Humaima Malick recently won the Best Actress Award at the London Asian Film Festival in March this year. The award celebrates her brilliant and understated histrionics in Shoaib Mansoor’s Bol, and cements her credibility as a performer par excellence. “It feels amazing,” says Humaima. “Actors of the calibre of Frieda Pinto and Shilpa Shetty were also nominated for the award. It was Shoaib Mansoor who selected me to represent Bol at the august gathering.”
Bol was nominated in a whopping seven categories and received three awards: Best Film, Best New Talent (Amr Kashmiri) and Best Actress (Humaima Malick). Although it was her first film, it has turned out to be the quintessential feather in her cap. “Film stars have a magic of their own — they make people want to reach out and touch them. I have always craved that magic,” she says.
As the main protagonist of the film, Zainab’s role was a difficult one to essay, to say the least. Nevertheless, Humaima’s restrained performance was as seamless as silk, and resonated with the audience. “The credit goes to Shoaib Mansoor,” she shrugs modestly. “He was the captain of the ship and he was satisfied with my performance. He says I am a pure actor.”
She has much to celebrate these days. “I’ve been described as the ‘Face of Pakistan’,” she says, her voice ringing with pride. “And I’ve been ranked sixth in South Asia’s Most Desirable List.” The list she is referring to was compiled in London by polling, and places Humaima several notches above mainstream Bollywood beauties such as Sonam Kapoor and Nargis Fakhri, and is a harbinger of the imminent international fame and acclaim eventually to come her way.
Humaima is also excited about winning the Best Actress Award (Film) for Bol at the 11th Lux Style Awards recently held in Karachi. “I have attended the event before but this time it was an entirely different experience. It was my first award in Pakistan, and being appreciated by your own people is what keeps an artist going. I had fun hosting with Ahmed Butt, and playing antakshri with Meera was anything but boring.”
She is currently shooting for her first Bollywood film, Sher, where she has been cast opposite Sanjay Dutt. The film is slated for release by the end of the year, and Humaima is eagerly anticipating the response of the audience. She is also in discussion for several plum projects at home and across the border, but is not at liberty to reveal further details at this point.
Humaima made a foray into fashion with Deepak Perwani’s collection at a fashion show in Karachi. Her major break, however, was when she was discovered by director Saqib Malik for a fairness cream campaign in 2001 and she says she was just 14 at the time. Since then she has worked hard to make a name for herself and through it all she has been circumspect and prudent about the projects she has taken on.
“I don’t want to appear in every other commercial or TV show. I want to do justice to every project I take on,” she says. Although Humaima has a willowy figure and stands tall at 5ft 7 inches, she says she is not too keen on ramp modeling, “It’s not my thing. The few shows I’ve participated in have been in the capacity of a national celebrity and not as a model.”
She has a number of scripts lying with her. “I don’t believe in the numbers game. People think you are successful if you appear in umpteen projects at a time, but I don’t agree. I don’t want people to get bored of me. For me, it has always been quality over quantity,” she adds.
In 2008, Humaima did her first TV serial, Ishq Junoon Dewangi, shot in Cape Town, South Africa. It featured her in an ensemble cast. Her role spanned a vast range of emotions and nuances, and was a cornerstone in her career as an actress. It was in the title song of the play that veteran director Shoaib Mansoor spotted the potential in her and went on to showcase it in Bol. Ishq Junoon Deewangi was aired in 2009, and became a hit. So were Humaima’s subsequent plays, including Tanveer Fatima BA, and Baarish Kay Ansoo, ensuring her a strong fan base.
Has she even been enrolled in acting school? “No. It has to come from within you. One sees so many people attending film academies abroad, but not all of them make their mark as actors. When I do a role, it’s important for me to feel the character, to get under the skin. When I was working on Bol, for those three months I had to let myself go and I was living, breathing and eating Zainub.”