Accomplished TV actors transitioning to films has become more of a norm if we evaluate the local entertainment industry; cases in point being Mahira Khan, Mehwish Hayat and Saba Qamar amongst others. Though this leaves little space for fresh faces to appear on the big screen, it is a safe choice to cast artists who have a certain level of familiarity as well as fondness amongst viewers. The newest addition to the list is VJ-turned-actor Maya Ali, who became a household name with TV plays like Aunn Zara, Shanakht, Diyar e Dil and Mann Mayal, and recently made her big screen debut with action comedy Teefa in Trouble opposite Ali Zafar.
While the Ahsan Rahim directorial that released on July 20 has generated mostly positive reviews so far, with some critics pointing out hits and misses, Maya Ali could not have gotten a better launchpad in Pakistan. Breaking away from the regressive roles that she has been portraying on the small screen, the actor shines through the film as she plays the confident and witty Anya. She is pretty, she is strong, she is vocal and above all, she doesn’t show her weakness to the world. It was a breath of fresh air to see Maya stepping out of her comfort zone and portraying a progressive character that will (hopefully) resonate well with fans.
“I really enjoyed doing this film as I didn’t have to cry at all,” she shared in an interview with Instep, speaking of how different this character is from what she has been portraying on the small screen. “Anya is everything. I got to do a lot while shooting for this movie; I did stunts, I chased a car, danced on water and a lot more. I am sure when people will come out of the cinema, they will have a different perception of women. Women can do much more than what they are typically associated with; they are opinionated and have a thought process that defines them as an individual first before anything else.”
Maya has some action sequences in the film as well and she informed that she has done them all herself. That said, she did learn to swim for an underwater scene with Ali Zafar and spent considerable time learning and training for the stunts before she shot them. “Anya is very much like I am in real life,” she added. “Apart from the stunts, I didn’t find the role difficult because that’s what I actually am.”
Responding to why she opted for Teefa in Trouble as her debut film, Maya said, “Ahsan [Rahim] sir and Ali Zafar were the two major reasons I chose to make my debut with this film. As soon as I read the script, I didn’t ask them anything and gave a nod. It was a wonderful experience, working with the two.”
While we were on the subject of Ali Zafar, I inquired if she is comfortable promoting the film with him given the controversy that was looming through promotions.
“I am very much comfortable,” she responded. “I didn’t see him disturbed or as if something has gone wrong; our entire focus was on the film. We were busy promoting the songs and everything else surrounding Teefa in Trouble. We didn’t have the time to talk about anything else. There is a lot about the film that needs to be shared. Even at the trailer launch, where there were journalists, bloggers and other celebs, nobody asked anything about anything besides the film.”
Moving on, Maya Ali has also signed up for another big screen project that is being helmed by Asim Raza. She will be playing the female lead opposite Sheheryar Munawar in the upcoming romantic comedy Paray Hut Love that is scheduled to go on floors in September.
“Asim (Raza) asked about my dates on the set while we were shooting for Lux’s TVC,” she informed when asked how she bagged the role that was initially offered to Mahira Khan. “I wasn’t occupied with anything else so he offered me the role, we had meetings on the set only and I agreed to it. I wanted to take up something good. I was in talks for a drama serial as well because I believe it’s better to do a good TV project than doing a bad film. I won’t do films just for the sake of it. If I get an offer for a TV project which has good script and team, I will definitely go for it.”
Speaking of her character in Paray Hut Love, Maya shared that it is completely different from that of Anya but she is playing a strong girl. “It has multiple shades; she is a daughter, a lover and much more,” she continued.
Maya is also featured in the Lux’s latest campaign, ‘Fans of Each Other’ being one of the three Lux girls aside from Reema Khan and Mahira Khan. “Sharing the screen space with Mahira Khan and Reema Khan and that too on the Lux platform was a very unique experience for me,” she expressed.
Out of the three latest Lux girls, Maya is the only one who had not done any film(s) when she came onboard; Reema and Mahira each had a number of films to their credit. While she admits that she has been blessed to have bagged this spot, the actor confessed that it wasn’t an easy path for her. She had to deal with constant criticism and harsh remarks in terms of her roles, her performance and much more.
“Despite doing some good roles, people used to say ‘Is ko tou acting nahi ati’ (she doesn’t know how to act),” she explained. “But I took it positively, remained consistent in my efforts and never gave up. Now I am getting the appreciation and love I always wished for after the film’s teasers, songs and trailer released. I hope people like my work in the movie but I am open to all sorts of feedback.”
On a parting note, Maya shared that she would like to play a disabled person onscreen, which she thinks would be a challenge. “I think we should do something different now, we can’t keep focusing on entertainment only. Through films and TV, we can present a variety of subjects to viewers instead of just sticking to one. They will watch what we will show them. It’s us who can change the mindsets.”