Saba Azad-starrer Rocket Boys premiered on SonyLIV earlier this year. The show has been well-received both by critics and fans, and was one of the trending topics on social media following its release in February. Saba, who played Parvana Irani (Pipsy) in season 1, will also be seen in Rocket Boys 2. In an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, Saba said apart from acting, she hopes to direct and make films of her own one day. The multihyphenate also spoke about the sentimental reason behind the stage name she chose for herself, juggling between different careers, her family’s take to her fame, and much more. (Read more: Rocket Boys review)
Saba said she’s ‘just starting out’ in her career, and has worked hard to make this life for herself. She added that none of what she does is by chance. “I came to Mumbai alone with neither friends nor relatives in the city, and I built all four of my careers from scratch.”
Apart from acting, Saba has three alternate careers already, but she was excited to add film director to the mix. “I am a musician, I have a band of my own, I am a playback singer and a voice-over artist. I briefly ran and owned a bar and restaurant in Bengaluru. I hope to direct and make films of my own one day,” Saba said, adding that some of her best friends are filmmakers.
Saba hails from a family of academics and artists, so it’s no wonder she modelled her stage name on her grandmother’s pen name. Asked about the origins of her name, the singer-actor, whose birth name is Saba Grewal, explained that she ‘adopted it with permission’ from her nani (maternal grandmother). Saba said, “The name on my passport is Saba Grewal – my father is of Sikh origin and my mother of Muslim, but neither practiced religion nor imposed their opinions upon me. They are atheists. Azad was my nani’s pen name. I liked the sound of it and the meaning of course. The want for freedom is the most human instinct. So (with her permission) I adopted it as my stage name.”
When asked how her family reacts to her fame, she said, “My family is more interested in things like sincerity, hard work and independence. Fame isn’t exactly viewed as any kind of virtue back home. It’s safe to say they would be unaffected either way.” Saba, who describes herself as a ‘curious, permanently-amused, strong-willed, mildly-gifted, independent animal’, opened up about her early years. “I’m from Delhi, I come from a family of academics and artists, we had a very normal middle-class upbringing with a lot of cultural exposure. Theatre, cinema, dance, and music were a big part of my growing years.”
Music has been a happy journey thus far, for Saba. As far as acting goes, she said she can finally say she is getting the kind of roles she would like. “I waited a long time to get the kind of roles that require me to apply myself. I am thankful for the kind of projects coming my way in the last three years… I just completed an independent film called Minimum (directed by Rumana Molla), Rocket Boys season 2 is on its way, and I’m shooting another indie in Srinagar as we speak.”
Asked which role of hers did she find most satisfying, Saba said, “It’s a monologue by Ismat Chughtai that I did with Motley Productions for the opening of Prithvi Festival 2019. I got to play multiple characters and it has been my most satisfying acting experience to date.”
Saba feels if you love what you do and know how to strike the work-life balance you can thrive on the fast pace of the entertainment industry. “I have enjoyed being a part of the indie music scene and I have had my fair share of acceptance as an actor. I feel lucky to be able to balance multiple careers and enjoy them all equally. Getting paid to do what you love is a blessing,” she said.