As right as rain, Meera’s been in the news. For all the right and wrong reasons. It’s been alleged news in showbiz corridors about Meera starring in Mahesh Bhatt’s next venture. And she’s been on a whirl gig globetrot for the past few months. Which all adds up as the right time for some gup and shup with Lollywood princess. Looking scrupulously scrubbed sans make-up in her hotel room in Karachi, Meera utters, ‘No controversial interview this time. Let’s have a non-divisive conversation for a change.’ Her wish our command. Battling the cruel May’s heat in plush ambience of her hotel room Meera gets ready to face my casual volleys.
Much has been written and spoken about you doing Mahesh Butt’s movie. You must be feeling up on the pedestal?
Mahesh is a very spontaneous person and I love his work. An opportunity to work with him is something one is very keen on, as an actor, and one will not let it pass by. I am honored and I am flattered that I am working with him.
Do you think doing an Indian movie will prove to be a milestone in your career?
People in Pakistan are crazy about Indian movies. They worship Indian starts and this time I just want to change the equation.. I want Indians to love a Pakistani star who will be entering in their territory and will be conquering their hearts. I just want to tell the world that we are not less talented. We lack coordination and technical facilities. Give us that and we will do wonders as well. Working across the border will give me an opportunity to learn different things… I just want to experience the difference.
When is the shooting scheduled?
In August probably.
Have you read the script?
I haven’t. But Mahesh has told me about the role… it’s nice. It’s kind of a love story.
Will you be playing the pivotal role or second fiddle?
No. It’s my movie out and out. You see love stories are almost the same. Aik larka, aik larki… But it’s the treatment, which makes it different.
You are in an enviable position personally and professionally. Today any actress would give her right arm to be in your place. Would you say that life has been a bed of roses for you?
No it has not been a bed or roses. My life has been anything but easy. Nothing has come easily. I have had to struggle to get whatever I have. But I have never glorified my life like some people do, to get sympathy votes.
Did you ever regret getting into the industry at any point?
Personally the kind of betrayals I have had, the way people have taken me for a ride hasn’t been very heartrending. But I guess it’s all a part of growing up of life. I feel that all the hardships and the pain I have been through have paid off. God has given me the fruits. Today I am very content. I am working with the best makers of the country and now across the border as well.
Zara and other new girls are zooming past you in the professional rat race. Do you feel insecure about this new competition around?
I am not insecure about anything. If Zara and others are signing films non-stop it is a very smart move. Logic says, when you are the hottest thing happening why not capitalize on it? Definitely. In my case it’s like, ‘been there done that’. I don’t want to sign any movie that comes my way, just to prove that I am busy and that I have ten films in my kitty. Sorry I don’t operate like that. I am not insecure at all. No matter what profession I am in, I will definitely give it my best shot. I strongly believe in being the best. I can’t settle for anything mediocre. But I am not going to let the pressure bog me down to the extent that I get desperate. No way. Things sometimes work out. Sometimes don’t. I have never let myself affected by this rat race. I don’t believe in it. Because let’s face it, at the end of a rat race, you are nothing but a rat. I was a part of this rat race five years back, coz at that time it was important for me to make a place for myself. I needed an identity at that time. Today, I don’t. people know me as Meera. So, today if I have to join the rat race again, it would mean letting go of all that I have already achieved. You know, like they say, it’s easy to go up there but it is very difficult to stay up there. Well I have gotten up there. If I start running fast again I might lose what I have. I want to be a tortoise.. Calm and chilled. People who get desperate to make it big are the ones who make all the wrong moves, and spoil their chances.
Have you turned into the new damsel in distress? First Shaan and now Mommy seem to be fighting your battles. Right?
Thanks you very much but I’m capable of looking after myself. Please, let’s talk about other things besides this.
After ‘Raqasa’ you were hot property. Then what happened?
It’s not that I had a string of flops last year and I don’t want to be reminded of that. Like in Commando the role that was narrated to me and was totally different from what was shown on screen. When things don’t go the way it’s planned then I lose interest. Then I do my work with sincerity but not with passion. I maintain that Sangeeta is a great director, but for her I wouldn’t want to repeat this experience again. I’ve learnt from my mistake. But the news of me doing Indian movie Indian all the damage. Now all the directors are running after me to sign their ventures.
You have an aversion to play the regular heroine. Yes?
I think it’s an achievement of sorts to work with Samina Peerzada and Shehzad Rafeeq simultaneously, so early in my career. I cannot identify with weak characters. Though I think it would be very challenging for me to play a mentally retarded woman in a film. Basically, I want to do films, which excite me. In most of the movies, all I have to do is regular jhatka-matkas.
All the films you’re doing are two heroine projects. Aren’t you insecure about the other actress walking away with the applause?
I’ve never been insecure about another actress. After I sign a film I’ll never complain about the other actress having a better scene or impactful lines. Yes, but I’ve been at the receiving end of other actresses insecurities. At such times I treat the set like a play school. I just smile at the other heroine’s tantrums the way I would smile at any other child’s tantrums. I don’t bother with what my colleague is wearing or how her role’s shaping up. Because I know the moment I start worrying about that, then my performance is going to suffer and I don’t want that to happen ever.
After garnering a lot of praise and acclaim for your histrionics in ‘Raqasa’, you came in for a lot of flak for your performance in ‘Commando’.
I’m not really aware of it. I believe it was critically acclaimed. But even if what you’re saying is the truth. I don’t think the critics have either make me or broken me. If anything has made me, it’s my movies, the filmmakers and my fans. I’ve never really been ecstatic with praise and acclaim for my performance nor have I brooded due to negative criticism. Honestly, I don’t know which reviews you’re talking about as I’ve read some myself and they were positive about my performance. At the cost of sounding immodest. I’m not at a point where I’ll sit and personally go through each and every review written by each and every critic. Of course, it does matter to me how my performance has been rated generally, but if it’s going to be biased by a hundred other things. I’ not going to waste my time on them.
