An Interview with Juggan Kazim
There are many sides to her person, and then, some more: effervescent; bubbly; mercurial; energetic (to the point of being restless almost); dynamic; highly social; very (read non-stop, if you please!) talkative; and an extremely animated actor, model, host, and what not!
But her dynamic personality goes much deeper than just the glamorized, celebrated image the world goes gaga over. In Spotlight, she chooses to reveal her real self just a shade deeper, and on a relatively personal level….
What makes Juggan Kazim, Juggan Kazim, is difficult to pin-point.
Even more difficult is the question, “Who is Juggan Kazim?”
A dynamic actor?
An effervescent host or anchor person?
A petite model?
An intriguing socialite?
Or someone else?
I guess a little bit of all this, and yet more.
But when asked the same question from Kazim, here’s what she came up with:
“Hmmm…..who is Juggan Kazim? Difficult to tell, but if you ask who is JK as a person, I have absolutely no doubts in my mind that first and foremost, I am a mother – a mom — and that defines who I am now, in everyday life. I wouldn’t say all, but yes, most of the decisions that I take in life now are taken in accordance with the fact that I am a parent.”
Although she is seen as an actor, a model and an anchor person, JK feels it is acting where her heart truly lies. She enthuses “I love acting! Even when I was very small and someone would ask me what I was going to be when I grew up, I would reply “Main bari ho kay actor banoon gi!” Not that I was particularly hooked on movies or something of the like, but this really was one spontaneous answer that would come to me.”
About her family background, Kazim says that she is a totally Lahore-based gal, with a childhood spent in diversified environments. She explains “My parents got separated when I was hardly a year old, so I do not have the faintest of memories of them living together. I grew up in my Nano’s house, and used to see my dad only on weekends. Justice Akhlaque is my grandfather, and Abbas Raza Kazim, my father. So, you can imagine with both my paternal and maternal families so high profile, and too dignified and proper ever to consider acting as a profession, what a shocker my ambitions must have been!”
But she still landed into the profession, didn’t she? “Oh yes, very much so!” her eyes suddenly spark up as she leans forward to elaborate. “You see, although acting was too lowly a field to be considered by my family, my father did let me work as a child model since he looked upon it as something cute. I did my first commercial when I was barely four, and then went on to do a series of others quite regularly till one day when I turned fifteen, my father said, “Hello, this is it!”
In her characteristic chatty style, Kazim goes on to relate how difficult and utterly confusing it was to have two polar opposite parents who often contradicted each other so vehemently, that it left Juggan ever guessing as to who and what was right or wrong.
“Dada, my father, was very conservative in his ideas; for women — his women that is — it was just ‘chader aur char dewari’ sort of stuff. And more so, for a blue blooded ‘Syed zadi’, who he felt should perpetually keep herself covered, even inside the four walls of her house! Ma on the other hand, had no particular qualms about what one should wear or not, and she practically demonstrated her modern stance, trying to maintain a balance. But, regardless, when after my O levels I went to Kinnaird College, she said to me, “Go for anything you fancy, but no acting, no modelling and no hosting — period”
She continues candidly “And to tell you the truth, I had never ever considered taking up hosting at all, in the beginning. I mean I was always inclined to talk, and talk non-stop, and nonsense, but had never thought it could one day become my identity. So, I spent two years in KC, did a lot of theatre – which I still love, but cannot take up unfortunately due to financial constraints – and at 17, left for Canada for further studies at the University of Western Ontario.”
Quite outrageously going against her family’s will, but doggedly following her heart, JK graduated with two majors in media information techno culture, and sociology, and a minor in psychology. “I told my family that I have done double majors in sociology and a minor in psychology, which really was not that far from the truth!” she laughs quite unabashedly.
But Kazim was glad and confident that she had made the right choice in following her natural instincts. In a very short time after her graduation, she convincingly proved so too. “Within a span of eight to nine years of independently living in Canada — which I loved, to say the least! — I succeeded in getting my name established in the Canadian industry, not only as one of the most thriving marketing personnel, in the advertising world but as an actor in their film industry, when I did the lead role in a film called ‘Pink Ludoos’. It was real fun. And it boosted my purse too, so I was able to buy my own place there.”
Everything was working quite well for JK, till in December 2004, she decided to land back home to attend a friend’s wedding; and got married herself, soon after! “It was absolutely a ‘Mills and Boons’ sort of stuff”, she sighs. “There I was, sitting at a party at a friend’s place in Karachi, where I had gone for the wedding; in he walked, and I caught my breath, and thought to myself ‘I’ve never seen such a beautiful man before!’ The dream-like romance started and continued night and day through one whole week. I was supposed to come back the following Sunday to Lahore, and then fly off back to Canada. A day before my departure he held my hand and said, ‘Don’t go; marry me instead, and stay.’ My first reaction was ‘Are you mad?!!’
