Emerging actress Faryal Mehmood is fast becoming a favorite on TV screens with a number of hit serials to her credit, including the likes of Mohabbat Tumse Nafrat Hai, Tum Se Hi Taluq Hai and the recently concluded Baba Jani.
Having started off with theatre and taking a plunge into cinema directly, with a brief part in Hamza Ali Abbasi’s now-shelved Kambakht, Mehmood was spotted on the sets of the film by Humayun Saeed, who offered the actress her first foray into television.
Nearly five years in the fraternity, Faryal Mehmood is now set to explore other avenues. She recently starred in Wajahat Rauf’s web-series for Eros Now titled Enaaya alongside Mehwish Hayat and Azfar Rehman, and has also shot for her debut movie, Senti Aur Mental with Yasra Rizvi and Zain Afzal.
Faryal’s also replaced Sonya Hussyn in Sohail Javed’s upcoming film, Sorry: A Love Story, which also features Faysal Qureshi, Aamina Sheikh and Zahid Ahmed.
In conversation with Instep, Mehmood opens up about all that she’s been up to and more…
Instep: You signed to star in Sorry: A Love Story recently. Sonya Hussyn was earlier doing the role. Were there ever any apprehensions taking on the role?
Faryal Mehmood (FM): Yes and no, both. I believe that when a script is written, it’s rotated among current, working actresses who fit the bill for the character. I think that Sonya is an outstanding actress, I really appreciate the work she’s done, and to be offered something she had taken up means I’m considered just as good and that’s such an honor for me. I also don’t think a character is someone’s until they’re done with it. I don’t see any competition, or anything malicious about this. Everything’s decided for you and this was for me.
Instep: You’ve also shot for Yasra Rizvi’s Senti Aur Mental. Tell us a little about what your experience was like working in the movie?
FM: We’re done with the first spell and we’ll shoot for the final leg in another month or two. It was a great experience; we had a very good time on-set. Yasra’s written it really well and she’s a great director. The character I’m playing is also completely different from what I’m doing in Sorry so that gives me an opportunity to be seen in versatile roles and I like that about myself.
I’m playing a 23-year old, software engineer, a complete drama queen, who’s getting married in Senti Aur Mental, and will be playing a supermodel who is paired with Faysal Qureshi in Sorry. So they both have their own charm, and require a lot of effort.
Instep: You also recently starred in the web-series Enaaya, which came under fire for its content. How do you look at criticism?
FM: Enaaya did go through a lot of criticism, but it was our first web-series. I feel that as a viewer, on Netflix or Eros, when we’re watching a foreign series, we’re very open and accepting towards different cultures, their mannerisms and how they communicate with one another, but when it comes to Pakistan, we’re oblivious to the truth of the society and our everyday lives. I think what we showed was very relatable; when you’re mad, you do curse and I think it’s okay to do that and express how you feel through words (laughs). But generally, I deal well with it. I focus on constructive criticism more because no matter what you do, you will be put down, so you’d rather get it while doing something you’re passionate about.
Instep: As an actress, what are the kinds of roles that appeal to you and do you think better roles for women are being written now?
FM: As an actress, very strong roles, that are justified and reasonable, that have a lot of shades that require going an extra-mile and putting in effort are the kind that appeal to me. I prefer edgy characters, which give me enough margin to perform. I’m not much of a sucker for main leads if they don’t have much to do and require you to cry only. I’d rather do a three-episode character that actually makes an impact on the story and helps taking the narrative forward. I’m very glad that I am now only being offered characters I exactly would want to play. I am able to now play very individualistic, feisty and courageous girls, and I do want to stand out for those.
Instep: Your family ties with the industry date back decades. What’s your take on nepotism and what do you think are the struggles otherwise to make a place for oneself in the industry?
FM: My family has been in show business and connected throughout India and Pakistan, and I do agree that there is nepotism in our industry. But I firmly believe that if you really want something and work hard for it, put in the hours and the energy, nothing can hold you back from achieving it. I can say that for a fact. It might take a while, but you’ll get there. My journey has been extremely difficult actually. I was ninety-six kilograms when I moved from America, and I acted the same, my weight held me back and after three years of being in the industry, I started working out and taking care of myself and my body, and I got to what I wanted and I know that there’s so much more.
Instep: Considering you’ve worked across several mediums of performing arts, what do you think is the way forward, especially with the recent upsurge of digital platforms?
FM: I’m glad that we’re going big on films, everyone’s jumped onto the bandwagon and no matter how good, bad or average they are, we’re finally creating cinema and it’s a good start. We’re far behind than the rest of the world so we need to catch up. I also see a lot of people making web-series now and that’s fantastic; I think everyone should be able to deal with different kinds of content. Here, women who are housewives and are home all day would want to watch something that reminds them of their lives and are able to empathize with what they watch (on TV), but web-series have a completely different audience, and I am one of them. I want to watch unique stories and concepts, so we can really experiment there.