When did you realize a career in the entertainment industry was for you?
Since I was a kid! I loved everything to do with television, films and the performing arts. I watched Disney cartoons and loved the stories; I would sing the songs and picture myself in the cartoon. Little did I know then that this was to be my future calling.
How did your family and friends respond to news of you entering the industry?
Everyone was supportive from the start, because they knew this was my passion. I come from a very broad minded family. I have three elder sisters and we were all encouraged to work hard in whichever field we chose for ourselves. Today, all of us have completely different careers that suit each of our personalities!
On what basis do you accept a part in a TV serial?
When I first read the character, it has to strike a cord with me. The situation has to be interesting and the reactions of the characters have to stimulate the audience. I like three-dimensional characters that have their own positive and negative traits, because I feel that is what people are truly like.
Do you ever connect with your characters on a personal level?
You have to connect with each of the characters you play on some level otherwise you wonâ€™t be able to portray them with any honesty. In the context of the script, whatever the character is doing should be believable. One has to have a great sense of empathy as an actor to be able to understand why certain people do certain things, and try to portray them with as much authenticity as possible.
Which character did you love playing most?
I have enjoyed playing them all, but I think Sidra in Zindagi Gulzar Hai has to be a favourite. Not only because it was my first play but also because the simplicity and genuine positivity of that character is something I havenâ€™t found in any other I have played since.
Which character was most difficult?
Aliya in Mohabat Subh Ka Sitara Hai, because this was a girl who came from a very different world than the world I have known and her thoughts and reactions were completely alien to my way of thinking. She was a genuinely selfish girl who didnâ€™t even realize that she was being selfish! But thankfully, the hard work I did for that role paid off because I got the Hum Award for it this year!
How do you get inside the heads of your characters?
I imagine what it would be like to be that person in that situation by observing people around you who fit into that character type. There is some research involved, and a lot of method acting, when you try to put yourself into the head space of another.
What role would you love to play that you havenâ€™t yet?
A historical figure.I would love to play someone who made a difference in the lives of many.
Who would be your dream leading man?
Internationally, Michael Fassbender! Not only is he ridiculously good looking, but he is dynamic on screen. Locally, I have worked with many great actors already, but I havenâ€™t had the opportunity to work with Adeel Hussain, Mikaal Zulfiqar and Adnan Siddiqui as yet, so I am looking forward to working with them someday.
Do you ever get nervous when performing?
Yes, whenever I am performing a particularly challenging scene. I was shooting a promotional shoot for a channel, in which they had me standing on a rock in the middle of the shallow waters at the beach, wearing a gown, in 35 degree weather! The sun was blazing down on me and I had to smile and pretend to play a violin. I was so nervous the whole time that I would trip and fall into the water!
What have been the pros and cons of fame? Has this sudden fame changed yourpersonal life?
People who are close to me still treat me the same, but a lot of people start making assumptions about you once you have reached a certain level of fame. They think you are a certain way even if you arenâ€™t, but the perception of others doesnâ€™t phase me.
Who is your mentor? Real life heroes?
My mother, because she has always been the most positive person in my life and was always supportive throughout the initial stage of my career. She has joyously celebrated the success I have achieved thus far, and I am the person I am today because of her.
Weâ€™re hearing a lot about women-centric roles, and weâ€™re seeing some incredible performances from modern Pakistani actresses such as you. What are the pros and cons of being a woman in this industry?
I believe there are many pros and very few cons. I think being a successful woman in Pakistan redefines the expectations and notions people have about what a woman living in this subcontinent should or shouldnâ€™t do or say, and I see women in this industry playing a huge part in that. Of course, there will always be those who are prejudice against females, but I think we have some truly talented and hardworking women in the industry who donâ€™t let such mindsets get in their way.
Do you see yourself doing Bollywood?
Sure, if I like the role. If actors start limiting themselves they wonâ€™t have much to offer their audiences.
Tell us something about yourself that fans would be surprised to hear
That I love them more than they love me! I donâ€™t know where I would be without audience support and positive feedback!
What is something you have learned the hard way in this industry?
You must evolve and adapt according to situations and the people around you. For example, an often time the format of the shows we attend is completely different than what we were briefed on, or the script that we receive before shoot is still incomplete even once the shoot has started! Often, these situations can be tricky and challenging, but one has to do their best!
Tell us about some fun, memorable moments from on set
There were many fun moments while shooting Zindagi Gulzar Hai. They camaraderie between everyone from the cast to the crew was amazing and that lead to a very successful drama because the spontaneity and ease we felt contributed to the on-screen chemistry!
What is a typical day like for you?
Once I have had my breakfast, Iâ€™m off to work! When I have some time off, I am either occupied with household chores and organizing myself, or am just winding down and spending time with friends.
I have heard people refer to you as the next big thing! How does that pressure hold up? Whatâ€™s next in store?
It is always humbling when people say such positive things. I am just doing what I love to do, and aim to take up projects that offer something different each time. I would like to play strong women who hold their own in a world that is constantly changing and challenging them to surrender their principles and identity.
Fav. vacation spot: Anywhere in Europe
Perfume you wear: Dolce by Dolce and Gabbana
What makes you impatient?: Unprofessionalism
If you could change one thing about yourself, it would be: I would be a tad bit more organized
Brain or brawn: Brain
Love or money: Love
You hate it when you see people wearing: Anything gaudy
Favorite designer(s):Â Sania Maskatiya, MaheenKarim, Adnan Pardesy and many others!
Oldest item in your closet?: Earrings given by my aunt when I was 10
Necessary extravagance: Travelling
Favorite shoe this season: The peep toe heel
Fav. Piece of furniture in your home: The bench in my garden
In your DVD player: Probably a Hitchcock film
Most typically Pakistani thing about you: I believe women should be respected, taken care of and I consider chivalry extremely attractive
What makes you laugh uncontrollably: Witty comebacks
When are you happiest? When Iâ€™m surrounded by the people I love most