Actors often wax eloquent about how certain projects and timeline impacted their lives, but Iqra Aziz means it. Her breakout role for television with premiere entertainment channel, HUM Tv’s Kissey Apna Kahein (2014) is only half the story of her success, the other, and more significant half is Iqra’s fierce energy that has been her bedrock support in the struggling industry. She started her career when she was just 14.
In the flesh, the actress is at once ordinary and extraordinary swaddled as she was in a tangerine cashmere V-neck. You might pass her in the corridor and not realise until some moments afterwards that she was the same girl who played the cheeky Jiya in the successful serial Suno Chanda (2018). She is slight in physique at 5ft 3in and takes a dress size 8. She is neither taut nor diva-honed; her hair is straight, short and thick to the top of her shoulders. She wears no make-up or look-at-me accoutrements, so she is bare of necklaces and rings. Just a nail polish and black shades. Thwarting fame is a tiring work. Describing the aftermath of her first television gig, Iqra says, “My mother was a makeup artist and she took part in one of the makeup competitions on a morning show. She had no female model to take to the show and that’s how I came into the picture. I volunteered for her and Waqar Hussain, makeup artist, spotted me there. He asked me if I was interested in pursuing modelling or acting professionally and I was. So he referred me to his couple of friends at Citrus Talent and luckily things just shaped up. I did a couple of television commercials with them before landing up a role on a drama serial.”
The 20-year-old who’s having a very successful year with hit television dramas such as Khaamoshi (2018), Tabeer (2018) and the massively popular Suno Chanda (2018), all on HUM TV, already has six years of experience and 15 television dramas under her belt. Nominated for the Most Stylish Television Actress at HUM Style Awards 2018, Iqra recently appeared in Suno Chanda alongside Farhan Saeed, that did exceedingly well, taking over the primetime viewership during Ramadan. “We had only two months to shoot 32 episodes which had to go on air every day,” she said in a statement. “We had to shoot up to 19 scenes per day and work till three to four in the morning. It was done in a complete panic.”
Although Suno Chanda Season 2 is already in the works, Iqra is also looking forward to making her silver screen debut soon as she goes through the scripts, juggling between a tortuous decision whether to sign it or not. “I’m looking forward to an extremely well written script. Story does matter, but all of it goes in vain if the script is not written to detail. I want something that can give me goosebumps just by reading it. So, let’s see,” she says.
On talking about the Pakistani film industry that has seen a bit of a revival lately, Iqra believes it’s team work that drives the industry in raising the bar for quality and content. “It’s not only dependent on the actor. It’s team work. From a DOP (Director of Production) to director and even the light guy – the work is interdependent, and the beauty comes out on screen when it’s all perfectly synchronised.” She adds, “We can only produce a film of international appeal when we have a team working closely with each other, employing professional skills and expertise. It’s a team work that’s going to ultimately contribute to revolutionise the Pakistan film industry. It’s not a one man show.”
So how does she find inner peace? Is there something she does to get away from all the action in her life?
“I unwind every day. After working non-stop for thirteen hours or more, I just spend time with myself and people in my life, people who matter – other than people who are there for me just because I’m an actress,” says the young starlet.
Drawing a parallel between Bollywood and fledgling Pakistani film and drama industry, Iqra says, “We have a thriving drama industry here and a fledgeling film industry, whereas in India they have such longstanding and huge film industry. There’s no comparison really.
“I think in Pakistan we are living in a bubble. Someone comes up and takes a few snaps with you and you start thinking you’re a star. No love! You’re not a star. A television commercial actor in India gets that kind of fame and stardom that we get here.
“The thing is, they have a huge fan following and they have worldwide viewership. Well the best thing about the Indian film industry is the unity they possess and unfortunately, we don’t. And the moment we start pulling each other up, it’s going to change the game.”
Iqra Aziz will be performing on HUM Style Awards 2018 for the first time.
IN THE MIDST OF A PURPLE PATCH: Iqra Aziz with Farhan Saeed, right, during the shooting of Suno Chanda (2018), a TV serial that did exceedingly well, taking over the primetime viewership during Ramadan.