We know Naveen Waqar is selective about her projects, but did we know she turned down a chance to work with Big B?
The Humsafar star, who rose to fame after playing the vicious vamp against Mahira and Fawad Khan, went on to work in hit TV dramas like Annie Ki Aayegi Baraat and Alvida and made her film debut in 2013 with the Aamina Sheikh-starrer Josh.
In conversation with Images, the 31-year old opens up about her personal life, cinema and what awaits her next.
Images: Tell us a bit about what you do when you're not working.
Naveen Waqar: I'm a total homebody. I love spending time with my family. Sundays, for example, are strictly family days. It’s all about my parents, brother and baby cousins and we spend the day together, playing games or taking them out.
In my spare time, I read a lot, catch up on music and movies I've missed out on, paint or write. I only do one project at a time, so that I balance my professional and personal life and focus on one thing at a time.
Images: How important do you think it is to have a partner in one's life?
Naveen: It's more important to have the right person as a partner, especially when a woman is a public figure. She needs someone who doesn’t feel overshadowed by her success and is comfortable in his own skin and above all, respects her.
Unfortunately, women are taught that their aim in life is to grow up and get married. I believe in letting them educate themselves so they can be self-reliant and independent. Relationships are important, but they shouldn’t be the only aspiration. There should always be a balance.
Images: Local cinema has been growing in leaps and bounds. Are you planning to make your silver screen debut anytime soon?
Naveen: It all depends on the right kind of role and script. I'm in no hurry. I want to take my time and if and when the right role comes along, I will say yes.
I'd love to do action roles. Action, psychological thrillers or intense drama, suspense are my kind of genres. Something that would challenge me, mentally and physically. Excite me enough to want to lose myself in the story. If given the choice, I'd rather prefer a role where I kick someone’s butt than dance and romance, but then again if done right, the latter can be fun too.
I was offered a role from across the border last year in November to work alongside Amitabh Bachchan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. But I wasn't sure if it was the right time for me, and I was also shooting for Saya e Deewar Bhi Nahi, so saying no was the right choice at the time. It was very tempting but Pakistani cinema is reinventing itself and I want to be a part of that reinvention. I want to do a film that would be remembered as one that helped Pakistani cinema grow.
Images: Lots of people are entering the film/TV industry. What do you think you offer that other actors don't?
Naveen: I bring myself and my personality to the table. My work speaks for itself and although I haven't done more than five projects that have been on-air, I am proud of my résumé. I have a lot more to learn and grow with. I'm still new as other contemporary actresses have done a lot more work than I have.
I like my work to speak for itself, and it has so far. People who have worked with me can definitely agree that I'm hard working. Personally, I try and give my absolute best and I'm a total team player. I take my work very seriously.
Images: What's your take on the way women are portrayed on television? How do you pick roles?
Naveen: I wish they [makers] would cut down on the damsels in distress and increase roles where women are shown as powerful creatures that have the ability to do so much more.
I try and pick roles based on how much performance margin I get. As Shehla in Saya e Deewar Bhi Nahi, I got to really push myself as an actor. She grows; she makes mistakes, seeks redemption and pays the price. I got to show her good as well as her dark side. I try and not do one track or monotone characters.
Images: Is it hard to achieve success as a woman in this industry? Do you think it's male-dominated?
Naveen: I personally think women are doing as well as men in the industry. Dramas are very or rather mostly female-oriented. My experiences with all my male co-actors have been good. They vary of course, but thankfully I've learnt and grew from every person I get to work with. Women still have to work twice as hard to be recognized for their achievements, be it in this business or otherwise.
I think it’s the mindset of our society in general. 'Men are better than women'; it’s something that people have been fed while growing up in all aspects of life. It's unfair, but I believe times are changing. It is a slow process, but women are stepping up on the same platforms as men and performing as good, if not better. However, it takes a thorough gentleman to admit to it, and not all men are comfortable with women doing better than them even when they are.
Images: A lot of your work has been with MD Productions; what's your take on having favorites in the industry?
Naveen: The fact that I started my acting career with them has a lot to do with it. But mostly, it's about the script that I'm offered. It's not like I'm bound to work only with a particular production house. I'm open to anything that appeals to me. Nonetheless, I do have a comfortable bond with the team; they've seen me grow over the years.
Images: What can your fans expect next from you?
Naveen: My serial with MD Productions, Kuch Na Kaho, will soon start airing. It's an emotional rollercoaster ride. Saya e Deewar Bhi Nahi is already on air and I have received great feedback. I've also portrayed the character of a bartender in this very intriguing short film called Orphic that will be played on a few film festivals as well.
I also shot two episodes of an upcoming series alongside Imran Abbas and Ali Safina; that is produced by Ahsan Khan and directed by Sakina Samoo. So overall, I'm very content with what I'm doing and I'm glad that I've been getting an opportunity to explore my diversity with every project.