There is no dearth of beautiful and talented actresses in Pakistan’s thriving television industry making a mark when you are a newbie can be a tough deal. Yet Hareem Farooq, who debuted only last year, has fast emerged as one of the industry’s most sough-after actresses. Chalk it up to her gutsy choice of roles – in a superficial world where an actress’ youthful looks are often her ticket to stardom, Hareem had no qualms playing the role of a grey-haired mother in Dayar-e-Dil. The theatre veteran is now turning her attention to films, where she hopes to leave a similarly strong impression not just on screen but off it too, in her role as producer. The Islamabad gal recently opened up to Instep about her ambitions.
Hareem Farooq is more than an actor. She is also trying her hand at film production with Janaan, an upcoming feature film that stars Armeena Khan and Bilal Ashraf among others.
Instep: Young and beautiful actresses don’t like to age for their roles early in their careers… why did you choose to become Osman Khalid Butt’s mom in Dayar-e-Dil?
Hareem Farooq: (Laughs) Osman Khalid Butt and I have been friends for some time now; in fact he wrote my first feature film Siyaah a couple of years back for which I was nominated for Best Actress in the Lux Style Awards. The idea of opting for a mature role this early in my career was mine alone. I wanted to see whether I could portray an older woman on television, as I had done it in Anwar Maqsood’s theatre version of Aangan Terrha. I am glad that people loved my young-to-old performance and even now after the final episode of Diyaar-e-Dil has been aired, I am recognized as the girl who matured into a graceful mother.
Instep: So you are open to playing ‘the mother’?
HF: I didn’t say that. I had to do Diyaar-e-Dil as the cast was ensemble; the director (Haseeb Hassan) was amazing and it was a Hum TV production, a group that never compromises on their production values. The exposure that the play gave me was huge and I am glad that I took the decision and opted for the young-to-old role.
Instep: Would you opt for an item number, like a lot of your contemporaries are doing?
HF: I have nothing against item numbers but I feel they are not my thing. I am a serious actress who wants to make herself count as one… an item number might give me two minutes of fame but that’s not what I have planned for myself. My aim is to make better films for Pakistani cinema and take it to the next level; maybe international.
Instep: Is that why you signed Mehreen Jabbar’s film, Dobara Phir Se?
HF: Mehreen Jabbar is a director who thinks out of the box. She is making her comeback to films with DPS and everyone, including myself, was anxious to find out what kind of film she would be making after the acclaimed Ramchand Pakistani. That’s why I opted for it; saying no to her would have been suicidal.
Instep: Do you get to lip-sync and dance in the film or does the role not allow you to do that?
HF: When doing a film, do as film actors do. (Laughs) Of course I get to sing and dance, what good would it be if the film were without that!
Hareem Farooq is starring in Mehreen Jabbar’s upcoming feature film, Dobara Phir Se, which also stars Adeel Hussain, Sanam Saeed, Tooba Siddiqui, Ali Kazmi and Shaz Khan in pivotal roles.
Instep: What makes DPS special?
HF: It is going to be the first film with an all-American crew since it has been shot in America. Adeel Hussain, myself, Sanam Saeed, Tooba Siddiqui, Ali Kazmi and Shaz Khan are amongst the cast of the film and trust me, we had a great time shooting. It is a purely romantic film based around us youngsters and one spell of shooting remains. It will be released next year and I have high hopes from it.
Instep: You have also turned producer with Janaan but you didn’t act in it; instead you cast Armeena Khan in the lead role. Why?
HF: Every actor who turns producer must also think as one and going for Armeena was a collective decision since she looked perfect for the part. Osman Khalid Butt has written the script and we will be introducing Ali Rehman and Bilal Ashraf as leading men through the film that has been co-produced by Imran Kazmi and Reham Khan as well.
Instep: Now that there is no Mrs. Imran Khan, what will happen to Janaan?
HF: The show must go on … Reham Khan is as much part of the film as she was when she was Mrs. Imran Khan. The film is on schedule and the second spell of shooting is about to take place this month. Reham Khan was not the sole producer and even though she is not part of Imran Khan’s family, she is still part of Janaan. The film is very much on!
Instep: What else is on your plate as a producer?
HF: We are planning a couple of films besides Janaan and yes, you will see me act in one of them (smiles). Being a producer who doesn’t act is something unheard of in Pakistan so I had to try it; now that I have, I will go in front of the camera and face the music.
By: Omair Alavi is a freelance journalist and can be contacted at [email protected]