“I Am an Anomaly in Pakistan,” Says Mahira ‘Raees’ Khan
Mahira Khan talks about her life in Pakistan, being a single mother, ‘Raees’ and her love for Guru Dutt.
Raees ki rani, the charming and the highly articulate Mahira Khan, talks about being a single mom, her love for Guru Dutt and her television performances, all the way from Pakistan.
Q: Are you eagerly awaiting the release of Raees in Pakistan?
Mahira Khan: You know I am constantly on tenterhooks, waiting for it to happen. Whenever it happens it would make me very happy.
Q: Do you regret not being able to promote Raees in India?
Mahira Khan: You know, I was telling a friend, that very few actors here in Pakistan have got an opportunity like this and it fell into my lap, due to whatever hard work that I may have done earlier. I didn’t have to look for it, I feel blessed. But at the same time I feel like that marathon runner, who during the last lap, just before the finishing line, is made to drop out of the race. There was this feeling when it happened, ‘Oh Man, not right now. Now just before the release!’
I so want to sit with the audience and watch the film. But that doesn’t seem possible so far. But after the release I feel a certain sense of closure because of the love I’ve been receiving from the people. The stuff that I read online is heartwarming. So maybe, okay, this circumstance that happened is something I couldn’t control.
I am going to let go of it. I tell myself this every day. I try to look at the brighter side. I put all the good wishes in one box and take one out every morning.
Q: Who are your favourite actors in Indian cinema?
Mahira Khan: I’ve a deep admiration for Guru Dutt. I discovered him when I was 16. I saw Pyasa and it changed my life. I can’t explain what it meant to me. It opened a whole new kind of Indian cinema to me. Prior to that, I was into the song and dance films, the Anil Kapoor films and so on. After watching Guru Dutt’s films, I became a huge fan of Sahir Ludhianvi’s poetry and the songs of Guru Dutt’s films.
Q: Are you a singer too?
Mahira Khan: No no. Although, Shoaib Mansoor feels I am a singer. He feels I am better at singing than acting. He wants me to sing in our new film together called Varna. He knows his music. But I can’t, I am extremely self-critical.
Q: We’ve known you from long before Raees, through your wonderful Pakistani television soaps. Tell me, why is the quality of your television content so much better than ours?
Mahira Khan: I don’t know about it being better, but yes, we pour a lot of creative juices into our serials because the television culture in our country is very strong. The reason for that being the relative lack of growth in our movie industry. If we had a flourishing film industry here, perhaps television wouldn’t have evolved so much.
Q: You have a point. Humsafar on television made you a star much before Raees.
Mahira Khan: And even before Humsafar, I did a film called Bol with Shaoib Mansoor. I am now working with him again. Bol was that one film in Pakistan in five years that made an impact. I was lucky to be in it. Right after Bol, Humsafar happened on television. Everyone associated with Humsafar saw a kind of success that had not been seen on television for a decade. Television was the growing medium. All of us, Fawad Khan, me and the whole team, were at the right place at the right time. Television just grew because the talent bank in Pakistan, the literary minds, it all went into the television.
Q: Your performances on Pakistani television are subdued and subtle, quite unlike what we see on Indian television.
Mahira Khan: You know, I feel that television has been a good training ground for my acting skills. The medium is very challenging, because everything is shot in close-ups. On the big screen one gets a far larger canvas and I can use my entire personality to express myself.
Q: You are a career woman and a single mother. Is that tough?
Mahira Khan: Yes, but it is something which women all across the world do. I do only one film at a time. My first priority is my child. So it’s a lot of hard work. But it can done. It’s all about choices. Many times, I have to let go of good work. Fortunately, the work I’ve done has worked for me.
Q: Is it far more difficult to be a career woman and a mother in Pakistan?
Mahira Khan: Yes, I am an anomaly in my country. I hope that in the coming years there will be more women like me.
Q: Is there guilt when you are not with your child?
Mahira Khan: That’s a mother thing. I could be anywhere, but I am thinking of my child. Even now as I talk to you.
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