She may seem to be a newcomer to television but Hiba Aziz is anything but a debutante. She has been around for quite some time and has appeared in a few TV serials like Adhura Milan, Rani, Babul Ka Angana, Ek Aam Si Larki, and Tumhari Maryam. However, she gained recognition for her performance in Badshah Begum where her character went from a village belle to Khadima Khaas and finally became the wife of Pir Shahmeer, the brother of the titular character.
What the audience liked about her character was her transition from a nobody to somebody in a matter of a few weeks. When the play began, she was an innocent girl who became fearful due to the treatment she received from her mistress’s stepbrother but finally became the epitome of confidence and grace once she was rescued from the jaws of the evildoer. BOLD had a chat with the talented actress who had a lot to say about her performance in the play, her forthcoming projects, and how a well-deserved break helped her deliver her best performance yet.
BOLD: We are in love with your performance in Badshah Begum where your character has progressed from south to north. But the million-dollar question that everyone wants to ask you – why were you missing in action?
Hiba Aziz: (Laughs) To tell you the truth, I wasn’t very content with the kind of characters I was being offered in TV serials. I began my career seven years ago, relocated to Karachi from Lahore, and wanted to do some substantial roles but instead got supporting characters, including a couple of negative ones, which wasn’t what I had in mind. Three years back I decided to take a break from the hectic life I was leading and went back to Lahore to be with my family. Trust me, the break helped me big time because when I did return to acting after the hiatus, it felt refreshing, which is exactly what I was looking for.
What made you change your mind and return to acting, after three years?
When the director of Badshah Begum Khizer (Idrees) approached me for the play, I wasn’t very anxious to make a comeback because nothing new was coming my way. When he was narrating the script to me over the phone, I realized that it more or less seemed like Empire of the Mughals, which is one of my favourite books. I interrupted him to point out the resemblance to which he replied with ‘kind of’ and went on to complete the narration.
I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to say yes or no until he said that he wants me to do the play because he thinks it will be good for me. This one sentence made me change my mind and I accepted the character of Gulnar who begins the play as Khadima Khaas and then goes on to become an important part of Badshah Begum’s family.
Many actresses wouldn’t have even thought twice had they been offered to play Khadima Khaas? What made you go for a character that begins as a servant of all places?
The best part about the play was that it didn’t follow a typical Saas Bahu kind of story nor was my character that of a conniving girl, or an innocent sister. The scale Gulnar’s character was offering me was huge and it intrigued me as an actor and a performer. I chose to say yes to the drama since it enhanced my artistic point of view, and the rest is in front of the audience.
Secondly, I was able to relate to the place where Gulnar was at the beginning of the play because I had already been there, so instead of becoming a challenge for me, Gulnar became an extension for me which helped me big time.
Did you know that the character would become the most important aspect of the play, as it progressed?
Oh yes, I did. Everything was going against Gulnar when the play started but with the play nearing its end, she is the sort of glue that binds the whole family together. My relationship with everyone from Badshah Begum to Pir Murad Shah Alam (played by Abul Hassan) was instrumental in the 90-degree angle shift that my character takes, and I had fun playing the different shades that take Gulnar from innocence to being threatening.
As you said you didn’t want to play second fiddle in plays, but Badshah Begum features the who’s who of the industry. Didn’t you feel threatened by the ensemble cast despite playing an important character?
It’s sad that in our society, we categorize female actors as either a beautiful girl who cries all the time, an antagonist who doesn’t want others to have a happy ending, or a mother-in-law who is somehow frustrated at her own son or his wife, for some odd reason. That’s why, for me, playing Gulnar was more important than being intimidated by the huge cast around me. I didn’t let my mind get conscious of my surroundings because had I done that, I wouldn’t have been able to give the high-quality performance that was expected from me.
How was it to perform on screen with the fresh-faced Hamza Sohail, who plays your husband in the play?
Hamza Sohail is a wonderful actor and while we were paired as husband and wife, on set I got brotherly vibes from him. He is a fun-loving professional actor who knows how to interact with people, and that’s why we had a lot of fun on the sets. Even before our tense scenes, we were laughing our heads off, which made me comfortable in my character, and as an actor as well.
Who is your favourite actor with whom you would like to share the screen in the future?
The late Moin Akhtar was my favourite actor but unfortunately, he isn’t anymore with us, but I would love to share the screen with Bushra Ansari who I admire a lot.
Well, you got to work with her blood relative in Badshah Begum, didn’t you?
Oh yes, I loved working with Zara who in fact has something that reminds others of her aunt. She is a lovely person to work with and since most of my scenes were with her, I had a ball on set. She doesn’t let others realize for a second that she has achieved a lot as an actress and that’s what made the other cast members relaxed around her.
Usually, good-looking actresses like to do commercials and you are clearly in that zone, but we haven’t seen you around much. Any specific reason for that?
I think it has more to do with my personality than anything else. I don’t like to spend time with people I don’t know, which is sort of a drawback in the media industry. I can’t help it because that’s me!
Now that you have played a major character in a TV serial, I am sure offers must be piling up for you.
I have already started working on my next play Qalandar, details of which will be shared soon. All I can say is that it features Muneeb Butt, Ali Abbas, and my Badshah Begum co-star Komal Meer, and my character will surprise all those who thought that I couldn’t better Gulnar so soon. -Ends