Pakistan’s entertainment industry is in reverse tide. While actors and singers are still moving out and crossing borders in search of quality and consistent work, an equally common phenomenon is the influx of young, enterprising young actresses who have been making trips to Pakistan for projects. We’ve seen Kubra Khan (Na Maloom Afraad), Sabeeka Imam (Welcome to London and the upcoming Jalaibee) and we will be seeing a lot more of Armeena Khan, who is already on air with television series Ishq Parast. Armeena will be making her big screen debut with Bin Roye, alongside Mahira Khan and Humayun Saeed and she plays Bilal Ashraf’s love interest in Yalghaar.
“I think I have the only glamorous role in Yalghaar,” she smiles when speaking to Instep in a brief conversation. “Both of my films are slated for Eid releases this year and I would like both of them to do well.”
Already covered in Pakistan’s glossies, Armeena is a relatively new face to Pakistan’s entertainment industry but a very pretty one at that. It’s no surprise that she has been dabbling in modelling as a hobby but it would take many of her admirers by surprise that she is a business graduate with a mainstay in property development in the UK. Acting is something she fell into and discovered an immense love for, after which she trained in London to perfect the skill.
“I started working in Pakistan with a music video (some time back) and I did some shoots with Khawar Riaz,” Armeena shares, “but back then it wasn’t viable to travel from London to Pakistan for modeling work. And I was more interested in acting anyway, which is why I chose to pursue acting. Having done television and now working on film, one of the things I really want to do is theatre if the right play comes along.”
Armeena signed up for Bin Roye two years ago and as she jokes, it was meant to be her debut in which she plays the role of Humayun’s first love interest. “It’s the parallel lead,” she says, adding that she can’t give away too much. Unfortunately, an extensive delay in filming resulted in a prolonged (and endless) shooting spell and the film has still not released. Keeping herself busy, the young actress took on TV serials Mohabbat Ab Nahin Hogi, Karb and Ishq Parast that is on-air these days.
Why does she think there is a sudden surge in casting actresses from abroad for Pakistani films and plays?
“I feel there’s a huge demand for new faces because there is foreign investment coming into films,” she responds. “There are more plays and literally no new actors so there is a demand and supply cycle, which is why producers are looking abroad. The industry is operating on a bigger level, which is why it needs to be represented on a bigger, more international scale too. Plus producers are more broad minded now. You’ll see a bigger influx now that Pakistan is opening up.”
Do you think you have an edge over local actresses?
“If anything, I’m at a slight disadvantage,” Armeena replies honestly. “There have been apprehensions about my accent but I hope I can dispel them with Karb, in which I am playing a Lucknowi girl. But I do have an international advantage. I can operate in UK and America; I don’t need work visas. It’s easy. I have to admit that I do plan to work all over the world. I’ve been told that my looks can transcend beyond one nationality and I intend to explore that. But Pakistan has been very welcoming.”
So far Armeena Khan has been very selective with her work. She has undertaken a couple of projects in the last two years that she counts as “full time work” and she’s content that she has been slow and steady in inching her way into the public eye. The projects that she’s been working on – mainly Bin Roye and Yalghaar – are supposed to release this year so 2015 holds a lot of promise for her.
The one thing she is most excited about, however, is the recent and undoubtedly most exciting project she has just signed the dotted line for. Armeena Khan has just been signed on to play lead role in Reham Khan’s film; it’ll be the first film that Mrs Imran Khan will be working on as producer.
“This untitled film is being produced by Imran Kazmi and Reham Khan,” Armeena shared the information exclusively with Instep. “Through this film, which is a romantic comedy, they want to portray the Pakhtun community in a fresh and positive light. They feel that all news around the Pakhtuns is Taliban related and hardly anything positive evolves from the region. I’m very, very excited to be working on this project.”
Unable to share too much, Armeena does offer some facts regarding the film: The story and script is ready and the director will most probably be foreign. Two male leads are being searched for right now; they have to be Pakhtun looking and the producers want new faces. This film is in pre-production phase and shooting is scheduled to start after Ramzan. Given the nature of the project, things certainly are looking up for Armeena Khan as well as films in Pakistan this year!
(First published in Instep)