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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Shattering Stereotypes: Hina Khan on the Right ‘Lines’ of Success

Hina Khan is a name that exudes beauty, confidence and courage. 

She proved her dedication and passion towards work after headlining the popular Indian daily soap –Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai for eight triumphant years. 

However, after leaving the show, we have seen her in various personas and avatars… Including her flair as a talented singer.

She emerged the first runner-up on two successful reality shows (Khatron Ke Khiladi, Bigg Boss) and is now portraying an iconic anti-heroine role in Kasuatii Zindagii Kay.

We’ve also seen her in a music video, completely omitting the archetypical girl-next-door image.

But, in the name of diversity, that’s not all.

The 31-year-old actress is set to make her Bollywood debut in Rahat Kazmi’s production Lines which promises to be a simple, heartwarming and hard-hitting story in the backdrop of Kashmir.

Filme Shilmy catches up with Hina Khan to talk about Lines and her career in Indian Television. 

Congratulations on your Bollywood debut. Lines is a film based in Kashmir, so it must be quite close to your heart?

Lines is a story of an independent village girl who is quite smart and savvy, the contrary to General believe how a simple village girl can do unexpected things to save what’s dear to her.

Plus, it’s her journey in the backdrop of the Kargil War and we extensively shot in Kashmir.

I have spent my childhood in Srinagar, I was born there. This film will be close to my heart for reasons more than one.

Shooting there was absolute bliss, picturesque landscapes away from the chaotic city life and everyone on the team put their heart and soul to the project.

It was a great working experience.

Tell us a bit about your character in the film?

My character name is Nazia, who is a responsible and independent girl.

The story is set in Kashmir in the 90s.

More is less if it’s disclosed without its time, so let’s make do with this much of information as of now!

Lines seems to be quite a realistic film and actors usually prefer to debut with more ‘commercial’ cinema…

Lines is an international feature film; a tragic story set on the life and plight of people on the border.

Set around the grass-root effect of Kargil war in Kashmir, this film throws light on the lives of people, who live close to LOC (Line Of Control).

So the plot cannot be unreal if it tends to do justice!

I’ve been a part of a successful family drama for 8 long years and two reality shows later, I’ve done quite a lot of commercial work and pretty content with the path I’ve chartered for myself.

For my debut, I emphasised on quality and content above everything else.

Multi-starrer films also are written off these days if they don’t succeed in good storytelling.

If it strikes a chord with a certain section of the audience, it will reach a wider audience through word-of-mouth.

We’re all here trying to tell a story from the heart.

You get to work with a legend like Farida Jalal. What has this experience been like for you?

Working with Farida Ji was a delight. I am really excited about the film’s release and how the audience will react to it.

She is such a sweet person inside out.

So much work she has done and such a talent powerhouse yet so humble and down to earth.

Forget the age, she’s absolutely young at heart! Her thoughts, her ideologies and her talent are extremely inspiring and she’s so loving!

Besides the work prospect, what do you hope to achieve from doing Lines?

It’s a female-centric story.

I also love the fact that it’s set in a time and place, where we are away from the hustle and bustle of city life, technology, daily rush and competition.

I am also thrilled about challenging myself in a brand new medium.

Let’s talk more about your career. You’ve managed to successfully shrug off that ‘Akshara’ and ‘Bahu’ image. Has it been a struggle to do so?

Akshara was loved by the masses and the appreciation I received was immense.

However, the bigger the character the next challenge, of course, is to break it out of it.

While playing Akshara, I was not able to experiment with fashion and had limitations because my character was such.

She was a simple girl next door and hence the image had to be maintained. Leaving Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai was not an easy decision.

When you are associated with a project for so long, leaving is not easy.

But yes, there was little growth left for me and the actor inside me wanted to experiment and take on new challenges.

An actor is always vulnerable to being typecast for a certain kind of role. Given your experience, how can one avoid falling into stereotypes?

Ekta Kapoor is a visionary unlike anyone else in our industry and hence she is called the ‘Queen of Television’.

I remember going to meet her for the first time and she offered me two roles together.

I wasn’t sure about playing a negative character but she put things in perspective and told me that there was no challenge left in playing a positive right now.

This was true as I had already let go of many shows which just did not seem to excite me and the rest is history!

Bigg Boss was quite a challenging journey for you. What did this tough experience personally teach you?

Bigg Boss! Again a show I couldn’t imagine myself doing as being surrounded by cameras 24 hours a day and then living with strangers under one roof is not easy.

I have been a pampered daughter and am very close to my family, so being away from them was unthinkable.

There were a lot of ups and downs in the journey but looking back, I realise that Bigg Boss gave me the opportunity to show to the world the real Hina Khan.

Today, people appreciate me not only for my dressing but also my honesty and the fact that they know I will stand up against anything wrong I see.

Being targeted is part and parcel of the game and I think you know that when you come to a show like Bigg Boss, you cannot walk out without any controversies.

As far as the other contestants go from my season, I have always been cordial.

People have loved you as Komolika and it’s an iconic role which was excellently played by Urvashi Dholakia. What is your method in playing the negative role differently?

I am getting a lot of love for Komolika and I am loving playing the anti-heroine.

Considering Kasautii Zindagii Kay was a show I remember watching as a teenager, it’s huge to be a part of such a cult show.

People have loved Komolika’s style and I feel blessed to be receiving the love of so many from across the world.

 How do you hope the new Komolika will shatter the traditional label of a ‘vamp’?

When Ekta posted the teaser on social media, the first thing I said was, ‘I’m nervous as hell’.

I was shivering when all the comments started pouring in because I realised the magnitude of the responsibility I have.

My performance definitely counts, but it is a big relief that the story is so strong that the reboot of Kasautii already has a lot of fans.

I have taken a big risk with this role, but I know Ekta has a lot of confidence in me. She always tells me, ‘Hina, you will kill it!’

What gives me confidence is that a strong character will always click with the audience, no matter what.

Furthermore, negative characters, if done well, always have an impact — look at Gabbar (in Sholay) or Cersei (in Game of Thrones).

Finally, what would you say to all the fans out there who have showered so much love and support?

I was not very social media-friendly, but now I enjoy posting pictures, especially Instagram stories.

My fans do a lot for me; on my birthday, they filled my house with flowers, balloons and gifts. I have got a whole new lot of fans after Bigg Boss, most of whom are youngsters.

They look up to me and I don’t want to disappoint them in any way.

That’s why I take out time to do Facebook and Instagram ‘live’ with my fans at least once a month.

The least I can do is give them 15 minutes of my life when they have given me their whole life.

Overall, it seems as though Hina Khan is now in a happy space as she also has been signed on for Vikram Bhatt’s next film.

Furthermore, she is set to make her debut at the Cannes Film Festival this year to launch the first look of Lines.

We hope that Hina continues to break boundaries and shatter stereotypes as an actor!

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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