By Omair Alavi
Actor In Law has not only emerged as one of the best films of the modern era but it has also given Mehwish Hayat’s career the boost it demanded. The Jawani Phir Nahi Aani actress gave her second consecutive hit film in as many years that too despite not having a song in the film. Here she speaks to us about her experience of working in Actor In Law, being the subject of an Atif-Aslam song and being part of another box office hit. Excerpts:
We don’t see a female actress play a character in Pakistani film that delivers a slap, throws a sandal, curses at will and above all, is full of confidence. How did you manage to do all that in Actor In Law?
It’s sad that usually in Pakistan, women are used for glamour and most of the films revolve around the hero; the heroine doesn’t have much to do in the film’s progress and that’s why after doing 2 movies, I was on the lookout for something more challenging. In Actor In Law I got the chance to show my skills as an actress and not play a regular role like that of a damsel in distress. I play a girl who belongs to a minority community, works in a media house and knows the difference between right and wrong. Glamour isn’t the character’s strong suit which I loved because I myself am a very strong girl. People are praising my role because it inspires young females out there and that’s what motivates me to do better.
How was the experience of changing your attire and working on an accent alien to you?
I love challenges and going the extra mile always shows in my final performance. For the accent, I did my homework and also rehearsed for the role and it paid off on screen. The heroine is also not there because it had to be there; it is present in the film because it is very important to the plot.
Did you feel threatened as an actress in front of Fahad Mustafa & Om Puri?
Not at all … in fact I felt special as my character had as much presence as Om Puri’s or Fahad’s. All the characters in the film are so nicely knit that it never occurred to me that I was working with such big names.
There is no song on Mehwish Hayat who won over the audience with Billi … doesn’t that bother you at all?
No it doesn’t … I never felt that injustice was being done to me. All the songs in the movie are situation-based and as none of the songs required to be sung in a female voice, there was none in the movie. The producers and the director had told me in advance that I will not be required to lip-sync and I had no issues with that. They believed that even without a song, I would be able to pull it off which thankfully I did. By the way, the Dil Dancer Hogaya song was all about me, so I should be the last person to complain about no song – my favourite Atif Aslam sang about me!
What was the most memorable experience you had during the shooting of Actor In Law?
When we arrived for the sequence at the High Court … because like most of the Pakistanis, I had never been to the High Court. Nearly one thousand junior actors were there playing their different parts, the police vans had cordoned off the area and my mind was literally blown away as I didn’t except such level of production especially in a Pakistani film. That was the moment when I felt very proud and realized that Pakistani cinema has arrived and from here on, it’s hopefully a ride upwards.
As many as 7 films – including 4 Pakistanis – are currently being played in cinemas. Why do you think they will watch Actor In Law and not Pink, Freaky Ali, Baar Baar Dekho, Maalik, Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai & Janaan?
All I can say is that by the Grace of Allah, I have a huge fan following in Pakistan and abroad and these people love me due to my work on TV and films. Fahad (Mustafa) also has a huge fan base and that’s one of the reasons why they would prefer Actor In Law over others. People who loved Na Maloom Afraad will also give Actor In Law a viewing as they know what Fizza (Ali Meerza) and Nabeel (Qureshi) are capable of. Word of mouth has played an important part in our film’s success and I am sure that many will come and watch the movie more than once.