Sunday, March 20, 2011

The jaunty and jazzy Juggan


An actress, a host, a model and a mother...this talented lady certainly isn’t afraid of multitasking!

A delightful presence in the entertainment industry, Juggan Kazim has showcased her warm and engaging personality in everything she does, be it acting, modelling or hosting.

Personal life

Juggan was born and raised in Lahore and did her schooling from Grammar School, completed her Intermediate in Arts from Kinnaird College and graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 2002. “I got married to my son’s father about five-and-a-half/six years ago and when my son was two months old, I moved back to Lahore from Karachi and since then have been living here,” Juggan tells Express Tribune.


Juggan is among those few celebrities who entered into the entertainment industry at a very young age. “I did my first advertisement when I was four-years-old. I’ve been working in the media since I was 14, in terms of commercial theatre,” says Juggan. Her family, however, was initially not very supportive of her career choice. “This was never the line of work that anyone in my family wanted me to take up. It’s something that I wanted to do and I fought for it, until I was old enough for them to let me be and do my own thing,” reveals Juggan .

She knew that this was the field she wanted to pursue. “When I was going abroad for my higher studies, the deal my mother made was: “I know that you love this acting/hosting/modelling nonsense, but no, it’s not going to happen; don’t even think about it. If you’re going to university, the only way you can go is if you don’t take any courses related to acting,” Juggan recalls. “The closest thing to it was media studies, so I opted for a degree in media, information and technoculture, and sociology, and a minor in psychology,” she added.

However, her love for acting made her take acting courses while working two jobs and attending university. “I started taking acting courses, which had nothing to do with university; they were with acting teachers so there was nothing coming on my transcripts. So I kept doing my acting stuff on the other end in terms of rehearsing and figuring out and learning basic skills of acting, but it was never part of my university degree.”

Since then, Juggan has appeared in television dramas, music videos, films, and also worked as a television host. So which of her projects is she the most proud of so far? “I am proud of my brand ambassadorship with Garnier but at the same time I’m also very proud of the morning show I’m doing for Express News,” says Juggan.  Speaking of her experience as a morning show host, Juggan says, “I’ve had the full support of my team. You know, you can do a show for someone, but most of the time people expect that you as an anchor made the show popular. However, what people don’t understand is the fact that a show requires teamwork, and that’s what I have got by working with these guys, so I’m quite happy with the project.”

The multi-talented celebrity identifies herself most as an actress and finds acting and hosting to be the most fulfilling. “Modelling is just something I do; it’s not who I am. Part of who I am is that I’m an actor and an anchor. Acting is something I have always wanted to do and it was in fact my main area of interest, but hosting is something I fell into, completely unexpected, and I have no regrets,” remarks Juggan. Speaking about her future plans, Juggan says, “I would like to do more acting in the future.” As for now, Juggan believes that live shows for corporate events and the morning show with Express doesn’t leave much room for anything else and she says, “I don’t want to do anything else either.”

For Juggan, pursuing a career in showbiz isn’t easy as it requires a lot of hard work. “You’ve got to be very resilient, hardworking, and a good human being. I find that in this day and age people believe that if you’re a mean person and a bit of a snob, you’ll do well in the media. But the fact is, there are more than enough badtameez people in the media already, and I don’t think I need that attitude to survive,” she explains.

Juggan concedes that criticism regarding her work can sometimes be really tough to take, but it also provides her a chance for improvement. “I have to admit that without being able to take criticism, and without improving yourself accordingly, you can’t really survive in this industry because you’ll be doing your own thing and you’ll just be any other person. Or you could actually make an effort and put together a great work and that is something you can only do if you keep improving.”

Activities & interests

In her spare time, Juggan does a lot of things from cooking to watching movies. “I enjoy cooking, love listening to music and I’m a complete movie buff, so I really enjoy watching movies. I’m not a huge fan of Bollywood movies though; more so Hollywood features and foreign films. And I do a little bit of reading every now and then but don’t get as much time as I’d like to, so it’s a pretty irregular basic interest, but cooking is a passion.”

Upcoming projects

Besides doing the morning show and hosting for corporate events, Juggan has a few projects in the pipeline. “I’m in a really good place with the morning show, and I’m doing a couple of films as well. I’m doing a Lollywood movie titled Khamosh Raho with Altaf Hussain (director) and Ghafoor Butt (producer) in which I have to dance as well, for which I’m taking dance lessons from Nigah, a dance teacher. Moreover, I’m also shooting my next ad for Garnier sometime this month. All in all I’m having fun.”


If I could play a character in any film ever made, I would play…
Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady. She comes from nowhere, becomes somebody, and surprises everyone with the amount of talent she has and what she becomes, and I think that that’s beautiful. I think being able to reinvent yourself is very important.

