There has always been more to Meesha Shafi than meets the eye. Born in a family that has been associated with television for decades and a graduate of the National College of Art (NCA) herself, Shafi’s aesthetic sense and understanding of media seems accurate.
Her smooth transition to the big screen after signing on to Bilal Lashari debut thriller Waar and reports of her being casted in Mira Nair’s film adaptation of Mohsin Hamid’s bestseller The Reluctant Fundamentalist, has shown that this diva is multitalented and motivated.
“Acting is a medium that begins and ends with role playing. I believe an actor’s task is to bring depth and dimension from personal experience and expression to his or her character,” states Shafi. “That being said, nothing trains an actor like theatre. There is no margin for errors on stage because you are in front of a large, live audience. I believe that my years of theatre experience is coming in very handy and of course, the acting gene that may have been passed down to me from my mother.”
Speaking about her upcoming role in the Waar, Shafi says that the opportunity to play this role came to her by chance. The singer-cum-actor thinks that Lashari’s film will be unlike any other ever made in the history of Pakistani cinema, due to the fact that despite being an action film, it will still be a visual treat for the audience.
“It’ll be a breath of fresh air for our audiences and could, without a doubt, rub shoulders with any international action film. I can’t reveal my role without giving away the plot, but I can say that it’s a big departure from how women are usually portrayed on our screens,” says Shafi. “The role has come about because it was meant to. I believe that is how these things work. I rarely ever believe in making plans or designing career moves. If I ever was to have a motto it would be ‘Let the chips fall where they may’.”
The transition to films, however, does not mean that Shafi is emulating her NCA alumni Ali Zafar, who first made a mark through music but of recent has become famous for his Bollywood films. According to the “Jugni” singer, any transition that may take place in the future will be carefully reviewed.
“There is great, as well as substandard, work happening across the border. If a particular offer is enticing for any reason and catches my attention, I would love to be involved no matter where it originates from. But I wouldn’t jump at the chance to work in India just because it’s Bollywood,” explains Shafi. “Bollywood doesn’t always impress me, and unlike so many others, I don’t strive to incorporate Bollywood-ism into my lifestyle. I’d like to do projects that give one food for thought and are beautifully executed,” she adds.
As for her music career, the desire to produce quality music still seems evident as the singer has lots of tours and concerts in the pipeline. Currently at the Baba Fareed festival in India, Shafi expresses the wish to have a ‘fantastic’ Sufi concert. The singer has already released a single for an NGO to promote tourism in the Swat valley and has also been invited by TED X to perform at a musical event. In her spare time, Shafi is working on new music and is spending time in the recording studio. Despite this, she emphasises that she will not be rushing into new projects, as she strongly believes that this creativity leads to suffering in the end.
For the multitalented artist, the rule is simple: take things one at a time and strike a balance between family and work life. “I approach the future with nothing but hope and prayers for our country. It doesn’t matter how much one plans, the future of our careers depends on the future of Pakistan.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2011.