The character Mashal from the drama Hum Kahan Ke Sachay Thay may not be winning hearts but actor Kubra Khan sure is and it's not just because of the character's rich nuances. Kubra has been praised for her stellar performance. The actor recently sat down for an interview to discuss her approach to playing the villainous Mashal as well other interesting aspects of her life that make Kubra who she is.
The actor has made a name for herself in the entertainment industry through performances in well received dramas such as Alif and Sang e Mar Mar. In an interview to Fuchsia Magazine, Kubra spoke about the experience of playing her latest character, Mashal, in Hum Kahan Ke Sachay Thay. The drama also stars Mahira Khan and Usman Mukhtar and has garnered rave reviews so far.
"I didn't expect Mashal would get so much attention," Kubra confessed. "I knew she was a dark, or rather a grey character, but I did not expect people would notice all the different shades of her as well. That's the shocking part for me because often characters are written as either negative or positive, and people then have very black and white perceptions about these characters. But Mashal is neither completely negative nor positive, she is a grey character who has a lot of layers."
She said she loves the fact that people can see the reason behind her evilness. "There's pain in her. I am not saying that she is not bad. She is bad, I am not going to defend her, but obviously there's a reason for it," Kubra added.
The actor spoke about the experience of playing a character with many villainous traits. "Whether you are playing a positive character or a negative character, you have to believe the character is right," she said. "Mashal is completely negative but if she believes she's right, she'll keep doing the sort of naughty things she's always doing. I'm not playing Mashal by being Kubra, I'm playing Mashal by believing that I truly am Mashal herself."
What exactly is Mashal, according to Kubra?
For Kubra, Mashal is not a villain, she's only human. "Umera Ahmed hasn't written Mashal as a complete evil character," she said. "I spoke to her and she said that I wanted people to want to hate Mashal but not be able to do so. At the end of the day she's human as well.
Some of the feedback we got from viewers was them saying they hated Mashal, while other feedback called her bechari," she continued. There's a huge clash about this negative character, which doesn't usually happen. I'm happy about that. I think the best way to sum this up is by saying Umera Ahmed's own line. 'This is a story of two girls, the good girl who isn't completely angelic and the bad girl takes a last minute turn from becoming the devil'."
The slap scene
Kubra talked about a particular scene from the drama in which Mashal slaps Mehreen. The depiction of violence is a hot topic these days and many dramas have been criticised for showing abuse on-screen. Although Hum Kahan Ke Sachay Thay doesn't show the slap itself, viewers hear it happen. "At that time Mahira and I both felt like we don't need to show the slap," Kubra clarified. "I tried to play Mashal's character as humanely as possible. Just because she's evil doesn't mean she'll be doing overly dramatic stuff. She'll be normal human. Her words and everyday actions are enough to show this. She doesn't have to slap people all the time. There was an objection which is why we didn't go for showing the actual slap," she explained.
The girls of steel in upcoming drama Sinf e Ahan
The Alif actor also dished out some juicy details about her upcoming drama Sinf e Ahan. Perplexingly, she said the drama doesn't have a lot of acting in it. "We're not acting in Sinf e Ahan. I mean there is that too but a lot of what we did was actual cadet training and they're shooting it while we're going through the training.
"I have a lot of bruises, cuts and aches to show for it," she casually said. "It's really tough. Salute to all the women and the men that go for training and are in the forces. Any object we used while shooting, none of them were dummy items. If we used a gun, a water bag, these were actual items from the training. If we lifted a 10kg box in the scene, we actually lifted a 10kg box."
Kubra praised her female co-stars who happily went through all this. "My girls are made of steel. Everyone is doing such a fantastic job. No complaints, everyone is happy," she emphasised.
Kubra's break from acting
On a more personal note, Kubra spoke about the long hiatus she took from acting. "Acting has become a huge part of my life," she said. I wouldn't say it's my identity but it's what I'm known for and I needed to take some time off to be Kubra. Not Kubra Khan the actor but just Kubby. That's it. There are times in your life when you need to take time out to find yourself and I was doing just that."
While her hiatus was largely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns, she also consciously took the time to reflect on certain things. "Personally, you start to redefine yourself and pinpoint what is right or wrong in yourself, your beliefs, your morals," she said. "I went through a phase three to four years ago when there was a lot of blur in my head, a lot of hurt as well. To come out of that the only thing I could do is go back to my habitat and that isn't here [in Pakistan]. I needed to go be alone and speak to my 17 and 18 year-old Kubby to be back to normal."
Battling negative comments and trolls on social media
On a personal level, Kubra has also been greatly affected by the negative comments she's received on social media since her acting debut. "People don't think actors can be sensitive human beings but we are," she explained. "Because we empathise so much with people [to play them] we are very sensitive. If we see one bad comment in a thousand good comments, we will take it to heart. A lot of people say such bad things for attention seeking as well.
"My mother always says, especially because she saw me hit my lowest because of comments, you don't hear praise in a sea of criticism and likewise you don't hear critique in a sea of praise. So just make sure you have your priorities clear. If you want a sea of praise, then one bad comment here or there doesn't matter. As long as you're okay with your work. You haven't done anything wrong and your conscious is clear then just relax," she said.
"I struggled with bad comments online throughout [my career so far] but funnily enough it hit me at very random times. There was this one time when Grenfell Tower in London had burned down. This was 2017. I posted a picture of that and said prayers for all the deceased. After that the kind of stuff people wrote underneath the post; you're a nonbeliever, go back to the UK, drop dead," she said.
"I was like what did I do? All I said was prayers and peace. But people were like they were goray, why did you write that for them. Recently when Dilip Kumar passed away, some people were like you can't say rest in peace for a Hindu. First of all, he was not a Hindu. Secondly, you can say prayers for anyone. I will say prayers for a dog if I want to. What's anyone's problem?
"If you really want to follow Islam before anything else, it's all about showing peace and kindness. Do this first and let's lecture people later on. I'm no one to lecture anybody on Islam at all. I'm just saying peace and kindness is very important."