If I could meet one person (out of anyone that ever lived), I’d love to meet…
Meryl Streep.

If I had to record the cover version of any song, I’d pick…
Sanu Nehr Walay Pul Tey Bula Key. I love that song!

If I could live in another time, I’d choose…
The ‘70s in Pakistan. It was a pretty good time, it was pretty great being here in the ‘70s from what I hear  — I wasn’t born then but I keep hearing that the ‘70s were great. So the ‘70s in Pakistan is my pick. Why go anywhere else? We live in a beautiful country; it’s just unfortunately run by the wrong people right now.

If I could change one thing about myself/my life, I’d change…
My temper.

If I could learn one skill (that I don’t already know), I’d want to learn…
To speak different languages. Unfortunately I can only speak Urdu, English, Punjabi and a bit of French, and that too barely. I wish I had the knack to learn languages like people do. I’d love to speak Spanish, German, Arabic and Persian — such beautiful languages that I cannot speak because I don’t have the ear for it. Also, I would like to learn how to sing.

If I had to banish one word (from any language), it would be…
“Cannot”. I can’t do this, I can’t do that. We can do anything we want to; we just choose not to do it.

- By Sameen Amer

The Express Tribune - 20th March, 2011

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Scrap that


We all try to capture the important moments of our lives in the form of photographs, and on occasion save some items – like ticket stubs, postcards, newspaper clippings, or even words scribbled on a piece of paper – that remind us of a time or event that we don’t want to forget. Each and every one of us has stuff lying around that takes us back to special moments; if you want to organize and add flair to your collection of such memorabilia, then you might want to try scrapbooking, a hobby that not only lets you unleash your creativity but also helps you artistically preserve your memories.

Scrapbooking involves combining photos and memorable items supplemented by accompanying thoughts and encompassed in decorative templates, so as to display the significance of that item or event. To create meaningful archives, photographs are arranged on a paper along with relevant clippings and notes, with explanatory text added to detail the experience in order to document important information next to the images; decorative elements are then added to the page that reflect the scrapbooker’s style and feelings as well as complement the photos, so that the final product relays a story and communicates the underlying sentiment or message in a more expressive way than any of the individual items could have done separately.

Basic scrapbooking materials include background papers, albums for storage, adhesives, archival pens, cutting and mounting tools, and decorative elements, like patterned paper, stickers, laces, ribbons, and other embellishments. The quality of scrapbooking supplies can, however, vary according to budget. You can use any paper, even plain paper or a notebook, if you so wish, although such material is unlikely to last in the long term and can also damage your photos and clippings. Proper scrapbooking supplies (like acid free paper and safe-for-photos adhesives) can range from expensive to more economical options; such supplies are specifically treated so that they don’t damage the things you want to preserve or severely deteriorate over time, and are therefore a better choice for safety and longevity.

If you’re short on cash, then you can also try its computer-based variant: digital scrapbooking. Digiscrapping lets you use scrapbooking software for building pages around digital/scanned photographs; you can create your own templates, and also find (both free and for-a-price) kits, elements, backgrounds, and tools online. Computer scrapbooking is easier than its traditional counterpart, and will save you both time and money, while making it easy to share the final product with others.

Scrapbooking is an activity that can be enjoyed be people of all ages. Scrapbooks can be created just for fun, as an outlet for creative expression and style, or to preserve personal or family history, and can also be made as a present for a family member or a friend. The hobby can also be social; scrappers can host events in which they get together and work on their pages, which can help them make more friends who enjoy the same hobby. Scrapbooking can potentially combine photography, journaling, and art; it can not only be creatively fulfilling but also gives you artistically preserved memories that you can cherish later on in your life and share with loved ones.

- Sameen Amer

The Express Tribune - 13th March, 2011

Devil - an escalating supernatural encounter

movie review

Movie: Devil
Starring: Chris Messina, Bojana Novakovic, Bokeem Woodbine, Jenny O'Hara, Geoffrey Arend, Logan Marshall-Green, and Jacob Vargas
Directed by: John Erick Dowdle
Screenplay by: Brian Nelson
Story by: M. Night Shyamalan
Rating: 3 out of 5

