I was still part of Aangan but was not meant to play Aaliya initially: Mawra Hocane
Ahad Raza Mir and Mawra Hocane play the ‘other’ couple in Aangan that may, or may not, end up together as Jameel and Aaliya.
While Ahad Raza Mir terms the play as something he went for ‘selfish’ reasons, Mawra Hocane, on the other hand, claims it was a learning experience both as an actress and as a person.
The cute couple worked together in Sammi as well, where they didn’t end up together but let’s hope that things are different in Aangan, for which they transformed themselves from contemporary actors to those who lived in simpler times with simpler needs. The two talented individuals had a lot to say about Aangan, how the drama changed their perception of the bygone era and how they felt on being part of an ensemble cast.
‘Being a girl from that time made me feel a lot of emotions I wouldn’t have felt otherwise,’ Mawra says as we finally manage to get hold of the super busy actress.
For Mawra, playing a girl in the 1940s’ was an overwhelming experience and when asked about it, she said that she believed that people in that time and age lived a fuller life.
‘They felt emotions deeply and loved more passionately. Playing Aaliya made me a more resilient and stronger girl and I hope I can carry her with me in life.’
On the contrary, Ahad Raza Mir felt that playing a Romeo back in the 1940s’ might seem a different thing but the experience was more or less the same. ‘I think love is a kind of a universal thing and in its natural form doesn’t necessarily change much, despite the change in time or circumstances,’ the Sammi actor says as he finally settles down.
‘It was fun to go back in an era when things were drastically different from our current setting and we all took it as a challenge and hopefully the viewers will like what we did.’
The one thing the two agree on is that their director Ehtesham Uddin and writer Mustafa Afridi were the driving force behind Aangan. ‘Initially, it was tougher to belong in that era,’ Mawra says with a little hesitation considering she plays Aaliya, the narrator in the novel and the character around whom the play revolves.
‘It took endless readings of the script and working with (Sir) Ehtesham Uddin the director to get a hang of it. I was constantly asking questions and re-reading the script; since I am a director’s actor, he shared my burden to play Aaliya with me. It wasn’t easy but yes, it definitely was worth it. ‘
Ahad Raza Mir also credited the director and the writer as instrumental in his opting for the drama, but then there were some selfish reasons as well. ‘In my time as a theater actor in Canada, I had done Shakespeare and Western plays that were set in the past; I had never done something as Eastern as Aangan so when the play came my way, I considered myself fortunate enough and accepted it.’ The actor replies with the same smile that has captured millions of hearts around the world.
Mawra barges into the conversation with an interesting fact – she wasn’t supposed to play Aaliya at first. ‘I was still part of Aangan but was not meant to play Aaliya initially.’ Mawra adds while disclosing the details.
‘Aaliya fell in my lap and I hope I can live up to the character and the expectations around it. Otherwise, I was a girl who considered herself lucky to work with the same director who was behind Udaari, which is now termed a classic due to its idea and execution.’
Ahad Raza Mir walks, talks and looks every bit of a youngster in the 1940s’ in Aangan, however, he feels that in the absence of reference material, it was a challenge to play the character.
‘We don’t have specific references from that era; we have specific images of clothes and items while relying on stories that people have told us. It’s very rare to find video footage from that time and that makes the idea of relatability a big deal.’
Ahad Raza Mir may not be familiar with the 1940s’ era but his grandfather Raza Mir became Pakistan’s first cinematographer in 1948 with Teri Yaad, long before he was born. It was ironic that the cinematographer-turned-director’s grandson would play a character that shares the same era as him, especially since the two didn’t get to work together.
‘I don’t know anybody from the 1940s’ and haven’t met someone from whom I can have a clear reference.’ Ahad adds as he talks about playing a character set back in time. ‘I chose to stay away from watching any video from that era because that’s how I work, otherwise, it might influence me as an artist.’
And then there was the ensemble cast and Mawra Hocane is proud to be part of one. ‘Ahsan Khan is one of the best actors we have and to work with him is always comfortable and full of laughter. It was a pleasure to work with Madiha Rizvi and Hira Mani while I learned a lot from Omair Rana and Mustafa Afridi who play my father and Uncle in the play. I wish I had more scenes to share with ‘Dadi’ Zeb Rehman while the boy Sheheryar who plays Shakeel is a find from what I’ve seen of him,’ Mawra says as she concludes the interview with a smile.
‘At the end of it all, though, I feel that it is Ehtesham Bhai’s hard work on each one of us that has pushed everyone to perform their best. I really hope and pray that it does well for all of us’ added Mawra.