Business graduate-turned-actor Armeena Rana Khan is slowly becoming a household name in Pakistan, thanks to her appearance in dramas such as Happily Married and Shab-e-Aarzoo Ka Alam.
Apart from being the poster girl for Nisha Lawn by Nishat in 2011-2012, Khan has completed a film in Bollywood called It’s Too Much, which is slated to release by the end of this year and has also featured in a short British documentary titled Writhe, which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival this year.The actor talks about how she ventured into acting and her future projects.
You have worked as a model and an actor abroad and are now working in Pakistani dramas, what do you think describes you the best?
I am an actor first and foremost. I consider myself fortunate to be able to work in the global market. I have just premiered with Writhe at Festival de Cannes and have also worked in the Middle East, India and Pakistan. So, for me I am not defined by the geographical location as much as by the projects I take up.
Having worked abroad, do you think enough is being done to promote the art of acting in Pakistan?
No, definitely not. I have seen the investment other countries put into their creative industries and I realised this more at Cannes, where I was able to touch base with delegations of countries that I work in including India, Britain, Canada, UAE — all except Pakistan. It was indicative of the lack of understanding in Pakistan about the real value of its cultural output and development. You can build all the armies in the world and have all the economic successes, but at the end of the day, all great civilisations are known by their cultural legacies. What do you see when you think about the Greek, Roman, Mogul or British Empires at their zenith? Philosophy, literature, architecture and music come to mind.
This is the ultimate self-expression that Pakistanis can hope to make to the world, if they want what is dear to them, to survive and prosper.
Who were your inspirations when you were growing up?
I would like to say (Nelson) Mandela, (Marilyn) Monroe or (Mahatma) Gandhi, but the truth is, when you are growing up the real inspirations are the ordinary people around you. Your teachers, friends and family, normal people that you read or hear about overcoming obstacles and going for their dreams. These are the things that change everything for you. It could be as little as a teacher who believes in you or a friend who listens or a parent who supports you unconditionally when you mess up. These are true inspirations for me. Of course, as you enter your professional life you seek to emulate role models who you come to know for being dedicated to their craft.
When you aren’t acting, what do you do to relax?
Relaxation — what is that? This job can be quite tough. I always seem to be either travelling, preparing for a role or on set. This means I sacrifice routine, sleep and comfort that I used to take for granted before. It is important for me to press the reset button and get ready for the next challenge. I do this by catching up with friends and family. I try to sleep and exercise. I am into fun things like camping, travelling, rock climbing so I try and squeeze these activities in whenever possible.
Do you believe there is a market for indie or art dramas like films in Pakistan?
I am not sure. There isn’t much of a culture or an infrastructure to support an indie scene here. Unless and until there is funding and competitive events to showcase such work with commensurate rewards, we will struggle. But there may be hope with my generation using the internet, to appeal to global audiences and see how good our work is, in comparison to other young artists around the world.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2013.