The first release in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Night Chronicles series, Devil is a supernatural thriller that follows the story of five strangers (Bojana Novakovic, Bokeem Woodbine, Jenny O'Hara, Geoffrey Arend, and Logan Marshall-Green) trapped in an elevator who discover that one of them is the devil; as they try to figure out who amongst them is responsible for the rising body count, a detective (Chris Messina) monitoring the situation tries to piece together what is really going on. The story isn’t complex – the general focus is on the elevator occupants as those on the outside try to help them, and the basic back-stories of the characters are touched upon as the film proceeds. The premise is a nod to Agatha Christie’s 1939 novel And Then There Were None, and the plotline is as simple as it is effective, although it succeeds more as a thriller than as a horror flick. The smart direction and decent script make the film both riveting and claustrophobic, and succeed in building suspense as the film heads towards the anticipated twist at the end (which you may or may not be impressed by). Don’t let the fact that it comes “from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan” put you off; it isn’t the dross that you’d expect based on the filmmaker’s recent work. That said, there isn’t anything exceptionally new or original about the film either, and it doesn’t exactly go out of its way to avoid clichés; still, because of both competent filmmaking and performances, and its brisk pace, the movie ultimately delivers. With a runtime of only 80 minutes, Devil is a short but sharp thriller that is likely to enthral fans of the genre, especially those with the requisite suspension of (dis)belief skills.

- Nilofar Amer

The Express Tribune - 13th March, 2011

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Dirty Sexy Politics: Republican reveals all

book review

Book: Dirty Sexy Politics
Author: Meghan McCain
Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir, Politics
Publisher: Hyperion

Meghan McCain, the daughter of US Senator and 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain, first came to the fore for her blog, McCain Blogette, and subsequently gained a reputation for being outspoken and having a tendency to overshare. The 26-year-old blogger recently published her campaign memoir, Dirty Sexy Politics, which chronicles her life on the campaign trail as she tries to contribute to John McCain’s 2008 Presidential bid.

In the book, Meghan talks about the time she spent with the campaign (from which she was eventually sidelined) and reveals details like her surprise over the choice of Sarah Palin as her father’s running mate and how she nearly overdosed on Xanax on the day of the election. Despite its title, the book is not particularly dirty or sexy and doesn’t exactly offer scathing political commentary. The book wants to offer an insider’ point of view but has been written by someone who was essentially treated like an outsider. As a result, interesting revelations are few and far between.

The writer offers fewer insights into the behind-the-scenes presidential campaign action and goes more-in-depth when it comes to the reasoning behind her wardrobe choices and her impression of everyone else’s clothing selection. To her credit, she does acknowledge that her “stories are decidedly impressionistic rather than reportorial,” but Meghan McCain is neither a political heavyweight, nor a master of prose. Moreover, it doesn’t help her much that she lacks the material (and the writing skills) to warrant a full-length book, with both the content and style being more suitable for a blog.

Overall, Dirty Sexy Politics is a quick read that might resonate more with younger readers and will not offer much to those who are looking for political insight.

- By Sameen Amer

The Express Tribune - 6th March, 2011

Friday, March 04, 2011

"I am living my dream!" - Burcu Çetinkaya

cover story

Burcu Çetinkaya
Date of Birth: 19 March 1981
Nationality: Turkish
Discipline: Rally

A successful female sportsperson in what is generally considered a man’s sport, Turkish racecar rally driver Burcu Çetinkaya has managed to establish her place in motorsports and has also won accolades along the way. The multi-talented sports personality, who also hosts television shows in Turkey, is touring Pakistan from the 25th of February to the 5th of March, with the aim of encouraging and supporting the local motorsports industry. We got a chance to ask Burcu about her experiences as a rally driver and what she aims to achieve through her visit to Pakistan. Here’s what she had to say:

Us: Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Burcu Çetinkaya:
I am from Istanbul, Turkey. My father is from Nallıhan, Ankara, Turkey, and my mother is half-Albanian from her mother’s side. I speak English, French, Turkish, medium level Italian and German. I graduated from Robert College (the American high school in Istanbul). Afterwards, I went to Babson College in Boston for Business undergraduate studies; after two years I transferred to Koç University in Istanbul, and I graduated with an Economics undergraduate degree.

Us: How did you become interested in motorsports? What prompted you to take up rallying?
My father had been working in the automotive industry for many years. He took me to see my first rally when I was 12 years old. There I fell in love with rallying. The plan stayed in my mind for 12 years, and I managed to start only after I was 24 years old. 2005 was the year I saw my dreams take off - I did something crazy: I sold my road car, took a bank loan, and started rallying.

Us: What training regime do you go through as a driver? And how do you keep fit?
I run eight km per hour, five days a week. I do kickboxing in the afternoons, four times a week. I also do regular daily concentration and balance trainings given by the Red Bull training centre in Austria. Before and during the season, I go testing and training in France with more experienced drivers, such as Sebastien Ogier and Kris Meeke, who have helped me a lot in the past seasons. Before the rally, we have a regular test to do the set up of the car. I look at the onboard cameras after the rallies.
Besides sports I also pay attention to my diet. I don’t eat fried food. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink alcohol. I eat healthy and regularly. I drink a lot of water.

