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Bol, Bollywood and beyond

July 21, 2012


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.

With a modeling career spanning 10 years, Humaima Malick doesn’t let all the media attention faze her. In addition to other major international brands, she is the brand ambassador for a shampoo for the past four years — the longest period of time the brand has associated itself with any model or celebrity. Last year, she was also signed on as one of the faces of Lux.

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.”

Humaima cites yester year greats Smita Patel, Shabana Azmi and Rekha as inspirations. Among the newer lot she is all praise for the emotive skills of Rani Mukherji and Vidya Balan as “they are not just about mere glamour.” She is also currently taking time out of her hectic schedule to continue her studies in Karachi, and hopes to get her BBA degree within two years. “I can’t even begin to tell you how important education is to me. Looks have a shelf life and I would like to quit while I’m at the top of my game,” she says.

Through it all, Humaima comes across as a sensitive person finely tuned to her surroundings. “I’m very deep,” she admits quietly. “I’m 24 but I think like I’m 45. I think it’s because I took on responsibility at a tender young age.”

Although the going is good for her now, she experienced personal turbulence early on in life. But she says she has “learned from the experience and everything happens for a reason — I believe you need to be pure, and if you have faith in God and your intentions are good then everything turns out well, eventually.

“My divorce happened while I was shooting for Bol, and it left me completely shattered. I felt like I could not go on. But I promised myself that I would not walk away from the sets of the film. I felt like I had been vindicated when Bol was released and the accolades started pouring in,” she says.

“I am a very positive person who looks forward to things in life. I believe in karma and the law of attraction — if my intentions are honest and I want good things for other people, then good things are bound to happen to me. I have fulfilled all my dreams, and now I am living my dream,” she says with conviction. “Take it from me — as long as you trust in yourself you can make all your dreams come true.”

Humaima Malick, of course, is living proof of it. After all, nothing succeeds like success.