‘I am the highest paid actress in Pakistan’
While she is a celebrity in Pakistan, she debuts with Emraan Hashmi in Kunal Deshmukh’s Raja Natwarlal. In her first ever interview in India, she talks about the professional Emraan Hashmi, the charming Ali Zafar and why she wants to work with Amitabh Bachchan.
Where do you come from?
I come from Karachi in Pakistan. Karachi, as you know, is quite similar to Mumbai. Much like in Mumbai, life is fast there, people are bindaas and have no time for gossip. When we meet people from India, we are very caring and loving. We, as a people, care a lot for our guests and we love our mehmaan nawazi. My father is a pathan from Baluchistan and used to be the sardar of a tribe earlier. My mother is a simple housewife. My entire family is well-educated and my parents insisted that we all study. I too have done my Bachelors in Business Management. I have five more siblings. One of my brothers is a neurosurgeon, another a lawyer from Oxford and another a model. One of my sisters is the famous host Dua Malick in Pakistan. Mashallah, I have a happy, big family.
How did you come into films?
I am a self-made girl, have looked after my family and have really done wonders and am really proud of it. Alhamdulillah! I have never seen myself struggling or not getting offers or opportunities. Everything has always happened very fast for me in my life. Allah has been really kind to me. I started working when I was just 14 and became a top model of Pakistan. I got to endorse the top brands there and then got offered a Shoaib Mansoor film Bol (he earlier made Khuda Kay Liye). I was 22 then. He is an institution in Pakistan. I was nominated for Best Actress for Bol across several countries and travelled with the film across the world. I won the best actress at the London Asian Film Festival. I am the highest paid actress in Pakistan. At just 25, I have achieved a lot. I got offered a number of films back in India too, but I auditioned for Raja Natwarlal and was selected. I have houses in London, Dubai and Karachi and shuttle between them, but I mostly live in Dubai with my parents.
Have you been in a relationship?
I travelled alone to so many countries across the world. Coping up with a relationship being an actress is difficult. I feel I cannot afford a relationship, as I am totally focused on work. I can only do one thing at a time.
Talk about working with Emraan Hashmi?
He has worked with a lot of new co-actors, so it is a part of his temperament to help newcomers with being comfortable on the set. He is very funny and has great energy on the set Mashallah. His humour is fantastic and he is a very intelligent actor. He is super professional, who comes dot on time and goes on time. He has no hang-ups and is very grounded.
Are there Bollywood stars you look forward to working with?
I want to work with Amitabh Bachchan and Madhuri Dixit. My parents love him and I have grown up seeing his acting. I love Madhuri’s smile and I feel Bollywood can never have a package like her again. Her smile is beautiful, her eyes are sparkling which dance like a mermaid, she is a brilliant actor, dancer and a human being.
Who are your friends back in the Pakistani film industry?
We belong to an industry where the insecurity is within us and also, we are always tight with time, as a result of which it is difficult to have friends. But I hang out a lot with Ali Zafar and Atif Aslam. Ali is a charmer and people love him as he is a good human being. He is a younger version of Johnny Depp. He is fun-loving and has a lovely wife Ayesha, that puts a lot of charm in his life and persona. I love Ayesha. She is also beautiful looking and is a lovely girl. With Ali if he wants to do things in a certain way, he will do it that way. He knows how to deliver his voice to another person and yet, at the same time, he is easy to be with.
Having tasted success at such a young age, it must be difficult to be grounded?
I get attached very easily. I am what I am. I don’t wear a mask and go out and then come back and take it out. Life is too short. I believe in enjoying all that Allah has blessed you with. I want to stay happy. I am very religious and believe in some energy that is there to protect me. My mother is my best friend and I love her the most in the world. Of course, she is simple and now I may be smarter than her, but she is an inspiration, beautiful looking and yet a tough woman. When I think of her, she looks like a doll with golden hair, when she laughs she goes pink, when she cries she goes red, she is simple and childlike. We have become so calculative, which she is not. She is always concerned that I, being very pure-hearted, should not keep the same hope from others. She just wants to protect me and wants me to control my anger.
Ammi has always taught me to stay grounded. She says, ‘As much as you go up, hamesha neeche dekho. Neeche se upar ka safar bahut der ka hota hai, but upar se neeche ka is very fast.’ She always asks me to pray that Allah should give you the power to sustain your success. Learn to learn more and be more grounded and calm. As I become bigger and bigger, I want my feet to be more on the ground. I am a very family-oriented girl. But I believe that she is alive only for me and it is her dua that is keeping me this way. Kehte hain ke jab tak maa zinda hoti hai, duniya ki koi taqat takleef nahi pahucha sakti. After your mother, there is nobody to do dua for you. Ammi neeche hai aur upar, Allah.