Mahnoor Baloch is Pakistan's most beautiful and talented actress. Along Modeling and Acting she is also known as a great Director.
Mahnoor Baloch has a very unique face, which appeals and relates to every woman. She caters her beauty well and has a charming personality. Unlike other models and actresses she did not flood in with her commercials and dramas but instead concentrated on quality work.'The realm of showbiz is perilous as far as one's reputation is concerned. One has to be very careful while laughing, smiling and even talking to people. Here, scandals are like quagmires, once you are in, it is difficult to get out,' says Mahnoor.
What is so different about Patjhar?
The story for the play is taken from an old english novel and Mohammad Ahmed has done his best to give the story an Eastern touch. Nowadays people pay less and less attention to stories when directing a play, but this play's strong point is its story as well as the wonderful acting by my costars.
We've heard that Badar Khalil plays a pivotal role in the play. Has she performed to your satisfaction? Badar Khalil has performed exceptionally well in this play. Her character is mentally ill but there are no outward signs of her illness, and it is very hard to play characters like that. For me as a director it was hard to record these signs because there was so movement.
Have you done a formal course in direction?
I wanted to but never got around to it because there are no such institutions in Pakistan. But like other artist turned directors I have learned by watching my seniors and other people direct. Actually none of the current lot of directors has impressed me. All they do is take long shot or close shot of the face and call it direction. Direction is not centered around only these things.
We've heard that you are very tough director to work with?
No, (laughingly) that is not true. I just don't like people showing up late for schedules and shootings. If someone is not performing well or something is not going right with the scene due to some reason then I find it better to pack and leave rather than to sit there and shoot the whole scene.
It was difficult for Mahnoor to direct and act at the same time. But then she believes she had the guts to do it.
"It was a tough job, but I guess I am very hardworking."
What is most important for an artist...money or respect?
I believe that respect and the love we get from others is the most important thing. It is not imporant just to be famous. Now we have so many channels running simultaneously and we are flooded with all sorts of plays, but the good artists do only selective work. Before I sign on the dotted line, I like to read the story of the play. If the story interests me then I agree to do the play. Otherwise no matter how much money people offer me, I don't accept it unless it is a good story.
We heard that in PJKC, your husband has a cameo?
Mohd Ahmed wanted Hamid to act in the play but Hamid refused because he is not into acting. But if in the future, he expresses a desire to act then I would love to cast him opposite me. She smiles as she answers our question.
How would you describe acting?
Acting requires that an actor totally becomes the character he/she is playing. I try to do that when I am acting. I am surprised at actors who perform in three or four serials at one time and perform different characters in each serial.
Exuberant and vivacious Mahnoor after her debut commercial, soared to instant fame. Bogged down with offers soon after, she gradually ascended the ladder to success and made a place for herself among the glitterbugs of showbiz. She has, since then, transformed from the tenderfoot she was in her initial days of glory.
"I am a thorough professional now who has learnt from her past mistakes and have vowed never to make them the second time." Her colleagues find her a punctuality freak and a difficult person to deal with, a fact she happily admits. "There are reasons for such a comportment," as she says.
"I can understand if one is five to ten minutes, or at the most, half an hour late. But how can you be late everyday. That means you need to set your priorities and take life seriously. As for my being a difficult person, that's because I have had my share of problems with the press. I have been humiliated several times and would never like to go through the same ordeal again.
Let me tell you a headline that was printed in a daily, Mahnoor Baluch ki talaq. Can you imagine what I went through after reading the headline. In the article they were actually referring to my divorce in a serial. That's cheap sensation for you. Such incidents have compelled me to keep my distance and be hard to reach."
Mahnoor is sailing in many boats these days. She is a model, performer and a director at the same time. Though modelling had been her forte, she is no more the sultry siren that was once seen sashaying down the catwalk. It was again a bitter experience that led to such a decision.
"I believe style does not mean that one has to be vulgar. In a fashion show we were to model for some western clothes. The skirt I had to wear had a slit way up till my thigh. It was very embarrassing for me. That was my last show. I believe there is a difference between style and nudity. I like modelling but catwalk is a definite no no now. I will continue to work in commercials though."
Mahnoor and her husband Hamid Siddique are planning to move to Canada soon where most of their family currently resides. She likes to act but direction gives her creative satisfaction.
"I am not crazy about acting. I am doing it perhaps because I am good at it. I always wanted to direct being intrigued by what went on behind the camera. Had there been any institute teaching this, I would have directly jumped onto the bandwagon of direction."
With the establishment of so many private production companies Mahnoor believes there is much more work now for artists. Since her first play Marvi, she wanted to direct a serial but her break came along with, Lamhe.
Being a novice, she learnt a lot from her directorial debut. Sharing her bittersweet memories she says, "There were certain seniors whom I expected would help me. They turned their backs to me and I was all alone. I had no guidance. I was quite shocked to realize that people who had been in this field long enough could be so insecure of a dilettante. Considering the fact, I think I did a good job. I have survived because of my family because they encouraged me a lot. My crew was very co-operative as well."
After her first venture she didn't take up any other projects. This she says is due to her flair for perfection. She had a good script in her hands a year ago but couldn't get the right girl to do the role of a teenager. After all her efforts ended in vain she decided to focus on other more important matters. Now, once again she is all set to deliver her best, which she believes would be better than what she had to offer before.
As for her acting, she claims she is least interested in the glamorous aspect of the field and has no qualms about being portrayed older than her age.
"I believe glamour is not a necessary ingredient of showbiz. My roles have given me a lot of margin for performance. I do not fret over the fact that my character is that of a servant as long as I get a strong role. I enjoyed playing the role of Shahzad Roy's mother in Lamhe.
It was quite a different experience for me. Shahzad would come up and say that he felt funny calling me maa all the time. I got many similar offers after that but I didn't want to be stereotyped, therefore I declined. "Mahnoor tied the knot at the tender age of sixteen. She and her husband were both head over heels in love and were married with their parents' consent.
"It was easier for us because my husband was the son of my father's friend. If it hadn't been so, things would have been difficult because we were very young."She shares a perfectly harmonious relationship with her spouse and seldom cross swords."That is because we grew up together and are more friends than just a married couple. It's a funny kind of relationship and we have everything one could ever ask for."
She has a thirteen-year-old daughter. In response to the query as to why just one kid she replied; "There is no particular reason for that. I guess because it's easier to give birth but way too difficult to bring up a child. Perhaps we thought that it's better to raise one good human being than lots of spoilt brats. But I believe there is still plenty of time to think about more kids."
Mahnoor juggles home and work with expertise. "I have my priorities set. I always handle one project at a time and never let my work effect my home and family." This is also one of the reasons for her vanishing act after every serial.
"I always take into account the team, cast and the director I am supposed to work with before committing myself. I prefer working with good people. The environment matters a lot to me. Consequently, I have done only five to six plays in ten years." This she says is the reason for her scandal-free career.
"The realm of showbiz is perilous as far as one's reputation is concerned. One has to be very careful while laughing, smiling and even talking to people. Here, scandals are like quagmires, once you are in, it is difficult to get out. There are some people who get all the wrong ideas if you smile or talk to them in a pleasant manner. They have that 'hansi to phansi' mentality. I managed to stay away because I don't indulge in idle gossip."
Mahnoor loves to be in the limelight. "I guess it's quite natural," she says smiling. "I mean who wouldn't want to be loved unconditionally and admired by all."