LAHORE: Aisha Khan’s transition from television to the silver screen has been a particularly charmed one. When her debut film Waar released in 2013, it smashed box office records to become the highest grossing Pakistani film of all time. Set to surpass that record is the recently released masala hit Jawani Phir Nahi Ani, which also happens to be Aisha’s second cinematic venture.
For an actress with such high profile and successful films to her credit, she remains surprisingly low-key. Rarely seen on the red carpet, at fashion shows or award ceremonies, she’s content to let others enjoy the spotlight while she concentrates on “making smart choices”, whether they govern her career or her lifestyle. In conversation with Instep, she reveals why and how.
On shying away from the spotlight
“I’m a very reclusive celebrity because I’m not very visible. I just believe that being seen at a certain event or wearing a certain designer is the wrong criteria for being judged. I like to be judged on the basis of my work, nothing else. Red carpet appearances make me uncomfortable and if they weren’t written into my contract, I would stay away altogether. I do get a lot of flack for it. I’ve even been dubbed the Aamir Khan of Pakistan because I don’t attend award shows.
“My off-duty style is extremely laid-back. When I have a day off from shoots, you won’t see me with a speck of make-up on my face and my go-to outfit would be a pair of boyfriend jeans and a button down shirt. I do love Sana Safinaz for their effortless and glamorous style ethos, which is why my JPNA wardrobe was designed exclusively by them. I’m very conservative and I have a lot of limitations about what I will and will not wear and they are able to understand that yet create trendy outfits. I also like to wear Shehla Chatoor because she has a very unique sense of style.”
On the secret to her porcelain skin
“Honestly, I have nothing to do with it… thanks to my Afghan mother, I’ve been blessed with good genes. Forget a beauty regimen, I don’t even moisturize regularly.”
On evolving gracefully with age
“The entertainment industry can be very shallow and unforgiving. The audience wants us actors to look perfect all the time. I’ve been part of this industry for over a decade… there was a time when being super thin wasn’t in but now it is. I accept that and I work hard on myself. When I was in my 20s, I could afford to be reckless but in my 30s, I know I need to make an extra effort. Choosing to eat right and exercise is a lifestyle choice that no one should blame you for.”
Health guidelines to swear by
“People don’t have enough water, which is the key to healthy and glowing skin. Also, you are what you eat so I try to incorporate a balance of greens, fruit, protein, carbs and fiber in my diet. Most importantly, no meals after 7pm.”
On choosing the right roles
“When I first read the script for Waar, I said no to it because it sounded like a very male-oriented film that would require little in the acting department from me but would want to play up my commercial appeal. I was vocal about my reservations and the filmmakers changed the script and gave me a role I could sink my teeth into. Javeria is a strong, independent woman and I loved playing her. Plus Bilal Lashari is an excellent director who knew exactly what he was doing.
There was a long gap between Waar and JPNA but I didn’t want to settle for just any script. You can be more experimental with television roles because if people don’t like something, they can just switch the channel. When your audience is paying for a theatre experience, it’s the actor’s responsibility to make it worth their time and money.”
On the state of television
“I love doing television but I feel scripts have gone downhill in recent times. I need to learn to stop indulging directors and producers who use our good working relationship to rope me into doing plays I don’t believe in. That’s fooling your audience and I don’t want to do that. As an actress, I want to be versatile in my choices, so while I play the victim in some serials, I always balance it out by playing empowered women in others. What’s disappointing is when people term the role of a strong and empowered woman as a ‘negative’ role.”
On her friendship withHumayun Saeed and Hamza Ali Abbasi [which is rumoured to have strayed into romantic territory]
“Humayun Saeed is one of my closest friends in the industry. He is someone who has always had my back. Our families are friends as well. I don’t concern myself with baseless rumours. Hamza Ali Abbasi is someone I’ve known all my life, he’s a childhood buddy. Along with Bilal Lashari and Gohar Rasheed, these are people I can trust blindly.”- Saria
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