Mahira Khan: the unusual, shining star



Bin Roye and Bollywood. Marriage and the men in her life. Sex appeal and Sadqay Tumhare. Is there anything else you need to know about Mahira Khan.

Mahira is always in a hurry. And she’s in a characteristic state of rush as she walks in for this interview, radiant in a white cotton kurta, gorgeous in an unaware state of unkempt attraction. It’s the look of a woman who has too much to do, with little time to do anything more than pull back her hair and leave the house with nothing fancier than a washed face. But what a face it is! Mahira is a head-turner, evoking both envy and desire of women and men who either want to be like her. Or simply want to be with her. And she’s blissfully unaffected by both.

A million dollar smile warms up her hazel eyes as she sees me. And she holds up her hands to show ten fingernails that are painted red and blue. Spiderman. It’s her son’s birthday and she spent the morning entertaining his friends in a superhero themed party. That, she quickly explains, is the reason for being fifteen minutes late. I can imagine anyone would happily wait a lot longer for this one.

“It’s not true at all,” she replies, settling down with a cup of coffee and bringing on that slow, reinforcing tone that would make it impossible to misunderstand what she’s saying. “I am not doing a film with Ranveer Singh. This smoke has no fire at all. I’m not even in talks with Bollywood, not really. I mean I’ve gotten calls, some from very reputed directors, but I’m in talks with no body for a film.”

It’s been two years since Humsafar catapulted her to the pinnacle of popularity. But while her co-star Fawad Khan has made a lot of hay under the proverbial shining sun, she’s barely cashed in on that wave of hysteria. One television play (Shehr-e-Zaat) and one talk show (The Lighter Side of Life) is what she has to show in her post Humsafar trajectory. If there were offers from Bollywood then what has stopped her from taking the next step forward?

“I think that they (Indian filmmakers) have only seen Humsafar in fact even Humsafar hasn’t played in India yet,” she offers an explanation. “They haven’t seen enough of my work to present something solid to me. If I work in India I want it to be for the same caliber of work that I get in Pakistan. I don’t want to change my standards


“Maybe,” she agrees with a sheepish laugh. “The thing is that right now this is it. They say these are the stars of Pakistan and if this is it then I feel that isn’t so bad. I’ve managed to guard myself and give as much as I want to and hold back as much as I want to. But yes, Bollywood is scary. It is unchartered territory. You don’t know what you are getting into. That said, Bollywood is scary but not so scary that I wouldn’t try.

“The way I see it,” she continues, “is if I’m choosy in my own country and if I’m picky then I’m going to be as picky in Bollywood. I’m going to look at a script as minutely as I do in Pakistan. Why should Bollywood or Hollywood or Turkey be any different? I don’t understand that. I don’t work like that. People tell me that it’s career suicide. They say, which actress gets fame and then decides to do one project a year. Who does this? I do it. The way I see it, if I can ask a close friend in Pakistan to read his script (referring to Asim Raza’s film) then I would also ask the same of a big director in India. ”