Guest Author: Nazima Shaikh

Closer has the honor to do the first exclusive interview with Veena Malik for the Netherlands by Nazima Shaikh. On 7 March 2011, the whole world knew instantly who the actress Veena Malik was. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), uploaded a clip from a live interview on Express TV (Pakistani channel):

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMnAmRa4NYw]

With 1.120.786 million viewers on You Tube, thousands and thousands people discussing and debating about Veena in (social) media worldwide the bridge to the West opens. Now one year later let’s meet Miss Veena Malik.

Caring Celebrity or Controversial Queen?
My Pakistan is infamous for many reasons other than me says Veena Malik

Who is Veena Malik?
I’m a free soul and spirit who loves to be creative and expressing myself. My freedom is precious and I follow my heart and dreams! Born as Zahida Malik, in Rawalpindi, in the beautiful Punjab in my beloved Pakistan on the 26th of February 1987. Looking forward celebrating it and being thankful to Allah. My zodiac sign is Pisces. The creativity and most spiritual sign off all. I have a Bachelor of Arts with major subjects, Psychology, Sociology, and Persian. I speak Urdu, English, Punjabi, Syraki, and a bit Persian.

My height is 5 feet 7 inches, my bust is 36 my waist is 26 my hips are 36 and my weight 50 kg. My hobbies are, besides my work, taking long drives, reading books and shopping. I am a fashion model, film actor, reality TV Star and social worker.

I have the BBBB, Beauty, Body, Brains and Blessed.

My favorite expression is

‘To live and let other people live.’ I believe God gave every individual their own life; it’s a gift, and everyone has equal right to it. No one has a right to interfere in someone else’s and limit their God-given freedom, or impose anything.”

Caring Celebrity
Asalamalaikum Miss Malik. Adaap arz hai, thank you. I feel blessed and a bit excited interviewing you. How are you doing? Walaikumsalaam. Adaap, it’s my pleasure Nazima. I’m fine thank you. Great that The Netherlands thinks of me. I read on Twitter and on Facebook that you post the good and bad stuff (from the media) about me. As I am a sensitive person I intuitively felt it was good. I choose you because being a half-Pakistani Muslim woman, in the (social) media, living in The Netherlands, gives me a connection from woman to woman. I will be happily answering all your questions.

Thanks for noticing my efforts, shukria ji! I’m feeling a lot of warmth and energy. You don’t want to see me blushing here right now. I don’t know if I’m gone use this answer it maybe a bit…No, no I insist. We women have to have faith, trust, confidence in ourselves, and support each other. There are enough backstabbers in the world. Some women are the worst. Especially for strong women like us, who are making the insecure women sizzle personally and professionally! And please call me Veena dear!

How is it to be a Celebrity,  being in the news daily? I don’t have a private life or a secret life just a public life. Everything I do, like having a cup of coffee with someone in a public place, is news. Every smartphone is a camera these days. Of course that comes with being a Celeb. For several years I work hard to reach my dreams and goals as an entertainer in the showbiz industry.

Caring by adopting the boys Zain and Zafar who were earthquake victims in Pakistan. Sponsoring the young girl Payal who was a victim of human trafficking in India is natural to you? I feel like it, so I do it. My thoughts go to  assassinated governor of Punjab, Sir Salmaan Taseer, RIP who said: ”Pehle Insaan Bano, Phir Muselman Bano.” It means, be a human being first and then be a Muslim. Don’t get me wrong, Alhamdulillah, I’m blessed and proud to be a Muslim. What I mean to say is: charity begins at home!

Also caring for the animals? Definitely! I made the decision in 2010, gosh two years ago already, to become a veggie. Why do animals have to lose their lives, for us human beings? Tell me please Nazima! Allah made us all with love!

Why are you in Dubai? Various reasons. I love the climate over here that’s for one. I lived in Pakistan, India and now Dubai. Like a gipsy (laughs, N.S.)! I have been here for four or five years now. Also easy travelling from here to Pakistan and India. There is good food as well and for a girl like me who’s hobby is also to shop, they have amazing shopping malls here. Not to forget the photo-shoot in Dubai and your privilege to use them first!

