Mehwish Hayat – the leading lady

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Known for her starring roles in films like Load Wedding, Actor-in-Law and Punjab Nahi Jaungi, Mehwish Hayat has dominated the big screen ever since. Although she is popularly recognized as a movie actress, Mehwish got her start on the small screen. She gave memorable performances in drama serials like Phir Chand Pe Dastak, Mirat-ul-Uroos, Ishq Mein Teray, Ru Baru and Anjum Shahzad’s highly successful family drama Kabhi Kabhi and Nadeem Baig’s tragic romance, Dil Lagi.

A 2019 Tamgha-e-Imtiaz recipient, Hayat is a true Pakistani at heart and this is reflected in her recent portrayal in the Disney+ TV series ‘Ms. Wonder’. She plays the central role of Aisha who is the great-grandmother of Kamala Khan (aka Ms. Marvel). She is praised for her performance on the show and many fans believe that this show could potentially open up more opportunities for her in Hollywood.

Apart from her Hollywood debut, Hayat has worked on many different projects. In an interview with You! Hayats shares his experience with an MCU series, his recent and upcoming projects…

Mehwish Hayat - the leading lady

You! How was your experience working on ‘Ms. Wonder’?

Mehwish Hayat: Poof! It’s inexplicable. For me, it was a revelation. Before that, I had no idea there was such a big production like this in the entertainment world, where people worked in a very strictly professional way. In Pakistan we have a very small industry working with very limited resources. Without a doubt, we do wonderful things, whatever the means and the budgets we have, but that’s another world. ‘Disney’ is currently the biggest franchise in Hollywood itself. So for someone like me, a girl from Karachi, it was very special, very surreal and dreamlike. At the same time, I was excited to represent my country on a wider platform, whereas a few years ago we couldn’t imagine the representation of Pakistani actors at this level. That in itself was a feat for me. It’s like a dream come true. I feel very blessed and lucky to work on this platform.

Mehwish Hayat - the leading lady

You! Do you think this will also open doors for other Pakistani actors to work on these platforms?

MH: Yes, I believe so. I think after this project, the world knows about the pool of talent and art in Pakistan. So our artists should start aiming bigger now. Before that, we only looked to Bollywood. I had always said why just Bollywood, why can’t we spread our wings and look beyond our borders like Hollywood or Iranian cinema or Turkish cinema. I think what many artists, including myself, dreamed of is now coming true. This is a giant step for our art, artist and towards a bright future for our film industry. We have no shortage of talent and I hope many more amazing things will happen soon.

You! You had a movie release after more than three years, did the response live up to your expectations?

MH: To be honest, I was a bit nervous before London Nahi Jaunga (LNJ) came out. First, because of the overall cinema scenario which has changed due to the Covid-19 closures. Second, the difficult financial situation we are all going through. So yes, all these factors worried us a bit, but we were confident about our film, which is an interesting and entertaining film. I was sure that the film’s story would touch the hearts of viewers. The film’s message is special and has never been discussed before on the big screen or in mainstream media. The specialty of Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar’s screenplay is that he conveys a serious message in a humorous way and, when he writes very thoughtful lines, adds a little touch of wit to it. So yes, it’s a great story and a treat for everyone.

You! How different is your character in your recent version?

MH: I think my character in LNJ is different from all my previous films. This film actually revolves around my character, who is very dynamic with a lot of shades of gray. Yes, there is a mystery with her that unfolds throughout the film and unfolds as the story progresses. One thing I believe is that people find themselves attached to Zara. They would smile with her, cry with her, love her and get mad at her but never leave her. I must say that not only Zara but all the characters in the film are very strong, especially the women. They are firm in their convictions, regardless of their culture and origins.

Mehwish Hayat - the leading lady

You! Your fans are excited to see you back on the big screen, but are you planning on returning to the small screen?

MH: When it comes to working in television, I get offered a lot of scenarios, but I don’t prefer those where I’m portraying a destitute, repressed or crying woman or girl. All of this has already been or is being shown on television. I think that as an artist, it is my responsibility to transmit a positive message to these girls who are inspired by me and look up to me as a role model. In recent years, I have not been offered this kind of scenario. So yes, I would do more television if I was offered a good script with a role centered on women; someone who can’t be fooled by everyone but can fool others (laughs).

However, I did a TV movie on a very refreshing subject. In the movie, I have HSY (Shero), my sister Afshen Hayat (it’s her TV comeback) with me. I think it will be released after August.

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