What prompted you to take up ‘Umrao’? Is it because it is a trend to do historical films thanks to Shoaib Mansoor’s video ‘Anarkali’?
First of all, let me clarify that the script of ‘Umerao Jan’ was written much before Shoaib Mansoor released his video. So the question is wide of the mark.
Are you not gripped by anxiety that suddenly you’re not signing more films?
No. Because I’m hearing more scripts than I’ve ever heard in my life. Different kinds of scripts with different kinds of filmmakers. So it’s only fair that one goes slow and chooses carefully. I’ve never been insecure as a person, and a lot of people can’t apprehend that. When someone tries to branch out, depending on his/her interests and level of intelligence and understanding of things, such questions come up. Because I was never insecure as a person, it hasn’t affected my career. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do half the things I have done.
Would it be ego crushing for you to venture into television and doing plays? Or do you think it’s wrong move to make?
Have I said that I might do it? Nothing is on right now. If it happens, it happens. I don’t really know if it’s a good move or a bad one. To each his own. I guess it’s about the individual’s personality and how much he/she can give to it. I don’t think there’s any hard and fast rule about it. If I’m asked about it, I’ll think and decide when that time comes.
You have a sex symbol image. Has this image proven to be a hurdle in filmmakers approaching you with serious, de-glamorized roles?
No. If my image had been a hindrance for people approaching me for a certain kind of role, in that case, Shahzad Rafeeq wouldn’t have offered me ‘Rukhsati’ immediately after the runaway success of ‘Dream Girl’. Post ‘DG’, fifty thousand clones were offered to me, but I went ahead and did a ‘Rukhsati’, a sharp contrast to the former, purely to break that image. It’s the media that creates these images for the stars, ‘cos it’s easy for them to compartmentalize us, give there tags like ‘she’s the girl-next-door’, and ‘that one is a sex symbol’ and so on. I’ve long grown out of the sex symbol image. Otherwise it becomes a vicious circle, the artiste also follows that label not knowing where she’s headed. But. I’ve never been confused about what I’m doing and where I’m going. I’ve always wanted to be a versatile actress, comfortable in doing any kind of role offered to me, for that’s what the term ‘actress’ means to me to stand out in any film that I do. As compared to my contemporaries, I feel I’ve done a wider variety of roles, which wouldn’t have been the case if I were a prisoner of one particular image.
Have you faced more ups and down in your personal life or professional life?
My personal life has been full of problems. May be it was my fault. Because I had a lot of expectations… I kept looking for intensity and passion, which was just not there. I always gave more than I got throughout. I guess my mental makeup was wrong. As you grow you become more practical. The key to lead a successful life is to have no expectations and now I have learnt to live like that. I can’t deal with a bad personal life. If my movies are not doing well I know that eventually the tide will turn and work will come my way. It’s not there are five hundred actresses and only ten films being made in a year. Yes I would get bogged down if I weren’t performing well, and people felt that I was doing a crappy job, but only to a point. I have always found it more difficult to deal with personal ups and downs. Professional problems don’t bother me or hurt me as much as personal problems do. At the end of the day when you leave the studio it is one you love that fulfill your life. I am miserable when all is not well. I just can’t function. If things are going badly in my life, if there are a constant fights with my family or other is a communication gap then I’d feel ten time worse than what I would feel if someone told me my last film had bombed.
Do you love easily? Or is it more difficult for you every time?
I am once bitten and twice shy kinda person. It takes me a long time to fall in love with again, I try to avoid getting into the same trouble spot again. I don’t treat love frivolously but I also feel that love should not be suffocating. In relationships I need a lot a space.
Would you walk out on your man if you find out that he is cheating on you?
If it was just an attraction than may be I would understand. That’s a momentary thing. But if my man is in love with another woman I would definitely leave him. If my man has a fling. I would be forgiving coz a fling is all about lust. But if it is an emotional attachment then I wouldn’t be able to digest that. But I would think a lot before taking any drastic step and try to understand the circumstances before walking out impulsively.
What is love to you?
When you are in love you must accept each other completely and unconditionally. I have seen that 90 relationships are not like that. Mostly a girl says, ‘Oh, I can’t do this. My boyfriend will mind’, and a guy say, ‘if I do this my girlfriend will be angry’. That’s fake, it’s all pretense. Love knows no fear. There should be no masks.
Is it important for lovers to be good friends?
Friendship is most important. Because if you are friends with you lover than your communication will be stronger. There won’t be any gap. And you won’t be caught up in building an image with one another. You can be yourself and so can he. And by being honest, your relationship can weather any storm. You can criticize him praise him and vise versa without feeling threatened or insecure.
It is said that beautiful women lead unhappy lives?
I am not that beautiful. But why actresses or beautiful women only, even an ordinary women could be leading unhappy lives. Men usually are scared of failing in love with famous women coz they think they will never be able to lead a normal life, will never be able to look after their children and their needs. This is a fallacy, and men only think of their needs only. What about our needs? We all are normal humans too with normal needs.
Would you quit films after getting married?
Yes I will.
Would you stick to a bad marriage just for sake of social appearance?
Marriage is important to me but I would never stick on in a bad marriage. My happiness and peace of mind matters most I am not happy I won’t stick on even for a day.
Do you think there is a formula for a successful marriage?
I don’t know. I am hardly a marriage counselor you know. This question should be put to some one who’s married.