Pakistani web series ‘Enaaya’, which premiered on Eros Now recently, has proved to be a roll call of local talent. Its lead actors Mehwish Hayat and Azfar Rehman already have fans abroad, especially in India, where their TV shows were famously aired on the now defunct Zee Zindagi channel. Now Faryal Mehmood, who plays the third most important character in ‘Enaaya’, has emerged as the breakout star.
Her uninhibited portrayal of what she calls “the gangster girl” is winning accolades. No wonder she’s just bagged a coveted Netflix original, which is to have a Canadian producer and a Pakistani director.
Besides, she impressed debutant film director Sohail Javed enough to replace his ‘Sorry I Love You’ leading lady Sonya Hussyn with her. Noted playwright and lyricist Ali Moeen has even gone on record to say that she is “the next superstar after Mahira Khan.”
At the shehndi (pre-wedding event) of Hayat’s brother last week, Mehmood danced up a storm to the songs ‘Dola Re Dola’ and ‘Main Item Song Nahi Karungi.’
“I’ve grown up trying to emulate Madhuri Dixit,” she tells Gulf News Tabloid. Interestingly, quite like her screen idol, Mehmood too has an old-world charm to her — she calls to mind 1990s Bollywood actress Ashwini Bhave (remember Raj Kapoor’s ‘Heena’?).
Mehmood’s journey so far, however, hasn’t been like the proverbial she-came-she-saw-she-conquered. Born and raised in New York, this talented model and actor says her killer ambition brought her to Karachi, where she was to live entirely by herself and struggle in the initial days. She landed a small role in actor-producer Hamza Ali Abbasi’s (now shelved) ‘Kambakht’, and a few not-too-significant parts in TV plays like ‘Main Bushra’ and ‘Siskiyaan’ before her first major TV drama, ‘Laal Ishq’ (2017), happened.
Her amazing ‘transformation story’ has also found space in tabloids, where Mehmood explained how she worked hard to achieve a perfect gym body — “I weighed 96kg,” she says, with a chuckle. Excerpts from the interview follow:
Q. At this stage in your career, what made you accept ‘Enaaya’, where you’re almost playing second fiddle to Mehwish Hayat?
A. Actually, it is Pakistan’s first web series, and that too for a big international platform like Eros. This was a huge thing for all of us involved [with the project]. There were many things we got to do as actors which we wouldn’t be able to in a conventional TV drama. So, it was more like an experiment.
Also, it’s a very interesting character that I play [in ‘Enaaya’]; it’s a gangster girl, who goes from being pretty to evil. My character’s name is Faryal; and Wajahat [Rauf; the director] told me he had written it keeping me in mind.
Q. You’ve replaced Sonya Hussyn in ‘Sorry I Love You’. Tell us how did you come into the picture?
A. It was Sohail [Javed; the director] who contacted me. He told me that they had let Sonya go because of several reasons. Anyway, I am so glad I got this part; any one who’d have gotten the chance to play it was destined to be a superstar.
Q. Your other costar Aamina Shaikh in the film is known to be a fierce scene-stealer. Do you see her as tough competition?
A. I don’t look at her as my competition, because I’m a huge fan of hers. She is a very accomplished actress, and has been around for a longer time. I am learning everyday from her as well as my other co-actors such as Faisal Qureshi and Zahid Hussain.
Q. What can you tell us about the Netflix series that you’ve signed?
A. Only that our producer is a Canadian, and the director is Pakistani.
Q. Your dance videos at Danish Hayat’s shehndi became viral. Everyone wants to know if you learnt dance formally?
A. I grew up watching Madhuri Dixit songs. I’d try to follow her dance steps. Later, I also got some training in hip hop, contemporary, and classical.