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Meesha Shafi: Reluctant but ready

October 15, 2011

Meesha Shafi – photo by Fayyaz Ahmed

An established model, brand ambassador for L’Oreal and making her mark as a singer with songs such as Pichal Pairee and Dhol Bajey Ga with Overload plus her stint with Coke Studio, Meesha Shafi has now bagged a role in producer/director Mira Nair’s (Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair, The Namesake) upcoming film, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. It is based on the Pakistani author, Mohsin Hamid’s award-winning bestselling book by the same name and she will be starring alongside Kiefer Sutherland, Kate Hudson, Riz Ahmed, Om Puri and Shabana Azmi.

Meesha Shafi spoke to Images on Sunday about her interaction with Mira Nair and her plans for the film, her other acting project, what to look forward to on the music front and more.

“I went in for a screen test sometime very early last year when Mira Nair was in town for casting purposes. There was no reading, no script, and it was very informal. At the time I didn’t know what I was being considered for. I guess the purpose was a screen test since a camera was there,” she said.

After a long wait, she was told she had the role. “I was over the moon having met Mira and then I got the call telling me I was cast in The Reluctant Fundamentalist. I am nervous about it, and who wouldn’t be? My co-stars are such legends, it is a daunting thought working with them but it will be a great learning experience as well.”

Has she begun preparing for her role? “I don’t believe in having preconceived notions of what my performance will be like or having a rehearsed kind of set idea of what I’ll do. Good acting is when you can’t tell when you’re acting,” she said. “No matter how much you rehearse, when other actors come in, it’s all about the chemistry they develop with you. My approach is to be familiar with the essence of the character and see how she acts in the moment. I’m really excited to be working with legendary actors such as Shabana Azmi, Om Puri and the very talented Riz Ahmed.

“The filming is already underway. A lot of it has been shot. My shoot is right around the corner, but in many ways, my homework has begun.”

Has she had a chance to speak to Mohsin Hamid? “I’ve had numerous conversations with him about this project. We’ve also had many discussions about the person who is translating it all onto the screen.” There is no confirmed release date although some speculate that the film will come out in 2013.

Speaking about her other acting projects, Meesha revealed that she will be playing a part in Bilal Lashari’s Waar, a patriotic movie with a thrilling, action-packed plot, “It’s a local, bilingual local film with a massive production value and I think the film-makers are aiming for an international release.

“In Waar, I play an unorthodox character which is a big departure from how women are usually projected in Pakistani cinema. Bilal Lashari is fantastic to work with and working with him is refreshing to say the least.”

Meesha Shafi is also back in the studio, working on her album. Other than that she added that there are some other big projects in the pipeline where music is concerned but prefers to remain tight-lipped about what they were.

How does she intend to juggle all of these things together? “I find myself wondering why and how I get myself into all this? I’ve always thought of myself as a laidback person, as someone who likes to work at a relaxed pace.

“Having said that, there are times when I get into high gear and get down to work,” she added, “I’m in auto mode then. I guess that’s what I’m doing now.”