It’s been a great year for Mawra Hocane, the highest point – in her own words – being a world distinction in Islamic Law that has won her scholarships to several prestigious law schools across the world. This year Mawra also made a silver screen debut in Pakistan, playing the endearing Xoe in Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2, a film that has broken box office records. And 2018 promises to end well, with the highly anticipated TV serial Aangan all set to air on December 20.
Was she happy with her character and role in JPNA2, I asked as we settled down in her all white drawing room, which smelt of a cocktail of different candles. This was Mawra at home, in a pair of jeans, white tee shirt and a make-up free, clear and luminous face. There’s a simple honesty about Mawra, especially when you strip away the stardom, and it reveals itself when she speaks from the heart.
“I was,” she replied, sincerely. “I was mindful that it’s a boys’ film. I knew I had to do my part, which was to smile and look pretty. It’s okay to be a small part of such a big film. You can’t always just look at yourself; you have to look at the project. If you look at both my choices this year, both Aangan and JPNA are like that. Of course I have the narrator’s character in Aangan, I happen to be the lead in Khadijah Mastoor’s novel. I knew I would not get absolute attention in either project. But I’ve had a Bushra, a Mariam, a Sammi, a Sanam Teri Kasam all riding on my shoulders and I’m okay with not taking ALL the pressure of a project doing well or not.”
Are you not feeling any pressure in Aangan, though?
“Aaliya is easily the backbone of Khadijah Mastoor’s novel and I hope that I have performed up to mark because Aaliya is, in a way, carrying Aangan on her shoulders. So yes, that’s a lot of pressure. But the rest of the team… they are such great actors and I hope they can take some pressure off me.
In my opinion and experience, you can have a lead character with a larger role to play but in a production like Aangan, the one memorable character will be the one who performs better. Are you ready for that?
“Do you think I’m not? I am. You see Aangan is not about one person; every character has a very, very important role to play. Who performs how…I can’t say.”
What was the most challenging thing about creating Aaliya?
“I just wanted to be very honest to Aaliya,” she said, muffling a laugh and many stories behind it, it seemed. “I wanted to deliver what my director had given me. I could not believe that they had given me Aaliya; it’s a huge role and I had to keep going back to my director for reassurance that I was doing justice to it. I was told I had to slow down… in real life, in the way I speak and move, in the way I walk because Aaliya is a very deep and insightful girl. She’s not Mawra at all though Mawra would want to be Aaliya one day. I would want to be that smart and insightful. To become Aaliya was a little challenging.”
Does it also make you nervous that there’s an apparent love triangle between Aaliya, Jamil and Chammi, and while Jamil may be in love with Aaliya in Aangan, it’s Chammi that fans want to watch him with? They want to see Sajal and Ahad together. The audience right now is besotted with the Sajal-Ahad pairing and there could be backlash… are you ready for that?
“I don’t react to backlashes anymore,” she said. “I get trolled all the time. So that doesn’t affect me at all. I knew this was coming. This couple is highly rated because of a brilliant serial they gave last year. So here we are, making another serial. The audience will react to what they are fed and they’ve been fed with some great romance last year on YKS. Let’s see how they react to this.”
From the entire ensemble cast, who is the one person you had great chemistry with?
“I would want to name Ehtishaam bhai, the director here. With Aaliya I really needed him. Him and Mustafa Afridi, the writer. I spent most time with these two because there was too much work to do. We spent most of our time discussing the script and story. Amongst the actors, I think I had great chemistry with Ahad. We had a great time on set and shot some great scenes together. And I’ve had a good relationship with him since Sammi. We vibed back then and we vibe now.”
Between Sammi, JPNA2 and Aangan, which project did you enjoy doing most?
“I’d have to say JPNA, because it was just so much fun. But as I said, I’d like to be Aaliya…she’s a woman who doesn’t feel she needs a man to complete her.”
You know, it’s so strange that despite being a period play, Aangan looks progressive as opposed to most of what we see on TV today. What in your opinion, is its biggest strength?
“It’s very true and real and close to the way humans behave. It’s fresh and gives hope. It will impact people. And yes, it is progressive. All the girls in Aangan are very strong. There are no ‘hai bechari’ women in Aangan.”
Our conversation continued off the record as someone else walked in on it.
“Did you tell her I have a cameo in Aangan?” Urwa, Mawra’s sister, walking into the drawing room, called out.
I’ll leave you with that. You decide whether she was joking or is there something we still don’t know…