Renowned for her roles in Parizaad and Pyari Mona, Pakistani actor Mashal Khan graced the couch at The Talk Talk Show with host Hassan Choudary for a heartfelt conversation about her diverse repertoire and experiences in showbiz. Boasting various accolades in rowing and shooting while developing her skills in writing and music, the actor discussed her appetite for learning new things.
Mashal explained, “When something sparks my interest, I completely immerse myself in it, and then I just have to do it really well… I don’t feel at peace until I do.” Attributing her host of hobbies to a limited social circle growing up, the actor offered, “I think when you have a few friends in your childhood, then you have a lot more time to work on your talents.”
Despite Mashal’s many talents, the scripts that usually turn up on her desk fail to encapsulate such breadth of life in their characters. The celebrity recounted her disappointment regarding the roles that dominate Pakistani television. “This is my main contention with our dramas. We depict very two-dimensional people who only have love and domestic issues in their lives.”
The College Gate actor furthered on, “I understand that these issues take up a part of your life. But at most, they constitute ten percent of your life. We don’t show well-rounded people.” Mashal cited her interest in sports and contended how seldom it is to see characters on screen casually taking up sports as a hobby.
Mashal added, “When they [showrunners] really have to show characters in sports, they show them as the number one tennis player or number one badminton player. There is no middle ground that this could be anyone’s normal hobby.” The actor recognized that affording this nuance to characters often requires subtle changes, like personalizing a kitchen space if the heroine is invested in cooking.
Subtlety is perhaps not our television’s strongest suit. Mashal shared, “Initially, I would find them [the stories] very funny. Who has problems like these?” The actor humourously remarked on how peculiar she found the “vamp” to be wearing dramatically cunning expressions right in front of the oblivious “innocent” heroine.
“If my sister in real life was doing something like that right in front of me, I would ask her, Are you okay? Why are you making these faces?” Mashal said it with a laugh. Echoing the oft-repeated criticism of the “Western woman” playing the devil, she contemplated, “We associate English-speaking people with being too open-minded, too out there. And perhaps it’s not acceptable yet in our society to be too ‘Western-influenced’ so we take it as a negative connotation.”
“Every society has good and bad people, regardless of language,” she emphasized. As per the actor, however, the dissatisfaction with Pakistani television scripts cannot pragmatically last for long. Mashal relayed how she would insist on picking her scripts with care when she started out, but eventually she grew tired and had to concede.
Does this stop the actor from delivering her best? She thinks not. “You can connect with any person if you really try,” Mashal insisted. “So I read the script carefully and try to find common ground with my characters.” Despite all odds, there is a common human experience that appeals to Mashal—sometimes it is a connection forged over similar values and a family-oriented outlook on life, other times it is a mutual sensitivity with her characters.
Divulging more insights on her evolving relationship with acting, the Qissa Meherbano Ka actor recalled her journey to finding a work-life balance. “In the first four years of my career, I lost a lot of time to my work,” Mashal shared. “I rarely spent time with my family; I would almost never meet my friends, and I never got to see my childhood best friend.”
With no vacations, Mashal’s early career found her traveling solely for work until she actively made the call to step back. “I slowed down, but when you are offered a lot of work, you really want to once again pack your schedule.” However, the actor now “consciously” holds herself back from jumping into the same old frenzy.
Enjoying a more balanced life now, Mashal remains focused on developing her career and various interests, with marriage and love life currently taking a backseat. “I don’t look at love as a dynamic where one person controls the other,” she wisely commented, but firmly maintained that marriage has never been her goal.
The actor disclosed her strong belief in the evil eye and contended, “When I do end up marrying, I’ll be very private about it. It will be among a few people, a very simple affair… I genuinely feel that people try to ruin things when they see you happy with someone while they are miserable at home.”
A longstanding vocal advocate against bullying, Mashal unpacked her own experiences with combating critics and learning how to stand her ground. She recalled, “The first time I got bullied, I let it happen. I would understand what was happening to me after a three-day delay.” Elaborating on this “lag” in comprehension, she pointed out the creative ways people veil their insults.
She added, “I couldn’t even comprehend that someone could be mocked for being tall. But then I would keep mulling over it, and three days later, I would realize that her tone wasn’t sincere when that person made that remark.” Nonetheless, Mashal remains indebted to these early incidents that energized her into countering such attempts to ridicule her.
“If someone wants to start a fight, then I know how to end it,” Mashal declared. “People who are happy with themselves will never make you feel bad about yourself.” The actor further insisted that such belittling remarks are born out of insecurity and characterized these disingenuous critics as “insecure, fed up, and disappointed by life.”.