Kubra Khan speaks about her Desi Punjabi role in London Nahin Jaunga, contrary to her true London identity. Lets find out how desi she is?
You and Mehwish have had your real-life roles switched over completely, how did you feel about playing the role of the eastern Punjabi girl?
It was really interesting actually when Nadeem actually called me over in the office and he’s like, I’ve got this role and I want you to do. I know it’s not like you, but there are two girls in it, there’s one that’s a gori (English girl) and she’s from London, and there’s one that’s from the Punjab, so I assumed he was going to give me the London girl role, but then he totally threw me back when he came out and said and “Yeah by the way, I want you to do the Punjabi girl role”.
I was like whatttt? And asked are you sure? do you think I can do this role? He was so sure and without any hesitation he said just trust me you can do it. I didn’t know what the role or the script was at the time, but I was taken back yet intrigued at the same time. He said just trust the guideline, and I trusted him blindly, and I was really honoured that he trusted me fully too. I took a moment to take process it and said so you know what, let’s do this. But I did feel it could be a little tough for me to speak Urdu especially when I first started, but otherwise I was thinking now this is something new and exciting.
So how do you generally feel about the representation of women in Pakistani media as a British woman, personally, I have been watching Pakistani drama’s only as a way to educate myself and as a born and bred London girl, I try to connect and sympathize but I end up getting frustrated when I see the helpless woman who can’t do anything without a man or the female who’s made out to be the evil one. I think this isn’t a true representation and man this so needs to be rewritten.
So basically, we have two extremes in the past and it’s the unfortunate reality. One obviously, is the fact always like the majority of the woman who can’t stand up for herself the one, the sad oppressed one, right. But if she stands up for herself, she’s made out to be the evil one, or there’s the mischief-maker, or then
she was blamed for everything that goes wrong. However now we’ve got some scripts and even in LHJ just because one of them is because the girl dresses a certain way or just because girl standing up for herself. That’s not shown and portrayed as she’s evil one. Just because she takes care of herself, she stands up for herself and she’s vocal about her rights, it doesn’t mean that she’s negative in any way. Those days are now going and that’s in the past. What’s happening now is that script that we’re working on, they are more women empowering and the male producers are also supporting this and it’s amazing to see this change.
So tell me more about the Punjabi girl character that you have played?
Well, she knows what she stands for and she knows her own value and that’s been really important as well. I think that has been shown so beautifully through and through the movie, whether it’s my character or Mehwish’s character. We have also shown the contrary to when people don’t stand up for themselves and suffer the consequences, but the good thing is that in the future is changing.
What about the British woman? who’s portrayed negatively for being independent and vocal?
It’s funny because when I live in Pakistan, everyone says whatever you say you mean it, there’s no hidden agenda, nothing to guess and you’re just straight up.
Unfortunately, alot of the times what happens is that we have to read between the lines when someone is talking by what they are saying and what they are actually saying. So now the Pakistani people know that I’m just a jhalli and malang who does what she wants but doesn’t want to cause harm to anyone or anything. But in the drama’s and movies specifically speaking, the focus is more based on the reaction of people, more than the action itself for example, if I were to wear a tank top and somebody comes and they talk to me, normally, that’s fine if it’s ignored. But if I’m wearing a tank top and the same person comes upto me and acts shocked and says (astagfirullah) then naturally the third person is affected and naturally going to think, that wearing a tank top is a bad thing. But you know, the good thing is that this portrayal is slowly but surely going away and we are working on scripts that are refreshing and enlighten the knowledge on how to behave in certain scenarios and situations like that and changing that narrative.
As a British born Londoner I appreciate my identity and home country but I also value my parent’s country of origin and our Pakistani heritage, what do you appreciate about the UK and also Pakistan?
I’ve lived my entire life, to be honest I appreciate everything about my home country, I mean, I literally I feel like ripping off my apartment in Pakistan and bringing it here in the UK sometimes, but there are things about the Pakistani culture is that how everyone’s so warm and sweet, most of the time.
When I went to Pakistan for the first time, I realised that there’s lots of misconceptions getting a huge cultural shock. But it was the opposite for me and the kind of people I was around were really modernised and advanced in there way of thinking, but I guess they are just dealing with life in a lot of different ways then us dealing with life growing up in the UK. Sometimes, I think we are stuck in the time of when our parents left the country back in the 60’s and 70’s. But in Pakistan most people are advanced and modernised, they know how to do things, how to speak and everything else and we don’t need to pinpoint these things because they have learnt all this by observing the West constantly.
So what’s your dislikes about Pakistan and UK?
One of the dislikes about Pakistan is the weather and the immense heat and likewise in the UK is the constant bipolar rain especially outside London in the North. (Both laugh)