The very filmy and endearing heroine, Hira Mani, has stolen everyoneâ€™s hearts with her effortless charm and ingenuousness, all while breaking stereotypes, being an exceptional mother of two and a homemaker. Mehek Raza Rizvi chats with her to find out how she makes it look so easy
Hira, Iâ€™d like to start off by congratulating you for the success of â€œMeray Paas Tum Ho.â€ Despite being introduced much later in the drama serial, you won hearts with your convincing performance. How does receiving so much love feel like?Â
Iâ€™ve received a lot of love and it feels great. Over the past four years, Iâ€™ve worked incredibly hard to prove my mettle and when your audience appreciates that, thereâ€™s no better feeling. However, success comes with responsibility and I take that very seriously. I want to use my fame well and break the stereotype of a â€œheroine,â€ according to which actresses have a limited shelf life. I also hope to demonstrate that good conduct and humility are the keys to real triumph.
â€œI want to prove itâ€™s possible to enjoy the best of both worlds, so other women can find the inspiration and strength to not give up on their dreamsâ€
You started your career after getting married and saw the most success after the births of your children. Not only does this break stereotypes within the industry, but also provides inspiration for working mothers. How do you manage work-life balance?Â
Thereâ€™s a common misconception in our culture that women canâ€™t have successful careers after they get married, particularly in the media. Iâ€™ve seen so many girls delaying their weddings, claiming it would affect their work, but personally, I never understood this theory.
Iâ€™m perhaps one of the few actresses to have started my career after becoming a mother and I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s ever come in the way of my work or the upbringing of my children. I want to prove itâ€™s possible to enjoy the best of both worlds, so other women can find the inspiration and strength to not give up on their dreams. If youâ€™re passionate, thereâ€™s nothing you canâ€™t do.
Of course, it helps to have a supportive family, especially the men. My husband, Mani, my sons, Muzammil and Ibrahim and my father have always encouraged me and I couldnâ€™t have accomplished anything without them. I would urge all men to let the women in their lives aim for the stars and fulfill their dreams.
As far as work-life balance is concerned, I donâ€™t take credit for anything, Allah helps me. Iâ€™m blessed with His support and a great family.
What do you look for in an ideal script?Â
No script can come to life if the team working on it isnâ€™t dedicated. No matter how good the writer is, the end product depends profoundly on those involved; from the director, to the cast, the DOP and even the help ironing clothes on set. Itâ€™s very important for me to work with people who Iâ€™m comfortable with and know are passionate about the project.
For example, when I signed â€œYaqeen Ka Safar,â€ I knew Farhat Ishtiaq had done a great job with the script, but also realised it would be executed well because Shahzad Kashmiri was directing itâ€”just like Danish Nawaz made â€œSun Yaraâ€ a huge success.
Honestly, when Humayun Saeed called me to discuss â€œMeray Paas Tum Hoâ€ I didnâ€™t even hear the script. I was out of money, with just twenty thousand rupees in my bank account, so immediately said yes. I just heard â€œNadeem Baigâ€ and was game. In our field, payments are delayed all the time, so this project saved me at a crucial point.
Have you ever found it hard to detach yourself from an intense/ complex role youâ€™ve played?
Not at all. Iâ€™m not a method actor and donâ€™t let the roles I portray take over me as an individual. When I go on set, I read my lines, discuss them with my director to understand their point of view and get into character. Once the scene is over, Iâ€™m immediately back to my normal self.
â€œI found him to be very real; he was himself, even on screen. He seemed like a very genuine person and that appealed to me because I felt I could relate to him. I saw a lot of similarities between the two of usâ€ â€” on her husband Mani
We hear youâ€™ve dabbled a bit in fashion design. Can we expect a business venture in the future?Â
Most of my friends have degrees in fashion, which is why I also developed a curiosity towards the field. When I was getting married, my interest grew as I started working on my own clothes.
You never know what the future holds. My son, Muzammil, sketches really well and keeps designing interesting stuff for me. Ibrahim also takes interest in what I should wear at events, so who knows, maybe my little army will push me to start a business with them.
