You’re one of the biggest female icons in the Pakistani film industry. How have you seen the industry change over the years?
The people in Lahore’s film industry are destroying each other. They’re not positive. They’re only out to get each other and they’re making money out of that. If there’s a new producer on the block, they’ll make sure they do everything in their power to destroy them. They’re destroying heroines. They’re stuck in ageism. Kothiyaan kis ke paas zada hain uss mein phass gaye hain. If you look at Bollywood or Hollywood, you’ll see that they are not stuck in ageism. They’re not jealous. Magar yahan aik dusray ko katnay mein lagay huay hain. They think “isko itnay saal ho gaye hain ye kyun kaam kar raha hai.” Jo mature hai usko bus ziba karnay mein lagay huay hain. They’re destroying the Pakistani film industry. They’re destroying each other. They’re destroying Pakistan. Pakistan ko tabah, industry ko tabah, Lahore ki industry ko tabah. And the people doing this are all people that are inside the industry. The fans love us stars. All over the world, people respect and give importance to stars. The entire industry should stand behind and support stars but they’re just trying to destroying us. Stars are supposed to be Pakistan’s ambassadors. However, we’re not given our due respect. I’m dying to get respect in this industry. Mujhe izzat tou mile. Na industry se milti hai, na bahir se milti hai.
Did you always want to be an actor?
I’m a born actor. I think I was 8 or 9 and I knew that I wanted to be an actor. People tell me to be something other than who I am but I can’t. Mujhe Allah ne banaya hai. Kuch loug hotay hain jinko Khuda banata hai aur unko bana ke bhejta hai. I’m one of those people. My mother was a single mom. We didn’t even have money to put food on the table. We have seen such horrible times. My mother has faced so many challenges as a single mom. But coming back to your question, yes, I was born like this. I was always this. The day I was born, I was born as an actor. My qualities, the stars, I was just this. I was never anything else.
What do you enjoy most about acting?
I like playing different characters. I’m an observer. I like to observe people and characters. I like to dive into different lives. I want to show the world what the realities of this life are and how people are living. Jaisay, aik actor ka kaam hota hai bikhari ki life mein ja ke uski zindagi dekhana. I consider myself a filmmaker and an actor. I’ve produced a total of 15 films.
Do you like being a filmmaker or an actor?
I enjoy each and every role. I like them both. I have the best team. My mother is a part of my production team. My brothers, Hassan and Hussain are also a part of my team. They’re great at coordinating and organizing everything. My father helps out too and my mother handles the finances. It’s a team effort.
Tell us about your upcoming projects.
I’m doing a serial called Feroza which I’m super excited about. I’m also working on a film. It’s a parallel cinema film called “Randi.” It shows the life of a randi. It will be a controversial movie.
Do you think the censor board will pass the movie or do you expect some trouble?
Mere saray dushman hi hain. Ever since I’ve stepped into the industry, they’ve all been trying to destroy me. They’re nice to your face but try to stab you in the back. It’s a cutthroat industry. This is the reality and I want to speak my truth.
How was your experience working with Mohsin Khawar?
Mohsin is a wonderful person but honestly, people didn’t let me work with him either. We only did one shoot. The management, who were the people in the middle, didn’t let us get in touch or exchange numbers even. The management takes decisions here. Not us. A star has to make a lot of effort here to represent the country. To create cinema. To create projects. There are so many issues of management here. They try to kill you. They’re not cooperative at all. They create their own name through us and then they try to sabotage us. My hospital project was destroyed because of this, too. Loyalty is very important.
What are some things on your bucket list?
I want to make a hospital that focuses on charity work. I want to focus more on charity work. Mein chahti hun marney ke baad bhi mujhe dua’ein milien. Mein jannat mein jana chahti hoon. Mein Allah Taala ke samnay aik acha chehra le ke jana chahti hoon aur mein surkh ru hona chahti hoon. I want to make everyone happy. I want to make my Allah happy.
Another thing on my bucket list is to work on women empowerment. I also want to work in parallel cinema and do characters that are controversial and closer to reality. I also want to get married, dhoom dhaam say. I had a relationship before but, you know, no one was ready to own me publicly. Yes, they want to have relationships, they want to get married but chup ke shaadi ka tou koi faida nahi hai na. I want to get married in front of the whole world. I want to be a good wife. Mein apnay husband ki ibadat karoon gi. Last on my bucket is doing a project with Shahrukh Khan. I want the media to support me. People spread such controversies about me. They say I’m not professional and I don’t show up on time but none of it is true. All of it is to destroy me so that I don’t succeed. They try to keep me away from the public. I have to face so many hurdles just to get my voice heard. I want to connect with the public and my fans. Media is the only one that has helped me. People are jealous, they aren’t positive at all. Star ki izzat hi nahi hai. I’m a star. I’m an iconic person. I don’t get respect from my own country. Look at Hollywood and Bollywood. Take the example of Madhuri, Rekha and Dilip Kumar. Look at how Indian cinema has succeeded because they don’t care about ageism or your skin. Idher ayein gay aur bolien gay: “Tera mun kyun kharaab ay? Aye tu kala kala laya hoya ay? Haye!” I’m just sitting there thinking who the hell are you to pass these comments about me?
Describe a day off from work.
I try to do some self care. I try to take care of my skin. I’m launching my website and my brand called Meera Jee red lipstick so I work on those things.
What do you struggle with in daily life?
I struggle with the negativity in Lahore.
What about on personal level?
I struggle with loneliness of course. I need a husband. Someone who loves me. I need love in my life. I’m a very romantic person but I don’t have anyone to show it to. Meri jawani guzar rahi hai.
I’m sure people recognize you when you step out of the house. Does it get difficult to deal with the fame and especially the hate that comes with it?
No of course not. I love that. I love my fans. I’m not irritated by these things at all. Mein unsay pyaar karti hoon. No matter what they say. I love my fans and they love me. They want to see me. They’re excited for me. They want to take pictures with me. So how can I be upset with that?
Photographs: Mohsin Khawar
Hair & Makeup: Sara Tarek