Having made her film debut in Janaan, bubbly Isloo actor Hania Aamir stars in the patriotic Air Force movie based on real life stories, Parwaaz Hai Junoon, opposite Ahad Raza Mir and Hamza Ali Abbasi. Hania tells Haider Rifaat the importance of being yourself and what it was like making the action movie

Share some interesting facts about yourself

I’m scared of microwaves. When the sound of music comes on after my clothes are done in the washing machine, I dance to it in my kitchen. I’m very good at colour switch; I am also good at games that involve brain activity. I got high achiever’s recognition in Maths. I feel I’m not that interesting.

Was acting a stroke of luck? How did it all start for you? I know you were discovered through Dubsmash videos but was acting what you always wanted to do?

No, it wasn’t. That’s why when people ask me who my favourite actor is or who I look up to, I have no answer to it because I didn’t grow up wanting to be an actor. I was in that phase when you are doing your A-levels and still deciding what you are going to do. That’s when Janaan happened. It was just an experiment. I told my parents that it seems fun to do so let me try it out. Once I did, I realised that I was kind of good at it. I like being in front of the camera.

I believe confidence is key in getting into acting. What’s your view?

Yeah, I guess. My attitude’s such that I’m very positive about things. I even surprise myself sometimes. (Smiles) I have a confident personality; I like being in the moment. I believe that is why people enjoy being with me. The one thing I have learned working in showbiz is that you have to be yourself. You shouldn’t try to fit in too much, but standout. People would like you more then.

On average, why do Pakistanis respond so well to typical sentimental dramas?

I think we have evolved. If I do a drama, I try to do something that has more substance to it and delivers a message. I wasn’t very happy with Visaal because there was a lot of crying in it. My performance suffered.

You are the star of Parwaaz Hai Junoon, released on Eid ul Azha. What’s the premise of the film?

It shows the life of Air Force cadets and officers. The mission of this movie is to show the human side of the Pakistan Air Force and its courageous fighter pilots. I play a cadet and Hamza an officer. We want to portray our officermans. It’s not a propaganda film where there are fights against a country or an enemy. It shows a lighter side of military life. These are people just like us and they have love for our country to an extent that they can give up their lives for it. They have people at home waiting for them and they are individuals who might just take a flight and never come back.

When we went to Canada for promotions and around the world, there was a negative perception that we wanted to change. The only medium of showing our country to the world has been news channels and sometimes they can be very misleading. They sensationlise and exaggerate stories. We are still called a terrorist country in many countries. This is the stereotype we should work against.

By the looks of the trailer, you seem to portray a very headstrong and independent young woman. Why is this character important to you? 

Sania is headstrong and has her own journey in the film; she’s a quirky and happy girl who confronts her fears. She can now challenge anybody in any situation. My character shows that there are stereotypes involved when you are a woman and working with men.

There is a line of Ahad’s in the trailer where he says, “Ye cockroach aur chipkali se darnay wali qaum kya jahaz uraye gi?” It’s thought that girls are afraid of cockroaches and they can’t do anything. What my character proves is gender neutrality. It is not that if you are a man, you will excel at a given profession and if you are a woman, you will suck at it. I want women to come watch the film and take some inspiration from it. I want to put it out there that if you work hard with dedication, you will achieve your goal. Don’t let others tell you what should be important to you and what shouldn’t. Stand up for yourself!

“(PHJ) is not a propaganda film where there are fights against a country or an enemy”

How was it like working opposite debut actor Ahad Raza Mir?

He’s a thorough professional who takes his work very seriously. In comparison, I was just having fun. Ahad comes from a long line of actors. Both his grandfather and his father have been professional actors. Hence, he was always extremely focused. I was impressed because you don’t expect that from somebody who is new. At least I wasn’t like that in my first film. Ahad was well taught in method acting and knew all his lines; he put in a lot of effort and it was fun working with him. True that he can be a snob sometimes. (Laughs)

Who did you have most fun with on set?

The most fun was the cadet phase where there were Rachel Viccaji, Sabeena Syed, Shafaat, Sikander and Ahad. We are all young; we met for the first time and had so much fun together. We were on set and at these bases, in cold and hot weather conditions. We were all going crazy! At the end, we were like a family. We were all there for each other and we knew how each of us would react in a certain situation.

What else are you working on?

I’m actually not working on anything at the moment. I am taking a break.

In your view, what aspects of film making here should improve?

Considering recent films, what I have seen is that shots don’t fill up the cinema screens. I was very impressed with Fiza Nabeel because I saw the shaadi (wedding) song and it looked like an actual film song. I think we should work more on this aspect. When we work on set, it looks fake as the walls are blue colored and it looks weird, so you can only see the entire effect after editing. We also need better scripts because a film is as strong as the script is.

What are your thoughts on film reboots and sequels?

If they have content that adds to the story, then they should definitely do it. Jawani Phir Nahi Aani remained the highest Pakistani grossing film for a long time. If the audience liked it so much, then a sequel is a good idea provided the story progresses.

Since you are from Islamabad, do you think the media industry is in developing in the capital city, with HUM News and other media outlets in the making?

Yes, at first I thought there was only Imran Raza Kazmi here. I felt that he was the only one who was developing new talent here but the HUM network is setting up a production house in the city. I’m very happy about that because there are so many talented people here. I know many Islamabad based actors who have done theater like Hareem, Hamza and Ali Rehman.

“My character proves gender neutrality”

If you were to work with an international actor, who would it be and why?

I really like Priyanka Chopra and I enjoy listening to her. She exudes charisma when she is conversing. She is a strong woman candidly telling you what life is really like. I’m a huge fan of Alia Bhatt and Ranbhir Kapoor. In Hollywood, there are countless.

Who inspires you in life and why?

Everybody, to be honest. I believe there is good in everybody. Whoever you meet, even if they come across as a snob and they put you off, you sit with them for half an hour and you find something intriguing. Many people ask me who inspires you in the industry and I say all of them as they are all on set working 12-15 hours a day putting in as much effort as they can. I really look up to any person who is putting in effort to get to wherever they want to be.

Are you involved in any philanthropic work?

I won’t say it out loud but I can say go plant a tree and help somebody. Let’s do something tangible to help out.

What one piece of advice would you give to a novice in the field of media?

Just be yourself; don’t listen to many people. They will give you weird advice. If something makes sense, yes you can change that about yourself, but don’t try to fit in too much or try to be someone else.

Photography by Haider Rifaat

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