Mehwish Hayat is no stranger to controversies but she sure knows how to handle trolls in the most graceful manner. The Load Wedding star came under scrutiny earlier for being conferred with the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz award. And, she didn’t pay heed to the negativity.
The actor knows how to hold her own and move forward in her career In a recent interview with Haroon Rashid of BBC Asian Network, Mehwish spilled the beans on career choices, onscreen life and conscious decisions.
Working in Bollywood
Many don’t know Mehwish was offered a number of films in Indian cinema. However, she has always refused to work across the border.
According to her, “It was a conscious decision that I wanted to stay here in my country and work for my Pakistani cinema.”
Mehwish was offered Huma Qureshi’s role in the Madhuri Dixit-Nene-starrer, Dairh Ishqiya and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s role in Fanney Khan.
Mehwish reportedly turned down the roles to prove her excellence in her home country. At the time tensions between Pakistan and India escalated, she revealed Pakistani artists are treated unfairly in Bollywood.
“You cast us in a film and then not let us promote it or even attend the premiere,” she commented. “We aren’t given the respect we deserve in India. I rejected Dairh Ishqiya because I didn’t like one intimate scene with Arshad Warsi and they wouldn’t change or remove it. But I think everything happens for a reason, so I don’t regret anything.”
Befitting responses to trolls
The Punjab Nahi Jaungi actor believes she has become far more outspoken in the last couple of years.
“For the past two years, I have been very outspoken. I have realised that being an actress is not enough; I should use my voice for the causes I believe in,” she said. “It is all about being fearless, which I have always been with my roles and career choices. Why not raise my voice against issues that I feel strongly for? That’s why I have been very vocal about things and I am glad people respect that and listen to me.”
She continued, “Being a public figure I am used to trolling and criticism and it’s okay, everyone has their own opinion. However, questioning my character and credibility was crossing the line.”
‘Sleeping her way to the award’
Mehwish slammed haters for accusing her of “sleeping her way to the award”. She said, “My contribution to Pakistani cinema and art were overlooked and it was assumed that I slept my way to the award. That was crossing the line, I had to stand up and fight… No one can question my credibility and character, they don’t even know me.”
She added, “As artists we deserve respect and acknowledgement, and mindsets are changing but we still need to work on that mentality. We generate money. In 2017 our movies made around Rs2.5 billion and in 2018 approximately Rs5 billion, so it is a growing business that we’re all contributing to, to bring a softer image of Pakistan to the world. All we need is respect and acknowledgement.”
Endorsing what she believes in
“We belong to a very glamorous industry, it is all about glitz and glamour. We have to show some skin, we have to wear western clothes, I have to dance in Billi because I am an actor and that’s a character I am playing,” Mehwish remarked. “Being a part of this industry does not mean we have forsaken our morals. We, as artists are very emotional and sensitive.”
Meanwhile, Mehwish feels it is important to put an end to unrealistic beauty standards. Speaking about the prevalence of body shaming, she concluded, “I was young. I didn’t realise what these things meant and just saw glamour and beauty of something. As I matured mentally, I realised I should not endorse things that I don’t strongly believe in. I am not fair; I am wheatish and I love my complexion. Body shaming is something I want to work on. We need to put an end to unrealistic beauty standards.”
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