ISLAMABAD: With only a handful of projects to her credit, Noor Khan is already creating quite a stir. The wide-eyed beauty has acquired a considerable following across Pakistan, due in part to her resemblance to Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland.
But that’s not all. By now, Noor has worked with some of the biggest banners of Pakistani television, walked the ramp for the biggest designers in Pakistani fashion and even shared the screen with Fawad Khan recently – all in a very short span of time.
Though she claims to be “bad at interviews,” beneath Noor’s naivety lays a very opinionated voice. For starters, take the example of her elder sister Sarah, also an actor, who debuted long before Noor. The youngster says she lets her work speak for itself, even though she has been accused of nepotism time and again.
“Yes, nepotism does exist. Sarah was an established actor when I joined the industry but it’s not only (aimed at) a newcomer,” Noor tells The Express Tribune. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve just started or you’ve been in the industry for long… I don’t see it ending anytime soon. But it doesn’t affect me. To be honest; it doesn’t really favour or harm you. I truly believe that if your work speaks for itself, everybody would want to work with you, regardless of anything that’s being said.”
Noor made her debut with a supporting role in Preet Na Kariyo Koi, alongside Ahsan Khan and Hira Mani. She then took a brief sabbatical before returning to work like there is no tomorrow. “I left right after doing my first serial. I didn’t really understand the craft then and I didn’t like my director. He was very hard on me and I took it personally,” she admitted. “I had an awful first experience.”
But it wasn’t in vain. Working on Preet Na Kariyo Koi made Noor realise one needs a lot of patience to work in showbiz and that she didn’t really have it at that point in time. “I was also at an age where I wasn’t too young or too old, so it was confusing. I wanted to come out as a heroine but I realised I needed time,” she said. “I wanted to work on myself as well, polish my acting-skills and learn to be more patient. Most importantly, I realised that to achieve something in life, I had to step out of my comfort zone.”
“For the next two years, I really focused on building myself and luckily, got a lead role in a serial some time later. It was a chance I seized and I’m glad I got to do it,” Noor added. “For a year now, I’ve been working non-stop and I’ve found great people to work with. I’ve garnered a lot of great experiences. And it’s now that I’ve realised there’s so much more I want to do! I’ve just started off and I’m sure there’s a lot more. I’m working hard, I’m getting into one project after the other and it’s paying off.”
Female participation, both in front of and behind the camera has been increasing, especially with campaigns like #MeToo and #TimesUp pledging to create safer and just work-places. Here in Pakistan, films and drama serials are frequently criticised for regressive storylines which portray women as the weak. But the call to empower them on celluloid is definitely bringing about a change. One wonders if that makes now a good time to be an actor today.
But to Noor, there is never a right time to be in showbiz. “Female participation has increased but I don’t think there’s ever a right time to be in the industry. It’s not that today the opportunities for girls have increased. Competition still exists, and it’s everywhere, but I find it really fun,” she commented. “Not that I want to compete with anyone since I consider myself my greatest competition. But I try to become a better performer with every character I do, and that’s all that matters. With more women involved, I do believe there will be even better work now and I really like seeing well-educated people in the industry.”
According to Noor, the current crop of Pakistani talent is helping the industry evolve for the better, with innovative storylines and modern character arcs. Some of her own recent work is reflective of that. From Kitni Girhein Baqi Hain to starring in Pakistan’s first musical tele-film, the 22-year-old has been exploring genres herself and firmly believes that new-blood can bring about the desired change in the industry.
“I do feel that there’s some great work being produced and new people are entering the industry. I think it’s in transition right now. In the last couple of years, a lot of people have come forth and that’s fantastic! I really appreciate seeing new faces, and I really like when producers and directors want to work with them,” Noor maintained. “People want to watch new talent. I, as a viewer, stop changing the channel when I see somebody fresh on TV. I’m not saying old actors should leave – they have their own place. But I’m glad to see such an influx of talent.”
Currently shooting two separate serials simultaneously, Noor is still contemplating her cinematic debut but very sure of the kind of characters she wants to play. “I’ve been picking the characters that I feel will help me give out a message. All I seek is the purpose of my character in a script and what she has to say,” she said, when asked how she picks her projects. “I might just sign my first movie this year too. I had no plans to because I believe you can’t have conditions on a film-set. You have to do what you’re required.”
Having said that, Noor is adamant against dancing, showing skin or doing intimate scenes on screen. “I’m just not comfortable with it. It’s funny how I’ve been offered three movies already, in a year’s time, and I’ve said no each time. But with the growing industry, if I get something that I feel I can do and it makes me as well as the viewers happy then…”
‘Breaking Through 2018’ is a series of interviews with promising female artists that are to be kept an eye out for.
Have something to add to the story? Share it in the comments below.