The second UK Asian Film Festival took place yesterday at Phoenix Cinema and was launched by one of Pakistan’s most well-known actresses, Mahira Khan.
This year’s event is celebrating 100 Years of Women’s right to vote and shining the spotlight on Women in Cinema during the festival, so who better than Pakistan’s biggest celebrity actress to visit the event?
Born in Karachi, Mahira was in Leicester for the first time and took a shine to our multi-cultural city: “It’s a very pretty city. I have to go back to London but I am tempted to stay.”
Khan’s career in showbiz started when she made her debut in Bol, a film based on a religious family’s struggles and troubles and the father’s desire to have a son. Three months later she starred in a Pakistani drama television series called Humsafar which made her something of a TV star.
Last year she played opposite Shah Rukh Khan in Raees which was her Bollywood debut. One of her most recent performances was in Verna. The film is about a rape survivor who takes revenge on her attackers and gained her global attention. The positive portrayal of women in a film like this really struck a chord with the actress: “As an actor, it’s a great challenge to play a role like Sara in Verna. Film like these are challenging those perceptions, in fact you’ll notice in a lot of Pakistani films that are coming out, they are talking about stuff that we were otherwise not comfortable talking about.”
Through her work, she is often seen as a positive role model and inspiration for many. Her carefully selected roles have garnered her a loyal and strong following across the globe and have helped to bring to light some previously taboo subjects:
“I think it [my roles] is bringing about conversation and debate and that’s really the first step to the larger picture which is, that we want some sort of change.”
So what’s in the pipeline next for the 33-year-old? “This Eid my new film is coming out. It’s an out and out comedy which I have never attempted so I am bit nervous because comedy isn’t something I am comfortable with. Right after that, early next year or end of this year Maula Jatt comes out which is a Punjabi film.”
The UK Asian Film Festival is on until Saturday 31 March.