failed my first theatrical audition, probably because I was just reading my lines,” Urwa, the elder Hocane sister reveals as she sits down for a chat with me. It was that failure, that she feels, triggered a spark within her to do more.
“I stayed with the whole team as a backstage person to see what’s so difficult about it that I couldn’t do?” shares Urwa, now one of the most sought after actresses in the country. She spent her teenage exploring and searching for what she was meant to do.
“I was exploring my innate abilities. I got myself into dancing classes, then I did sketching and painting; I tried singing too, not on-screen though,” says Urwa, who even tried her hand in teaching.
“I’ve taught kids too as I felt I’ll be great as a teacher since I connect with kids,” Urwa shares, thanking her parents for “letting her experience lots of things and not judging her for not staying focused.” And that’s what paved way to the sphere she landed in – or like she points out, “that’s the path destiny decided for me.”
Growing up Urwa did not watch a lot of TV. “It was after I became a VJ did I realise there was a lot which I should’ve watched,” she discloses, adding that it was after this realisation that she started stacking up on her knowledge of the entertainment world.
“I was offered a theatrical play and to host a show at a local channel in Islamabad which sounded like a good opportunity,” she reminisces about her extra-school activity. “I would go to college in the morning and in the evening I would go to the studio and do my live show which was a lot of fun,” she says, pointing out how she didn’t even know that she was a VJ. “I thought I was a host who was making good money,” phrases the self-standing lady. “I always wanted to be independent as a teenager too. Seeing kids who weren’t a burden on their parents, inspired me,” Urwa expresses, who is a firm believer in “one must stand up on their own feet.”
It was soon after that she moved to her place of birth. “I was called to Karachi to do a show, again as a VJ,” the VJ-turned-actress reveals, who till then “hadn’t planned on becoming an actor.” Living in Islamabad and then moving to the city by the sea, Urwa found gelling in Karachi difficult.
“I felt really homesick. Karachi is different from any of the cities in Punjab so adjusting was difficult. I was born in Karachi since my father was in the army, but after that I had never visited it,” Urwa articulates. “My boss convinced me to spend some more time here and it was then that I received calls for a few TV projects. Eventually I agreed on doing a drama that Mawra was convincing me to do,” shares the doting sister who now calls Karachi home.
“Mawra has been my best friend since forever and I feel ever since I have her in my life, I never felt the need for friends,” the star talks about her sister in whom she’s found a confidant.
In her school years, Urwa bunked a lot of classes and she’s happy she did that. She believes everyone should enjoy their school life to the maximum. “I’m lucky my mother never pressured me for good grades!” she laughs, adding “Mawra was always a bright student and often topped her class, while I was the exact opposite – always chilling, but getting decent grades,” she shares pointing out how the family celebrations were tenfold when she passed her examinations.
Urwa is very instinctive, and that is what helps her in choosing her projects. She is the sort who will make decisions based on her gut, rather than logic.
“I really believe in vibes. Every time with a project I meet the team first to see how pure they are to their project. For me, no matter how big the project is, if you don’t have your heart in the right place, it will somehow sink.”
Acting, for this starlet has become more of a meditation now. “When I’m doing a scene, automatically my brain switches off; I’m just there, engrossed in what is at hand and that’s what I love about it,” says the diva, who isn’t keen of the glitzy package the craft brings along with it. “I’m not fond of photo shoots, interviews, public appearances and red carpets. For me, acting is what matters – all the rest are just shenanigans.”
Urwa feels the ‘calm and peaceful zone’ which she is a part of, makes one humble and kind-hearted. “You are feeling a lot of people’s lives and you stop judging others,” says the entertainer who believes with each character a certain set of emotions is touched upon. “Sometimes the emotions needed to bring out for a certain character leave me in awe for I didn’t know the emotions needed for the character were within me,” Urwa voices, talking about the liberty an actor has to express.
The lucky league is where this artiste places herself. “It’s very important to do what you love doing. I’m glad I get to enjoy my work,” the ingénue who wants to inspire people, remarks. “I do hope I’m remembered in the history of cinema, and inspire people enough to help them achieve what they love doing in their lives, which is not just acting.”
This leading star of the acting fraternity now has three movies set to release this year. Punjab Nahi Jaungi (PNJ), Na Maloom Afraad 2 (NMA) and Rangreza. Ask her about her projectile from the small to the silver screen and what spontaneously shines on her façade is her trying to recollect the fond memory.
