Pakistan's cross-dressing talk-show host Begum Nawazish Ali, who was hastened out of Mumbai to avoid a Shiv Sena backlash soon after being evicted from "Bigg Boss" house, says she would love to return as she can find better job opportunities here.
"At the moment Pakistan is plagued with problems. Entertainment is not a priority there. I am an entertainer and India can provide me with lots of work. If I get work, of course, I'll return," said Begum before leaving for Pakistan Saturday.
Ali Saleem, the Begum of TV show, said he was surprised when he found that Shiv Sena was targeting him and fellow Pakistani Veena Mallik for featuring in "Bigg Boss 4".
"I did hear about it. It surprised me. I saw no logic behind this kind of a protest. I didn't choose to be born in Pakistan. It's something that just happened to me. If I was born in Mumbai, I'd have been an Indian," he said.
Excerpts from interview:
Q: What are your plans?
A: As soon as I came out of "Bigg Boss", I went to a friend's house in Mumbai. In the morning, I returned to my hotel in an auto-rickshaw. This evening (Saturday) I leave Mumbai.
Q: You should have stayed a while?
A: I don't think the channel wants me to, not after the Shiv Sena's protests. I'm going back home, I'm missing my mom. I've been completely cut off inside "Bigg Boss". When I came out of the house, they didn't allow me to talk to my family until very late in the night. I got a mobile phone at 1 a.m. At that time I woke up my mom and dad. Both my parents had been watching me on "Bigg Boss" and were very proud of me.
Q: When you came out of "Bigg Boss", you must have heard of the political campaign to get you out of the country?
A: I did hear about it. It surprised me. I saw no logic behind this kind of a protest. Both Veena Malik and I were inside the house not as representatives of any country but as players in a game show. I didn't choose to be born in Pakistan. It's something that just happened to me. If I was born in Mumbai, I'd have been an Indian. Sixtythree years ago we were one nation. Why do we waste so much time in negativity?
Q: Do you plan to return to India?
A: I'd love to. I don't like to mince my words. At the moment Pakistan is plagued with problems. Entertainment is not a priority there. I am an entertainer and India can provide me with lots of work. When I come to India, I don't come as a Pakistani. I come here as an actor. If I get work, of course, I'll return.
Q: Was there a solidarity between you and Veena Malik in the "Bigg Boss" house?
A: Both Veena and I are from Pakistan and we're both from television. But we've met only two-three times. But obviously when you're abroad, then meeting someone from home means a lot. Even as a person I like Veena a lot. She's frank and she said what she had to in front of you. She isn't two-faced.
Q: You've a strong feminine side to your personality. Why did you choose to focus on the masculine side inside the "Bigg Boss" house?
A: I was born a man. But to become 'Begum' needs elaborate preparation. I need a whole team of people to dress me up.
Q: Are you saying Begum is just a character you play?
A: No, she is a part of me. But she's very high-maintenance.
Q: Is it difficult maintaining a bi-sexual life in a conservative society like Pakistan?
A: Not at all. Contrary to belief, Pakistan is not such a conservative country. I'm free to lead my life how I choose to.
Q: You live with your parents in Pakistan?
A: My parents are separated. I live with my mother in Islamabad. My father lives in Karachi. I spend a lot of time doing my television work in Karachi. When I'm there, I stay with my father. But my bonding with my mother is unique.
Q: Do you have a love life?
A: I had a love life. Now I am going to a normal life.