From the ‘Fishshu’ girl to ‘Alif Allah Aur Insaan’: Here is a glimpse into the many lives of Sana Fakhar

It is easy to get typecast in the film industry and it’s even easier in a small one like ours. That, combined with the fact that actors (particularly actresses) have a limited shelf life, makes it even more difficult for them to stay afloat. Combine this, yet again, with the hesitancy of filmmakers and TV directors to be open to experimenting with actors and their talent and you’ll get why our actors have to face the dusk of their careers sooner than they should.

Amidst all of this, there have been some actors, who have tried to break this pattern by doing roles that are diametrically opposite to what they usually do and hence, they have got a new lease on their careers simply because they were brave enough to accept different roles. In other words, these people manage to catch lightning in a bottle twice. Even so, it is very occasionally, that an actor reinvents him/herself and begin a new phase of their career that may be as successful as before they hit the rock-bottom.

The Sana Fakhar/Babra Sharif phenomenon

Sana is just one of those actors.

Sana Fakhar, formerly known as Sana Nawaz and credited in the 90s as just “Sana”, started her career as a model from Lahore. Her first stint was in a Cough Syrup Ad, where she said, “Aur Khaansi Fishshu…Khaansi Bhag Gayi.” It was these two lines and specifically the word “Fishshu” that earned Sana her initial recognition. This led her to be called the “Fishshu Girl” in the industry circles and soon enough, she grabbed the attention of many bigwigs.

It was the second time in Pakistani cinema’s history that a girl would become famous after just one Ad and would later become the leading face of the Pakistani cinema. The first time it happened was in case of the legendary, Babra Shareef. She starred in a detergent Ad and was tagged as “The Jet Girl”, later earning her many film assignments. While Sana may not have ruled cinema screens and the hearts of the audiences the way Babra did, she has proved herself as someone who would mold herself to fit the changing dynamics of the entertainment business; a territory where she may have even outshined Babra.

Although Babra appeared in Anwar Maqsood’s hit comedy series Nadaan Nadia after her film career was nearly finished, she rarely recreated herself as an actor after that and was only seen in forgettable flicks, one of which was a Sangeeta directorial, opposite Shan Shahid. Understandably, the film didn’t work and Babra was never seen again on screens.

The many lives of Sana Fakhar

As for Sana Fakhar, she remains a well-known and a frequently hired name in the world of entertainment even today. Perhaps the only female face from the 90s who still has substantial work to her credit.

Ever since her debut in Syed Noor’s late 90s hit Sangam (1997), she has been cast in numerous supporting and leading roles. She then joined the Javed Sheikh camp where a supporting role in Meera starrer Mujhe Jeeney Do earned her many accolades.

However, it was her stint in 2002’s blockbuster Ye Dil Apka Hua as Sitara which proved as a game changer for the lady. The film, directed by Javed Sheikh, was Pakistan’s first DTS film and was lauded for its breathtaking locations (the first Pakistani film to be shot in Spain and Switzerland), beautiful cinematography and music. In those times, Ye Dil Apka Hua was arguably the only film that Pakistanis could take abroad and showcase to the outsiders.

Back in the day, there came a time where India and Pakistan were getting closer on the political front that ultimately translated into better cultural and talent exchange than ever. Sana was one such actor who benefited from this exchange. When Bollywood directors saw her work in YDAH, the tall beauty was quickly approached for a film opposite Sunny Deol – Qaafla. The film didn’t work well on the Box Office, as has been the case with many Pakistani actors’ appearances in Bollywood. She, however, kept receiving offers from the Indian Punjabi Cinema.

The reinvention of the ‘Sana’ phenomenon

With the decline of the film industry, Sana, like many actors, was left jobless. However, unlike many, she reinvented herself this time and reverted to TV. Sana was cast in multiple TV shows that kept her in the limelight. Her stint in Ahsan Talish’s Alif Allah Aur Insaan as Nigaar, however, was the one that not only earned her various awards but also recognition by the new crop of directors, producers, and the viewers.

Amidst all of this, Sana kept appearing on the big screen albeit in forgettable dance numbers in various films. However, a supporting role in Jackpot was something that, once again, established her presence as a serious choice for the films.

Most interestingly, she has recently done a Harley Davidson shoot and is now pretty much the “In” actor in almost all the showbiz and fashion circles. Sana will be next seen in Yasir Nawaz’s Wrong Number 2 as a seductive maid and from the trailer of the film, her work seems nothing short of noticeable.

Sana could serve as a case study for actors from the 90s who have often struggled to find acting jobs in the newly shaped entertainment industry of Pakistan. She has moved from one medium to another smoothly and has attained considerable success along her way. In all of this, the way she has groomed and reinvented herself over the years is definitely something worth having a discussion on (you’re welcome).

The template that Sana has followed, may not be an easy one to follow but is definitely something that ensures success when stuck to, religiously.


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