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Mehr Hassan

This hazel eyed beauty is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 125 pounds.
Riffat Hassan and Mehrunnisa Hassan are lucky; they have each other to lean on when the going gets tough. This mother/daughter team both occupy the world stage.

Dr. Riffat Hassan is a professor of religious studies at University of Louisville, an international expert on feminist theology and founder and director of INRFVVP, an organization that helps female victims of violence in Eastern countries.

Her daughter, Mehr Hassan, is an actress best known for her work in Indian commercial cinema, playing roles which shed light on issues such as female coming of age and the religious differences between Hindus and Muslims.

Mehr decided to pursue her own type of performance and set her sights for a career in the competitive world of acting. While some of the extended family was "wary" about her prospects, Mehr always had the support of her mother.

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Mehr Hassan wants her name on the marquee... and what Mehr wants Mehr gets in shape of the female lead in an ambitious project called "Shararat" with the most happening director in Lollywood, Samina Pirzada. Mehr has reached Samina's expert start maker’s hands all the way from New York.

Are you satisfied with your performance in the movie?
I am hardly ever completely satisfied with myself because I am usually my works harshest critic…but it was a fun film and I enjoyed the process of being in a comedy…it was a worthwhile experience. I wanted to work in a comedy as the bulk of my film work to date has been serious issue based cinema. It was a pleasant change of pace/genre.

What are the reasons for Shararat not doing good on the box office?
I wish the audience had gotten the full impact of the film but unfortunately because of the editing choices made a great deal of the film has edited out and or presented out of sequence. A classical dance “competition” that the audiences would have thoroughly enjoyed between Reema and myself was cut as were several very important linking scenes. One would have to ask the editor (who was also Samina Peerzada’s chief assistant) about some of the choices.

The film has done reasonably well considering the current weather conditions in Pakistan. People here tend not to venture out much during the cold and on top of it the fog in certain cities has been additionally distressing. Of course those who do venture out are usually doing so for weddings…another commonality of this time of year.
Lack of consistent focused publicity has also added to the film not getting the response it was hoping for.

What sort of projects are you looking forward to sign in the future?
The bulk of my work remains outside of Pakistan. I have worked in South India, Bombay and Los Angeles. I look for interesting unusual pieces that inspire me in one way or another. I am in the middle of a South Indian film (in Kannada) right now. I am usually not location bound but project bound. A film has to move me…so that I can find the impetus to move my audience.

Other than film work I am working with my Kathak Ustad (Khannu Samrat) on his next music video. The first classical dance music video (“Piya Nain Milla”) has done very well internationally and we are hoping to come up with something innovative for the next video of the series as well.

How do you think Lollywood productions can improve?
It is imperative that Lollywood start making internationally appealing films. Both in terms of aesthetic appeal and story content. Jawaid Sheikh recently gave it an honest try which is commendable. Once Lollywood starts making films that will work internationally, then enough revenue will be generated for updating labs, equipment etc. Lollywood definitely has the existing talent in all departments…but the priority has to shift from catering only to the Punjabi speaking crowd within Pakistan to a more trendy international audience.

Have you done any professional course of acting from abroad?
I have done my Masters in Theatre (I specialized in Shakespeare) from the US and also took some courses in acting for the camera while in Bombay. I believe that it is imperative to get formally educated in whatever field one chooses to adopt. I have also studied Western dance and Eastern Classical (Kathak-under Ustad Khannu Samrat).

Will you be working for the small screen?
Maybe at some point in the future but not any time too soon. I remain focused on films as of now and do not wish to get side-tracked.

What you do in your free time?
What free time? (jokingly).
I enjoy reading and writing. But I enjoy working more than anything else.

Tell us about your family?
My mother really needs no introduction. She is far more famous than I am! Dr. Riffat Hassan, the Islamic scholar and feminist theologian. My mothers family is also quite well known in terms of arts. My mothers Mamoon was Anwar Kamal Pasha and her first cousin Yawar Hayat Khan. Both have contributed significantly to films and television respectively.

Your parents supported you to join this profession?
Absolutely. The only concern was that if I was to follow the arts that I study my craft properly and not treat it as a joke. Thus the Masters! My education was a test of both my metal and my level of devotion to my craft. The only condition ever put on me by my folks was that whatever I do, I put my entire energy and focus into it. There is after all no excuse for mediocrity.

What is your favourite dress?
I dress according to my mood and/or the occasion. Casually I prefer either churidaars or simple jeans and a t-shirt.

Which place you like to spend your holidays?
Disneyworld! I can’t get enough of it!

Your favourite actor and actress?
I have enjoyed the performances of many actors/actresses.
My overall favourites would still probably be Glenn Close and Robert De Niro. Robin Williams is underrated but a brilliant performer.

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