Cinema Lollywood (Pakistan) & Bollywood (India)
My acting debut as actress was in Lollywood. The movie Tere Pyar Mein (2000) was a box office hit! This year, 2012, it’s my Bollywood Bang. Four movies, three special appearances. The first launch in the movie Gali Gali Mein Chor Hai. This movie is about corruption. (In every street is a thief) and I will appear “Item Song” as an “Item Girl“ called “Chhanno”. It’s a great honor to be asked and launched like this. I’m happy with the result and response. My second item song Fan ban Gayi (I became a fan) was released yesterday and is from the movie Teri Naal Love Hoo Gaya.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Edm7Bmlk50o]

Your acting debut in my beloved Bollywood will be in the movie Dal Mein Kuch Kala Hai (There is something fishy about it). You have a double role and only you are on the banner. It’s a big challenge to perform a double role. Regarding the banner, that’s the decision of the director. I’m also appearing in “Mumbai 125 KM” (3D Horror movie, N.S.), Zindagi 50-50 (All U Need…Love. N.S.) and I have my third special appearance in a song for Mr. Money.

How do you manage to schedule all this work at the moment? I get a lot of energy by working on the different parts of a movie. One time I act, the other time I’m play backing and dancing. Yes it’s hectic, but what’s new about that? Story of my life. So actually it doesn’t feel like work, but I know my responsibility to the producers and filmmakers, they know my schedule. Do you like Bollywood? Any proof of that?

Proof that I love Bollywood? Look at this (photo to the left

Looking too good! Up, close and personal with Arjun Rampal (actor, N.S.) Hot! Your eyes are exactly like mine, we have deep and watery eyes

Career @ International Cinema

I’m taking my first international step in British Cinema. I will be the leading actress in a powerful role. Just two weeks ago I had a meeting with the film crew in Dubai. I can’t go in to details at this moment. Maybe the Dutch Cinema next? No problem to learn Dutch. Suppose a casting or film director wants me for an acting role, it’s necessary for my work, so I will happily do it.

Career @ The Netherlands
What you want to do in the Netherlands? It’s just like Karachi for you a city of 16 million citizens! I can speech, debate on TV or University on several topics about women empowerment from a Muslim female actress/model view. Furthermore, I can do many things at the same time being a creative entertainer. I can be a fashion model, host a program, perform on Indian and Pakistani songs, act and perform in music videos, but also be a show stopper in any fashion shows. I hear there are lots of events every year. I really want to be part of these kinds of programs. I have a lot of fans all over the world. I have such sweet memories of the Netherlands. Let me think… It was probably 2005 or 2006 when in visited your beautiful green country. I was there on 14 August on behave of a charity foundation. You know I’m from Punjab and when I was there I had a lot of fresh milk and your butter, hmmm, loved it.

Career @ Reality Television Shows
Being the first Pakistani doing a political comedy show on national tv in 2008. Next step in 2009 was mimicking celebrities in Miss Duniya. This fame brought you to India in 2010 as celebrity contestant in Bigg Boss. The main presenter was Bollywood actor Salman Khan. This concept and format of reality television Big Brother is created by the Dutch production company Endemol. In 2006 Endemol India was making programs in Hindi from Mumbai. Most successful program celeb format Bigg Boss. Gosh, really? That’s hilarious! I experienced Bigg Boss as a platform in developing my career. That was leading to the media calling me “The hero of liberal Pakistan” because of my ethics, values and my representation of my culture. And later on debating about Bigg Boss on air with the mufti.

The life changing reality television show this year turning you from a Miss to a Mrs. is Swayamvar -Veena Ka Vivaah I have been approached to do this show. I will pick an appropriate groom, marrying him. I gave it a lot of thoughts, of course being skeptical, but I understand the format and concept. I’m excited and nervous to meet my mister Right. The promos have been shot in Agra with the Taj Mahal on the background!

According to Vivek Bahl, Chief Content Officer, “Swayamvar is one of the most sought after shows on our channel, with a very strong viewer connect. We are delighted to bring its fourth season with the dynamic Veena Malik. We at Imagine shall leave no stone unturned to make it a grand affair for her as she makes the decision of her lifetime.”

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiDBLrY1zPs]

The promos are inventive. Touchy music, a super dress and the Taj Mahal as symbol of love, it has to trigger many. Just one question: why Veena? Oh, Nazima. (laughing loud and long, N.S.) Don’t you believe in love ? I want to give love one more chance and I believe in the institute of marriage, Vivaah, Nikaah.

