I f perfection on the ramp had a face, it would without a doubt be that of Sunita Marshall. A name synonymous to extreme beauty, grace and impeccable style and persona, this veteran model and talented actress refuses to be sucked into the politics of showbiz, as she continues to progress and make her mark with complete class and unmatchable debonair. Speaking to Social Diary, Sunita shared how the world of entertainment continues to progress and what needs to change. Having beautifully balanced work with raising her two children, this is one superstar who beams with confidence as she wins hearts with her individualism and striking personality. Read on to know more:
SD: First things first, how have you been coping with the pandemic?
Sunita: Actually I am very grateful for the time we got to spend with the family when the lockdown was imposed. It was that time when we were home entirely and I was able to get myself immersed in some quality cooking and cleaning. I think it was a very different time for everyone. We were also a bit scared and nervous but I did try to make the most of it. I do know that there are many of those who had to suffer immensely because of the uncertainties, especially those who faced the financial burden of it. But thankfully our work continued to go on as you cannot simply just shut the entertainment industry. However the modeling industry did suffer a little as there weren’t any fashion shows happening but the shoots were still ongoing. So yes there were problems but if I just talk about myself I enjoyed being at home. Getting to enjoy the fact that I wasn’t working as much as I used to work.
SD: You are an iconic symbol of the fashion industry who built her reputation on her hard work but now people point out that you just need to have really solid contacts to make it big? Is it true or is there still healthy competition left in the industry?
Sunita: To some extent and in some places, I do believe it is happening, but there are instances where it does not deem to be true. So I would call it a 50-50 thing. There are those who do get the chance to showcase their talent and make it big. And sometimes you have to know the right kind of person who will be your nudge to get into the right direction. Overall, the fact of the matter is some people will make it while others won’t. I would say that there is some level of monopoly existing now because I see a lot of people who have made their own little groups which means they work with the same people. How this is backfiring for the industry is that it is not letting new people come in and shine through. And that is why it isn’t good- we need fresh faces. Aside from models, this limitation puts barriers on even new and talented photographers and makeup artists to not get their big break. When I started working, we used to do things a little differently. We would work with everyone and getting projects was based merely on talent and not contacts and acquaintances.
SD: Pakistan has limited presence at the international platform. Why do you feel that is?
Sunita: While I would say our industry is growing to some extent, it is definitely not at that global mark. I feel it will definitely be taking time and thanks to Covid-19, things did stop and have come at a standstill. I think we are still doing pretty good work and we do have enough talent to reach international platforms. We will get there when we get there.
SD: Looking at how you choose your roles, what is most important to you when signing a project?
Sunita: For me the character has to be powerful and strong. 80% of the dramas in our industry are based on somewhat the same storyline. Actually our channels don’t want to take the risks and experiment with new things. So while we do look at the script and the character, we also have to keep an eye at the production house that is offering it to us. Those things also matter. But now I am into character acting which is more fun as there is a lot of margin. My project taking also depends on the dates as I have two kids so I have to plan it accordingly. Sometimes I do get good offers but family takes priority and I have to spend quality time with my kids.
SD: How do you create a balance between your work and personal life?
Sunita: While there do exist misogynistic views on how a working mom is not giving the rightful attention to her children, I think a career mom emphasizes the need to spend quality time with her children. Rather than fitting them with a mundane and regular routine, the working woman commits to making it extra special with them when she gets the chance. This means she goes out of the way to make every second count on days when she can.
SD: As someone who has excelled in both modeling and acting- which is closer to you?
Sunita: It’s very difficult to choose one as they are both completely different and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both. I have now stopped taking on modeling projects and now I’m completely enjoying my acting projects.
SD: Is there a specific reason as to why you haven’t taken up any film projects?
Sunita: I am actually waiting for the right project to come along. Our industry is quite small with limited releases. In a year, 8 or so movies are coming out and that is not enough to support the talent we have. Whatever I have been offered till now I feel is not really up to the mark that I should be doing. What I liked wasn’t offered to me. It’s as simple as that.
SD: How would you rate our film industry?
Sunita: People around the world compare Pakistani movies with Indian films. But that is completely uncalled for. Our industry is very small and our budgets are limited. We have to look into what needs to be made as per the needs and requirements of the public here. And the great thing is , even if we are making 8 movies, 1 or 2 of them are really good. And when you look at how many movies India makes, which are close to a 100, they end up giving just 1 or 2 hits. So from our limited resources and standard, we are already doing a pretty good job. But I do believe that we should be looking into creating movies which are based on different themes and subjects. At least we need to start making them, otherwise the industry will not develop as it should. Art and commercial movies go hand in hand. We should be experimenting with every genre and not worry about facing losses when taking on risks.
SD: Social media is so keen on ripping people apart when it can. Do you feel there is unnecessary grilling?
Sunita: Definitely. But these are open, public forums and everyone just completely lets it all out. I read some comments and wonder how there is so much hatred in some people. I really don’t understand it. But it does happen and it pisses me. I decide to go off for a few days and try to not look at it. Social media has definitely brought us closer but it comes with its flaws, with a major one being how in our industry, the trend of signing you up for projects by looking at how many followers you have on Instagram is extremely upsetting and unprofessional. Is that how you weigh someone’s talent these days? You are killing real talent that way.
SD: And how do you look at it from a personal perspective, specifically when it comes to people questioning how people of two religions were able to tie the knot together?
Sunita: Fortunately when I got married in 2008, Social Media was not a major thing at that time. But a lot of people do ask me questions about my religion and my children’s religion, whether I will be converting or not. While I do consider myself as a public entity, there is a point where you have to draw the line. People think that it’s their right to comment and sure they can but I have the right to delete the harsh ones and block the person. As when it comes to the curiosity around my religion, I have said it plenty of times that yes I am a Christian and my husband and kids are Muslims and we are happy and content in the way we are living. At the end of the day it’s my home and no one has the right to tell me what to do and how to do it.
SD: What are your concluding views on what are the key personality traits a person should have to make it in this industry?
Sunita: One thing I always say is many don’t have the knowledge on who to meet and get the professional guidance and direction so we do need authentic agencies and companies. Whereas when it comes to personality traits that will help you along the way- remember to do it wholeheartedly, be professional and if you have talent, you will do great. Know this- you can’t take short-cuts and no matter what anyone says, believe in your own potential!