The beautiful Armeena Khan proves time and again that she’s a lot more than just a pretty face. In her exclusive chat with Mehek Raza Rizvi, she talks about her work as an actress and humanitarian, life at home and keeping it real

Which projects have you been working on recently?

I’m currently in negotiations for a secret project, but will announce it publicly in due course. Once I have everything planned out I’ll be able to talk more about it with exact details.

As a woman, have you experienced any inherent prejudices in your line of work?

I don’t think I’ve faced any prejudices in the media (perhaps a project or two, but nothing major). However, it’s true that a male voice is taken more seriously than a woman’s voice when it comes to negotiations. I feel women’s rights in South Asian culture need to be rectified in general. We need to come in line with the rest of the world.

I remember when I was working in the corporate world in the UK there was a discrepancy in salaries. My male colleagues were paid a lot more than me and my female colleagues. Things have changed for the better since then because women are a lot more aware of their rights now and have raised their voice against the disparity. There’s still a long way to go though; this is a global movement and it’s going to take time.

You joined hands with the Human Relief Foundation to collect donations for Syrian refugees. Tell us about your humanitarian work.

My experience with the Human Relief Foundation has proven to be quite rewarding. I will continue my work with them because the Syrian cause is very close to my heart.

In terms of other humanitarian work, I’ve officially been signed on as the brand ambassador for the Graham Layton Trust (GLT), which is committed to providing free treatment for curable blindness and visual impairment in Pakistan. So far the trust has been able to treat 41 million patients and are continuing to grow.

“It’s not appropriate to support armed conflict under the guise of self-interest. I think one should be very responsible, especially someone in her position” Armeena on calling out Priyanka Chopra

You claimed Priyanka Chopra’s team harassed you after you called her out on Twitter for supporting war, despite being a UN Goodwill Ambassador. How did you handle the situation?

I’ve visited the same refugee camps as Priyanka Chopra; it’s heart-wrenching, especially when war-ridden families share their stories with you. The reason why I called her out was because I don’t understand how she can support war in any capacity after seeing its repercussions.

It’s not appropriate to support armed conflict under the guise of self-interest. One should be very responsible, particularly someone in her position. I’m sure she’s a great actress, but her stance on war is ill-advised.

As for her team attacking me, they did so by using twitter bots which I brought to public attention earlier as well. I recognised this because of the timing and style of posting. It was discouraging for me to see, but I’ll respond to it in due time, in an appropriate fashion.

The fame and influence celebrities enjoy puts responsibility on them to use it wisely. Do you ever feel burdened by the constant spotlight?

I don’t really subscribe to the word “celebrity.” I’m just a person who happens to have a job in the movie and television business. It’s no different to any other job, except for the fact that we’re in the limelight and more people recognise us. As for the pressure, I used to feel it in the past, but I’ve grown up with every character I’ve played. As time has gone on, I’ve understood what it means to be a public figure and the responsibilities that come with it.

I feel it’s provided me with platforms to raise my voice and lend it to those who don’t have it. I try to use my fame in a positive way and, hopefully, this process will continue as I grow.

I’m very interactive with my fans; I like to be in the know with what they’re thinking, what their needs are and in the future, I’d also like to know what they want to watch. It’s also because I listen to them that I’m restraining myself from appearing in stereotypical roles that portray women as weak. I feel the responsibility is on me and I have to make smart choices. I try not to engage too much in the shiny, glittery culture that we see in mainstream media. I don’t want to use social media to flash designer bags and bling; I’m trying to offer people an alternative. Something different to aspire to.

“Just keep checking my social media and one day you’ll see that I’m married!”

What’s the best and worst thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is that I can be whomever I want to be through my roles. It gives me a sense of freedom that I otherwise wouldn’t have in real life.

The worst thing about my job is the politics. I feel there’s enough work for everyone in the industry to co-exist. I don’t appreciate petty jockeying. It really bothers me. People should be supportive of each other and not just selectively. One rule should apply to everyone.

“I’m restraining myself from appearing in stereotypical roles that portray women as weak”

You announced your engagement in 2017. When will we be hearing of a wedding date?

Very soon. Sooner than you think. Just keep checking my social media and one day you’ll see that I’m married!

Tell us about your childhood.

I had an amazing childhood, one that people today can only dream of. I was allowed to be a child and I was innocent. I had a lot of friends, toys and my own little garden. I also read a lot. I remember always being in my own fantasy world.

I wish kids today would experience the same magic my generation did. Despite the opportunities social media has brought in our lives, it’s a double-edged sword that pressures children into growing up very early. Their innocence is being taken away — children need to make mistakes, they need to run around freely.

We have our entire lives to be adults, so I consider myself very lucky to have had the childhood I had.

Everyone knows you well as an actress, but what is Armeena Khan like at home?

Armeena Khan is just a normal girl at home. I do what everyone else does. I read, I write, I do my own laundry and I clean my own house. I believe in being independent.  My day job is at an investment company, so I work 9-5 when I’m not acting.

I’m a regular human being, with regular responsibilities and I don’t wish for that to ever change.

“My day job is at an investment company, so I work 9-5 when I’m not acting”

SHORT & SWEET

Film or TV?

Film

Favourite co-star?

I enjoyed my time with Sabeeka Imam a lot. Also, Ibrahim Alavi

A role of yours you think you could have performed better?

Saman of “Bin Roye”

Biggest pet peeve?

Someone being disingenuous

Favorite ‘90s jam?

“Everything” by Aqua and “Savage Garden,” the entire album

Describe your personal style in three words.

Non-fussy, simple, tailored

What’s the last photo you took?

Outside the house that inspired Miss Havisham’s character in “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens

How do you respond to trolls?

Really depends on my mood, but mostly I just ignore them

What’s the last lie you told?

I told my other half, Fesyl Khan, that he looked thin in a suit

Most prized possession?

My memories

Do you have any nicknames?

My family calls me Meena. My fans have all kinds of nicknames like Eena and Mimi

One habit of yours that annoys your family?

My forgetfulness

Photography: Abdullah Haris
Styling: Areesha Chaudhry
Wardrobe: MANGO
Hair & Makeup: Shoaib Khan
Coordination: Osman Rehman

Good Times

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