Mahira Khan recently gave a no holds barred interview, addressing all the banter (and criticism) surrounding her on-going television drama Hum Kahan Key Sachey Thay. The actor passionately responded to what many consider the "regressive" aspects of the drama and her character.
The Verna actor sat down for an interview with Something Haute recently and spoke about many, many things when it comes to her personal life and successful career, with a special focus on her latest HUM TV drama Hum Kahan Key Sachey Thay. The story is an adaptation of Umera Ahmed’s novella of the same name. It has been directed by Farooq Rind and produced by Nina Kashif.
Many fans of the star-studded cast (and especially Khan) have been complaining about the drama being slow, missing out on the basics and glorifying toxicity. People have been expecting a change of events, however, the show is still stuck between being about a family looking for the truth and a depiction of an abusive marriage.
In the interview, Khan first shed light on why she chose to do Hum Kahan Key Sachey Thay after her five-year hiatus from drama serials.
"I've always been indecisive as a person," she started. "Once I take the decision then everything is fine. With Hum Kahan Key Sachey Thay, Nina Kashif offered me this role six to seven months before we'd even started working on it, or maybe a year before, and I was like 'no I don't want to do this' because I have done cousin marriage, this and that. I just didn't want to.
"I was going to do another drama and that one required me to be out of Karachi. My nani [grandmother] had just moved in with us. There were several reasons why I didn't want to leave Karachi. I just did not want to leave. I was all like 'what do I do' and then I said okay hand me the script [for Hum Kahan Key Sachey Thay] so I can read it. Nina [Kashif] kept updating me that so-and-so was meant to do it and then she left. Many actresses were meant to do Mashal and Mehreen's role."
Khan shared how she loved the first 10 episodes of the drama when she read the script. "When I read the first 10 episodes, I was like this is fantastic. Mehreen had such swag, you know. She is lonely and alone as a woman but she is a fighter. She used to reply back to the mumani [maternal aunt]. She's ironing clothes for her nani [maternal grandmother] but is still giving a reply. She had a lot of self respect and I loved that. So then I called her [Nina Kashif] and I was like 'I have read the first 10 episodes and they are fantastic'. I also loved Mashal and said I want to do Mashal. She [Nina] was like 'are your crazy? who wants to do Mashal when I am offering you Mehreen'. Mashal was such a character you know. There was much you could do with her. So that's it, one day I got up and I was like I'll do [the drama]."
It seems like it was after Khan said yes to doing the show that she read the next episodes. "I read all the remaining episodes after [agreeing to do the drama]," she said.
Khan addressed how many have called the drama regressive and didn't expect her to do such a show. "The thing is, obviously I get so much feedback and [I get it] quickly. I understand [people's responses]. Even when I was reading [the script], I was feeling like 'I want to kill Aswad' and 'why doesn't Mehreen get up and do something about it'. But you see, to show such abuse exists, to show trauma like this, you have to portray it [first].
"Where [the show] will go [next], you will see," the Superstar actor point out.
Don't the majority of our dramas already portray this abuse excessively, the interviewer asked. The viewers don't expect Mahira Khan to show all that as well. They want an inspirational female character when it comes to you, especially those watching at home who are going through the same kind of situation.
"And they will," Khan said.
For her, even the strongest of women go through moments of weakness. "In my personal life, I have been in positions where I was not able to say a single word," she said. "That's the truth. That's my truth, but [let's go] beyond that. Forget Mahira Khan's truth or someone else's truth — this [drama] is [the character] Mehreen Mansoor's truth."
Khan reminded everyone she's still the same person she's always been, and as an actor her career includes doing some inspiration roles, such as portraying Pakistan's first female three-star general, Lieutenant General Nigar Johar. "I [Mahira] am still the same person who leaves the biggest films and does Verna. I am the same person who produced the film Aik Hai Nigar."
Khan said she's "ready to accept" that there are are certain regressive elements in the drama Hum Kahan Key Sachey Thay. "There is a regressive nature to a lot of what is happening in Hum Kahan Key Sachey Thay but was it like that from the start? It wasn't. Was she [Mehreen] this person from the start? No she wasn't. She was sitting with her cousin one night, she woke the next day and [that cousin] was gone. She was killed and next thing you know, [Mehreen] is in jail and no one has come to get her. She is traumatised.
"Just wait and see what happens and what she does next [in the drama]," the actor emphasised.
For Khan, Hum Kahan key Sachey They is not the telling of a love story. "This is not a love story and you'll see that [as the show moves forward]," she said. "This story is about a very toxic family, which I feel I have seen plenty of. I feel that by the end of the second last episode, people will think that yes, why do we compare kids? Why do we compare our grandchildren? Why do we hurt someone? Allah has created us all equal, then who are we to poison their hearts and minds. That is the point of Hum Kahan Key Sachey Thay."
The actor admitted that the drama should have had trigger warnings at certain points, as pointed out by several netizens on social media. "There is no one who takes criticism more seriously than I do," she said. "I agree that there should have been trigger warnings. In fact, I told Nina 'next time, do not just put in trigger warnings, put in helpline numbers for suicide help'. That's the way I would do it, how I would like to do it."
Khan also touched upon her telefilm Aik Hai Nigar and the speculation around it when it comes the extent of influence ISPR had on the project. The telefilm was made for ARY Digital and was produced by Khan, Kashif and Adnan Sarwar under Soul Fry Films — a brainchild of Khan and Kashif.
"Aik Hai Nigar was not ISPR's idea," Khan said. "Not at all. We took this [idea] to [ISPR], Umera Ahmed, Kashif and myself. It took more than a year to get it approved and you can imagine that was so because [the film] is about a serving general. Who will let you make a story about such a person? When you watch Aik Hai Nigar, you'll see that there is no messaging around it. It's a story about a woman and we tried to keep it as honest as possible, [which] took a lot out of all of us to [achieve that]."