Every experience comes with a new lesson, and Shameen Khan is tackling every step on her career ladder with wisdom since she strongly believes this to be true. There are times when she stumbles, but a firm grasp on her craft saves her and allows her to emerge more refined and determined.
In an exclusive interview with MAG she discusses her professional choices, the mistakes she made along the way, and how every experience helps to hone her skills. The actress has a lot of great things in store for this year. She has a number of intriguing projects in the works and is hopeful for what the future holds. Read on to learn more about her upcoming projects. Excerpts:
You have been working in the industry for quite some time. How has been your experience so far?
I've seen a lot of ups and downs in my career. There have been times when I've received a lot of love and appreciation for a work from which I had no expectations. Similarly, there have been times when I've put extra effort into my work but it's gone unnoticed. However, through all of this, one thing has remained constant: my hard work and desire to keep working. With every new project, I build new hope and start the process of learning all over again. And I'm enjoying it all.
There are bound to be times when you feel frustrated at work, despite putting in the effort. It can be disheartening not getting the recognition or payoff you feel you deserve.
It's normal for an artist's work to be affected by breaks, whether they're wanted or not. I've gone through times where the right script wasn't coming and everything just felt off. But what helped me get through those tough times was patience. I've learned that our industry works in cycles and there's no need to force anything. Just focus on yourself and delivering your best, and leave the rest to God. I know He has better plans for me.
In your opinion, what is lacking on your end?
I am not sure why this is the case, but if I did know, I would have fixed it by now. It could be due to my poor PR strategy, my introverted personality, or my habit of staying within my comfort zone.
I often wonder how my colleagues are so well-informed about even the tiny details happening in the industry, while I have no idea. When I am working, I focus only on my project and nothing else – which could be one of the reasons why I am not as in-the-known as them.
What do you look into when you sign any script?
My first priority is always to evaluate how significant my role is in the script. I look at how much my character changes and grows throughout the story. If a script doesn't offer me much opportunity to perform, I turn it down. However, there is a tactful way of saying no so as not to bruise any egos in the industry – rejections are taken very seriously and can hurt a person's reputation. So it's important to handle them in a diplomatic way.
So what do you do when a similar kind of role is offered to you again and again?
It happens quite often that the scripts I'm offered have stereotypical images of heroines. In such a situation, I try to change the tone of my voice, body language, hair, and make-up to create a more unique character.
I am currently working on a drama where I play a simple girl who works at a factory. She falls in love with somebody there and they get married. However, things take a turn when another woman enters her husband's life.
This situation is quite common in our dramas but I agreed to do this project because it features a rivalry between an old woman and a young girl. My character goes through a lot of transformation in the story - from a naïve girl to a responsible life partner.
For this particular role, I have to work on my voice tone – I have intentionally maintained a low pitch. As an artist, we always try to bring variations in work and we also get annoyed with formulaic scripts but we have no option but to work and do our best.
How do you see the emergence of OTT platforms? I believe you haven’t done any projects on the streaming platform.
It is a good change. The revolution of technology has changed everything and it is unstoppable. To survive we have to make modifications with changing times. For example, I am a Netflix binge watcher and I am so addicted to it that television doesn’t attract me anymore. Others may feel the same way, so it is high time we should shift our attention to these streaming platforms to gain maximum benefit from them.
Working on an OTT platform gives creators more freedom to explore sensitive or hard-to-digest topics that might not be suitable for television audiences. In Pakistan, there has been a shift in attention towards these platforms, and this has resulted in the production of high-quality content, which is very encouraging.
I have worked on two projects for online streaming platforms. The post-production process is now completed and we are just waiting for the right time to release them.
Can you please tell us about those projects?
I have done two short films – Password and Baba Jani. One story is about a happily married couple and what their relationship goes through. The other one is about youngsters and how they treat their parents.
You have worked with lots of directors who is your favorite among them and why?
All of them are good, but I have a particular liking for Asad Jabal – he is extremely talented. I worked with Wajahat Sir in Khuda and Mohabbat and found him to be highly cooperative with his team. Although I only had a small role in it, he gave me complete freedom to make it my own.
You did a film a couple of years ago. Tell us about your experience.
On papers, the project looked good but there were problems with its execution. There were edit and sound issues. Also, at that time people were not trained enough to do movies. Now, things have changed and especially The Legend of Maula Jatt has raised the bar. So I hope blunders like Gumm wouldn’t happen again.
If you could play any character in The Legend of Maula Jatt, who would it be?
I found the female characters interesting, but I thought Daro's part was more fascinating. Humaima Malick did a great job with it. However, if I could play any character, I would choose Gohar Rasheed's role. He was phenomenal and I love meaty parts like that.
Tell us about your upcoming projects.
This year, I have a lot of interesting projects lined up. After Ant Ul Hayat, I am doing another play for Hum TV. Meri Betiyan just got aired on Aan TV. My fans can expect to see a lot of changes in me this year - it's going to be an exciting year!
Any advice would you like to give to aspiring actors?
It's so important for our youngsters to understand their worth and to stay focused on their goals. I've seen too many young people agree to do work on television just for the sake of popularity. Running after fame is a fruitless chase. True artists never chase fame - they're passionate about their work and are determined to deliver quality content. And when they do, fame naturally knocks at their door. So if our youngsters can understand this basic principle, success will come their way for sure. •
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