Yesteryear diva Meera has a penchant for being inconsistent. Her recent body of work isn’t that impressive and though she does manage to stay in the headlines, more often than not it is for all the wrong reasons. But of course, Meera is as colorful as she is controversial. And in a time when celebrities are becoming increasingly conscious of their public image and how to enhance it, Meera is the anomaly. It is also obvious that far too often the scandal that surrounds Meera is self-created. This realization becomes palpable as she speaks to Instep from the set of her next television outing, an Eid ul Fitr special titled Daurr.
Meera is certainly formidable as a performer, as has been witnessed on multiple occasions during the Lux Style Awards, but she also has a knack for living in a bubble.
“I don’t see a very bright future for the Pakistani film industry,” she tells me as we begin our perplexing conversation. “Debutants from Karachi are experimenting. Also you see, actresses my age-group in India like Priyanka Chopra and Vidya Balan are held in such high esteem. They’re offered the kind of characters they deserve.”
Even before I’ve asked my first question, Meera goes on: “Directors in Pakistan don’t know how to make stars; they only know how to destroy them. I feel there’s a lot of leg-pulling from within the industry. Actors who make their own decisions [and set up production houses] are the ones who survive.”
When talking about her upcoming Eid telefilm in which she will be seen essaying the role of a film-star, Meera puts aside all her criticism and is all praises for her director Kamran Akbar Khan, who made the rather forgettable Halla Gulla in 2015.
“When Kamran called me for this particular telefilm, I thought it was an amazing offer and he felt it was in line with my personality,” she tells Instep. “I feel Kamran really follows the Indian style and sensibility of direction and content. I feel Indian content has become very strong; Pakistan still has a long way to go.”
The actor who is often under fire for not revealing her accurate age says that she’s a little over 32 years of age. While we’re not sure of how truthful this response to age is, Meera as a way of justification explains that she started her career very early on.
“I began my career as a child artist in 1995 with a film called Kanta. I was barely eleven at that time and being underage, I was forced to say I’m eighteen on my passport in order to work,” she says with a hint of hesitation.
Speaking of controversies in general that never leave the actor alone, Meera adds, “I want people to see me beyond that only. I’ve been a part of the industry through thick and thin. I’ve supported my family; I’ve been a mother to my younger siblings. My struggle is what people simply turn their backs to. I have worked my way up and that’s why I want to document my journey in the form of a biographical book one day.”
Her catfight of sorts with Mahira Khan took an ugly turn when it was reported that Meera claimed to have been offered Raees by Shahrukh Khan himself, however, she rubbishes all rumors. “I wasn’t offered Raees at all, though Shahrukh did approach me when I did my debut film in Bollywood, Nazar,” she shares. “Locally, I was offered Humsafar and Nikkah, both of which I now regret not taking up. Had I known they would become such iconic projects, I would’ve loved to have been a part of them,” she adds.
2016 saw Meera returning to the silver screen after a brief hiatus with the thriller Hotal, and while it failed to leave an impact – commercially, as well as critically – she argues that a film’s script is what makes her select a project. “For me, it’s always the script. At times, a script that appeals to me might not click with the audience. My last two films, to me, were outstanding but failed at the box office. I feel our marketing strategy for Hotal was lackluster,” she says of what might have gone wrong.
Coming back to Daurr, Meera says that she had been looking for a potential hit and saw it in the Eid play. “This time around, I was looking for a prospective success. I wanted to do a project that would bring me in the limelight, something the entire Pakistan would be talking about. And I believe this telefilm is exactly what I was looking for,” she says of her forthcoming outing. “It’s very entertaining and I think people wanted to see me play such a character as well.”
Whilst busy shooting, Meera has been quite active on Twitter. She came under fire for criticizing Ushna Shah on her remarks about the Ramzan hypocrisy and has also been giving her two cents on world politics; discussing Donald Trump and internal matters such as load-shedding, targeting Prime-Minister Nawaz Sharif. “It’s now very easy to become a star; to let one’s fans know about what one is up to. I would love to be a part of the social media generation for I feel it’s become very important,” she says of the ever-growing trend.
“Actors are public figures, they experience what normal people don’t, they travel the world and hence, people follow them and through platforms like these, we can educate,” she adds, revealing that she will soon be keeping her fans in the loop on Instagram and Facebook as well. Considering a number of PR teams for now, Meera maintains that she will use social media to create awareness about her laudable hospital endeavor and acting assignments.
Meera is also looking to make her directorial debut as well with a film called Shohrat. With plans to cast Imran Abbas, Shohrat will enter its production phase soon, with a release scheduled for next year. She will also be seen in a cameo appearance in Shor Sharaba which is all set to release this Eid-ul-Fitr and will battle with other major local releases, Yalghaar and Mehrunisa V Lub U. (We have not heard anything about the release of Shor Sharaba though.)
Without delving into any details, Meera also disclosed that she has signed a reality show on Geo TV called Abb Meera Nachay Gi. “We’ll begin shooting very soon, hence I don’t yet have the liberty to speak about it as of yet, but I’m sure you get an idea of how fun it will be judging by its title,” she maintained.
Though Meera is working in television, her ultimate pursuit will always be films. “Television is not something I would want to permanently take up, performances are very limited and I’m not very fond of the medium on the whole.”
Meera demands respect, for she likes to believe that her contributions to local cinema are immense. She says that she supports new blood, but in return expects admiration. A caricature of her own self, Meera’s relentless pursuit of being relevant in the ruthless industry is what’s made her survive all these years. “I feel I’m made for the big screen,” she says conclusively and given Meera’s theatrics both on and off screen, it’s one viewpoint one concurs with.