Momal Sheikh: Working in Bollywood is looked upon as a huge achievement in Pakistan family, wedding pictures, age, height, weight, biography
Till a few years ago, acting didn’t feature in her scheme of things and Bollywood was an unthinkable goal for Pakistani television actress Momal Sheikh. She was content being a producer in her father Javed Sheikh’s company till the acting bug bit her. But once it did, she was caught in the whirlwind that swept her off her feet. In a conversation with Bombay Times, Momal, who makes her debut in Hindi cinema with the upcoming romantic comedy ‘Happy Bhag Jayegi’ (HBJ), states why she isn’t competing with Pakistani actors in Bollywood and how star kids face a tough time back home. Excerpts…
Your father has been doing Hindi movies for a while now. What took you so long to debut here?
It is all about destiny. The makers were looking for a Pakistani actor who could play the character of Zoya with authenticity. My father suggested a few names and the makers did audition them, but kuch baat nahi bani. One day, director Mudassar Aziz found my pictures online. He got curious and inquired with my father. When I was approached for this film, I was doing television back home. Honestly, the script floored me. They wanted me to join the team at the earliest but I was in two minds. My husband, Nadir, helped me a lot during that time. He urged me to take up the role because he knew it is rare to get an infallible combination like this — a good script, great director and top filmmakers to back the movie. I’m glad I took it up because it was fun, positive and different. These are the kind of stories which are good for both countries.
Did you travel with your son, Ibrahim, when you were shooting in India?
No, I didn’t bring him along as it would’ve divided my attention. My son was barely two months old then and I wouldn’t have had the heart to leave him if it weren’t for my husband’s support. I had to keep going back after every schedule to be with my baby but everything went off smoothly.
Why did you turn down ‘Welcome Back’?
I was offered that film when I was pregnant. In fact, I had three Bollywood offers during that time and it was disheartening for me to say no to each of them. But I eventually got to do the movie which I liked the best. So, I have no regrets.
How different is the Pakistani film industry from Bollywood?
There is a huge difference in terms of quality. I have never done a Pakistani film before, but from what I can gauge Bollywood is relatively warmer and kinder. Here, people work like a family unit rather than professionals. After doing a Hindi film, I have matured as an actor.
Many Pakistani actors are doing Bollywood films these days. Do you this trend is going to catch up in the future?
Art is bringing the countries closer. The trend isn’t really a recent one, but I feel happy that finally the right kind of artistes are coming from across the border. Fawad Khan is brilliant and I feel proud when people ask me about his Pakistani shows. People like him have put the spotlight on our country and have set the bar high for all of us. Pakistani actors feel the same pride for Bollywood that Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra feel for Hollywood. Working in Bollywood is looked upon as a big achievement in Pakistan.
Does seeing more familiar faces in India make you feel at home?
It does. Last time when I was here, Mahira (Khan), Mawra (Hocane) and I would catch up almost every day after work. Initially, I was nervous about the idea of working here. But I have got so much love and attention that the place started feeling like home soon. Even senior actors don’t make you feel awkward. They ensure you have the confidence to perform well and help you enhance your scene.
What was your reaction when you heard about Qandeel Baloch’s death?
If we all stand up against honour killings and protect our women, maybe fewer people will have the audacity of pulling off such things. Killing people for an unwarranted reason is brutal and inhuman.
Do you feel you are competing with Fawad, Mahira or Mawra?
I don’t believe you can work with a sense of competition. Every actor is doing their best and trying to put Pakistan on the map. We all land projects based on our hard work and a little bit of luck. I am friends with Mahira, Mawra and Fawad. I can never be envious of Mahira just because she is working with Shah Rukh Khan. You can’t compete and compare because that sucks the fun out of work.
Do you have any reservations about doing bold scenes in films?
I would never give my nod for sex scenes, bikini scenes or kissing scenes. If we can create good stories without any explicit content, why not do it.
Momal Sheikh talks about star kids in Pakistan:
I am a self-made, strong woman. If my father wasn’t an actor and I wanted to become one, I still would’ve done what I wanted to do. But the hassles and repercussions would have been far too many. In that sense, I count myself lucky. Is it a privilege to be born into a film family? Unfortunately, that’s not how our industry works back home. In Bollywood, star kids are a unique lot but in Pakistan, they struggle like regular actors. Whatever my brother (Shehzad Sheikh) and I have accomplished in this field is due to our hard work. We had no help from anyone and it was really difficult for us to carve our own space. If star kids were as privileged in Pakistan as they are in India, all of us would be as famous as Fawad.
Listen to the songs of ‘Happy Bhag Jayegi’ on Gaana.com
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This article was originally published on http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/hindi/bollywood/news/-Momal-Sheikh-Working-in-Bollywood-is-looked-upon-as-a-huge-achievement-in-Pakistan/articleshow/53708532.cms