Did you know: Kubra Khan was offered the lead role in ‘Verna’
She came, they saw and Kubra Khan conquered. The British-Pakistani actress is one of the most sought after talents to surface in the last two years, and recently completed a very successful 2017 where whatever she touched turn to gold.
Not only is she part of two upcoming films, she is also quite active on TV churning out hits after hits. But who is this Kubra Khan and how did she venture into showbiz. The beautiful actress obliged us to peek into her life and budding career.
On how she entered showbiz!
I was born near Multan on 16 June 1993, but don’t remember much of Pakistan as we migrated to England when I was just six months old. We did visit regularly until I was six, after which there was no connection with the homeland for another 12 years.
During that time I had worked with Fatima Khan in a lifestyle shoot and that’s when we became good friends. When she and Ahmed Ali Butt got married in Lahore, I decided to attend the wedding and it was there that Ahmed’s brother ‘Cookie’ asked me to do a fashion shoot with him, that became the cover of SHE magazine. Then I did a couple of commercials with Ahsan Rahim which helped my portfolio, and I was advised to try my hand at acting.
How did ‘Na Maloom Afraad’ come your way?
After doing the ads I went back to England, and one day a youngster contacted me for a film. I hadn’t heard of Nabeel Qureshi then but when he gave me the reference of Ahsan Rahim, I decided to listen to his story and send him a screen test.
Thankfully, he liked it and I was selected for Na Maloom Afraad that went on to become a huge hit in Pakistan. That role was quite close to my personality as all I had to do was look good – it was through that film that other offers (one from Bollywood, one from Geo Films) came my way and that’s why NMA stays close to my heart.
On a Bollywood debut that never happened
Welcome to Karachi was the first film that I signed after Na Maloom Afraad, but I strictly told them that I would not do an item number, not under dress and would not do or say anything that is anti-Pakistani. However, halfway through the film, they shifted from comedy to an anti-Pakistan one and I objected to it. Then came the item song Karachi Ki Shakira which was a big no-no.
When they started dissing Pakistan, I told them that this wasn’t what I had signed for and that’s where I left the film despite shooting for more than half of it. They had threatened to replace me and I chose not to continue; the end result was that they cast another actress for the closed shots and used me in the long shots. I am satisfied that I didn’t go against Pakistan and my morals, which is more than any film offer from anywhere in the world.
How she became part of Sang-e-Mar Mar
I was working as a model and a graphic designer when out of the blue, Mahesh Waswani from Hum TV called me up and asked me if I was interested in a project titled Daasi. I fell in love with the story that was narrated to me and agreed to be part of the serial. I didn’t know at that time that Mikaal Zulfiqar would be my love interest, Sania Saeed would be my mother-in-law and Noman Ijaz would be my father-in-law in the play. That was a bonus for agreeing to do something that I had not done before, and also for agreeing to visit Swat from London.
At first my confidence was an all-time low as I couldn’t read Urdu and was working with the biggest names in the industry but after a few days I got a morale boost when I interacted with the cast and the fabulous writer and director duo of Mustafa Afridi and Saife Hasan. In fact, Saife bhai is one of the best mentors one could have since he played my father in Muqabil and is always there when I want to ask him for advice.
On choosing difficult roles in TV
Accepting the challenging role in Muqabil was a career-defining move since I was to play a rape victim who gets married to the rapist’s son. People told me that it was a bad career move since the audience would not accept it and the critics would blast it but thankfully, nothing of the sort happened. For me, it is very important to do a drama that enlightens the public rather than entertain them without leaving a mark.
My character was abused in the drama and she recovered and fell in love during the course of the play. It tackled many issues including child abuse, depression etc. and I am thankful to all who supported me in being Parisa. With the help of the director Ali Hassan, we brought some innovations in the role such as ‘not blinking’ and ‘hand movements’ which some noticed and some didn’t.
Here's a look at Kubra Khan's versatile journey from Sange Mar Mar to Daldal! Want to watch all her dramas? Take a look: www.hum.tv #HUMSpotlight
Posted by Spotlight on Tuesday, January 23, 2018
On improving her spoken and written Urdu
For an actor, it is very important to understand the language they act in because it helps in the dialogue delivery and overall acting. It was only after Na Maloom Afraad that I realized this and decided to improve my accent which was quite angrez. During Sang-e-Mar Mar I memorized the lines to overcome my shortcomings and that helped me a great deal. In addition, Saife bhai and Sania Saeed went out of the way to help me in every way, which is why I managed to do well. Yes, I still read in Roman but that will change as I am trying to improve my written Urdu and bring it at par with my spoken one.
On her upcoming films
I am the main lead in Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 which is the kind of role I was hoping would fall into my lap. As a fan of Hollywood actress Scarlett Johannsson and a person who grew up watching Tomb Raider, I wanted to play a character that was sports and demanding in terms of physical movements. I play an adrenaline junkie in the film opposite Humayun Saeed which will surely be a different role for my fans. In Parwaz Hai Junoon I play Shaz Khan’s wife who stays at home – Shaz plays one of the Air Force pilots in the flick.
On missing Verna to Mahira Khan
After Mahira Khan allegedly refused Verna due to some date issue, Shoaib Mansoor approached me and I accepted the role only to find out later that Mahira Khan was somehow back and doing the film. I don’t regret NOT doing the film because I believe everything happens for a reason and that Mahira Khan did an incredible job; whatever I got while I wasn’t doing Verna added a lot to my experience. However, I have a standing offer from ShoMan who has told me that he can ‘take a singer out of me’.
On being part of educating dramas
I am so glad that I have been part of TV dramas that have changed the trend in Pakistan. We must understand that the society is influenced by the media and copy the styles and movements of actors. With plays like Muqabil, Udaari and Khuda Mera Bhi Hai, the TV industry is moving in the right direction; I would love to contribute on my part whenever I get the chance.
On winning awards and getting mobbed
I love being rewarded and awarded – when I won the Hum TV Award last year, I was over the moon as I didn’t expect it. Here I was – a girl from England who came to Pakistan to attend a wedding and ended up playing a Pathan in a TV play, delivering dialogues in a language she didn’t know. Phew! As for being the centre of attention, that’s something I cherish because I am whatever I am because of these people. I can’t refuse to take a selfie with them or not greeting them because as an actor I must respect them, as much as they love me.
On the possibility of going abroad
I have been part of a Bollywood film and also, I had an offer from India for a web series but since the role was that of an Indian Army officer in 1947, I was hesitant since it might be Welcome to Karachi all over again. As for Hollywood, you never know. (Smiles)
This article was originally published in GLAM Magazine (March Edition).