Pakistani actors are enjoying a dream run in Bollywood. The past few years have seen a slew of success stories from across the Indo-Pak border, and while not everyone has tasted success like Fawad Khan – who stole millions of hearts ever since his first appearance with Sonam Kapoor in the 2014 comedy Khubsoorat – actors such as Ali Zafar and Mawra Hocane are making their mark on the Indian film industry.
Hocane made her debut with Sanam Teri Kasam in February 2016, and her effervescence was the only good thing about an otherwise run-of-the-mill love story. Zafar, who regaled the audiences with his comic performances in the Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and the Tere Bin Laden franchise, has been consistently around for six years. He will be seen next in the SRK-Alia Bhatt drama Dear Zindagi.
Here are a few other Pakistani actors to look out for:
Could anyone ask for a better Bollywood debut? The 33-year-old is the first Pakistani actress to land a plum role opposite the king of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan. SRK – who is always open to working with new actresses and has launched many successful stars, including Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma – will play Khan’s husband in the 2017 crime drama Raees.
Khan began her career in television and starred in the Pakistani television drama Humsafar, opposite Fawad Khan, before playing the female lead in the 2015 drama Bin Roye. Last year, she was offered Raees. The actress often speaks about the love and support from the Indian film industry, especially her famous co-actor. After her first shoot she tweeted: "My nerves weren’t being kind, but @iamsrk was! Got through the first scene. #Raees"
Unlike most Bollywood actresses, Momal Sheikh, 32, stepped into films post marriage. After a successful career in modelling and television, she veered towards Lollywood, where her father Javed Sheikh already had a footing.
Some of her popular television dramas include Yeh Zindagi Hai and Mujhe Khuda Pe Yakin Hai.
The Karachi-born actress shared screen space with her father, Javed Sheikh, in her debut rom-com Happy Bhaag Jayegi, co-produced by Anand L Rai and directed by Mudassar Aziz, and held her own alongside Diana Penty and Indian star Abhay Deol, who plays her fiancé in the film. Her father, who plays Deol’s dad in the film, has worked in many Bollywood dramas as a character actor. He was cast in the role of Ranbir Kapoor’s father in the romantic caper Tamasha. HBJ is currently showing in cinemas in the UAE.
The glamorous Saba Qamar, last seen in the 2015 Lollywood film Manto and the Pakistani television drama Digest Writer, is now filming her first Bollywood movie. The 32-year-old model and actress will play actor Irrfan Khan’s wife in Hindi Medium, directed by Saket Chaudhary (Shaadi Ke Side Effects). Qamar is thrilled to work opposite her brilliant co-star in a movie that’s likely to release next summer. "Considering the fact that I will get to work with Irrfan, I could not possibly say no to it," she told Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune. Qamar has said that she will stay away from "bold scenes" or the raunchy numbers that are a staple of most Bollywood films.
Adnan Siddiqui and Sajal Aly
In her next film, Mom, Bollywood actress Sridevi has two Pakistani co-stars.
Adnan Siddiqui has had a 27-year career in Pakistani television and made an appeared in the Hollywood film, A Mighty Heart, in 2007, makes his Bollywood debut as Sridevi’s husband. Siddiqui was offered a couple of other roles before he picked Mom, which for him was a perfect choice, giving him a chance to "rub shoulders with an experienced actress like Sridevi", he told Indian daily Mid-Day.
Mom centres on the tumultous relationship between a mother (Sridevi) and her 18-year-old stepdaughter, portrayed by Pakistani debutante Sajal Ali, and also features Akshaye Khanna and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
Known for her television shows Nadaniyaan and Nanhi, 22-year-old Ali is also making her Lollywood debut this September with Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai.