By Muhammad Asad Ullah
There are few Pakistan entertainment industry A-listers as prolific and, well, iconic, as Reema Khan. And not just in the performance category, for which she’s won countless awards. Reema, 47, has long been a beauty pioneer as well: That megawatt smile; those effortless blonde curls; and, of course, her all-natural philosophy has been turning heads since the ‘90s. Reema’s come a long, long way since she stepped out in her debut film Bulandi (1990) as a fresh faced Lollywood actress to today. Reema’s illustrious career lasted two decades in Lollywood and passed through almost 200 films, many of which were box office hits. In her journey from the lascivious dream girl of Punjabi movies to renowned personality, Reema Khan has learnt a lot. The lessons that she has learnt in life have helped her evolve and become an internationally recognised face for Pakistan, she accentuates in an online interview Speak your Heart with Samina Pirzada.
It was a laissez-fair beauty look on the show, snapped in a checkered maroon coat, the mother of one was best accompanied with bare, glowing skin and nude lips, no less—proving that age is just a number. For when it comes to stars like Reema, timeless beauty knows no boundaries.
The actress only dreamt of becoming popular but fate had so much in store for her. “When I auditioned for Bulandi, I was up against Madiha Shah, who had already acted in a few films, as well as Sahiba, who hailed from a film background and was very pretty. I was very sure that I wouldn’t be selected. Except my mother nobody at home even knew that I’ve gone for audition. But somehow things just worked out and I got selected out of the blue,” says Reema describing the aftermath of her first acting audition.
“I remember, one of the senior cameramen at the audition actually shaped my eyebrows with a blade because I had such masculine eyebrows. This is something I cannot forget,” she recalls with a 100-watt smile.
She is unabashedly proud of her acting repertoire; the bold Punjabi dances, the love songs, the glossier roles; all the many stepping stones that have managed to win respect and accolades for her today. On the personal front, she has worked hard enough to ensure that her three younger sisters and a brother studied in top schools and got comfortably settled in their lives. “Our family has seen financially hard times, after my father lost his job, and as the eldest sibling – I tried to understand the situation as much as I could. I never demanded anything from my parents for myself but wanted best for my younger siblings. I sacrificed, but that was the greater good,” she said.
That was then. This is now: Connecting the dots was a given. “I would like to confess this that nobody in the industry was there to guide me when I entered the show business. I was my teacher and student at the same time. I’ve done good and bad work. Bad work in a sense that films and projects that didn’t suit my personality. But how do I defend myself? If I wouldn’t have done those bad projects, I wouldn’t have known what’s right and good,” she adds, “There was a time of rat race where quantity was preferred in front of quality. A heroine’s role was diminished to a prop who has few songs and scenes. At that time, I did a film titled Ghunda Tax which was a super hit. My younger sisters watched that film and made me realise that it wasn’t the kind of work I should do. I did my last film in 2001 and then acted in two of my own productions, Koi Tujh Sa Kahan and Love Mein Ghum.” Talking about her television work and a hiatus of so many years, Reema said, “I just did one television drama but a serial and a film are totally different mediums. Serial is much painstaking. Well, whether it’s a big screen or a small screen. Your work should speak volumes,” she adds, “It is said that for every rise there is a fall but I don’t agree,”
Many people liken Reema to Madhuri Dixit. Reema has more or less trod a similar path. From moving to US when she was still acting in movies to making a comeback and keeping herself contained for the kind of roles she opt for. Reema says, “I feel honoured to be compared to Madhuri. When I was young, I was a huge fan of both Madhuri and Sridevi. I danced on Madhuri’s Ek do teen for my audition of Bulandi and then, in Bulandi, there was a classical dance sequence created in the same format as a dance by Sridevi in her movie Chandni.”
Is she now popular amongst her community in the US as Reema, the superstar? “I feel proud that sometimes people over there come to me and tell me that they wouldn’t mind if their daughters chose acting careers. Sometimes, they tell me that they want their daughters to be like me. That’s such a huge compliment.”
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