“I am extremely charged for 2019”
Right from her debut drama, Kichri Salsa, Mawra Hocane had audiences enthralled with her unrehearsed ease in front of the camera. The movies Sanam Teri Kasam and JPNA2 further positioned her as an actress with a new age vibe and an old-world sensibility. This interesting contrast made her the new ‘it girl’. Her recent television drama, Sammi has further honed and showcased her acting skills. She is undoubtedly one of the top actresses of our country today.
Mawra has recently taken a break to pursue her LLB degree, and to spend time with her family in Sydney. This phase of voluntary break brought in enriching moments of epiphany that changed her forever. She realised that her adventure with her art is incomplete without the joys of the heart. That there’s a life beyond the arc lights, where you come home to love, family, friends and lots of laughter. She has not only undergone a physical revamp but some soul rejuvenation as well. Happiness is now her only pursuit, be it professional or personal. With a new television drama opposite Adeel Hussain in 2019 and currently appearing in the highly-anticipated drama Aangan, she’s set her sights on a smashing innings. Yes, Mawra Hocane truly believes in herself!
“My responsibility is to inculcate love as much as I can on social media”. You said this in an interview when you won the Social Media Sensation Award at Masala! Awards 2017. How are you spreading the love?
Mawra Hocane: As the saying goes, “practice what you preach”. I would like to believe that I conduct myself in a way that encourages everyone around me to be kind. Whether on social media or in person, I have always tried to emphasise the importance of compassion and how much the world needs it. My bio [on Instagram] says, “Love is the answer”, and it truly is.
You recently said in a talk show that magazines/newspapers glorify trolls by writing about them. Please elaborate.
MH: It’s true. If it wasn’t for the publications and magazines glorifying that one troll out of thousands writing good, encouraging comments, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. But I guess all they care for is clickbait. Negative news spreads like wildfire but we have to, as a community, stop mocking each other’s personality and appearance, and be above that. There’s a line between trolling and criticism, and we must not cross that.
The year 2018 was a great one for you; Sammi did so well, Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 (JPNA 2) was a blockbuster at the box office and you were busy filming Aangan. All of these projects had an ensemble cast. Was it difficult to work with other leading ladies or do you enjoy a good rapport with Kubra, Sarwat and Sajal?
MH: It’s not difficult. I think we are all mature enough to co-exist. People feed on gossip, so all kinds of stories are made, but pitting actors against each other is so 1970s. Such questions need to change. To be honest, it makes my heart swell with pride when a fellow actor does well for it would benefit the industry I call ‘home’. It was indeed a great year and I am extremely charged for 2019.
“After Kheech Meri Photo released, I remember how things changed overnight for me. ”
You were quick to switch from playing an urban girl in JPNA2 to the girl next door in the pre-Partition era in Aangan. How do you prepare for your roles, especially a challenging one that has been set in a different time period?
MH: Most of my preparation ends at reading scripts, my true task starts once I’m on set. I’m a director’s actor, the more time I spend with them working on my script and the personality of the character, the better it [my performance] comes out. I’m only as good as my director, and I’ve been lucky to work with some of the best directors we have. Whether it’s an urban girl or a village girl, it’s always equally hard.
Shooting Aangan has been a long process; we shot for over a year. It has taken most of my time and energy. I really hope and pray that everyone loves it just as hard as we have worked on it.
How did you feel when you got the call from Bollywood for Sanam Teri Kasam?
MH: I didn’t know at that time that it would change my life, so it felt like any other project but after Kheech Meri Photo (one of the songs from the movie) released, I remember how things changed overnight for me. It’s been amazing since.
The critics say that Pakistani actors come back from Bollywood more groomed and confident. Do you think they know how to get the best out of our actors?
MH: I think the magnitude of the films [there] is such that we are exposed to a bigger world, and that is the big difference. It grounds us and at the same time we learn so much from another industry, so it could be true but I am not too sure. Actors like Fahad Mustafa or my sister Urwa, who haven’t been to Bollywood, are also terrific at their jobs and such big stars, so I don’t think we need to label it.
Your love for Ranbir Kapoor has been all over social media, and then Neetu Kapoor became a fan of your work and even invited you over for dinner. Being admired for your craft by fine actors such as herself is always a bonus, is it not? Tell us more about your interaction with her.
MH: It felt surreal. Neetu aunty commented on my Instagram and I obviously thought it’s a fake account but then she called my producers and invited me home where I met her family, which is full of stars right, left and centre. The fact that she had watched whatever little work I had done at that time felt nice! I hope to work harder and get blessings from all such legends. Even Sri Devi ma’am was so kind to me regarding my work and how I looked at Masala! Awards. It’s heartbreaking that she isn’t among us anymore.
Do you enjoy the songs and dances in the movies? How was it shooting for your first song Aaya laariye in JPNA2? You looked stunning in a pink lehenga choli by ace designer Manish Malhotra while shooting it…
MH: Much earlier than I realised what I wanted to be I used to picture myself in different songs in my head. I was an absolute daydreamer. Aaya laariye was a massive hit song even before it was a part of my film. I was thrilled, even though I feel I could’ve performed better. Then again, one is learning every day. It was exciting to collaborate with Manish Malhotra, he’s a legend of couture. Thanks to him I looked great!
