If there is a ban in India, I respect it: Mahira Khan
WHAT A DREAM debut this would have been for Pakistani actress Mahira Khan, if there were no tension between India and Pakistan. It felt strange to see Shah Rukh and Mahira promoting Raees in Dubai at the same hotel but different floors. It was made sure that they were not clicked together, forget about a combined interview.
Shah Rukh Khan almost completed Raees with Mahira before the India-Pakistan tension began. Also a ban by the Film and Television Producers Guild of India on Pakistan artists didn't help. This means that Mahira cannot promote the movie in India. The actress also plans to watch the movie in Dubai itself. We met with Mahira in Dubai for a quick tete-e-tete.
How does it feel to finally promote your debut Bollywood film?
I am really excited and nervous as well. I am very grateful that I got to work with Shah Rukh for several reasons. He is someone who is such a big star. He is so hard working that it is unbelievable and I have taken that back home with me. I have learnt that the bigger you are, the harder you have to work.
Do you have a strong role in the movie because back in Pakistan, you have always done hard hitting roles and never limited yourself as a prop?
I actually believe there is no such things as a prop. I think even if you have five minutes in a film - it could be a dance or a line in a scene - as long as you do it with honesty, you will shine. When I got the first call for Raees, I was numb and I did not know how to react. Because it was too quick. I didn't know anybody in Bollywood. I have never given my portfolio or met anyone, so it was very random. Someone saw my work, called for an audition and then said, come. All of this happened within a matter of a week. I couldn't digest it then and I am not able to understand it even now. My character is that of a strong woman who is in love. She is kind and Raees's (played by SRK) conscience. She is the lighter side of Raees's life.
How was it shooting Zaalima?
The making of Zaalima is probably the most fun that I have had on screen. It was a song so it was easier to do. It was a bit tougher for me because we are not used to song and dance in our films even though we do it, but this kind of romance and slow speed was new for me. Zaalima was added at the last minute. I am happy that now I have a romantic song with Shah Rukh Khan. There were a lot of hours of working and we were hardly sleeping. We would sleep for an hour and run back to shoot. But it was fun. The entire cast and crew were chilling together.
Considering the sentiments of Indians and Pakistanis right now, what's going in your mind?
I would just like to tell everybody to go and watch the film. So many people come together and work hard on a movie.
Obviously, politics is not a place I would like to get into at all. I never have, but this is something that everyone talks about and of course, this has affected us. I would love it if we can just be peaceful and it has to happen from both countries. But actors don't understand these things. We make films in India or Pakistan or any part of the world. When we are put in this situation, we don't know how to react. All I can say is I do respect another country's decision, whatever it may be. If there is a ban, I respect it because it's their government and rules. I would always respect it, just like I respect my own country.
What's keeping you busy in Pakistan now?
I am doing a film with Shoaib Mansoor who made Khuda Ke Liye. He makes a film every six years. Last movie that he made was my debut film, Bol. Because he takes so much time to write it and that's why he is very protective about it. I had to beg him to give me the scripts. It is a hard-hitting film.
Take four with Mahira
Favourite SRK movies
Dil Se, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Yes Boss, Chak De India
Favourite SRK Songs
All the songs of Dil Se, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.
Last Bollywood movies seen Udta Punjab, Kapoor & Sons, I am yet to see Dangal. I might catch it soon in Dubai.
Mahira's diet regime
I have a very good diet regime. I eat everything and I never sleep. I have to thank my parents and my good genes. Before coming, I was like I have to get my nails polished, forget about manicure and pedicure. I went to the salon after six months to get my nails done. This is all for you guys, if it was for me, I would come in my pajamas!