CONCENTRATING on quality over quantity has not only given Syra Yousuf an impressive body of work across film and television, but also shown off her impressive versatility as an actress.
The beautiful Pakistani star recently followed up a winning performance in the hit drama serial Sinf-e-Aahan with a lead role in the newly released film Babylicious, which is a romantic musical about not being able to forget a first love.
She is looking forward to taking on more challenges, including working internationally and exploring roles that take her into new directions.
Eastern Eye caught up with the cool creative to discuss her acting journey, new movie Babylicious, future hopes and inspirations. She spoke with genuine passion and lit up each answer with a winning smile.
How do you look back on your action packed journey as an actress?
I’m very grateful for all that I have been able to achieve. A lot of it has been a surprise, to be honest and was never planned. So, I’m very grateful overall.
Is it a coincidence that you’ve done roles dramatically different to one another?
I think it’s always been a conscious decision because I as an actor, artist and even person, to be honest, am aware of how I do tend to get disinterested easily. So, the only way I can keep it really creative and exciting for myself is by choosing different roles.
Which of the characters has given you the greatest satisfaction?
I would say it’s difficult to choose, because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every character I’ve done, from the first one I ever played. I think that’s because they do have something different about them.
But is there one that challenged you most?
I think every role for me in my mind is challenging. The one that challenged me the most was Arzoo in Sinf-e-Aahan for multiple reasons. The character itself required a lot of physical training and we had to kind of go through all of that. But I think emotionally for me, I tend to pretty much become my characters on set to make them believable. And that comes with its own challenges.
What did you like about your new film Babylicious?
Initially, when we started, in terms of her character arc and graph, it was very empty. So, we kind of had the space to paint that canvas the way we wanted, to give her depth. That was a lot of fun, figuring out what works for this character, and what doesn’t. There’s a lot of internal stuff that she’s constantly battling. And I feel that’s so relatable, because all of us internally are constantly battling something or the other. So, that was really lovely about this character. That she kind of had these internal battles and emotions in her head.
Babylicious has many fun moments, but what was it like working on it?
It’s been quite an experience because we’ve shot this film over five years. It has actually been wonderful working on this film and the journey has been amazing. There was so much to learn from pretty much everyone on set. We all have evolved through the five years we’ve worked on this film.
How does it feel that now it’s finally releasing?
It’s exciting. It feels like, finally! It’s also a relief. So, overall, just super excited.
Do you have a favourite moment in the film?
This movie has so many humorous and memorable moments. For me, I think the ending was really fun, and we enjoyed shooting that. But I can’t tell you what happens in the end.
Babylicious is a romantic comedy. How much of a romantic are you in real life?
I’ve gone from being a hopeless romantic to a decently practical person. I still can be romantic because I always was one, but I think I choose to be more practical now.
You must be happy that Pakistani cinema is doing so well globally right now…
I’m super thrilled and excited. It’s what I want for Pakistani cinema because I know there’s so much talent in the country. I’m really happy that whichever films are coming out are doing well. I’m super excited and very happy for them.
What inspires you as an actress?
That’s a good question. I’ve never thought about it. I think the fact that you get to tell so many stories is inspiring. This profession allows me to do that. As an actress, through my characters and projects I can get to be anyone I like. I think that is such a privilege.
Do you have a dream role?
You know, I’ve always wanted to be in a superhero film. And if I think about it, Alhamdulillah, (Pakistani film) Project Ghazi was one of those for me. Ultimately, it’s anything different and challenging that I haven’t done before. So, anything new would always be interesting because you don’t want it to be boring, right?
A lot of Pakistani actors are venturing internationally and working in the west now. Is that something that interests you as well?
That’s always interested me because I feel art has no boundaries and shouldn’t have any borders. I feel the more you can get to explore it, the better. I’ve always wanted to do that. I plan to do that, too.
A lot of people love watching you on screen. But what do you like watching as an audience?
I’m generally someone who would be into light-hearted stuff because I feel there’s a lot of stress in everybody’s lives on a daily basis. So, when I want to watch something, I want to escape reality.
What are your passions away from work?
I’ve realised I really like to do up spaces. So, you’ll always find me changing up something or the other in my home, till I find like the perfect setting, aesthetically and everything, so I do a lot of that. I love cooking. I try to cook in my free time. I read a lot.
You’re very versatile as an actress. Could you tell how you approach a new character or project?
I usually try to read up on the character. I learn as much as I can about the character to understand who they are, along with the ins and outs of it. The more I understand the character, the more I can be it. So, for me, it’s really important to be very connected with my director. I mean, I could be seeing the character a certain way, but the director could be experiencing or seeing it differently. So yeah, I think for me, the way for me to go into my characters is by fully getting to know them.
You have got a very big fan following. Does that ever put pressure on you?
Oh, no, because I feel if I’m gonna start pressurising myself about people’s expectations of me, I’m not going to be able to do good. So, the expectations and everything I keep out when I’m performing. But yes, once everything’s put together, it’s always like fingers crossed, and always praying for the best, when I’m working on it. I try not to confuse myself.
What’s the best advice that anybody’s ever given you?
I think something that really resonates with me, is, ‘this too shall pass’. Yeah, I think that works and can be applied in any situation of your life, right? Like, even if it is extremely good. And, you know, it’s a reminder to kind of like, keep you humble and grounded. Even when things are tough, it uplifts you and reminds you that everything is not permanent.
Why should we watch Babylicious?
I think you’ll enjoy it. I think it’s one of those light-hearted films that aren’t too heavy. I think everyone who’s worked on Babylicious has done a very good job. They’ve all worked really hard. I would say, watch it at least once. There are a lot of movies like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, still running in cinemas, obviously, it’s nothing like that, but like that film, if you watch it at least once, you will enjoy it.
Why do you love being an actress?
Acting is something that just happened in my life and wasn’t planned. Now, I’ve actually grown to love the craft and become very fond of it. Like I said before, I get to live so many different lives on set. I get to be so many different people and that is such a joy. You also pick up dark characters and learn something new about yourself. So, you get to really discover yourself through these characters. That is something I really enjoy.