But eventually, on the same Sunday I was supposed to leave for Lahore, we ran off and got married, with a guard and a sweeper as witnesses of our Nikkah. And I thought that was the most romantic thing that could ever happen to me in my life……” Sadly though, the dream did not last long. After just over a year, with a two-month son in her arms; a bruised body and an even more bruised heart and soul, Juggan walked out of his life for good.
“All my life I had walked on clouds, taking life in its stride; rising against all odds. I thought nothing was impossible, and I wanted my marriage to work. I guess it became quite obvious right in the third week of our marriage when he beat me up ruthlessly for no reason at all, that it was not meant to be. It broke me really. But I still tried desperately for it to work out somehow or the other, because I thought that was it for me. For one whole year I tried to fool myself that it would be alright, but when I saw it was not safe for my two-month old son, I finally quit.”
There is a mist in those usually smiling eyes and her generally animated face becomes clouded, so I decide to change the subject. She now lives in her own house with her two-year old darling boy and an array of helpers — I had the honour of being individually introduced to all of them! — so I wonder out loud if a mere twenty-something, who also happens to be a showbiz personality, has no qualms in living alone.
“Oh, come on — I am a grown up mom – although I feel like a juvenile delinquent! – and if someone like BB can get killed surrounded by hundreds of guards and riding a bullet proof car, what guarantee is there that I will be safe, just because my mom is in bed beside me, or in the adjoining room for that matter, and I have hired a hundred guards? The truth of the matter my dear, is that if someone is bent on killing you, you will be killed, come what may!”
I see her true vivacious self back in no time as she plunges along to share some more of those bold views. “You know what, I do not go by the norms of society! I mean, what society are we talking about? The one which raises great hue and cry when someone’s maid is caught red-handed with the driver, but deems it ‘in’ to exchange wives for the night? I do not believe in passing judgments or assessing someone on the grounds of how many times he/she has been sleeping around. No sir, my issues are different. My issues are poverty, social injustice, and the fact that so many people in this country suffer from mental illness and we still prescribe anti-depressants when they need anti-psychotics! I truly feel we have lost that moral fibre in our society — and coming from me, people will probably think that’s really rich because I am okay with so many things that make others open-mouthed! But that’s the way I am!”
Very interestingly, Kazim reveals that she has written a book — presently in the first draft stage — which may be taken as a self-analysis of sorts; a catharsis or a self expression of enduring and experiencing so much in such a short life-time. “I would not like to call it an autobiography, for that would be too arrogant! I mean, if some iconic figure like Babra Sharif decides to write a biography, it’s understandable. But coming from Juggan Kazim, at mere twenty-something — naw!”
Kazim reveals that this book, which is called ‘From Sunsets to Sunrises’ — she admits it’s not correct English — symbolises the stories of four women, one of them being herself. “The name is significant, as usually from sunrise till sunset we are so busy going about our day-to-day businesses that we have hardly any time to pause and analyse situations. It is only after sunset — just like the fabled werewolf which shows its real self at midnight — when we get time for ourselves, that the reality sets in, and then can it be truly analysed.”
She bows her head for a while and when she looks up again, there is an intriguing amalgam of pain and sanguinity in her eyes. “I have spent all these years longing for a father figure in my life. And now that I myself have become a mother, I haven’t found a father, still. To tell you the truth, I don’t even need one now. Not for myself, not even for my son! For I have learnt how painfully confusing it can be to grow up with your feet in two different boats. Cruel as it may sound, I will not let my son go through all this turmoil which I went through.
“I feel very responsible, very proud to be a single parent, and I do not think any man can ever measure up great enough to be my son’s father. I have been through a lot in my life; but when I think that at the end of it all I got Hamza Ahmed as my gift, I really don’t mind at all. He is the reason I get up every morning. Not a very religious person I am, but I do believe that Allah is there watching over me, and I know He will not let anything bad happen to me.”
JK has come a long way in a very short span of life. And she has seen, been through, and experienced abnormally more than an average person experiences in a whole lifetime, perhaps. But she is a fighter to the core; and an optimist, who believes in looking ahead, and keeps on walking tall under all circumstances. And perhaps, that is the one essential factor that sets her apart from others.
And definitely makes Juggan Kazim, Juggan Kazim!