After a sabbatical of over five years Komal Rizvi is back on the scene with a bang. Now preparing to host her own TV show, she has come a long way from the naïve, bubbly and immature starlet and singer that she once was.
How old were you when you made your first television appearance?
I was sixteen when I recorded my first song. My mother’s ustaad had made a song for me – ‘Sathya’, and I persuaded my father to let me record it. It was my good luck that Ghazanfar happened to hear it and decided to make a video of it. The song remained number one for many weeks and there was no looking back after that.
What projects did you take on once you had made your debut?
I did a couple of more songs and then was signed up by Haider Imam Rizvi for a play, ‘Hawain’. It was just a small role of a daughter so I agreed to do it more in fun than anything else. Before I knew it, I had signed up for a couple of more serials and then recorded my first album when I was nineteen years old. It was released the following year, in 1997.
How did you manage to get a breakthrough in India?
It was entirely on merit, although I must admit that luck played an important part. I had been doing the Sunday Brunch Show for Ahsan Studios and decided to send it to Channel V. The tape had footage of me vj-ing, as well as some of my songs and I received a call from India by Star TV Network with an offer. The funny thing was that the opportunity came in at exactly the same time as my acceptance from Stanford University. Eventually, I decided to chuck up the latter and opt for show business. Star TV also signed me up for a record for Milestones International, a record label.
How long were you in India?
I was there for a year. It turned out to be the best year of my life and I have no regrets, although admittedly, it would have been great to have got a university education. But, I was never into studies anyway, and it was more my parents that had been pushing me to get a degree.
Any interesting experiences while you were there, interacting with all the big names of Bollywood?
Well, I met everyone from heroes to villains to all the Indian mega-stars and found them generally to be very down-to-earth, fun-to-be-with people. I also discovered that they are very high energy individuals, particularly the very successful ones. But, if you want specific incidents, I do have two to recount, that I am not likely to forget in a hurry. One was when I was put on a seat right next to Amitabh Bachchan while flying to Delhi. I had already interviewed him on two previous occasions so was thrilled to be sitting next to him, and my elation knew no bounds when he said he remembered me. However, I really blew it when he asked if I would be interested in acting in a movie, and I told him I wouldn’t be allowed to! He promptly lost interest in me, put a book on his face and went off to sleep! The other incident was when I interviewed Shah Rukh Khan. I don’t know if he was peeved by the fact that I didn’t kiss his feet, but just behaved in a friendly fashion, for after the interview when I spotted Madhuri and turned to approach her for an interview, he whispered something in her ear and she gave me a very cold look. But, I simply dote on her and when I let her know that in no uncertain terms, I could see her melt before my eyes. But, to this day I have been curious to know what it was Shah Rukh had told her that she had turned on me with such attitude!
Did you find any difference working in the showbiz industry in India as compared to working in its counterpart here?
There’s a lot of improvement in Pakistan now but when I was in showbiz here, it was a different ballgame altogether, for women. We were just two female singers then. The rush of adrenalin I had got from being centre-stage had made me overlook the fact that women in show business in Pakistan were not perceived in a positive light in those days. Audiences would do name calling, whereas in India, artistes were treated with respect. However, with more and more girls from decent families joining the industry now, the outlook is becoming more modern even here. But even so, it will be a while before we can catch up with India, where the industry is huge. Nonetheless, I feel if you have the talent you should definitely do something about it, regardless of where you are.
Any plans of singing in the near future?
I would certainly want to do an album, but now I’d do it with talented musicians. This time round it would not be commercial. I want to create good music and sing at the same time.
How many of the songs that you had sung earlier were your own compositions?
I had composed six of the ten songs I had sung, and written eight. However, I was immature then. I have not been formally educated in music and this time I want to work with people who have received formal training in this genre.
How do you feel when you hear your old compositions?
I cringe! I am proud that I made it so big at such a young age but can see that I can do it so much better now. My voice quality; perceptions; level of creativity – everything -is different now, so my approach to the songs would be very different this time.
Other than improvement in attitudes, do you see any drastic changes in the music scene over these last few years?
Our music industry is really improved now. There was no concept of royalty when I made my debut, while now it has become a rewarding industry and it is fun to be part of it.
Tell us a little about the morning show you are doing for HUM TV?
It’s a huge commitment having a whole show under my name and making a grand come-back with it. Basically, it is a women-oriented show so I deal with all kinds of issues related to women. It is divided into different segments, one dealing with culinary treats, the other with health and fitness, and the third with a guest appearance. The guest could be anyone varying from a lawyer to an architect to a psychiatrist to an activist. I discuss issues and problems with them, pertaining to women. I have tried to give the show a different twist.
You are reputed to be an excellent cook. Are you handling the culinary portion yourself?
I get strongly tempted to, but no, we have a very talented chef who has come from Japan who conducts the culinary segment. I try not to land up giving him too much advice, but know that in one show at least I would want to do the cooking myself!
Are you doing anything else, now that you are back in show business?
I have a lot of offers but I want to make a slow come-back. I don’t want to repeat the mistakes I made when I was younger.
Well I haven’t hated with a passion anything I have done so far, but I do feel that one serial I did – called ‘Teesra Pehar’ -- was the biggest mistake of my career. It had a horrible script, which I hadn’t read and the story became more and more twisted as it unfurled. There was too much drama in it and no smoothness and continuity of story.
To top it all I was the lead, and what’s worse, they didn’t bother to air it till about four years ago, a good three years after I had quit show business. People thought I had made a comeback and that to with such a disaster!
When were you last in the public eye?
I gave my last interview to Dawn Images in 1998 and since 1999 had quit the industry altogether, as I had got married. In January 2004, I made a sort of reappearance for a couple of months with ‘Ambulance’ as Angeline was insistent I try it, but after that I didn’t take up anything again till this show.