Mehreen Raheel is a Pakistani model, actor, managing director of her family company R vision and host who appears in Pakistani films and serials. She is best known for portraying the main leads in Meri Zaat Zarra-e-Benishan, Dastaan, Mastana Mahi, Ashk and Zindagi Gulzar Hai. She made her film debut in 2011 Jawad Ahmad’s Virsa. In 2013, she appeared in Tamanna directed by a British director Steven Dean Moore.
Ink sat down to speak to Mehreen exclusively about many interesting things! Read on!
Both my parents are from Lahore. We are an old family from Lahore. My grandfather was one of the first people to open a continental restaurant in Lahore. My Dad was in the army because he wanted to serve the country, while my mother is a graduate from NCA. They were both introduced to each other by Salima Hahsmi and Shoaib Hashmi. My mother is integral part of the media. My maternal grandfather was a professor at Government College – he taught literature. He was also a bureaucrat in America. Due to my father’s various postings, I moved a lot around Pakistan while growing up. We moved back to Lahore while I was in fifth grade. I did my schooling and college education from Lahore, and moved to London to pursue courses in English language, Dance and Script Writing. My family and teachers have played integral parts in shaping my personality and teaching me the importance of staying grounded. I was 15 when I did my first project as an actor during summer holidays. I made 50,000;/- bucks from it, which was great pocket money. From there onward it has been a gorgeous journey.
2. What inspired you to pursue a career in acting? What do you enjoy most about this profession?
I basically fell into acting. My mother has been a part of the industry back from the era when acting was taken very seriously. I used to accompany her to rehearsals to PTV, so when I decided to pursue a career in acting it was like walking back to my family. When I joined the industry, it was a considered a taboo for a girl from a good family to work in modeling/acting. Wearing sleeveless or clothes which showed your midriff were not accepted widely. I guess I have always been a rebellion. I followed my heart, managed my career on my own terms and I was lucky.
3. What’s the most important thing about a role that attracts you to take it up? How do you prepare for a role?
I love playing different characters. I have played all kinds of characters – negative and positive. I try going where no one has gone yet. An actor is a blank canvas, and it is up to them how they create their journey. People don’t want to look at photocopies. We are there to entertain out audience which can be done by pouring our heart and soul in our work.
4. You have been a full-time mother for a while now. Did you ever feel a restlessness in you to return to acting while you were on maternity leave?
I was actually working till my 8th month of pregnancy when both my kids we born. I took a month and a half off of course, but besides that I have been very involved with my work. People often say that marriage and kids affect a woman’s career but that has never been the case with me. In fact, my career blossomed after marriage. Every milestone in my life – whether it is marriage or kids – has only brought positivity for me.
5. What’s keeping you busy these days? Are you working on any current projects?
I am working on an ad film for Cerelac which is a project on completion of their 50 years. It should be out soon. I am taking on minimum work at the moment as I am a full-time mother and housewife. These are very important years of my kids’ lives and I want to be there for them as much as possible.
6. You have acted in several TV serials and movies throughout your career. Looking back now, do you ever think that you could have done a bit better in any particular role?
No, I actually think I can do better in every project. The day I start thinking that I am the best I will not be able to grow as a person. I think this is how any good actor worldwide thinks as acting is our soul food.
7. What have you learned from the directors and senior actors that you have worked with so far?
Patience. And just a lot of patience ☺
8. In a biographical film of your life, who would you like to play you?
I think it would be quite narcissist of me to say who I would like to play me in a biopic of mine. My fans should be the ones answering this.
9. What would be your dream role and crew to work with?
There are so many of them. I am a big fan of Samrad Sehbai and Sarmad Khoosat’s work. Luckily, I have worked with both of them. Internationally, I love Star wars so George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Mani Ratnam.
10. What kind of things should an aspiring actor be involved in to prepare themselves for this field of work?
Focus and discipline. Go on sets with a clean heart and soul and just dive in. There is no space for tantrums in this field. Acting is like an ocean. If we bind ourselves in these chains, we are bound to drown. Read your scripts, study them well and work hard on your characters.
11. Who is your acting icon and why?
I love Meryl Streep and Audrey Hepburn. I have immense respect for all women who have been standing through the winds of time. My mother of course is one of the most incredible people I know.
12. In recent years, we have seen that body-shaming has been becoming more and more common, particularly after the popularity of social media. There are now unreal expectations from women as well as constant criticism. What is your take on this? And in your opinion, how has media added on to this disgusting practice?
I used to have a different body type in my teens, but I am not sixteen anymore and I am not a stick. However, I eat extremely healthy and work out regularly. This is all that’s important. Everybody has a different body type, and the ultimate goal is not to be skinny but to be fit. I think you should work towards keeping your body in the best shape you possibly can. Look after yourself. Contentment comes from the heart. It’s very easy to point fingers at people, but it’s difficult to understand where they are coming from. Go to any country in the world and you will see that beautiful women come in all shapes and sizes. People who criticize other people are the ones who have their own insecurities, which is why whatever someone says about you should not matter. Photoshop is definitely one thing which has added vanity in our lives. The media should promote positivity.
13. What have been your initial experiences with makeup?
Oh man I’ve been through false lashes which don’t come off, layers of foundation which came off with nail polish removers and what not! There have been nightmares, and some pleasant experiences. However, in all my acting projects I have done my hair and makeup myself. I have never had a makeup artist. I’m fortunate to have the aesthetics as I studied wardrobe as a part of my course in London.
14. What are your skincare and fitness regimes?
I am a firm believer of eating healthy, detoxing and internal cleansing. I ensure that I am eating clean. I take multi vitamins and use sunblock regularly. I’m against botox and all of this bakwas which has made everyone look like a goldfish. One should age gracefully. More than anything, stay positive and that will definitely show on your face.
15. How do you usually spend your Sundays?
I wake up at 5:30 in the morning, wake my kids up and prepare breakfast which we have at around 6:30 AM. We have lunch by 12:30 PM, after which we take a nap. We wake up at 3 PM and go out on drives to the park or the supermarket, depending on the weather. I am an old school parent and encourage my kids to be involved in outdoor activities, meditating and reading as opposed to using social media. I want them to have an imagination and not live in a fake world.
16. What are the essentials in your hand bag at all times?
Hand sanitizer, lip balm, alcohol swabs, face powder, cologne, perfume, sunglasses, wallet and snacks for my kids.
17. How would you describe your fashion sense?
Very prim and proper.
18. What’s one trend you would never try and why?
Anything that doesn’t suit my body type.
19. Which is your favorite smartphone application and why?
WhatsApp because it’s really convenient. Facebook also because it helps you stay connected.
20. Which are your all time favourite movies to watch?
I like The English Patient, Sabrina Fair and mostly old Hollywood movies.
21. What message would you like to give your fans and the readers of Ink?
One life to live. Be positive about it.
Follow Mehreen on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Mehreen-Raheal-142717919108951