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And then there was Armeena

July 26, 2015


With Bin Roye currently gracing the screen and as Bilal Ashraf’s love interest in Hassan Waqas Rana’s under post-production film Yalghaar which is also due to come later this year, a couple of on-air serials and being the face of a brand of soft drink, in two years Armeena Rana Khan has achieved what it takes a decade for others to accomplish.

“It just happened,” Armeena says. “I’m the only one in my family to venture into this field and believe me, it wasn’t planned at all. I didn’t choose acting, it would be better to say that acting chose me instead.”

It all began a few years back when Bollywood narrowed its search down to the girl born to Pakistani parents settled in Canada. “While pursuing my degree in Business Studies in England, I got a call from India for an indie film Huff! It’s Too Much. I told them that I wasn’t an actress, and the modeling assignments through which they selected me was just a hobby … but the director had other ideas.”

And then the debut on Pakistani television. “Wajahat Rauf introduced me on TV through a sitcom, after which I was approached by Hum Films for Bin Roye. I ended up saying yes because of the star cast. I have always been in love with Zeba Bakhtiar, and when I was told that she plays my mother in the film, it was the happiest day of my life!”

Armeena’s debut TV serial Shab-i-Aarzoo ka Alam was followed by Muhabbat ab Nahi Hogi, and they made hers a household name. But there was a slight hitch — language barrier. “Till two years back, I wasn’t very fluent in Urdu, especially when it came to reading scripts. The Bollywood film I did had the script in Roman so that wasn’t a problem, but in Pakistan all scripts are in Urdu. I had to work really hard on my language skills and have somewhat overcome the problem. In Karb, I play a girl who belongs to a family from Lucknow, so my Urdu had to be good if not perfect.”

She may be relatively new to the showbiz industry but the hazel-eyed stunner from Canada is here to stay

Armeena plays the main lead in Karb and Ishq Parast, both characters strikingly different. How does she rate her work while sharing the screen with the actors she saw while growing up. “Humayun Saeed and Adnan Siddiqui were iconic performers while I was growing up. Adnan Siddiqui plays my husband in Karb while I get a chance to share the screen with Humayun Saeed in Bin Roye!”

What is it about Armeena that makes her a citizen of the world? “I am half-Pashtun, half-Punjabi which is why I am very excited about my upcoming feature film that is being produced by Reham Khan in collaboration with Imran Kazmi and Hareem Farooq. I play the main lead and it is about the Pashtun community, so I should thank the genes on my mother’s side as they helped me get the role (laughs).”

“I take everything in stride,” Armeena says as she explains the reasons behind her happy-go-lucky personality. “Since becoming a full-time actress, things haven’t changed much except that I get to travel a lot between England, Canada and Pakistan.”

Armeena was the first Pakistani actress to walk at Cannes in 2013. “I was the first girl from Pakistan to walk the Red Carpet at the prestigious film festival. I took British director Sheraz Ali’s psychological thriller Writhe to Cannes where I played a serial killer. Another film, Stranger within Me, also got selected for Cannes where I played the main lead. As for the experience, it was wonderful to move around the same place where Steven Spielberg and Nicole Kidman were also present!”

Armeena says she idolises Bollywood actress Shabana Azmi and Naseeruddin Shah, believing they can’t be bettered in any universe. “I have always been fond of Aamir Khan and currently I love Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s work, they are fabulous actors in their own rights. As for my favourites in Hollywood, I can watch Meryl Streep and Dame Judi Dench any day. I also admire the humanitarian work Angelina Jolie does because that’s something I would like to take up as well in future.”

The ravishing Armeena believes that the sky is the limit when it comes to acting and that’s why she will not stop after doing films in Pakistan. “The international market is very vast and there aren’t many Pakistani actors there except for a few like Faran Tahir. I have done indie films in England and I am currently in talks with people in Hollywood for a crossover film. I plan to make a name for myself and Pakistan wherever I go, even if it takes me to Hollywood.”

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine July 26th, 2015

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