Veena, of course I believe in love. Who doesn’t? Surely give love more than one chance. Like you, I believe in love and marriage. You’re a smart lady of just 26 years young.

Nazima, I have no luck in my love life. Being a Celebrity, never knowing whether he is with me Veena Malik, or just with the girl Zahida Malik? I was 20 years old when I fell for a guy, but then he started hitting me. He was very aggressive towards me. He beat me. That made me really sensitive. Ever since then I’ve been too scared of being hurt to be in a relationship. I believe in love. But to me, it’s scary now, because of that experience. I’ve been thinking about giving it another chance, so this is my chance! As I told you earlier, I’m a very sensitive person. Intuitive, spontaneous and a sucker for love. My zodiac sign is Pisces. Pisces don’t breathe air, they breathe love as air. Like love is our soul to run life on. We dream during daytime and nighttime. You know there were more than 75.000 entries worldwide? Mister Right has called from the globe. It’s a world record, imagine that!

More than 75.000 entries worldwide? Wow. Meaning in my city Nijmegen (165.000 citizens) that’s more or less half of the men in my city. A world record? Hardly can imagine such a response. Too bad that you didn’t meet Endemol earlier for this reality show. I think they will love the format and the 75.000 global entries.

Hahaha, now that’s the spirit Nazima! Selections are made. The next step is bringing the 17 grooms together in one place. You will see their real personalities when they will do a series of tasks to test their compatibility with me and prove their love for me! In April, we start and it will be broadcasted in May/June. My mister Right, adding my life with joy and understanding. And Nazima, friends and family will help me, support me in the most important decision of my life. I will send you an invite to be my personal guest, ok? That’s a deal, Nazima!

Insha Allah, meet your mister Right. You’re first Ramadan in July, as a married woman Mrs. Right, so romantic dear! Thanks for the invitation most appreciated.

Controversial Queen
Are you controversial or is it your reputation? No I’m not controversial. My reputation is because of my line of work, as a female, as a Muslim. I’m just a little girl who is lucky that my work is my biggest hobby. People who work in the Art industry want to create, are expressive, want to feel the adrenaline and are feeding the energy, they want to share it with their audience. Ask any person who creates a poem, who creates a book, who creates a song, who creates music, dance, movies, etc.

How do you deal with the negative response? The threats? My father forced my sisters, who were 12 and 13, to marry. I come from a very poor family. I looked at them and I stood up for myself, and I said no, I’m not going to face this future, and I won’t get married. From then on, I started living my life. We were very, very poor, but I was studying and working. My father wasn’t able to afford my studies. So I said, ok, I will work. People were talking about me, and they were like, ‘Oh, don’t go into this profession, it’s really cheap, you will lose respect.’ But I said no, I have to support myself and my family. I learned all these things from experience. Now my family is very supportive, because I have been supporting them for the last eight years. I’m getting threats, people from Pakistan and India saying they will kill me. But this will not stop me from going back to Pakistan. God willing, I’ll be able to return one day; but I haven’t spent a full week in the country over the past year. And the Taliban, they are threatening me as well. And also those nationalist conservatives in Pakistan who see me as neglecting my own country by appearing on Indian platforms. I don’t know which of these groups my biggest enemy is; they are all my enemies.


Are you the voice of Liberal Muslims?
What’s liberal? I’m Allah thankful for blessing me how he made me. I am proud to be a Muslim. Mine religious identity is a personal relation between me and Allah. We women have to have trust, faith and confidence in ourselves. Role model is “Bibi Khadija”(PBUB), the first wife of our beloved Rasoelllah! She sets the norm and standard to be a self-made, independent, working woman and that we have not only our duties as daughter and wives but also our rights as Muslim women. It’s sad I think that in my beloved country Pakistan, where there are more girls and women than men, we are not demanding their rights on education, work, demanding our right to choose and making a stand together. Islamic wise women need respect, no matter what you’re cultural or society background is. Respect your men. Love your men. But don’t forget that God created you for a reason. For whom you are. For how you want to live your life. You should be aware of yourself, of who you are, before you give birth to a new generation of human beings. You must know about the world, you must know yourself, in order to raise the next generation. You’re not worth less than a man. You have every right to whatever you want to be! Always be positive. Life and death is not in our hands, but we can make a difference. As a human being, you can give hope to at least four or five people around you, you can be creative, you can live a life that matters.
I think circumstances forced me to become who I am today, and that’s what’s made me truly independent. Gladly I have so much love and support of my fans. They look up to me, they are proud and that gives so much energy and vibes, like spiritual happiness. The price I am paying to follow my dream and living on my owns terms, is sometimes hard, lonely and though.

