Only a few can perhaps recall a 17-year-old Aisha Khan, essaying the role of Sajjal on the acclaimed PTV drama serial Mehndi. And there are even fewer who would vouch for the effortless grace she depicted the character with. Even then, it was evident that Aisha was destined for stardom. While the serial became an instant hit, Aisha’s career ebbed and flowed over the years, up until Bilal Lashari’s Waar released in October 2013. Her performance as police officer Javeria took Pakistan by storm, listing her among the most sought-after stars of the industry.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, the now 32-year-old actor can’t help but gush about the unprecedented success of her first movie. “I always knew Waar would be a roaring success, but I never expected it to become as huge as it did,” admits Aisha. “After Mehndi, I had to work very hard to maintain my place in the industry. There’ve been many challenges, but luck was on my side for both my first play and film.”
One of the setbacks Aisha has had to face is the undue attention she received for the westernised accent she spoke with in Waar, which became a point of contention for critics of the movie. Many slammed her for trying to emulate American actors. The reality, however, couldn’t be farther from the truth. “I was born and raised abroad. I attended an American school and Canadian university. Waar was an English movie for which I was simply speaking in my natural accent. There was no pretending at all,” she clarifies. Fortunately for her, she isn’t one to get fazed by negative criticism. Her confident and indomitable nature is apparent in the way she puts her contemporaries to shame by confessing to being above 30 unabashedly. “I can’t lie about my age. There’s a tattoo on my arm that reads my birthday – ‘27th of September, 1982’,” she says.
With this fearless attitude, Aisha has been planning well into the future, having already completed work on her next project Jawani Phir Nahi Ani. The film is directed by Nadeem Baig of Dolly Ki Ayegi Baraat fame and is scheduled to be released on Eidul Azha. “It’s a genuinely funny film. Very classy and shooting it was so much fun,” shares Aisha. Even Bollywood may well be on her cards, seeing how she seems open to the idea of setting foot in the industry across the border. “Acting is my passion. I’m willing to prove my acting abilities anywhere, but there are some issues with Bollywood,” states Aisha. “I hail from a very conservative family that doesn’t promote dancing, on-screen intimacy and even wearing sleeveless outfits. Bollywood must respect my choices. Otherwise, there are plenty of options to pick from in Pakistan.”
Aisha’s eloquent discourse and natural, girl-next-door appeal lends credence to her upbringing. Family is of utmost importance to her and she prefers staying home with her parents over heading out. “I’m very domesticated at heart; a total daddy’s girl. My father is my strength and weakness. I have an elder brother and am very close to his wife and children.” But with fame comes trouble. For Aisha, it came in the form of alleged linkups with her male co-stars, such as Noman Ejaz, Humayun Saeed and Hamza Ali Abbasi. She puts the conjecture to rest, jesting, “Apparently, Humayun and I are married, although we’re just friends.” She adds, “In fact, I’m probably closer to his wife Sameena than I am to him.”
Hamza and Aisha coincidentally are childhood friends, while she deems Noman as a brother. “I call him Nomi bhai and he calls me ‘bacha’,” she says. “I know rumours are part and parcel of being famous and all one can do is pay them no heed. It’s just disgusting how stories are made up out of nowhere.” How does Aisha really feel about love? Her views mirror that of romantic novel. “You know, if I ever fall in love, I will jump off the roof and announce it,” she claims. “I might hail from a conservative family, but my parents are very accepting of love marriages. So, why’d I ever hide it?” But for now, Aisha is at peace nurturing her first and true love, which is acting. “I can’t thank my fans enough for their overwhelming support. I’m extremely blessed.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2015.