Actress, Model, and Mother Kiran Malik talks to Tahira Khan about her captivating role in the new Pakistani action movie Zaraar, she opens up about her intellectual film choices, projects, and future travel plans
You were working in the HR industry before you got into modeling and moved to Dubai before you got into acting. Tell me about the similarities of your roles in both Pinky Memsaab and Zaraar?
Zaraar was supposed to be my first debut movie but then there was a delay of about a year for Zaraar to be released and in that space of time, I was offered Pinky Memsaab and then it released Zaraar. So there was a bit of switching around with the timings.
The type of roles that you signed up for in both movies are very intellectual and very similar, what element is it about the script and role that motivates you to sign these kinds of roles?
In Pinky Memsaab I am a writer, and in this, I’m a journalist.
For me, if my character has to leave a bit of a lesson or something to the public, who are watching it, I don’t want to come and just look pretty that’s not enough for me. I would like to do that as well don’t get me wrong, but ideally, I have to leave some kind of mark behind, so that when people reflect on my character, they know that it wasn’t anyone coming along and doing a special appearance or a song and then gone. Character is really important to me and even Pinky Memsaab, it was about a middle-aged woman who supports and lifts another being. This was meant to be my big acting role coming up in a commercial sense, but I still took that role because in that film the characters are so strong and relatable to ex-pats, because I am an ex-pat myself too. Normally whenever I see a script, I read my character, how it reacts or it revolves around the script. In Zaraar I’m playing the journalist who has a lot of layers, who thinks that being bad is okay because this is how society works and then realising at some point that, this isn’t true because easy money given can be very easily taken as well and the lessons she learns in that space gives me every reason to do that role, so I guess for my character, and its grip is very, very important, even if it’s for ten minutes, I don’t mind as long as it leaves a mark behind. The character in the script, and revolving descriptors are important, I totally do less but do the right thing.
What’s it like living in Dubai and being in the Pakistani film industry?
Everyone is really pulling their weight and doing an amazing job but, because I don’t live in Pakistan getting work is not that easy because I’m not in the market or easily accessible.
It’s hard, you know, I have to struggle sometimes but still very grateful that God has been very kind and I’ve been given some great scripts. I wouldn’t want to do less. I would like to do more if there is more of the type of work available that interests me.
Whatever I choose, the story has to be more important than my own role in the film. In Zaraar, I have a very important role to play in the film and I’m the main lead, but it was the whole story at large.
Who is your inspirational role model in the entertainment industry?
In Hollywood, my favourites are George Clooney and Robert De Nero and in Pakistan, I would say Noman Ijaz is an excellent actor and I wish I could work one day with him, but I can’t forget Shaan my co-star also because he’s the one who groomed me and made me who I am now as an actor. So you know not only he is an excellent actor, but an excellent human being. I think Pakistan has some insanely talented people and they’re all unheard and unseen and they need to come out. I don’t watch dramas that often and for us, drama is bigger than films and literally there is this whole new emerging of amazing talent.
You’ve performed a love song in the movie Dum Mastam as well how did that come into fruition?
It’s Adnan Siddiqui’s film and he is a very dear friend of mine, he was one of the first few people many years back who said, you should start acting and believed that I was made for the big screen. He always told me to audition or do something, but I was just busy in my nine to five job back then so I didn’t give it that much importance. But then he made this film and he asked me to do a song. It’s a beautiful song and I’m just playing an actress in the film and it’s a beautiful love song. I’ve never danced, but he had all the choreography.
If you were offered an item song. Would you accept it?
No, no and even the song I did in Dum Mustam was not an item song it’s a love song. It’s a big set and I am just an actress who is just dancing around an actor and it’s really nicely done. But no, I would never do an item number, I don’t appreciate them and I don’t like them. .
During your shootings, I heard that you had to go through the mill and that you chose to be bruised naturally rather than fake it with make-up, tell me about that incident?
The bruises are the beauty of Shaan himself being such a raw director and actor. He likes things to be as raw as much as possible.