“I was working on a situational comedy, Yeh Shadi Nahi Hosakti with Anjum Shahzad. For its promotions we were doing a song which was choreographed by Pappu Samrat. It was after the shoot wrapped up that Anjum bhai told me I’m going to do films,” Urwa shares how at that moment she recalled what her little sister always remarked.
“Mawra always used to tell me I’m very filmy.”
Soon after, Urwa received a call from Shahzad at 10pm to meet him at his place. “He was with his wife Fizza, NMA’s producer and handed me a contract. ‘You’re doing our film’. Are you guys doing a telefilm? ‘It’s a film for cinema,’ and I trusted him so much that I signed the contract right away. Plus after reading the script I was even happier. I couldn’t absorb it for a couple of months and only Mawra knew about it.”
A project which is extremely close for her is PNJ. “My character, Durdana, is what I have done with all my heart. This was one project where no one got tired; all the fatigue was overshadowed by the fun of it and that will reflect on screens also because it’s a love story which has a lot of soul to the characters,” Urwa elaborates, talking about one of the songs that was shot in extreme winter. “It was so cold that we all got cramps.”
The infatuation Urwa has for her craft made her work two days before her big day.
“I reached my wedding like a guest. 16 December was my wedding and till 13 I was shooting. When I reached home a dholki was taking place at my house.”
Again, Urwa marks out how fortunate she is. “Very few people are so lucky. I had my man and sister as my backbone, taking care of everything. Farhan [Saeed] would send me videos of the rehearsals and dances every day.”
On the fourth day of her wedding, Urwa was working, again. “I was back shooting and now after 6-7 months did the two of us get time to holiday in Mauritius,” the proud wife shares.
“I have in-laws who are very proud of me and Farhan is always very supportive. He’s a friend who takes care of everything, and is always there for me – he knows I’m up to bigger things.”
The first time Urwa met Farhan was at a ‘random party’.
“Mawra, another friend and I went to a random get-together of friends. Farhan, who was a friend of my friend, was there too and we were introduced. He really stood out the first time I saw him. It was then that Mawra came up to me, saying ‘do you know who he is? But I didn’t. ‘Do you remember Jal, the band? Which had Atif Aslam then Farhan as their vocalist? Sajini? Urwa yar kya ho ap?!’ Then only I Google-d him and totally crushed on him,” says the girl-in-love who fell for the gentleman.
“He didn’t know very well that I was an actor so the two of us connected at the very first meeting; I knew he’s the guy, I just knew he’s the guy I’d want to marry. We dated for three years and got to know each other better and he surprises me every day.”
The couple were a part of a serial that created massive ripples due to the content it aired. “I dropped out from my filmmaking course at Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture for Udaari,” not fulfilling the promise she made to herself.
“I promised myself I won’t be a dropout and will finish my degree like Mawra, who inspired me to complete mine, but the script for Udaari was so good that it made me think why should I leave the project that can leave a mark for it touched so many issues, taboos, and stereotypes subtly,” she talks about the finely knit script of the serial.
Urwa likes to call herself a homemaker. “I like setting up my house. Whenever I find time, I’m fixing my wardrobes. Even when I’m travelling internationally I’m found working with the housekeeping staff like fixing the bed with them; it’s like a detox for me,” says the organised soul.
She’s not a shopaholic. “I don’t like shopping. I’m more interested in activities close to nature and adventure which can add up to my memories and experiences,” Urwa expresses.
There is one constant which has stuck with this lass all the while she has journeyed from the first day of the set till today. “Stage fright. Now, too, I feel my heart is in my mouth. Recently I was at the trailer launch of PNJ and I felt like I’d faint… so many people looking at one person is crazy; I still have shivers going inside me,” she discloses.
Being on the director’s seat is what is next on Urwa’s list.
“I recently directed one of Farhan’s music videos called Koi Rokay Na Mujhay, which now makes me empathise more with the director and production.”
The starlet likes to take one day at a time. As for the future, she has a couple of scripts to go through. “Let’s see what connects with me,” she voices. “I want to play with colours very soon but as yet I don’t know how to, so I want to learn that too.”
Hair & Make-up: Eric @ JY Style Studio
Designer: Noman & Bhaiya
Set Design: Faisal Faseeh
Coordination: Thomas Fernandes
Photography: Rohail Khalid