IF YOU need inspiration to kick-start your quest for impossible showbiz dreams, flip on the vibrant morning show titled Nadia Khan Show – Geo Mazay Sey, from 9-11 on weekdays.
There’s a good chance you’ll see a pretty, perky lady looking back at you with a pair of warm brown eyes and an extremely innocent, young face.
Nadia Khan’s wit, humour and quick thinking are displayed in front of the camera.
When and where were you born?
i was born on 22nd of May 1979, in Quetta, which makes me a Gemini. I can still disclose my age, (laughs) for at least another four years.
I’m a very positive yet stubborn person. I like to celebrate life and have fun and I’m definitely not a control freak. I don’t like anybody to suffer and I don’t allow anyone to give me pain.
As a young child, did you have any idea, any vision, of what you wanted to accomplish?
Yes. I guess I was pretty sure what I wanted to do from the time I remember. When I was a child I used to play six or seven characters at one time. I was 14 years old when my first show came on television. My first show was Dark Time and the first serial was with Hasina Moen. I wouldn’t have acted if it was for anyone else other than Hasina.
A lot of people in showbiz start very early, and now I realise why.
How did your family react towards this?
By the grace of God I have a very broad-minded family. I made my television debut through NTM, 14 years back. My cousin and sister in-law were working with NTM, which was, in those days, introducing a lot of youngsters as compares and announcers. As I mentioned earlier, I was at that time a student of class VIII and wanted to become an announcer. I sought my father's permission to appear on NTM as an announcer. Finally one day, I went to meet my cousin who was, unlike my father, hesitant at first to allow me to work on TV. I had a screen test done and it was there when a director spotted me.
And what about your husband?
My husband is my backbone. It’s taken me seven years to change his thinking and now he is so proud of me. He keeps telling me that I have to grow as an artist, and helps me with the current issues concerning politics and the newsy bit. He doesn’t only respect my profession but also supports me with new ideas. My in-laws are my biggest critics but their support is immense.
Did you ever consider any other career besides talking, broadcasting, acting?
Never. This is what I wanted to do. But life is very unpredictable; it makes different choices for you. I gave it all up when I got married to my Dubai based husband. So when I moved here there wasn’t much to do and I couldn’t join the Arabic media because of the language. I wanted my own set-up and hence I waited for something ‘Pakistani’ to happen. And here I am, back to the showbiz arena.
Do you feel that acting, direction and production have changed during the recent years since PTV?
Media boom in Pakistan happened much too quickly, the media wasn’t ready as they lacked the technical staff. Channels are scared to invest in individual growth because they’ll be dumped as soon as the staff is trained. It is very unfortunate that people want to become rich overnight. For them it’s all about money, not about channel loyalty.
On the other hand, actors' attitude has changed because of so much work happening. All of them are so busy that they can’t stay focused due to this.
Do you feel it’s difficult to conduct an interview in pure Urdu? Or there is no such restriction for your show?
never wanted to do a complete English show because my forte is Urdu and so I waited for a long time for this show to happen. I don’t communicate in proper Urdu, it’s a mix of English as well and there are no such limitations for my show.
Is it important to be educated in the field of production?
Certainly, learning the craft teaches one to recognise better directors, teaches one punctuality and respect for others in the team. It’s a great career for women, its for the educated people, they must study media as there are so many opportunities in this field. Media needs talented and experienced women.
How do you go about it, right from how the questions are being conceptualised, to coordinating and finalising the high-profile guests?
My team does some of the research for me, whatever is catchy I remember and what I don’t remember is not interesting enough. As a compere, I feel, my brain connects to the brain of my viewers. Hence I know what will click to them. Over the years my thinking process has become so fast that I edit everything in my mind before I say it therefore never had to regret anything I said. And as far as guests are concerned, I avoid specialists like doctors and all. I don’t have to fill a slot. Exclusivity is an essential part of the show and who ever we approve of, has to be credible.
Who came up with the concept?
There’s an entire team called Geo Idea Cell working for the show operating from Pakistan. My director wanted a morning show as a vehicle to show that celebrities are just like everybody else. So it was a chance to hang out with all these famous people.
Do you research on the stars you'll be interviewing?
look them up on the Internet, and the director writes a couple of sample questions for me, but it's really just whatever they want to talk about. I'm not there to be, or even pretend to be, Larry King. This is a reminder that the people we all enjoy watching are just like us. That's all.
