Actor and model Saeeda Imtiaz gained popularity when she was casted in Kaptaan, a film based on cricketer-turned-politican Imran Khan’s life as a sportsman that is scheduled for release this fall. In this film, Imtiaz plays the role of the fashionable and elegant Jemima Goldsmith, the former wife of Imran Khan. In conversation with The Express Tribune, Imtiaz talks about the challenges of her role and what her and Goldsmith have in common.
Born and raised in New York, 27-year-old Imtiaz says adjusting to the lifestyle and norms of Pakistanis was a challenge for her. “I thought of giving up many times when I couldn’t adjust out here,” Imtiaz tells The Express Tribune. “I love my country Pakistan, but people here are different compared to people abroad,” she adds.
When she was first offered the role, Imtiaz was nervous about accepting it. “I was a bit reluctant at first but when I heard it was a movie based on Imran Khan and Jemima; I had a word with my family and thought of giving it a shot,” says Imtiaz. She had little acting experience and got her first big break when her friend Asad Rana introduced her to the film’s director, Faisal Aman Khan.
But she had no idea that the film would receive so much attention. “So many people in this country love Imran Khan; the youngsters and adults all adore him and have lots of good things to say about him,” says Imtiaz.
Imtiaz feels she can relate to what Jemima was going through as a foreigner, and that this helped her to perform.
“In real life, Jemima would use a particular Urdu phrase, ‘Chalo chalo’, which was revealed to us by someone very close to their family,” said Imtiaz brightly. She explained that she carefully studied how Goldsmith carried herself, in order to get into character. Watching YouTube clips and working on developing a British accent was part of Imtiaz’s homework since she wanted to bring “an honesty” into the character. “A British accent was the most difficult task for me,” said Imtiaz, adding that mosquito bites were also among her woes on the sets of Kaptaan.
Imtiaz tried hard to understand how Goldsmith’s stay in Pakistan must have been. Both ladies left their hometowns to come to Pakistan and had to deal with the difficulties of adjusting to a conservative culture. She lauds Goldsmith for her sense of style, and for her positive attitude to Pakistani culture and norms.
“She definitely knew how to carry herself in different outfits whether it was a traditional Pakistani dress or a western outfit,” says Imtiaz. “When an Asian girl gets married, she is forced to adjust to her new family and that can be hard. Imagine how difficult it was for Jemima,” she says. “I think it must have been a huge step for a Western woman to adjust to a different culture and country.”
Besides this film, Imtiaz has a career in modeling and is involved in some projects that she will reveal details of in time. While Imtiaz remains unsure of what her ‘dream role’ is, she wants to pursue acting as a career. “I intend to focus more on movies only if movies like Kaptaan and Bol are created. It all depends on where my acting career takes me,” she said.