in life, regardless if you are unsure of your decision? Are we even allowed to regret our past decisions and seek true happiness? It’s an excellent piece of storytelling, themes that are still essential to our society. Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! is a harsh look into our pakistani society and as decades have gone by, the longplay has aged like fine wine.

ii – Of course, the thematic elements in the longplay would’ve never been successfully conveyed to the audience if not for outstanding performances by Rahat Kazmi and Atiqa Odho. Whenever they are both onscreen, it is obvious that they have shared a past together, the endearment that they still have for one another is now unfortunately a relic of sorts. But can they reclaim it? Can they relive their past? Not taking anything away from Dr. Anwar Sajjad’s writing but just from instinct, I could tell that the delivery of some dialogues had been slightly improvised to give it a more “humane” touch to it. And that usually happens when the actors are in complete control of their characters in front of the camera. The performances from both leads show how deep they dived into their respective characters and made them sympathetic and relatable onscreen. I have to admit, this is arguably one of the best Rahat Kazmi’s performances I have ever witnessed. 

iii – Apart from the leads, even the supporting cast brings a lot of vibrance into the scenes. Amber Rizvi as the disgruntled mother and both the child actors (Ali Kazimi and Naveen Anwar) bring intriguing introspective into the life of the Sikandar family. A look into how unhappy marriages affect the children who are always the main casualties in such scenarios. 

Ali Kazimi (the real life son of Rahat Kazmi) plays off naturally to his father’s lead, bringing such a unique father and son dynamic that could potentially only occur if they also share a bond offscreen as well. Suhail looks up to his father but at the same time feels disoriented when he witnesses his father’s unsurety towards life. Perhaps he wonders: “will I also suffer the fate of uncertainty towards life?”. Of course, now Ali Kazimi is a well established Television actor but it’s fascinating to see such humble beginnings.

iv – Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! Is essentially driven by its set pieces. The narrative seamlessly flows from the dysfunctional family life to a life of endless possibilities. A chance for Sikandar to relive his past, rekindle his love with Neelofer. Fate has given an opportunity to perhaps correct his past mistake and have another shot at happiness once again. But is it all an illusion at the end? A lot of credit goes to Sahira Kazmi’s seamless direction which leads the viewer throughout Sikandar’s character arc and perhaps a definitive realization at the end.

v– The scene at the Karachi beach, the emotional confrontation between Sikandar and Neelofer is undoubtedly the highlight of the longplay. That scene alone defines why this longplay is fondly remembered as a classic of Pakistani television.

vi– The theme song/ Ghazal “Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka!” by Nayyara Noor is absolutely gorgeous to listen to. It fits just fine with themes like reminiscing over the past and longing for unattainable happiness.

vii– The longplay ends on a perfect note, leaving the audience with a lingering thought of what might have been the right outcome from all this. It gives the viewer no definite answers but leaves them to ponder long after the end credits have rolled. It’s a perfect end to a brilliant PTV classic.

 + Low Points

i – For all that’s great about this longplay, Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! (in terms of its production) does feel like a product of its time. The camerawork is uninspiring at best, sound editing is amateurish, the mention of “dish antenna” was already dated in four years time and there is an incredibly corny “reminisenting of past love” montage which is just as cheesy as you would expect from a 90s TV drama. Thankfully, it’s only a one and done scene.

ii – Even though Arshad Mehmood as Amin is entertaining, it’s a tad bit hard to believe that he was a “class fellow” of Sikandar and Neelofer when he clearly looks a lot more older than them. 

+ Overall

With exceptional writing, brilliant performances from the two leads and a perfect conclusion, Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! is and will always remain a classic and pinnacle of Pakistani television.

Rate: 4.25 out of 5 stars

Click here for a short interview with Naveen Anwar, the child actress from Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka! :