We had a torture scene and we had twelve days of shooting. I had to take a day off, so I went to the spa and had some pampering done and then when I walked into the shoot Shaan was sitting there in a dark room waiting and I showed him my mani and Pedi all excited, he was so not interested and he said so seriously “you do realise you have a torture scene coming up right”? You’re getting all this done but right now you need to lie on the dirty floor and just roll around, I was like no way, he said, Yes way, you have to do it and I’m not kidding either. So I had to roll around in the dust and get thrown about and the next morning when I woke up, I had bruises so my mother called up and asked if everything was okay.
Well, I am glad you had that spa day in between because otherwise it just would have been hell. How did you feel about the crying scene where Nadeem sahib had to talk about your father in front of a live audience to make you cry? How was that for you?
I was given a script a day before normally Shaan would go through the script on the day and he gives me the space to revise. That day he gave me the script a day before so I knew that there is something really important coming up. I read the script, and I was like, okay, this is a very strong scene, but it’s very emotional. But I couldn’t cry, even after reading the script and crying in front of a mirror at home and in the morning event, and as Shaan said that I will have an audience and we can’t see without the audience because I would like to see their reaction. It wasn’t even a paid audience; it was a normal curious audience. Shaan asked, so tell me what did you do in the morning? So I actually went to my father’s grave because he passed away only a year ago and I went to say some prayers before my shoot because I knew I was doing the scene. He started talking about it the relationship between a father and daughter and I’m not kidding that was the moment it happened and I burst out crying. Shaan just said to everybody stop everything we’re starting to see emotion now.
Shaan took me to the level that I couldn’t stop crying it was like zero to a hundred in a second.
How do you juggle being a full-time mother and work?
I’ve always been working and Iman my daughter was very much used to me being a very social person. She would go to Fashion Week’s with me and very involved with me. So you know, I tell my nanny to bring her along she’ll come and sit with me.
I had two miscarriages and it was one of those moments in your life when your life just stops and you just pause. I took a year and a half off from work but then I was back to work but now she is you know, she’s old enough to look after herself Alhamdulillah. My family support has always been there and I wouldn’t be able to do everything without them. But working mothers have to tell their kids that this is how they live and this is what it has to be like. But it’s about finding the right balance in your life.
How are the attitudes of Pakistani’s towards women especially, mature actresses? Has it evolved recently?
The way of thinking has definitely changed in recent times. People are really in the fence and you know in parallel cinema, which is excellent. So, but I think we still have a backlog of daily thinking that an actress has to be circular DNA. A girl who might be enough in her late 30s But they show that she is in her 20s. So an actor should be associated with being an actor and actors can be any age. Why do we have to bound ourselves to just one certain age limit? Actors, we can do anything? Sometimes you take a twenty-five-year-old look like a 45 year old or 50 year old and put colour in the head. That’s the mindset we need to just come out of. I think we are on it. I think I think there is definitely a shift going on.
What, what countries and cultures are you most inspired by and where would you like to travel to next?
I love travelling you can see London is my second home and I’ve lived there for fourteen years. So that’s always been my second home. Pakistan has my heart and it’s the city I was born and brought up so yeah I’m a proper proud Punjabi.
Paris has my heart and would love to visit Bali. I would also like to go to Iran to go and see whatever is happening in Iran because it’s very sad, but otherwise, I really like every culture and every country you go you learn so much from it. You can’t get stuck to one culture.
I was also planning to visit Japan with Iman just before COVID happened. oh and that reminds me about Korea. I just love Korean fashion and there’s so much stuff to explore still.
Your also taking part in a new drama serial what other projects are on the cards?
I’ve just done a comedy film and previously I just thought that I wouldn’t be a comedy person but I thoroughly enjoyed it. So I don’t have any kind of agenda, as long as the script and character are strong and any kind of character is that which is offered to me. If I read a book in five years, it has to be close to my heart. I just do not want to make money it needs sentimental value too.
I am also starting a drama next year and I wouldn’t say that it’s different from the rest of the stories you’ve seen. I’ll be very blunt and honest. But my character again in the drama is even if I am playing something negative it’s trying to say a deeper message
so it’s very reality-based and that will start in January.