How have you found interviewing other stars? Were you ever uncomfortable?
My work is a hobby that I am almost addicted to. Only three people in my guest list have given me strange vibes. Others have been brilliant.
Do you believe in media ethics?
Ofcourse I do. Before the show starts, I ask all the celebrities if there’s anything they would not want me to ask them. I’m not somebody who would just want to sit here like a pastry and count my ratings. I don’t want to get a kick out of embarrassing anybody. Everybody has their own secrets. Since I know how to frame my questions I have a certain edge on others. The strange thing is that my guests connect with me so easily that they end up telling me more than I ask for. Every show I do is done with a great responsibility. I own every word I say. Earlier I used to make fun of people and now I realise how time has changed me. I hope our senior comperes realise that it's time for them to grow up.
How is it for you to get so up close and personal with stars?
get excited, but I wouldn't say I'm intimidated. I don't get nervous with my guests. I just get giggly.
I don't watch international TV shows because I believe that if something inspires you, you are bound to copy and since I have a tendency to mimic and copy style and accents, I avoid watching such shows. I’m a trendsetter myself and I’m not really impressed with the western morning shows but in the end I think that blends well with their culture.
Who was your first guest on a live show and how was your experience with him/ her?
My first guests were Javaid Shaikh and Poonam Dhillon. I was extremely comfortable with them and it was good fun. I have a lot of regard for my Indian guests as they make an extra effort to come to my show and are extremely polite.
How do you deal with criticism?
I only take criticism from people I know, not from strangers. I should know that the person has complete knowledge of my show. I have some friends who are hard on me. I wanted to bring in something new for my show so I changed myself. People change the show, props or sets, but I changed my wardrobe. Seven years back when I got married, I started wearing conservative clothes, and I lost track of fashion. I realised that I’m young but yet not experimenting at all. So I’ll keep on changing as a person and I’ll evolve for the better.
What about competition?
My show was the first perky breakfast show. I think the viewers need a variety so it’s good that they are coming up with more morning shows. I don’t feel competition because they all started after me. I don’t have a moment of insecurity because I have a huge fan following internationally. I can proudly say that I have the best technical team that backs me up. You can send me to Sudan and I’ll do the same show if I have the same technical support.
Is it difficult to work in a male-dominated society?
I’m very fortunate that I never came across such men. I believe that a woman can surmount any society if the men in the house are supportive. Because I joined at such a fragile age I was told not to joke on the sets. I was a popular miss attitude. One can build an image and sustain a reputation by their actions. Nobody wants to be termed as ‘persona non grata.’
How do you juggle your personal life with work and what challenges do you encounter?
When I got married I started teaching immediately. I taught drama in Dubai Gem for 3 years. Since I’m not a qualified drama teacher I couldn’t have taken it up as a career. It wasn’t lucrative enough. My salary was the lowest among my colleagues. I used to put up drama performances for 200 and more students along with taking care of the technical stuff as well. I also taught in Jumeirah international Art Centre. But I missed performing myself. It was a very learning experience but I wasn’t happy with what I was doing. I hoped this is not what I had to do for the rest of my life.
What is the reason behind the success of the show?
The success of this programme is that I’m doing one show only. No other artist in this field sticks to one thing.
When I started the show on another channel I had a baby of two months old, I weighed 84 kg. I realised that what is there for people like me in television. I wanted to do one exclusive show and nothing else on the side. My colleagues used to say it’s a commercial death for an artist.
What do you do if you’re having a bad morning?
I’m happy and excited every morning. I’ve worked in immensely tough situations. My sister passed away and I continued my show. I’m one tough Pakistani woman and I know that I’m strong because I’m a Pakistani. Women from our country can accept any challenges and we don’t give up on our families or our husbands. Pakistani women are homemakers. Changing the people around you is a big achievement. Lots of people and families see me as their role model because I’ve dealt with the toughest situations with patience and courage.
Besides hosting this show, do you have any plans for acting?
I don’t have stamina for drama, this show cant stop. I can never get tired of this show. Everyday there’s something new in store for me.
Would you like to give a message to the youngsters?
Life is going to be more beautiful hereafter, one should smile and have a positive attitude towards life. Serve Pakistan in whatever way you can.