Pakistani actress Hareem Farooq on Expo 2020 Dubai, and leaving a legacy as an artist

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

By Sadiq Saleem

Published: Mon 21 Feb 2022, 11:27 AM

At a time when television sets are brimming with characters of damsels in distress, Pakistani actress Hareem Farooq’s trajectory of work comes across as a breath of fresh air. With experience ranging from TV to theatre to films to production, she has been juggling these avatars for quite some time and over time, she has proven herself to be good at all of them.



Hareem was recently in Dubai to inaugurate the Pakistan Film Festival at Expo 2020 Dubai and she also walked for Amato at Arab Fashion Week. City Times caught up with the very progressive actress during her time in the city.

Praising Dubai and its current vibes, she said, “I hadn’t taken a break from work for long. I had my visit at Expo 2020 Dubai lined up with Arab Fashion Week as well. I thought I’ll leave right after these two but when I landed here and saw the buzz, it seemed like Dubai has changed the game for all. It’s been a week and I haven’t gone back as yet. There is so much to do and so many places to visit. Honestly if I did not have the set waiting, I would have extended my stay further.”

On the agenda of her visit to Dubai was the Pakistan Film Festival ran for a week in January at the Pakistan pavilion at Expo. Two of her hit films, Parchi and Heer Maan Ja were screened. “I was so happy to learn from the Information Minister himself that they are launching a full-fledged film festival at the Expo. Very few governments in the past have tried to bridge the gap between politics and entertainment but I have to say that the current government is doing its best in helping the media industry realise its full potential. Such representations put out a very positive and progressive image of Pakistan.”

She is well aware that the media and entertainment industry in the Gulf region including Saudi Arabia is booming. So would she be open for a collaboration, we asked. She was excited to share, “I am honestly looking and exploring potential collaboration opportunities in this region. UAE and the region in particular offer great locations, infrastructure, production set-up and the talent. So, I am really interested in a joint venture and seeing what creative things could come out as a result.”

While she is all for collaborations outside Pakistan, we enquired about the dismal state of cinemas in Pakistan that are closing down, as it has become harder to get decent footfall. Does it not scare the producer in her?

Her response was rather courageous; she said, “I always wanted to have my production house. I don’t believe in procrastination; if there is something I want to start in next fifteen years, why not now? With this production house, what I am doing now is setting a strong foundation for myself, for my industry, and for my country. And it’s a learning-curve. Also, as far as cinema is concerned, I firmly believe that if you give the audience something unique and novel, they will accept it. My job is to ensure that I put my heart and soul in my project and deliver it with full honesty. Then leave the rest for audience to decide.”

She further made an interesting point about measuring success of films. ‘It’s a thing of a past where only the box office numbers would define the success of a project. We have had several instances in India and Pakistan where films that did not do well commercially were declared as classics few years down the road such as Cake and Lal Kabootar. Sometimes, niche films bring into the limelight a talent that commercial films don’t. So just looking at the numbers to define the success of a project is not enough. One has to look at a bigger contribution and impact that the project has made. For me, when fans come to me and say that I have impacted their lives through my work, that is when I feel most satisfied. I did not set up a production house to make hit films, it is there to create an impact and to leave a legacy.”

Unless you are living under a rock, you must have seen Hareem’s fans sharing videos of her dancing at her family and friends’ weddings. She had also opened the first PISA Awards with her live performance at the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai. She is also one of the most followed celebrities in Pakistan.

But Hareem feels shy to share candid pictures on social media. “I honestly feel confused and shy about sharing my images out there. First of all, I am not too savvy when it comes to handling social media, but my team does it for me. I think at times I feel that I am such a loser when it comes to social media management. I think it’s a great platform to connect with your people and share your work. Though I am yet to get the hang of it.”

Speaking of the Internet, OTT is the new medium of entertainment and mega stars are venturing into it. Hareem feels that the advent of OTT and social media has blurred the lines between a film star and a TV star.

“Today we see biggest stars across the world venturing into the OTT platform either by acting in it or producing for it. Even the rules of stardom have been challenged like never before. Stars can no more dish out the same formula and rely on it. No matter how big a star you are, if you are being monotonous and are not putting effort to bring out something new, then people today don’t care about your image. They move on with just a click of a button. The options have increased so much.”

Being a producer, one has certain level of understanding of the pulse of the audience. When the actor is also a producer, it is common to have conflicts and the clash of ideas. And Hareem acknowledges that. She shares, “The productions that I have been a part of either on television or in films have been very open when it comes to sharing of ideas. I won’t say that I am someone who would blindly surrender to someone else’s vision especially when I feel that there are certain questionable areas. Sometimes, you share an idea based on your own experience that you bring to the set and sometimes your vision is corrected based on your team’s experience. So it’s a two-way traffic. At the end of the day, no one should go back home sulking.”

Sadiq Saleem is a UAE-based entertainment writer and can be contacted on his Instagram handle @sadiqidas


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