KARACHI: She will greet you with her signature million dollar smile every time and introduce herself softly. “Hi, I am Mahira Khan” she will say. As if she really needs to.
I’ve met her twice. The first time, I remember entering the room to see someone who many regard as Pakistan’s biggest superstar sitting cross-legged on the floor, munching on some snacks. Mahira saw me and immediately rose to welcome me in with a grace that’s become synonymous to her name.
The actor is a bonafide household name in Pakistan. Even though her last project 7 Din Mohabbat In didn’t fare too well at the box office, Mahira has had a great year. From representing Pakistan at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival to becoming the UN Ambassador for Refugees, she has been doing it all.
As she turns 34 today, here’s a quick recap of the year that Mahira has had. 2018 began her bagging the award for Best Actress for the politically-charged Verna at this year’s Lux Style Awards.
As always, she looked every bit the superstar that she is, especially with that trophy in hand. The evening was all smooth sailing until a video of Mahira and fellow actor Javed Sheikh from the stage took over social media, wherein the latter allegedly tried to kiss her but she turned her face away.
Ever eloquent, Mahira was quick to shut the trolls down in one simple statement. “Javed Sheikh is a legend and a mentor to all of us in this industry. Would vouch for him always,” she said. And that was that.
Soon after, in March to be precise, Mahira won the Contribution to Film and Activism Award at the UK Asian Film Festival. Humble as always, she dedicated the award to her son Azlan. Clad in a deconstructed Elan sari, Mahira expressed her gratitude whilst accepting the award and that same day, she shared stage with veteran Bollywood star Simi Garewal.
While many might argue this to be her biggest win in 2018, the Raeesstar wasn’t done yet. In May, Mahira began readying herself to be the first Pakistani to grace the prestigious Cannes Film Festival as a L’Oreal Hair and Care brand ambassador. She would go on to share the red carpet with the likes of Jane Fonda, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Sonam Kapoor.
When I met her at the press meet held prior to her departure, Mahira was full of nerves. When she actually reached Cannes, the biggest question on her and everyone else’s minds was what she would wear on the red carpet.
As fate would have it, her actual dress failed to arrive on time and so, she opted for a back up black Alberta Ferretti gown. With a red pout and sleek hair to boot, the Sadqay Tumhare star carried herself effortlessly – as though she was born for the red carpet. Move over Sonam and Aishwarya…it was all about the Pakistani beauty.
Of course, she isn’t just a pretty face. Fast forward to September when Mahira was named the ambassador for United Nations Human Commission for Refugees. As part of her new role, she went on to visit various cities with the UN delegation and vowed to help those in need.
One of the place she went to was Peshawar where she met with Afghan refugees, particularly children. “If this imperative issue is being highlighted better, if people are being much more aware if I’m present, then I’d love to contribute,” the Ho Mann Jahaan actor said. “More than half of these refugees are children. This is a huge thing because children are our future.”
Mahira has also, time and again, raised her voice to support breast cancer or mental health campaigns and continues to do so. On the acting front, she will soon be returning to the big screen in Bilal Lashari’s star-studded The Legend of Maula Jatt. And what’s even better is that she will be reuniting with her Humsafar co-star Fawad Khan and Hamza Ali Abbasi for the project. Here’s wishing Mahira the best of everything that 2019 has to offer!