â€œWhen Humayun Saeed called me to discuss â€œMeray Paas Tum Hoâ€ I didn’t even hear the script. I was out of money, with just twenty thousand rupees in my bank account, so immediately said yesâ€
Tell us about your upcoming projects.Â
Right now Iâ€™m looking forward to a beautiful drama serial called â€œKashf,â€ directed by Danish Nawaz. Itâ€™s very close to my heart and I hope will people love it. Iâ€™ll give you an exclusive interview to talk more about it soon!
Youâ€™ve mentioned you were a fan before meeting your husband Mani. How were you two introduced for the first time? Could you have imagined youâ€™d end up marrying him?Â
Mani was a friend of a friend. The day I saw him for the first time on TV, he became the reason why I switched from Indian drama serials to Pakistani ones.Â This was some fourteen/fifteen years ago.
I found him to be very real; he was himself, even on screen. He seemed like a very genuine person and that appealed to me because I felt I could relate to him. I saw a lot of similarities between the two of us.
When you start admiring someone at a young age, itâ€™s very natural to start looking up to them and try to emulate the way they do things. This is why every time someone tells me my performances are natural and real, I credit it to Mani. I was that crazy fan who followed his work and life very closely.
Iâ€™m a huge believer in the law of attraction; every time Iâ€™ve envisioned or wanted something badly and worked hard for it, Iâ€™ve gotten it. I was a complete tomboy and never one of those girls who would follow actors and become die-hard fans; but because of Mani things changed completely. Since then, I always knew he would be an important part of my life. So yes, I did believe we would end up together.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up around elder cousins, so felt grown up as I constantly tried copying them. I would do my hair like them; tie it up in a bun or a long braid. I never dressed like a child and since I was tall as well, I didnâ€™t quite look my age.
When I was in school, I was known as the life of the party. Even at home, family would always surround me and I was always the one solving other peopleâ€™s issues.
I was very filmy and absolutely obsessed with music. Iâ€™d say not much has changed in that department. Anytime I hear a sad song that touches my heart, I automatically get stuck in a zone where Iâ€™m blue and upset with Mani for no reason, so I can really enjoy the essence of the song. Music has definitely been a huge part of my life.
â€œIâ€™m Muzammil and Ibrahimâ€™s ami, Maniâ€™s wife and my fatherâ€™s daughterâ€
What is Hira Mani like at home?Â
To everyone reading this, I want to tell you, at home, Hira Mani is exactly like your mother. Iâ€™m very domesticated, extremely particular about cleanliness and discipline. I donâ€™t like house chores like cooking lunch/dinner, washing dishes and laundry being delayed. Everything should be done by mid-afternoon.
I keep a close eye on my kidsâ€™ schedule, even if Iâ€™m at a shoot. From their tuitions and football sessions to the clothes theyâ€™ll wear, I have everything lined up. Iâ€™m always on high alert, taking care of what needs to be served for dinner, who we need to go see, who we need to invite over etc. Once, I have some time to myself (which is rare), I like to sit in my room and listen to music.
In my personal life, Iâ€™m as normal as any other woman. My life revolves around my family â€“ Iâ€™m Muzammil and Ibrahimâ€™s ami, Maniâ€™s wife and my fatherâ€™s daughter.
SHORT & SWEET
Who do you consider to be your closest friends within the industry?Â
I think theyâ€™re still the same as Maniâ€™s
Pick your favourite project between â€œMeray Paas Tum Ho,â€ â€œGhalatiâ€ and â€œAangan.â€Â
â€œTo everyone reading this, I want to tell you, at home, Hira Mani is exactly like your motherâ€
What do you feel are the key elements behind a good drama serial?Â
A strong team and a respectful environment
An actor or actress you would want to share screen space with next?Â
No one specifically. Anyone who is passionate about their work.
Whatâ€™s the last photo you took?Â
A picture of Muzammil and Mani at a dinner, while they were joking around
Do you have a nickname?
My parents called me â€œHeroâ€ at home. Little did they know Iâ€™d become a heroine instead!
What was the last lie you told?
Despite having no interest in films, since Iâ€™m asked constantly asked when Iâ€™ll be doing one, I said in 2020
Your biggest achievement in the last decade?
Words: Mehek Raza Rizvi
Photography: Jaffer Hasan
Hair & Makeup: Adnan Ansari
Wardrobe: Mariyam D Rizwan, House of Masaba â€” Vesimi
Styling: Emergency Room