You have become a style icon in the past two years. Fellow colleagues, from Mahira Khan to Sheheryar Munawar, are all praise for your looks on the red carpet at various award shows and during promotions of your films. Stylists and make-up artists are key players of an actress’s team. Is it difficult to be always on top of the style game?
MH: Really? That’s sweet. Mahira has my heart. I think she admires me a tad-too much, and she’s super amazing herself. I feel so emotional to witness how she has represented Pakistan at Cannes and many other platforms globally. I love dressing up and I think that’s what results in such looks. Also, I have an amazing team of stylists – Mavi Kayani, Haiya Bokhari, AniaF, Rao Ali Khan, Vibhuti Chamria, and a few others who work tirelessly to make the looks work.
Do you remember the time when you first said to yourself, “I have arrived and there is no looking back”?
MH: I don’t think actors, or anyone for that matter, thinks like that. We only realise what we have achieved when we are asked questions about it in interviews. I have a long way to go till I feel like I’ve arrived, even though getting asked such questions and all the recognition is flattering!
Reema-ji is a legend. You both performed on Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan sahab’s song at the Lux Style Awards 2017. The performance became the highlight of the night. Was rehearsing and performing with her fun?
MH: It was so enriching, almost unbelievable to perform with and even to be a Lux girl alongside such a legend. It was beautiful! Being a Lux girl means so much to me because it has a legacy of such magnanimous stars endorsing it in the past.
Sheheryar Munawar and you have a great friendship. The ‘One’ fashion campaign brought out great chemistry on-screen. Why haven’t you worked in a film or serial together yet? The pairing will be fun, we think!
MH: We haven’t gotten offered anything good enough together as yet. ‘One’ was a great idea, so we did it. If something as good comes up again, I’m sure we’d do it, Insha Allah.
How is it being part of a family with such talented artistes like Farhan Saeed and Urwa? Do you guys discuss work and take advice from each other?
MH: It is overwhelming that my siblings are such big stars. I’ve seen crowds of thousands chant my brother-in-law’s name. I’ve seen millions admire Urwa for Udaari and [for playing] Durdana, and now I am so thrilled for her upcoming film Tich Button. They’re both such amazing human beings and I’m so blessed to have them unconditionally and forever. Of course, I take advice from them, and I think being with each other helps us stay grounded and extremely happy, Alhamdulillah. Urwa has always protected me as I am her little one but now I have an amazing brother too!
What are your plans for 2019? Any interesting projects in the pipeline?
MH: Yes, I am starting a shoot for a new project for Hum TV. I am sure everyone will be excited to see [me in] another fresh pairing but I’ll leave it to the makers to announce it. The year has only just begun, I am sure it has a lot more in store. I am also going for my higher studies to London. God willing, I should be a barrister soon!
MAWRA HOCANE – UNRESERVED
The last text you sent?
“Lol. Good night. Love you too.”
A hashtag that describes your life?
A social media account that we must follow…
Mine. It’s always interesting and I don’t forget posting.
A must-have app on your phone?
Pakistan Citizen Portal by Imran Khan.
Twitter; it’s my daily dose of news.
TV show you love right now…
I am binge-watching FRIENDS all over again.
Last book you read
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.
Who do you think would be perfect to play you in your biopic?
I’m too young to even believe that I’ll have a movie on my life. May be a few years later you can ask me this again.
Favourite fictional character…
The characters from the book Forty Rules of Love. I’d like to meet them all, especially Ella and her lover friend.
What’s your favourite karaoke song?
Teri meri aisi dosti or any other Nazia Hassan song.
Last movie you saw?
I watched You and A Walk to Remember again.
Last holiday destination you went to?
Last thing you bought…
A pair of heels. I love buying shoes.
Best thing you can cook?
Chocolate cake and pizza. I can make the best tea in the world.
Favourite restaurant in Pakistan?
Jessie’s and Gaia for sushi and ambience.
Dream dinner party guest…
It’s better they stay in the dreams.
Favourite fashion capital…
Depends on what kind of fashion we’re talking about. If it’s desi attires, Lahore makes the best of those. If it’s casual wear, I’d say London. I’m anyway not too big on trending fashion.
Favourite star style icon?
Your biggest fear?
To disappoint my loved one or my fans.
Celebrity dream date…
Uh…you know this one. Ranbir Kapoor.
Best gift you ever received?
Some well-thought-out notes to go with Lilies and all the gifts my siblings have given me. They’re the best!
Be kind and have courage.
Word or phrase you say the most…
“Hain na”, asking for validation on everything I say.
Rank them in order of acting ability:
Adeel Hussain, Mikaal Zulfiqar, Sheheryar Munawar and Bilal Ashraf
Mikaal, Adeel, Bilal and Sheheryar.
Alia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone and Kareena Kapoor
Deepika, Kareena and Alia.
Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh and Varun Dhawan
Ranbir, Ranveer and Varun.
Ayushmann Khurrana or Kartik Aaryan – The new Bollywood heartthrob
Ayushmann isn’t new but certainly a heartthrob.