Ghana Ali feels that “there’s a time for everything (‘har cheez apnay waqt pe achi lagti hai’) — I’ll do the lead roles at the right time”. Even though her last films didn’t clock big numbers at the box office, her performance has been much appreciated by critics and the audience. In this interview, Ghana shares insights about her upcoming film Gawah Rehna, her views about the industry norms and politics and her choice of doing character roles.
The thing one keeps hearing is why do we see so little of Ghana Ali on the big screen? Why take such baby steps, you surely could work more if you choose to?
Baby steps were ok for me; they made me aware of my capabilities. People wouldn’t have liked my performance in my previous films if I had done a lead role in my very first film. I got to know the process, how I come across and how I emote on the big screen and how can I improve myself. I have through the course of my career explored the difference between the mediums i.e. TV, theatre and films. I am working hard to deliver and do justice to my characters. From now onwards, you’ll see more of me on the big screen.
Why don’t we see you doing meatier roles, as many of your contemporaries do?
I am a character actor; I was never passionate to be a typical heroine material — anyone can be dolled up and made to do typical work. I believe in doing characters that are real and which people can relate to. Talking of lead roles, I do play the lead in Gawah Rehna, most importantly it’s a role that gives me ample margin to perform.
Do you feel the industry compartmentalizes an actress that she has to find a perfect image for her to fit in?
I feel compartmentalization exists in every fraternity; an actor’s struggle and journey helps in developing the image he or she aspires for. I agree, at times things are biased, but your effort makes you groom. One has to have faith in his or her talent, and be able to learn from past mistakes and avoid shortcuts — it’s that simple.
How do you deal with industry politics?
I don’t deal with politics that’s why I don’t make friends. It’s not my cup of tea. I try to stay away from such people; my faith is very strong and I have set high goals for myself.
Your next project ‘Gawah Rehna’ is a period film. Was it an intentional choice to work on something different?
I was overwhelmed when I was offered the lead role. I always wanted to do a film related to our history and Islam. My father wanted me to be part of projects highlighting Pakistan’s history and culture. The powerful story and script made me say yes to it. It’s not a typical period film; it offers lots of drama and masala. I’ve been vocal about how filmmakers all over the world use this medium to represent their country. I feel we should bring to the world the contribution of our ancestors in history, what they have done for the Turkish nation and work towards building a positive image of Pakistan. I agree people watch films to get entertained but still, a dose of edutainment is important too. I was rooting for a project like Gawah Rehna that makes me feel satisfied as an actor; I hope the audience will like it too.
Tell us about your character arc? Was it a tough one to play?
I play Masooma, she’s a happy go lucky girl with a positive outlook. She’s the daughter of a maulana and has a brother Saleem. Masooma faces trauma after an incident that occurs in her life. I am afraid I can’t disclose more, as the entire plot would be revealed. I’ve mostly done negatives roles, so it was kind of tough role to play a positive one. People usually have a perception that doing grey roles is difficult, but honestly speaking positive characters are equally difficult. It’s not easy doing emotional scenes and shedding tears all the time. I am sure the narrative will make everyone cry.
Yes! The film has a love triangle; my track is mostly linked with Rehan Nazim and Faisal Imtiaz.
Art or commercial aspect, what matters you most?
I have given top priority to roles I wanted to portray and sacrificed a lot to do them. Real artists are hungry for meaty parts, so yes art matters the most.
Do you think you are satisfied as an actor?
Not yet! Actors like Uzma Gilani, Qavi Khan, Noman Ejaz, and Saleem Mairaj have given their time and dedication to reach the place where they are today. I have a long way to go; to learn and grow as an actor. It’s a lifelong process until your last breath.
What’s next for Ghana Ali?
I don’t believe in disclosing my future plans. I can give just give you a hint that my next film is based on the same genre as of Gawah Rehna as I am all for promoting our history, culture, and religion.