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Pakistan celebrity couple Sana Javed (left) and Umair Jaswal Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

When it comes to shopping, Pakistani celebrity couple Sana Javed and Umair Jaswal are poles apart. He’s the kind of shopper who goes into a store and plucks things off a rack with military precision. He knows his size, what looks good on him, and he’s always armed with a list that he wants to tick off efficiently; it’s purely transactional.

But when it comes his actress-wife Javed, she marches to a different tune during her retail therapy time. She’s a proud shopaholic, while her husband and singer-songwriter and actor Jaswal is usually that token indulgent partner who is nodding off on the couch at some store as his wife deliberates over clothes and shoes. Sometimes, she can take hours or days to zero in on an outfit, but the sign of a good husband is also about supporting the wife during her shopathon, he jokes.

“I don’t do my cardio that day because we end up walking 25,000 steps … And might I add, thank you guys for putting those small little couches in all your stores in Dubai. People like me thank you,” said Jaswal with a laugh.

While his swift shopping expedition in Dubai usually results in him carrying close to 20 bags, overflowing with purchases, his wife Javed often returns with a tiny bag, despite spending a full day at the mall.

“I need five days minimum to shop in Dubai … I want to try everything and I want to be sure that I truly like the stuff I am getting … I also seek approval from those around me about stuff and all of that takes time. I buy only if I am doubly sure and I don’t ever return things,” said Javed, looking dotingly at her husband, whom she married in 2020.

Javed is partial to bags and is now in the process of convincing her reluctant husband that luxury brands can be a good investment, just like real-estate and gold.

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Sana Javed and Umair Jaswal in Dubai Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

The handsome couple, who was recently bestowed the UAE golden visa honour, are in the country this week to make the most of the ongoing Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), while enjoying the city.

“DSF has so much to offer … The other day we were lucky enough to explore the old market area Al Seef and then the fireworks just went off. It just made our experience a lot more magical,” said Jaswal.

But it hasn’t been an easy year for this couple. The lockdown phase, triggered globally by the COVID-19 pandemic, took a toll on both of them.

Javed, whose credits include the hit television series ‘Pyarey Afzal’ and ‘Zara Yaad Kar’, reveals that she had put on a lot of weight during that phase as she couldn’t handle the uncertainty that engulfed everyone.

“I was very, very, overweight. I was so depressed because I have always been so fit … I gained around 10kg and I am still in the process of losing it all,” said Javed, pointing to her physique fully clad in an all-black ensemble.

To be fair, Javed looked picture perfect but she insists that she went through a funk phase where her morale was low and she had to talk herself out of those grim, sobering moments.

Her rockstar husband Jaswal also agrees but points out that the lockdown gave them an opportunity to get to know each other as a couple. While Jaswal is a popular musician in Pakistan, Javed is one of Pakistan’s most sough-after television talents.

“I always say, ‘Think we have had 10 years of marriage in one year, because we have been seeing so much of each other’ … but Sana still had so many offers. So she kept shooting and I kept writing,” said Jaswal.

Yet, like most musicians around the globe, he missed performing live and feeding off the energy of a live audience.

“It was a bummer for me in the last two years because I live for being on stage … But it gave me time to back to the drawing board, rework my sounds, and re-imagine the whole sound designs for my show. This phase gave me a new opportunity to work on new music. But yeah, we both got depressed and we both put on a lot of weight,” said Jaswal.

Yet, this couple stood by each other to get through the sobering phase. While Javed is his biggest cheerleader and adores the songs that he writes, Jaswal is equally understanding of her process as an actor.

His only grouse? “She has this habit of picking up the most difficult stories out there and the most challenging characters. I have huge respect for the work she does, but she gets really involved into her characters. So we don’t like talking about her work at home … She gets involved in the character and she brings her characters back home,” said Jaswal. His wife and actress interjects gently saying that this is her process and it gets ‘really hard’. When she’s in character, she tends to bring the trials and tribulations of her character home.

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Sana Javed and Imran Abbas Image Credit: Supplied

“My process gets very, very painful. Once I played a rape survivor and I had health issues after that role. I managed to move on, but it was very difficult,” said Javed, alluding to her career-defining performance in ‘Ruswai’. At the time of filming, she had taken to her Instagram to reveal that she had given it her all for each scene from this project.

“This took more than that, it entailed dying inside a million times and more which will still be less than the actual victims of abuse. Let’s stand together against any and all harassment,” she had written at that time.

But such roles give her purpose and joy. And, her husband tries his best to support her acting calls and she does the same for him.

“I am always showing her my new tracks, but she confuses me more as she loves all my songs and believes I should make a video on all of them. If I have 26 songs and we need to decide eight songs for my album, she can’t help me decide because she finds every song of mine amazing and that doesn’t help,” said Jaswal.

It’s evident from their chermistry that the two Pakistani stars are still on this honeymoon phase where they love and respect each other and their work. Although she gravitates towards dark, disturbing, and troubled dramas, he grudgingly admits that he keeps hoping that she takes on light-hearted projects. All he wants is for her to be cheerful and happy.

“Whenever she does those dark dramas, I am very happy for her. But when she takes on a comedy, I know she’s going to be happy for the next sixth months … but as her partner I need to respect her creative process and she respects mine,” said Jaswal.

His process for song-writing involves shutting out the world and working on his compositions while his wife and the household is asleep.

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Singer and songwriter Umair Jaswal in Dubai Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

“I need my alone time to write. And she gives me that and she never complains about the fact that I am missing for a long time. Even if my dog comes up to me while I am writing, I get distracted … she respects my process and I know that I am married to her multiple characters she takes on,” he said. But work or no work, they love spending time with each other. But they have made a conscious decision to keep their work lives separate.

“When we got married, we got a lot of work offered together as a couple. But we decided not to do that and keep our marriage private. We wanted to keep that side of our life private because everything else in our lives is open for all kinds of comments and opinions. So if you open that door once, then it’s tough to close it,” said Jaswal. Even their posts as a couple is limited.

“Many ask me why she isn’t in my videos or why we don’t act together … But our personal life is very personal to us. We don’t want to use each other’s platforms or our marriage to promote each other,” said Jaswal.

While they may not work together in the foreseeable future, they are a couple who love to holiday together.

“Dubai is like a second home to me and I can’t wait for us to shop together,” said Javed, while her husband made a mock-horror face. She also promises him that she will be a part of his travelogue show on his bike if he agrees to be a patient partner while shopping.

“I want to go with him on his bike and chase the sunset together,” said Javed.

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Sana Javed and Umair Jaswal in Dubai for DSF Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf NEws
Did you know?
Their favourite TV show that they have binged lately is 'Squid Games'

“This whole OTT [over-the-top or digital] platform is a great equaliser … Now many actors are not just big stars in cinema, they are getting bigger and bigger in terms of power and access."

- Umair Jaswal