From a sensible sister in Zindagi Gulzar Hai to playing the role of a modern-urban lass in her debut film, Mansha Pasha holds her head high and enters the world of cinema with pride. Born on October 19, the pretty Libran is one opinionated woman who does not mince her words, be it about the competitive industry she works for or the society’s prevalent issues, which according to her is quiet evident in her work. In a span of mere four years, the “passionate, reserved and straightforward” Mansha has achieved heights of fame and success only a few get to taste, all accredited to her passion for the acting profession, as well as her choice of characters. She is indeed one talented actress our entertainment industry is blessed to have.
Ever since you stepped into this profession, how has your life changed?
I think it has changed in a lot of ways. Earlier, I was very quiet but now I am a bit expressive about my thoughts, a little less confused as compared to the past. There is a sense of comfort in my being and it’s a good balance between my own personality and principles regarding my professional life. Even when situations get difficult, I take it with a pinch of salt. Thairao agaya hai thora sa. I feel more comfortable in my own skin and with the decisions I make, with respect to my work.
Would you call yourself an introvert?
I don’t think I am an introvert. I am quite okay with expressing my opinions. I like having my friends around me – ones who I am close to. Meeting other people is not out of question, but maybe once in a while. That’s my personality, I like keeping to myself.
How does your family deal with your work and fame?
I never let it seep into my personal life. The friends that I had before are still there. I go out with my family and never let work overtake my life. I keep it (my work) away from my personal life. They [my family] have never had a problem, as they realise that it’s my work, primarily, not my life. There’s family, friends, personal life, work as well as my hobbies and they all have their own place in my life.
As far as TV is concerned, are you very picky about your characters?
Yes, I am. I wasn’t, obviously, in the beginning of my career, because back then I was still trying to explore myself as an actor, I was still trying to find work since I had not done anything substantial. Now at this stage, there are a lot of things that seem redundant to me – not just in terms of character, but the director as well as the script. I try to look for things that are interesting to me. There has to be a realm that hasn’t been explored. If everything is same then there is nothing interesting left, and then the project doesn’t motivate me. I have to be motivated by the project that I am doing.
Were you always open to the idea of doing a movie or were you a little reluctant, because film and television are two very different mediums?
I am always reluctant to do work that I don’t enjoy, whether it is television or film. As for the latter, I am concerned about what type it is, and whether I will like it or not, so I am a little selective. I have received many offers before and after doing this movie. But I won’t do a film for the sake of it. I am not hungry to make it to the big screen. What concerns me is the type of movie and my character; what is it going to mean to me as an actor or artiste? What will its impact be on my life? I am very careful about things like that. I have been working on TV for four years and there is work that I have already done, so that bit doesn’t concern me. But in film, I was obviously very concerned about the content because it was my debut.
Have you been doing TV side by side, or have you taken a break?
I usually don’t do a lot of projects at one time, that’s just my way [of working]. As far as TV is concerned, I do one project then I let it go, but obviously projects have been offered to me in the past year. After the movie’s shoot wrapped up, I did a serial, and a few telefilms. I am going to start a project for a private channel soon but doing a lot of work at once is not what I prefer.
Do you have a dream character that you would like to portray?
I would love to do a biopic of a Pakistani woman. There are so many Pakistani women who worked a lot and have led interesting lives. If any movie is made on their lives, especially if it’s historical, for instance Ruttie Jinnah, I would love to do it.
Is there a character portrayed by another actress that you wish you had done?
There are many but I cannot pinpoint any one such role. I didn’t want to be placed in a box such as the modern girl, the desi girl or the chulbuli girl. I don’t want to be stereotyped, which is why I refuse roles similar to the ones I have already done in my previous dramas; variety is what I prefer.
You started your career with television and have now moved to film; how different was it working in this particular medium?
The overall experience is very different in comparison. You feel very scared because once the film is released there is no going back; whatever you’ve done stays there forever. It is a risky medium and people nowadays aren’t going to the cinemas. But for TV, there is always another chance, you have another episode coming up which could do better and you have something to fall back on.
With all the new actresses coming in the industry, there’s a lot of competition. Where do you see yourself in the race?
I am not a very competitive person, I have never been one. In the beginning, you are still a little bit competitive because you want your name to be established. I am not one of those people who constantly need to be seen or attend every red carpet event or be everywhere. I believe less is more. I believe quality matters over quantity. Most people out there have not done enough substantial work; they are just seen at the right places and events as well as on social media but as far as work is concerned, a lot of them are still struggling. I don’t work for money or fame; these are merely by-products of my work. Otherwise, I am an educated girl and can do a lot of other things. I used to do copywriting and have worked as a line producer. If I am not acting, I can always do something with my expertise at other things. But I enjoy acting and everything else to me is a by-product of this profession. I don’t take the competition seriously because my objectives and aspirations are different. Whatever fame I have received so far has a lot to do with my work and that gives me a sense of satisfaction, comfort and security, which most people in the industry don’t have.
Keeping in mind that you are very good friends with Zhalay Sarhadi and Ayesha Toor, and are usually spotted with them, do you think it’s necessary to have friends in the industry?
I don’t think it is necessary to have friends in the industry; in fact, it’s difficult to get true friends because it’s a very competitive industry. A lot of people have fair-weather friends, who are seen at events together, tag each other in photos and it’s a more work-related friendship where it’s not about being close with one another. As far as my friendship with these two is concerned, work has never been a factor in our relationship. We take each other’s advice on certain decisions, while we all have very different personalities. I have lots of friends outside the industry, too and I treat them the same way. We have been able to maintain that friendship in the last four or five years and that is something exceptional. People usually assume that we are competing, but we are not, for our personalities defy that notion. This is something that I find very rare and appreciate it as time goes on.
As far as male actors are concerned, who is your favourite?
Osama [Tahir] was really great; he is a theatre actor and someone who is new to television and film, so there is a certain extent of newness to him. We are good friends also and have a good working relationship. I would take his advice when he had to share any. I believe that he has new perspectives to share; there was no ego involved and we were comfortable working together. Also, Ahsan Khan’s acting is brilliant. I have never worked with Ali Rehman Khan but he is a good friend of mine and a good actor. Faysal [Qureshi] bhai is also great at acting. I would like to work with Zahid [Ahmed] as he seems very promising. So there are quite a few people whose work I admire and would like to work with them.
Do you have any regrets in life?
Not really. I don’t think that my life is in my control. A lot of things have happened by chance. Becoming an actor happened by chance, it’s not something that I always thought of being. I did my Bachelors in Media and knew that I would work in it someday. I used to write and was a line producer but not someone who wanted fame or to become an actor. Stories as well as writing intrigued me; the creative process is what appealed to me. I have always done my best without any ill-intentions towards anyone, therefore, I don’t think about changing anything. It just happened.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I have no idea; I just know what I am doing right now. There was a time I was a planner. But when things don’t work out, you learn not to plan since the best of planner is Allah. I have ideas about what to do but I never chase them. There was a time when I struggled to get things, but not anymore. There are things that I have worked hard to get but once achieved, I wasn’t as happy as I thought I would be. I am the kind of person who thinks that happiness and peace of mind is greater than monetary success and fame, and that is my priority.•
Hair & makeup: N-Pro
Designer: Tena Durrani
Coordination: Umer Mushtaq
Photography: Rohail Khalid