Commonly known as Baji Bombastic, Sheherzade has usually all of us rolling on the floor laughing as she goes on to portray her character of ‘Baji’. We at Social Diary got curious at how the character came about , her personal life and everything else and decided to ask her about it.
Tell us a little about your personal life.
I come from a family of artists. My mother is a painter, and my brother is a musician. My late father was a painter, puppeteer and a patron of the performing arts. I am extremely lucky to be surrounded by actors, painters, dancers and musicians; my extended family is also, full of artists.
My family collectively owns and operates Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, which is a company that is geared towards promoting and preserving the performing arts in Pakistan. My father also established the largest puppetry museum in South Asia, called the ‘Faizaan Peerzada Museum of Puppetry’. So, you could say that love for the arts runs through my veins. It is definitely something that beautifies and colors my life.
I went to LUMS and did my Bachelors in Political Science. Artist bhi hoon, laiken parhakoo bhi hoon. My college experience at LUMS taught me to be independent, intellectually curious and empathetic. It also taught me that you are responsible for creating your own path in life, and that the journey matters as much as the destination.
How did you come up with the idea of “baji bombastic”? Did you expect it to get so famous?
I created the character of Baji with my cousins when I was about eight years old. I didn’t think much about it. It was just a form of entertainment for my cousins and me, as we sipped our evening chai and met for our family Sunday lunches. Baji is a character that I perform for fun. I did not create the character with the intention of going viral.
What did you expect out of it back when you started and what do you expect from it now?
The ability to humour one’s audience is, perhaps, one of the greatest and the most sacred tools that a performer can have. I thank the Universe for giving me this tool; it has the power to build and break narratives. My art is not perfect. The only thing I except from the character and myself is evolution, and progress. These are abstract terms. They become clearer once goals are reached! In strictly Baji terms, I wish to explore the nuances of the character further.
It must be hard for you to manage your account with your other obligations. How do you manage to balance?
Social media recognition is a double-edged sword. I am just returning from a three month social media break. Believe it or not, before 2019, I did not have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube accounts. I am not a fan of social media, and I don’t believe that I ever will be. This is a story for another time.
To answer your question, I am managing by taking breaks, and finding my own balance. I have to see what works for me, not what works for the algorithm.
Where do you get your inspiration for your content?
The Universe and the Cosmos!
Are you happy with Pakistan’s comedy scene?
Being happy with it implies that I think that it has reached its full potential. So, no. I am content with how the scene is evolving, but I hope and pray that more platforms and venues open up to the idea of hosting comedy nights. A lot of platforms want to censor the material that is put out there, and that defeats much of the purpose. As a society, I think we need to live and let live so that our artists and comedians can be comfortable with expressing themselves.
Is there any comedian that you’d like to collaborate with – national and international, both?
Dave Chapelle. What a riot that would be.