By Muhammad Asad Ullah
The theatre actress, who made her television debut with Urdu 1’s drama serial Mere Humdum Mere Dost and later shot into prominence with premier entertainment channel Hum TV’s Mausam — both in 2014 — was recently anointed as a ‘new sensation’ at Hum Awards Pakistan.
The awards are an annual affair to recognise the talent of the television industry.
While there’s no dearth of talent in the industry, it won’t be erroneous to list Hareem Farooq as one of a select few who have successfully made the transition from theatre to television whilst also making grounds in Pakistan film industry.
The 25-year-old’s ethereal beauty and passion for acting paved the way for her to enter the film industry when she burst into limelight with renowned playwright Anwar Maqsood’s critically acclaimed Pawnay 14 August. That play was the scriptwriter’s first theatre play and Hareem’s acting prowess was appreciated by the audience even though she didn’t have the main role. Nowadays, she is busy with the second spell of Mehreen Jabbar’s Dobara Phir Se in Karachi which will be the director’s comeback to films after her debut flick Ramchand Pakistani (2008).
Penned by Bilal Sami, the film features Hareem with Adeel Hussain and Sanam Saeed in the lead roles and looks to be a youthful movie, revolving around love, friendship and growing up.
“Parallel cinema, theatre, television or anything, as long as you’re confident about your talent and what you’re doing, you are always game to cut it,” says Islamabad’s Hareem, who is no stranger to the pages of local Pakistani newspapers in an exclusive interview with Community .
Not delving too much into DPS, her forthcoming film after Siyaah, the actress appears confident of doing even better at parallel cinema. “It’s all about working hard. Whatever the platform, you have to give your hundred percent to excel, putting all your doubts to rest about how different one medium is from another,” says Hareem.
The list of actors joining Bollywood industry is rising with every passing year. From heartthrob Fawad Khan, who won the Filmfare award for the Best Debut Actor Male in 2014 to awaiting his upcoming film Kapoor and Sons opposite Student of the Year stars Alia Bhatt and Sidharth Malhotra to Mawra Hocane, Pakistan’s latest export to Bollywood in Sanam Teri Kasam is something Hareem looks at with interest and optimism.
“All of us as actors, producers or directors, I think would love to get a chance and work in a bigger industry than ours — it definitely broadens your vision. Many actors have been gaining experience and eventually putting that to good use back home,” she adds.
Hareem however, thinks the sky is the limit. “Let’s just not restrict ourselves to Bollywood; we have actors who have worked in Hollywood as well.”
When it comes to profile, only a few actors can boast that they have gone from theatre to making it big on television and cinema — Hareem is one. Nothing seems to faze the young actress, who’s humble about her versatility.
“For me, theatre is like an addiction, once you’re on stage, you’re getting instant feedback. You have rehearsed for may be five to six months and your product of two hours is coming alive on stage that very moment. And when you get good feedback that’s the moment you’ve worked so hard for,” elaborates the young star.
Although her first feature film Siyaah didn’t do well at the box office, it didn’t stop the actress from getting offers for local TV dramas. Ever since, she has only strengthened her position, churning out one commendable performance after another.
“Theatre is a very good foundation for any actor to learn skills which are further enhanced when you’re on screen for television or film; in theatre, you have exaggerated body language than television or cinema.”
The actress was clear from her childhood what she wanted to be. “From the very start, I knew I would be an actor, but couldn’t really figure out how it was going to happen. I was doing law when I got an opportunity to do theatre. I still remember the first time I stepped on stage and instinctively knew, this is what I wanted to do.”
The Pakistani beauty stands out as a rare female lead who seems to have bucked the trend of appearing in revealing attire. In a highly commercialised industry many would consider that an achievement, but she concedes that the attire doesn’t really count once an actor is giving his or her best onscreen. Despite Pakistanis making their mark in Bollywood in the last few years, there appears to be no real initiative for joint ventures. Hareem is however, pleasantly surprised to know how much people in both the industries want to work together. “They have the resources, but we have an unmatched dedication to work — a reflection of which is how coveted our television serials are in India,” Hareem says.
She heartily concedes to being a big fan of Pakistani star Mahira Khan, the only mother who has featured as the female lead in both Indian and Pakistani films.
Hareem thanks all her fans in the Gulf who have been following her still young career. Responding to a question about how aspiring youngsters could also make the cut, she is unequivocal about the wages of hard work.
“Work hard, keep your intentions true and never compare and envy others. Let your work speak for yourself!”
She also has a word for Indians watching Pakistani TV plays. “Please keep loving and backing us and let’s make this world a better place as undoubtedly we’re the same people living on two sides of the border!”
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