Us: How difficult is it to be a successful female athlete in what is usually thought of as a men’s sport?
Very difficult. Sometimes when we have to wake up before sunrise for three to four consecutive days and drive a rally car from morning till night under rain and on muddy roads, I find myself asking my co-driver Cicek, what we are doing here? Our hands become dry from dust, driving, or changing tyres, and our nails fill with gravel. Then I know the answer. I don’t hesitate. Because I have a dream and I chose to fight for my dream. It is difficult to convince men that we are there for rally driving, and not for showing off, or not because we are women. Any mistakes we make result in reactions about our being female. But on the other hand, any success we get also gets double attention because we are one of the very few women [in this sport] out there. It is difficult to be away from home, from family, almost ten days a month, always travelling. It is difficult to work out every morning to catch up and make up for the missing muscles we need to compete against men. But the pleasure of success, the fact that I am living my dream, makes everything possible and everything bearable.

Us: What are you most looking forward to during your tour of Pakistan?
Meeting people from Pakistan, and getting to know the culture of Pakistan. I want to visit the Tooba Mosque; I have never been to a mosque outside of my country so I am very curious about that. Also, eating local food. But really, most important of all for me is meeting the people of Pakistan. I also read that Karachi is famous for water sports. I love wakeboarding :). I would love to try this in Pakistan as well.

Us: How important is it for you to encourage the local motorsports industry in Pakistan?
It is very important to me. We have very different cultures but also many similar parts. Both our countries are surrounded by Islamic culture and I think I will find a lot of similarities between Turkey and Pakistan. Both our nations have had hard times - we are now nations that know how to fight and overcome challenges. I think this also reflects the soul of rallying. Motorsports requires people with a warrior-like and consistent character. I think such people can easily be found in Pakistan. But another reality is that for motorsports the conditions are much easier in countries such as Europe or the United States.
If I can be of any help or inspiration to any potential drivers in Pakistan, I will be very happy. So this is why it is very important to me to be able to communicate that motorsports is not unreachable.

Us: Would you encourage Pakistani female athletes to consider taking up this sport as a career? How can they achieve success in racecar rally driving?
I would very much encourage them, but they have to know the difficulties. This is a man’s world. And to hang on to it, takes a lot of courage, belief, and fighting. If they can stay strong, concentrate on the sport, focus and not get distracted by the spotlight, then they can consider this sport as a career. It all depends on how much they want to do this.

Us: How central are safety measures and regulations for any motorsports rally?
The most important thing in rally is safety. If the car is not taken good care of, if the belts are not tight enough, there is a life risk - that of my life and of my co-driver’s. So one must race with a good team - for us it is Peugeot Sport Turkey, with the aid of our sponsors like Red Bull, Ansell, Total, and Yokohama.
There is an example from the 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) in the Iepers rally: we had an accident when we were at full speed, where we hit an electric pole at over 150 km per hour, and walked out of the car unhurt. To take care of the car, to have a strong roll cage, to put on your helmet, hand gear and belt all the time is very important to make rallying safe.

Us: What has been the most memorable and unforgettable moment in your motorsports career so far?
In 2010 when we finished the Turkish round of the World Rally Championship (WRC) with Peugeot Sport Turkey in 12th place overall, and as the 2nd S2000 car after the WRCs. We also finished as the best Turkish team ahead of all the guys. The finish line in Istanbul where all the young guys, our supporters, were screaming and waiting for us at the service park... the moment of success is always the best!

Us: What is your favourite car?
My favourite car is Peugeot RCZ, but of course my rally car 207 S2000 is the car that makes me the happiest, although it is impossible to drive it in traffic!

Us: If you weren’t a racecar rally driver, what profession would you have chosen?
I would love to be a journalist. A war correspondent, especially.

Us: Do you have any hobbies? What do you do in your spare time?
I present and prepare two weekly television programmes. One is a live show about sports, aired on Monday nights on Bloomberg HT. The other one has been going on for four years now on TV 24 in Turkey, and it is about cars (classic, modified, new). So between TV shootings, the strong training programme of sports, rallies and events, I really don’t have much spare time. But when I do, I love to learn languages, I love to learn saloon dances, I love to read books and watch movies. I love nature, and I love to go snowboarding or wakeboarding, depending on the season.

Us: What do you hope to achieve in the future? What are your goals?
I hope to get on the podium with Peugeot Sport Turkey and my co-driver Cicek in one international event on the general classification; ERC (European Rally Championship) or IRC or WRC. This is my biggest goal to start with. Then, if destiny allows me, I would love to get as much success as possible. My motto is "always better".

Us: Any message for the readers?
Believe in your dreams, believe in yourself, and work hard. If it is in your destiny, things will come your way. If not, then you will go the necessary way. In any case, at least you will know you have tried.

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 4th March, 2011