A candid chat with Pakistani actress Mahira Khan

Pakistani actress Mahira Khan on why she’d rather remain cautious about Bollywood

Pakistani actress Mahira Khan, better known to the Indian audience as Khirad from the television series 'Humsafar', was in the country recently. Her show’s co-star Fawad Khan — who starred opposite Sonam Kapoor in 'Khoobsurat' — has already made a foray into Bollywood, but Mahira, who is fond of Hindi cinema, prefers to be cautious. “I have grown up watching Hindi films. There is this image stuck in my head; the wind blowing, music playing and the heroine’s sari pallu flowing, but right now there is nothing on that front. There has been speculation about it as a lot of Pakistani actors are now part of Bollywood,” adds the actress.

Mahira Khan
Mahira Khan

As there was buzz about her Bollywood debut, the film circle conveniently assumed that Mahira was visiting Mumbai for film opportunities when she was primarily here for the promotion of Humsafar.

The Karachi-based, US educated Mahira began her career as a VJ. Later, she made a transition and debuted in the Pakistani breakthrough film 'Bol', which released in India in 2011. According to her, she prefers to be selective in her assignments so that she can balance her family life with her professional assignments.

Catching up with her at a suburban hotel in Mumbai, the actress admitted that she is indeed touched by the encouraging response 'Humsafar' has received in the country. The show was initially aired in 2011 and has aired in various countries ever since.

Mahira had planned to arrive in India before 'Humsafar' was aired here, but landed only post its telecast — for bureaucratic reasons. “There were visa issues. I wish art and artistes had no boundaries like birds who can fly anywhere without restrictions,” muses the beauty.

Interestingly, her family originally hails from India. “My grandmother would talk about Meerut, but now there is no family this side of the border. When I was leaving for Mumbai, I was told to meet someone’s aunt’s cousin uncle.... you get the drift,” she laughs.

The actress visited Mumbai over six years ago for a wedding, but this time, it was a different experience, thanks to her popularity as Khirad from 'Humsafar'.

Speaking of which, Pakistani shows have been giving a glimpse into the homes and lifestyles of our neighbours across the border; something Bollywood has been doing for Pakistanis all this while.

Decades ago, classic TV shows such as Dhoop Kinare and Tanhaiyaan aired and thus set a precedent of high standards in terms of television content. Although Indian soap opera have their share of critics, Mahira stays cautious about commenting about them. “I have not seen many Indian TV soaps except for 'Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi'. This is because Bollywood films and music dominate. We have film music playing in the car, at weddings — it is all over the world.”

Her favourite B-Town star happens to be Shah Rukh Khan “simply because he is SRK and you can see that potential in Ranbir Kapoor,” she quips.

Mahira hopes she can be back in India in the future if not for her acting pursuits, then for the food at least. “I came with an agenda to gorge on street food, which is synonymous with Mumbai — from vada pavs to the dosas and the bhel.”

Did you know?
The soulful theme song of Humsafar, Woh Humsafar Tha, which was composed by Waqar Ali and sung by Qurat-ul-Ain Balouch, was written by Naseer Turabi in 1971. The original version was not romantic, but  about the separation of Pakistan and Bangladesh and was rendered by Abida Parveen.

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