Pakistan is one of the best countries in the world because we have produced world class sportsmen, educationists, politicians etc. since 1947. However, entertainment remains one of those fields where we believe that every singer is a miraasi, every actress is a slut and every actor must be either an addict or a rich dude wanting to appear on TV or films, for free.
That’s one of the many reasons why Pakistan’s entertainment industry – especially films – haven’t been able to make a mark internationally as well as they should have. Now when one of the very few people who deserve the credit for being an integral part of the revival, instead of praising her, we have started bashing her believing that the person must have bribed her way to the top. That person – Mehwish Hayat – deserves the award is simply out of the question for trolls who might not have watched her TV dramas, were simply not present at her theatre plays and didn’t go to her blockbuster movies as in their minds, watching a Pakistani film in the cinema must be a crime. Let’s analyze why the people at the helm were impressed by Mehwish Hayat and why they chose her over her contemporaries for the fourth highest civil award that was already conferred upon Noor Jehan, Shoaib Hashmi, Junaid Jamshed, Saba Qamar, Atif Aslam, and Hadiqa Kiani.
Mere Qatil Mere Dildar
Mehwish Hayat was outstanding in the play as a newly-wed who was not accepted by her in-laws at first and when she found out that her hubby’s elder brother was the same person who stalked her, she decided to take revenge in her own way. She was excellent in the play that also featured Ahsan Khan, Adnan Siddiqui, Shagufta Ejaz, Sajal Ali and Qavi Khan and it was instrumental in making her one of the top actors of the time.
Mirat ul Uroos
This modern-day adaptation of Deputy Nazir Ahmed’s classic novel featured Mehwish as the good granddaughter (of Akbari and Asghari, of course!) and had to create an identity for herself in the presence of Ahsan Khan, Mikaal Zulfiqar and Amina Sheikh who was the arrogant sister. The play did well when it was aired way back in 2012 and pushed Mehwish’s career forward as an actress who could play any kind of roles.
Aapki Soniya (Theatre)
Before this play, I wasn’t a fan of Mehwish Hayat’s as she seemed to be just another pretty face. But when you are acting in a play that has been written by Bollywood legend Javed Siddiqui, directed by Pakistan’s international star Alyy Khan, features just two actors (with Sajid Hasan being the other) and revolves around reading letters, you have to have some sort of talent to impress the audience.
Mehwish Hayat won a fan that day as she kept reading letters with expressions of Soniya, the estranged daughter of the character played by Sajid Hasan who was sitting in another country and didn’t know of her existence till recently.
Na Maloom Afraad – Billi Song
And then came Mujhe Kehte Hain Billi in an era when people weren’t going to cinemas when Pakistani films were hardly being produced and when the audience was shifting to Indian films that were being screened in Pakistan. ‘Billi’ was an inspired version of ‘Munni’, the situation was more or less the same as in Dabangg films and many termed it a vulgar item number but that one song changed the dynamics from the audience’s point of view. People didn’t exit the theatre as credits were rolling as they couldn’t believe that a well-choreographed song can be integrated into a film that was all about three losers, that day the audience was the fourth loser as they lost their heart inside the cinema to the Cat Lady.
Jawani Phir Nahi Ani
And then came the biggest hit of Pakistani cinema (till that time), the film where Mehwish Hayat surprised everyone by throwing away her TV avatar and played a don’s daughter who falls in love with Humayun Saeed’s character and follows him back when he decides to go MIA. She danced her heart out in the songs but also acted well, making people go and watch the film multiple times. The modern dressing was icing on the cake, especially for those who thought that Pakistani actresses don’t look good on screen, especially in films!
The actress stayed connected with her fans on TV through Nadeem Baig’s Dil Lagi where she partnered with Humayun Saeed but played a head-strong girl who knew the difference between right and wrong, even if it means going against her in-laws. Her performance was loved by all and she was nominated for all awards as well, the biggest of them being the admiration of her fans from around the world.
Tu Hi Tu
People criticized Mehwish Hayat for her attempt at singing without knowing that her siblings are established singers and that she sang for TV on a number of occasions without anyone realizing. And since the song was with Shiraz Uppal who is probably one of the best music composers in the country, they couldn’t handle the collaboration. Since then, Mehwish has done tours all around the world and made a name for herself as an actress who can sing, and that’s why she was chosen for Enaaya, Pakistan’s first web series released earlier this year.
Actor In Law
Late Bollywood legend Om Puri told me that he has worked with Parsis in India and Mehwish Hayat’s portrayal of a Parsi girl Minu in this film was the best he has ever seen in a film. If that’s not a compliment, I don’t know what is. In this film, she played a TV reporter who followed her heart than her boss’s orders and that’s why she took decisions that were right but not popular. And believe me, she didn’t have to do an item number or even a song in this film to prove her superiority to others who might have more Instagram followers but less talent.
Punjab Nahi Jaungi
Every few years later comes a film that towers over other films and Punjab Nahi Jaungi was one such film where Mehwish Hayat played the title role. She matched Humayun Saeed every step of the way be it the scenes where she is playing basketball or attending a dance party. It remains her best performance ever be it in films, theatre or TV and put her on top of the game, even though award juries looked the other way and were criticized for that. The film stood as the highest-grossing Pakistani film of all time until it was dethroned by Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 sequel, which also had a cameo from Mehwish Hayat!
No better film on a social issue has come out of Pakistan recently than Nabeel – Fizza’s Load Wedding where Mehwish Hayat played the role of a widowed girl who works as a Health worker in a remote village of Punjab. The film’s story revolved around widow remarriage and dowry that are issues that aren’t tackled in films and the way it was handled was commendable. As for Mehwish, she looks the part of someone who was sent back soon after her marriage ended in a tragedy and compliments Fahad Mustafa’s character, even though there are a few dance numbers here and there, it is their performance in this social-drama that makes the film a memorable one.
3 Bahadur: Rise of the Warriors
And a few months back, Mehwish Hayat made her animated film debut with the third and final installment of 3 Bahadur where she played a misguided Super Hero who wanted to keep her powers for reasons better known to her. Not many top-tier actresses would have done a role that had shades of grey that too in an animated flick, yet Mehwish went ahead and made her character Erma so popular amongst youngsters that they started acting like her, with an imaginary pet as their sidekick.