By Asjad Nazir
A BITTERLY cold London has been warmed up the presence of actress and television personality Gauahar Khan.
The sexy Indian beauty generated some serious heat in the heart of Hyde Park last month where she interacted with hundreds of adoring fans at an impromptu meet and greet session. After taking countless selfies, the friendly star jumped into a car with Eastern Eye and during a ride through the heart of the capital gave a heartfelt interview.
You just met loads of adoring fans in Hyde Park. How was that experience?
It was crazy because I thought once I announced a meet and greet that maybe 10 or 20 people would come out in the freezing cold. (Smiles) But then to have more than 300 people show up at a café was crazy. Obviously me being the person who follows so many rules, the first thing on my mind was: ‘Am I not troubling someone else with this?’ (Laughs) I thought the café was gonna get broken down, disrupted or something. So my first instinct was to get them out of that place and into the park. It went so well. I am glad I got to take photos with them all. Sorry about the awful weather.
What do you like doing in London?
I love London and even love the weather because there is so much to do and see. I am here after a gap of 10 years. It’s beautiful and the people are lovely. It hasn’t changed much at all and will always have that charm. It just feels the same. London used to be one of the places where I used to shop the most. I haven’t ventured out yet, but maybe today I will go out shopping.
You must be excited that you have two Bollywood films releasing in March/April?
I am so excited. I am an actor and that is something I work for the most with a lot of passion. So March 10 is Badrinath Ki Dulhania, which has a guest appearance for me. It the first time I am working with Dharma Productions. So it was exciting because they called me and said we want someone who can act. (Laughs). That makes me flattered, so I took up that because I love the director (Shashank Khaitan).
You had worked with the director before?
Yes, Shashank worked with me on Ishaqzaade and played Arjun’s (Kapoor) brother. I didn’t know he was the director of Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania when it came out, and I loved that film. So when he called me, I was like: ‘Oh my god, we have to do this film’. Also I had to do it as I love Varun (Dhawan) and Alia (Bhatt); that was a good experience.
You also play a key role in Begum Jaan, which releases April 14?
Begum Jaan is something I am absolutely rooting for. I have worked extremely hard for it. It’s a great script, it has a genius director in Srijit Mukherji and of course my darling Vidya Balan. You have received a lot of praise from those associated with Begum Jaan.
Do you feel excited or nervous?
I was nervous the day I walked into Vishesh films office because this is ‘the’ Mukesh and Mahesh Bhatt that you had heard of and the kind of intelligence that they have. When (Mahesh) Bhatt saab spoke to me, he said: ‘I’m so glad you are playing Rubina’. I was like: ‘Wow!’ This film is really well thought out and they have given it some kind of weightage for me. I was just excited about my character. Then he saw the first cut and was tweeting about the dub being over. Then he sends me this beautiful message where he has described my performance in the most amazing words. I was almost tearing up.
Then Pooja Bhatt also tweeted praise for you?
Yes. She tweeted I am good in the trailer. So I am just hoping that everyone loves the film and my performance in it on the whole.
Is finding great roles like Begum Jaan the biggest challenge you face as an actor, or are more woman centric roles available now in Bollywood?
Actually I wouldn’t call them woman centric. I just feel like they are more substance for actors. I’m so glad when directors of such high regard, like a two-time National Award winner like Srijit Mukherji, say that: ‘Gauahar when I was writing Rubina, I wanted you from day one’. So that in itself puts a lot of courage in me. That there is hope and scope for actors who don’t come from any kind of film background and they can get something great just on the basis of their talent. I am hoping there are more roles written like these.
Today, what are your biggest passions away from work?
I am the most passionate about travelling. I am a traveller and enjoy that the most. Other than that, my family time is something that gives me a high in life, and spending time with my nieces and nephews. That is something that I enjoy the most. My heart is in art. (Laughs) Wow, that rhymed! For me, everything is about work and travel.
Creatively, what are your greatest unfulfilled ambitions?
Oh my God, there are so many. I want to own a production house and start stuff that excites me on television. I am a reality show buff and love watching TV. So I want to explore that too. As an actor, there is so much more to achieve. There is so much more I have to prove. So yes, I am not there yet. I am hoping Begum Jaan is kind of an eye opener to everyone and they sit back and notice they need to give me more challenging work like this (laughs). A lot of Bollywood personalities are working in the West.
Does that interest you?
Yes, definitely! It’s just difficult when you come from a background where you don’t have a godfather, guide, (powerful) boyfriend or people who are there to tell you this is the path you should take. I just take up work I do, try my best and hope it leads me to something better. So yes, the West is something I want to explore and go to. It’s all about timing and how I am going to get there.
You have become a fashion icon. Is that something you want to explore further?
Yes, completely! This is something that is going to happen this year inshallah. I am not going to speak about it yet, but yes that is in the pipeline. This year for sure.
You have one of the most loyal and dedicated fan bases I have seen. How much do they mean to you?
I don’t think there are any words or adjectives out there that could describe what I feel for my fans. I don’t call them my fans, I just call them my crazy lot because they are as crazy as I am. They love me as passionately as I love them and everyone around me. I think they imbibe everything I have stood for. So that in itself is an achievement for me. I just feel like I am blessed and God’s special child only because of the love I receive on an everyday basis.
What made you act in the new short film Peanut Butter?
As an actor I like challenges, hence I take up roles that push me to do better. Playing a 28-year-old mother to an 18-year-old son in an interestingly crafted story really excited me. The emotional graph of this character was amazing too.
A lot of biopics are being made. If you could play any historical character, who would it be?
That is a tough question Asjad. I haven’t given that serious thought yet. Indira Gandhi maybe. She was one of the female leaders of India. I was thinking something further back like in the Mughal era… (Laughs) Yes sure, further back is good! Actually there was a very famous singer called Gauhar Jaan. There is a play about her running in India. She is a figure that defied norms back in the day. If there was a biopic on Gauhar Jaan, Gauahar Khan should play her.
There are guys around the world who are crazy about you. What would it take for a guy to impress you?
(Laughs) Thanks so much. I don’t know, I just need someone to be humble and as humane as possible, someone who is polite and not rude to people. Manners basically really impress me, and of course a sense of humour. And yes, values, someone who values their family as much as I do.
What most inspires you today?
Every single thing in this world! Life itself inspires me. It is the best gift any being could have. I just want to make the most of it. Every breath that I take inspires me to make the most of it. Achieve all that I can. I feel like there is no dream that is big enough, that I can’t achieve. I want to get it all.