Rabab Hashim Spreading Her Wings

Imagine being a 12-year-old, seeking odd indulgences in winter vacations, stepping into a theatre art school in the quest of learning to play the guitar and music. Imagine being emotionally hurled and magnetically attracted towards the one thing fate has destined for you; this is how a young Rabab ended up enrolling herself in a theatre arts program.

National Academy of Performing Arts had just opened up in Karachi,” Rabab shares. “I was the youngest student there; you had to be 18 plus in order to get admission, and I was just 12!” she recalls.

“It was where my romance with acting unfolded,” a nostalgic Rabab reveals, adding, “I was in the first batch. I began with theatre acting and discovered that there is an entire world you can just create.”

A 12-year-old Rabab found herself on the theatre stage and felt in her a steeling reckoning, “This is what I want, and this is my thing.”

It wasn’t the first time that the young girl was facing such a challenge. Introduced to the television screen and its thrill at the young age of 10, Rabab recalls it as an instance that too went into the making of a person she is today. “I started as a host at the age of 10 and used to appear in children's shows for Geo TV,” she says. “I had not yet started acting nor did I even know what acting was!” Rabab makes it known.

“The children shows were a fun thing and they weren't that time-consuming. It was all simple, light-hearted stuff. Hosting came naturally to me. Even though I was very shy as a kid, I was confident in front of the camera,” she reminisces about her initial days in the entertainment industry.

For the Mohabbat Khuwab Safar actress, “acting is the first love. No matter how late I discovered my love for acting, it's something that I value much more,” she remarks. “But yes, hosting marked the start of my TV career. It is when I got acquainted with the kind of work it was and how to go about it, and that experience did help shape up my career,” opines the star.

Rabab’s voice rings with unwavering confidence. She strikes me as someone who has her career deftly planned out in front of her; she is a person with clear goals.

Despite such salient confidence, she speaks rather humbly. Coming back to her time in NAPA, Rabab avidly talks about keeping up with the tough routine of her school and her pursuit for theatre acting. At the end of three years, she was the youngest person to graduate from NAPA at the age of 15.

“After my graduation, I took to college as I didn't have the permission for acting, because my parents wanted me to concentrate on my education,” she tells me. “Luckily, when I started my BBA, I had flexible schedules at CBM, that's when I started doing one project a year.”

After graduating in 2014, the actress officially started working full-time and hasn’t looked back since then. “It's still one project at a time for me,” she says rather firmly.

Over the years, Rabab is seen stepping into the shoes of a gazillion women, embracing their lives and playing them out immaculately on-screen. She morphed into Mantasha from Piya Mann Bhaye, the unforgettable Safina from Ishqaway, Bushra from Aik Thi Misaal and many more roles that have greatly helped prove her mettle.

Playing the submissive good girl is typical of the many Pakistani dramas we get to watch on-screen. Despite having to play the television’s good girl from time to time, Rabab discloses that it’s the roles of strong women that she really likes.

“As an actor, the kind of roles that I enjoy personally are the strong ones. When you get to play a strong woman, there is so much versatility to your performance,” she discloses.

“But of course, I do enjoy the bacharay walay characters as well. But once in a while, you get to do what's out-of-the-box, and experiment a little, that's every actor’s dream,” shares the star in the making.

Rabab is very choosy when it comes to her roles. “I choose my roles carefully, because I work on two to three projects a year. So when you are already working so less, you pick the right scripts. I don't do something that I'm not entirely sold to. I'm a little picky and that has annoyed quite some people,” she reveals.

Piya Mann Bhaye was the first project Rabab did after completing her education. The experience was entirely new and bewitching to the actress. “Ishqaway was another project that I really enjoyed,” she opens up.

“Safina’s character was challenging as it changed me as a person. After that I did Marzi which was, again, a very strong, colossal character.”

The artist articulates that every now and then, she has taken up projects that sprout up new challenges for her. And according to her, that is what keeps her going as an actress. “I am always changing, it's the coolest part,” Rabab delightfully tells me.

Many a times, for a good actor, acting can go skin-deep. I question my interviewee about any roles she played that have affected her deeply and personally.

“The project that transformed me as a person was Ishqaway, which I did for Geo,” she says.

The actress has worked with several big names in the industry, including Ahsan Khan, Noor Hassan, Sami Khan and more. “I have done the most amount of work with Sami and greatly enjoyed it. We have an amazing on-screen chemistry. When you do so much work together, you get really comfortable, become good friends and have the liberty to experiment.”

For Rabab, travelling is her escape from the many roles that have her perpetually anchored. “I love travelling. I look forward to the smal trips that I take. They are not always short, some are long,” she tells.

My conversation with this fine and imminent performer cannot be concluded without asking her a staple question; what goes into the making of a good actress?

“You have to give it your heart and soul,” she serenely answers. “Acting is one job that can't be done [if one is] emotionally detached. You have to physically, emotionally and mentally be there. You have to feel it, experience all of it with your character,” she continues.

With a slight pause, mulling over the question some more, Rabab begins again, “I don't think there is a method. It works differently for each actor. Some people get emotionally involved, some don't. Some are naturally expressive, some are good at it. Some have to really work on it. So it varies. But for me, I feel it all.”

Almost wrapping an enlightening conversation with her, I ask about her favourite actresses. “It would be Natalie Portman; I am a huge fan of her.” She goes on to list Jennifer Lawrence, Deepika Padukone and Sanam Saeed, as well. “I admire the honesty and originality Sanam brings to her work. It is inspiring,” Rabab mentions.

Pulling her out of work-related convo, I lighten the air by inquiring what she does when she is not acting. “Travelling mostly,” she laughs light-heartedly. “I need an excuse for travelling. I plan trips when I have some time to spare. If not that, then I am found at the gym!” Working out is something Rabab religiously does every morning – six-days-a-week. Impressive! “I love kickboxing and reading. I also write. These activities take up much of my time,” Rabab shares. Above all, she is driven towards the sort of work that allows her to indulge in some ‘alone time’.

“I cherish the time I spend with myself, alone,” she declares. “It helps you grow.”

Hair, Make-up & Photography: Akif Ilyas
Styling: Aneela Murtaza