The world gets to now you in a passionate debate with a mufti. He admitted to not having watched the tv show Bigg Boss. Claiming you were engaging in immoral behaviour as a contestant. You exposed the double standards of Pakistani media against women. The response from all over the world was huge. So heart touching, supporting and lots of positive energy. Thanking you all again my dear supporters and fans. About the show, first of all, I didn’t know there would be a mufti present, live; it was a complete surprise. Secondly, the presenter and the mufti were saying all kinds of stuff and having no respect. I had no other choice then to stand up for my rights. React spontaneously. I’m involved in an industry in which women are regularly criticized. I’m an independent woman; this is a very big deal in our conservative society. Men in our society cannot tolerate this, they don’t know how to process it. That’s why they criticize me being working in the entertainment industry, it’s about my dignity and freedom. There are so many problems in Pakistan, I’m not the problem.

In Pakistan there was controversy over your nude image on the cover of FHM magazine India. There was ISI written on your arm. ISI, are the initials of Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence. You say you where topless not posing complete nude and suing the magazine for all the images.
Oh, no really, Nazima, once again? (deep breath, N.S.) I don’t want to talk about it anymore. It’s all said and done. I have a case in court. Let your readers think about it however they want to think about it.

Still I really want to know the answer because there was a Turkish actress, Sila Sahin who was completely nude for the German Playboy. And chief-editor from Dutch Playboy said on the radio he will not ask a female from a cultural Muslim background because of the fuss, fear and threats. Nazima, this FHM stuff is a hard way to learn life trough experience. These images, were morphed and edited by computer software. That’s the reason I’m suing the magazine so people will realize it automatically that I’m on the right stand. Let’s rule something out, ok? If a male actor, or male model, is doing a cover shoot for a magazine, shining his six-pack, do we have a fuss on that? Don’t we all hypostatically run to shop and buy the magazine?

It’s my freedom of choice to do what I want, it’s the freedom of choice of Sila Sahin that she wants to do a shoot for the German Playboy. Furthermore, these magazines are bought by men, made for men from any cultural background. The upsetting thing for men who buy it is that they feel “caught” seeing a female model with their same cultural background. We are Muslim as well, like them. And saying “it’s not from our culture, but I want to see it”, that doesn’t give them the right to treat us bad. Now that’s immoral behavior! These double standards! It’s too bad there are so much hypocrites. They do everything negative and they just criticize people. Believe me when I say I have my own and know my own limits. It’s up to me to decide when and where I draw the limit. I have my own dignity and self-respect!

Omg, really one hour flies fast my dear Nazima, have to go now. It was just like sitting on your kitchen table, so comfy. And this is the first time we met. Next time we will talk about fashion and my singing career.

 

Miss Veena Malik thanks once again for your time. This is like you said in the beginning of this interview a connection from woman to woman just in different positions. Also a big thank you for your Spokesman & PR-manager Sohail Rashid.

 

Veena Malik Official Website

Veena Malik Official Twitter: @iveenamalik

Veena Malik Official FanPage on Facebook

Veena Malik Official Youtube Channel

Nazima Shaikh (1974), half Surinami-Hindustani, half Pakistani, born and based in the Netherlands, is a well-known publicist/journalist/radio-debater on news topics, Islam, Bollywood, political issues and gender in the Netherlands and has extensive knowledge of Pakistan.

Closer is the number one academic anthropology weblog in the Netherlands, founded in 2006 and maintained by anthropologist Martijn de Koning, working as a lecturer and postdoc at Radboud University, Nijmegen and also lecturing at University of Amsterdam. Closer has a large readership ranging from politicians to Muslim activists, from journalists of quality news outlets to academics from Europe, United States and the Middle East and interested readers from all kinds of religious and ethnic backgrounds. Closer is dedicated to all kinds of debates, developments and phenomenons related to Islam and Muslims in Europe and has a special section ‘Society and Politics of the Muslim World’.

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