FACE TO FACE WITH SANA BUCHA

Sana Bucha is a name that needs no introduction. She’s a well-known journalist and a familiar face to everyone. Sana faces off against some of the most influential people in Pakistan if not the world on live television and explores some of Pakistan’s most controversial issues on her shows. Sana is a force to be reckoned with. A blazing mind with beauty in great measure, she is an unmissable star.

Does the electronic media offer women a level playing field?

‘Do we play fair?’ is the real question. Men will brighten up their boring suit with a colorful tie but we doll ourselves up. So I believe we do not offer men a level playing field.

Talk shows have generally been regarded as a male domain. How did you manage to break through?

Women are everywhere. When I first joined Geo Television, I noticed there were lots of women working there all kinds of women. There were women in hijab, women in jeans, gorgeous women and plain-looking women.

Back then, talk shows were mostly hosted by men, but I never really believed it was a ‘men only’ domain. I don’t think the media in general is male-dominated. But more importantly, I have never really thought ‘I’m not a man, therefore, I can’t do something.’ Actually, in our society, there are many fields more dominated by women than men. There is a perception, for example, that modelling is a women’s profession, not a man’s.

You have interviewed several national and international figures. Has anyone been particularly intimidating or particularly patronising because of your gender?

Patronising, no. Intimidating, yes, although not because of my gender. I do not like Hillary Clinton at all. I have interviewed her twice but I feel she is too diplomatic. I know it is her job to be that way, but you cannot get a straight answer out of her and she is not comfortable with a one-on-one interview. So, whenever I have interviewed her, it has been as part of a group interview. I know that she does not want to say too much or give away too much, but I don’t like that arrangement. So the third time she was here and I was asked to go interview her, I declined.

I interviewed Harbiyar Marri in London and he was very difficult to interview. Firstly, he was so hard to get hold of and even harder to convince. And when I finally got to him in London, with my camera in tow, he just turned around and told me he did not want to give this interview. He hates anyone who will tell him that he’s wrong in sponsoring a separatist movement in Balochistan; he thinks all of us have sold our souls to the establishment. He is very difficult to talk to and with each question that I had asked, I was scared that he might get up and leave. In the end, however, it went well and I ended up asking him everything I wanted to.

There is a general perception that in order to be taken seriously or considered as ‘one of the boys,’ women anchors have only gone for political stories and have refrained from tackling issues related to women. Is that true?

When I look at a story, I think, ‘how am I going to do this story without getting myself killed.’ For example, I want to do a story on how we treat are minorities, specifically, the Ahmadis, but I find that the perception exists that if you do a story on a minority, you are part of that community. For example, people ask me if I am Balochi and if that is why I do so many stories on Balochistan.

The only thing that I consider and I can only speak for myself and not for other women because I do not how they gauge themselves is that I want to do a story that is going to be of some service to society. The only time I do not do them is when I feel there will be some serious danger to my own life.

There are certain debates I cannot have, not because I am a woman, but because our society cannot take it.

Who among the male and female anchors in Pakistan would you rate highly?

I would say Najam Sethi as I have great respect for him and he is somebody I aspire to be like. As for women, I do not even think most of them are worthy enough to talk about as they have no clue as to what they are doing and they are not really talk show hosts. It is very important for any anchor person regardless of whether they are male or female to know what they stand for. However if I had to choose, I would pick Munizae Jahangir as she has the knowledge, she has the content and she has the guts.

How would you view Pakistan’s film industry from a journalist’s perspective? What are its greatest strengths and weaknesses?

Pakistan’s cinema is like the country itself, resilient. That is its greatest strength. Sometimes it has nothing going for it except the passion that is brought in by the amateur filmmakers. It seems like the only plausible thing to do would be to give up, but not everyone has. The greatest challenge that the Pakistani cinema faces is its heavy reliance on foreign content Hollywood movies as well as Indian. Our movies have budget constraints whereas they have budgets running in billions. It’s an unfair competition. Moreover, those who do invest heavily in Pakistani movies have to wait years before they can recover some of their investment. Our political landscape and intolerance towards certain subjects make it difficult to produce thoughtful message oriented content. Lastly, we should stop being expected to beat India or Hollywood because their market/industry size is many folds larger than ours. We need to create a new niche for Pakistani cinema, independent of competition and need to focus on stories which will help shape the society for the better, not only mindless entertainment.

Which International/local actors and actresses do you admire the most and why?

I believe it would be Meryl Streep from Hollywood and Amir Khan from across the border. Meryl Streep is an intelligent, compassionate, independent woman with a strong influence on the public and she uses it to impact the society at large, not just remain restricted to her roles in films. Same goes for Amir Khan who uses his star power to highlight sensitive issues plaguing the Indian society and moving them towards possible solutions. What good is star-power if not used for the right purpose?

Which international/local directors would you love to work with and why?

Locally, my choice would be Shoaib Mansoor. His scripts are moving, his direction flawless and his motives, noble. Internationally, there’s Quentin Tarantino , a man who has studied film in great detail and has derived a style of his own. Tarantino also has the added advantage of being a brilliant story writer as seen in Pulp Fiction. His movies make for multiple viewings and he’s got a great fan following. I also wish to work in a Bond or a Marvel movie Supergirl and/or Jane Bond. Oh yeah!

Rapid Fire

  • Favourite Travel Destination

I would love to travel around the world and visit Mexico, but if have to choose one I will say London.

  • Favourite Dish

I’m not a foodie but I love Daal Chawal, Chaat, and Salads of all kinds. I’m actually drawn to a lot of greens these days.

  • Favourite Anchor

I think it has to be Kashif Abbasi.

  • Favourite Designer

I like Shehla Chatoor a lot, I like some of Asim Jofa’s styles and I love Umer Sayeed.

  • Favourite Dine Out Place

Okra for sure.

  • Favourite Color

White & Black

  • Favourite Perfume

Right now Oud Ispahan

  • Celebrity Crush

George Clooney, though he’s happily married but still.

  • Most Memorable Moment

There are many, the first that comes to mind is very recent, where I met this girl on a plane who I think was hardly sixteen seventeen, she came and said “I want to be you”. Well I think it’s a great moment when someone confesses that they want to be like you. It’s a great honour to be an inspiration for someone.

  • Biggest Inspiration

Nobody has really inspired me so far.

  • Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Nowadays night owl

  • Puppies Or Kittens?

Puppies

  • Biggest Pet Peeve?

My obsession with weight loss

  • Craziest Fan Story?

My Facebook stalker who begged me for a picture of my foot soles. He said he knew how to read them. Crazy!

  • Who’s Your Favourite Disney Princess?

Snow White. Probably because she had those cute little dwarves around her

  • What Quote Do You (Try To) Live By?

I take respite in the fact that all of us are hurting, broken, suffering or missing someone or something in life. Makes me feel less alone. Also the fact that being broken is a privilege because that’s how the light enters. I love this particular quote by Ernest Hemingway: “We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in”