Diamond In The Dust

  • 11 Jun - 17 Jun, 2016
  • Rabia Mushtaq
  • Interview

If underrated was a title, Nida Khan would have been its proud receiver. After spending more than a decade in the Pakistani drama industry, she is still not seen much on our TV sets. The young actress surprisingly spills some words of wisdom and has an aura to her face that keeps one etched to all the characters she has played in her career. She sat down with MAG to indulge in some exclusive chit-chat about everything in her not-so-public life, which left this scribe excited enough to strike questions one after the other. As Nida is a very private person who has barely shared anything about her journey in the entertainment industry until now, there was much to enquire.

Nida never planned on becoming an actor and would have been a cardiologist instead. Her love to become one was evident as she spoke passionately about how pro she was at drawing a human heart with everything labelled on it. She feels nostalgic as she talks about her early childhood days spent at the Governor House Punjab, where her father was an ADC to Governor Tikka Khan. Reflecting upon the vivid memories of her three-year-old self, she recalls roaming around the vicinity where she ate fresh turnips from the field. Regarding herself as an average student at school, she finished her A-levels in three years, but she finally excelled in college, graduating with a Bachelors in Journalism.

Acting comes naturally to Nida as her mother and grandfather have always supported her endeavours.

“I was always into it (acting), because I had a very vivid imagination as a kid. I had imaginary friends. I was always big into pretending and I always took part in tableaus and school plays,” she mentions.

Having spent 10-15 years in the profession, her list of TV dramas is not as stretched, but most of them became quite popular. She is recently being seen on two different channels performing her characters with panache and has worked alongside big names of the industry.

Nida bagged her first role in drama serial Mohabbat Ka Ek Pehar when she was only 12 years old. “I was playing the role of Nadeem Baig sahib’s daughter. Savera Pasha was also doing her debut with me, while Sawera Nadeem and Nauman Aijaz were also in the cast,” she says nonchalantly. Her comeback however, was in the blockbuster production Parsa that was aired in 2010 and happened to be quite a controversial drama serial.

Nida has done a lot of negative characters, something that leaves one baffled looking at her innocent face. Her currently on-air soap Haya Kay Daman Main (HKDM), shows her as a spoilt rich girl who is a sly bhabhi as well. Shaheen in Kadurat, was another one of her famous roles wherein she envies her best friend’s life and plays devious tricks to become rich. When asked why she agrees to do negative characters, she chuckles and says, “I apparently make a very good, mean person,” adding, “I think in our industry good actors usually play sidekicks, which is a drawback. If I like it (a character) I will do it, that’s why I get stuck with negative characters.”

People have complimented her in rather strange ways, “beta bura na man’na lekin tum itni buri tou nai ho jitni tum TV pey lagti ho,” she laughs it off. She shares instance where a fan told her that she follows her drama (HKDM) very fondly but finds her character very bad. She considers such comments as compliments, for the characters possess a good margin to display her talent. She gushes about a different character she once did: “I played the character of a paindoo girl in a telefim Shabana Baji, which did not come naturally to me. I ate faluda when I actually hated it. Told people easyload tou kara dey, and enjoyed it a lot.” Her currently on-air drama serial Khoat is closest to her heart, for the character she plays has progression. Also, she is pretty much ready to expand her career as far as films are concerned and says that she will go for it if she gets a good role, but nothing has really come her way to spark her interest enough.

When talking about the shady perceptions associated to her line of work, Nida thinks that it was always easy (for girls) to get into showbiz. It is the general public’s mindset which is hypocritical. She says that whenever new girls come up and ask her about inappropriate rumours, her immediate response is, “it’s as sleazy as you make it, it’s as sleazy as you are.”

She shares that she landed her first lead after working for 10 years in the industry. “If your work is good, it will speak for itself. You will stop getting work if you are a horrible actor.” Nida denies having faced any challenges, as she claims to have been treated like a man in the industry. Although, she condemns the idea of good looks given more importance and appreciates Indian TV and cinema that works differently.

This atypical lass also feels that quality lacks in our TV content and those responsible must experiment with a variety of subjects. “I have a problem with our content, because we’re still stuck in the typical saas bahu plots. We need to show people better content to educate them,” she states blatantly.

Her method to choose roles is also very abrupt. She is not very picky either. “I firmly believe that as an actor you shouldn’t be looking at how much screen time you get, it should be how much justice you do to it.”

She revealed how she refused a role in Diyar-e-Dil following her holiday plans to the Fairy Meadows. However, she feels happy for two of her good friends in the play, Maryam Nafees and Osman Khalid Butt, whom she met and befriended on the sets of Munkir. She looks up to Hina Bayat and is all praises for her.

Nida talked about the rumours that once floated about her doing a serial with Fawad Khan and says, “I have no idea what that was. I was not offered anything.”

The actress is guilty of not watching local dramas, but she followed Diyar-e-Dil just to watch her friends performing. Her favourite drama to date is the classic Alpha Bravo Charlie. Kapoor & Sons is what left her amazed and she couldn’t stop praising it. Nida is a nature lover at heart and has a creative streak to her personality, as she is a well read young woman, who can paint, write and act at the same time. Her music and reading habits depend a lot on the mood she is in, as she listens to Jagjit Singh and Iron Maiden as crazily as she reads books from every genre. She calls herself a “diverse reader, who even reads (text off) shampoo bottles”. During the course of our conversation I found her to be an adventurous foodie, who would try eating anything edible. In this chaotic and often selfish world, she has a thing for social work, as she is a devoted Special Olympics volunteer in Pakistan for the last eight years.

If that’s not enough, Nida is a compassionate animal lover (rescuer), so much so that she wants her future significant other to love animals, as she believes that “if a person likes animals they are naturally a better person.”

Being a nonconforming actress, she aspires to use her full potential. “I want to do a multidimensional character; something that is less crazy and more sober. Something adventurous!”

Tired of the clichéd style of dramas in Pakistan, Nida believes “Diversity is very important in acting” and this scribe hopes that the industry stops taking such talent for granted.