KARACHI: Listening to Pakistani superstar Mahira Khan speak at Aga Khan University’s Special Lecture Series on Thursday was more than gaining inspiration from her life experiences. It also included handshakes, hugs, and an ‘almost’ stampede when the star happily agreed to pose for selfies. Frantic calls for security personnel saved the poor woman from being mobbed by her fans.

But Mahira remained calm and pleasant throughout. She even sat down to patiently answer questions from the audience. Meanwhile, her talk focussed on things such as having faith, the formula for success, coping with failure, having dreams and finding strength from people who believe in you.

“Faith,” she said, “is a beautiful and important thing. And you know this more when you have lost faith,” she added.

“When you are trapped in a dark place in life, faith helps you know that it will be okay,” she continued, sharing her struggles in college when she also held two jobs and had lost her living quarters. “Walking to the bus stand each day, I knew that one day there will be payback. That is having faith,” she said.

Success and failure are part of life, says star Mahira Khan

“And speaking of success brings us to failure. The truth is that we have all gone through failure. I have personally as well as professionally experienced failure,” she added.

The actor said that faith has a strong connection with the gut, too. “I was advised by many people to not accept the role in Bol as it was a small one but my gut told me otherwise. I also decided to act in the serial Humsafar on my gut feeling,” she said.

Coming to what a huge success both projects turned out to be, she came to the recipe for success. “Well, there may be plenty of science formulas but there is no formula for success. Each and every one of us is unique thus our paths are too,” she said.

“Let’s not forget failure. It is true that we have all gone through failure,” she said as she shared how she longed to see her name in the opening credits for Bol and then the Bollywood movie Raees with Shahrukh Khan.

“There are no repeats of your first film but somehow my name was missed as the Bol credits scrolled in front of me. Then for Raees, even though the teaser said ‘introducing Mahira Khan’, I felt like being punched in the stomach when there was no such credit in the film itself. Then when it was released, I was banned in India and the film was banned in Pakistan,” she said. “It is a big thing to work in a foreign film. I pray I get my introducing credit when I work in an Iranian film,” she laughed.

“Failure is knowledge and knowledge is success. So it is a win-win,” she said. “We actors know how to paint smiles on our faces and carry on, I did too,” she added, saying that throughout all her highs and lows she has never felt alone. “I have always felt my parents, my friends and every single person who believes in me standing behind me. They always have my back,” she said.

Mahira had her audience in splits when she recalled that her grandmother wanted her to opt for medicine as she was good in studies; however, she was dreaming of becoming an actor. “There I was dreaming of wearing a sari and dancing like Madhuri Dixit,” she said. “I also used to dream of working with Shahrukh Khan. I did nothing to make it happen. I only dreamed and believed in my dreams,” she said.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2017

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