With Superstar, I got back home to Hum: Mahira Khan
Superstar or not, Mahira Khan is not a quitter.
Despite criticism from all quarters – some being personal and some professional – the actress kept her cool and delivered a brilliant performance in Superstar, making sure that the detractors fell flat on their face. And the return to her base – her maika as she calls Hum TV – strengthened her more than ever.
With the film doing well at the box office and people praising her acting and dance, Spotlight had a chat with the reigning Queen of Pakistani films, Mahira Khan. Read on to know what the sweetheart of Pakistan had to say:
With Superstar you make a triumphant return to Hum TV Network. How did you feel on returning to your home ground?
‘Hum TV is where I started my acting career way back in 2011 with Humsafar and being back gave me the strength I needed to do Superstar. The bond I share with HUM TV is special because it introduced me to acting at a time when no one was willing to take a chance with a VJ turned actress.
Working with Momina Duraid and delivering hits helped me a lot but then I had to venture out to gain the ‘outer’ experience. Working with Asim Raza, Meenu – Farjad to name a few helped me but the comfort level that I had left, was nowhere to be found. That’s why I returned to Hum for Superstar and the feeling of being at home helped me in many ways.’
How different is Noor, the character you play in Superstar, different from your own self?
‘Bilal (Ashraf) and Azaan (Sami Khan) used to say the same thing but I think we both are quite different. Noor’s grandfather was a famous film director and she has showbiz in her blood. On the other hand, I had no connection to showbiz as nobody in my family was part of the entertainment industry.
Yes, both Noor and Mahira might be dreamers but while Noor is very black and white, I am not. Yes we both experienced love while making the mark but not in the way it happens to Noor in Superstar.’
And when that grandfather is being played by the legendary Nadeem Baig, usually, actors feel conscious, especially those who grew up watching him. Was that the case with you?
‘When the producers were shortlisting actors for the role of my grandfather, there were quite a few names under consideration along with Nadeem Sahib; I was secretly hoping that they would select Nadeem sahib because I wanted to work with him. And when he did come on board, I was more than happy and who wouldn’t be since he is the real superstar. On the first day of the shooting, he told me that I reminded him of legendary Bollywood actress Madhubala’s youth.
Now that was one compliment I wasn’t ready for so in order to impress him, I decided to show him my elegant side, only. The plan fizzled out as after three days I was back to my usual self without thinking wondering what he would be thinking.’
‘I grew very close to him during the shooting and used to bring him Panjiri every day on the set when we were in Peshawar. He in return used to recite his poetry that he wrote and we had great fun on the sidelines. And then on his last day on the sets, he called me up to say Khuda hafiz which no one else does these days, especially if you are a superstar. That made me respect him more than ever.’
You danced in Raees, you shook a leg in Bin Roye and Ho Mann Jahaan as well. But in Superstar, we see a different Mahira Khan who seems to have loosened up to dance and has done a great job. How?
‘To shed my shy image and dance like a Superstar was the requirement of my character and that’s why I tried to do my best. I even told Nigah Jee that no matter what the steps are, I would go through them even if it injures me. Had Saba of Bin Roye danced as I did in Noori it would have looked awkward. But here, this song comes at an important juncture in the film where I had to either convince the audience that I have arrived or they would go back home saying that I didn’t arrive. My only job in the song was to give my 100 percent and follow the choreographer’s instructions. I think people loved it because it wasn’t what they were expecting.’
How do you keep yourself so chill even when people are being over critical for no reason?
‘It looks like I am chill when it is not (laughs). I don’t reply to these people because I don’t want to make a scene out of it. I may look like a chill person but I am not; I am quite sensitive but manage to look cold because I live in a bubble of my own.
Even then when someone says something negative about me, it affects me and it would be wrong to say that it doesn’t. If there are 100 positive comments and one negative, that one negative will hit me. This was the first time that I replied to someone because if I hadn’t it would have affected the film’s promotion.’
Tamasha Hai To Tamasha Hi Sahi is a young angry man’s dialogue and you delivered it to perfection. Why was Mahira Khan so angry in Superstar?
‘That wasn’t me but Noor (laughs). That line comes at a time when my character is having a meltdown on the screen and she delivers these words while talking to another character that is very close to her.
I had no idea that it would become so popular and one must give credit to Mustafa Afridi for coming up with powerful dialogues. In fact, there are many dialogues that the audience can take back home after the film.’
And lastly, name the top three songs from Superstar that you have in your playlist?
Well I have been listening to all these songs for a long time; even when I was shooting Verna I had these songs with me.
Bekaraan remains close to my heart because it was the first song that we shot in Superstar; Anjaana is also a beautiful number that summarizes the whole film for you. Finally, there is Noori where Azaan Sami Khan has worked really hard and I love to listen to it every now and then.