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Expo 2020 Dubai: Pakistani star Hira Mani on acting, singing and love from UAE fans – wknd.

Sunday, Mar 27, 2022 | Sha'ban 25, 1443
Published: Sun 27 Mar 2022, 10:50 AM
Last updated: Sun 27 Mar 2022, 10:54 AM
Pakistani star Hira Mani became an actress after she got married to TV host and comedian Mani (Salman Saqib). Her mainstream success came much after she was known as ‘Mani’s wife’, a title she proudly claims. She has since then risen to major heights as a drama actress and is now establishing herself as a singer. She shares her family’s photos and goings-on on social media and has a massive fan base with over 8 million followers on Instagram. Her television shows have become monster hits and her organic interaction with her peers and her fans is amplifying her stardom.
She was recently in UAE to meet and greet with audiences at Expo 2020 Dubai, where she appeared on the Jubilee Stage at the Grand Finale Event of the Pakistan Pavilion on Pakistan’s National Day on March 23. She interacted with the audiences who were very excited to see her. What was her experience like? “I loved coming to Dubai,” she tells me in her casual organic style speaking in fluent Urdu. “And the purpose I had come for was something I loved even more,” she adds, referring to her Expo 2020 Dubai experience.
She took a tour of the Pakistan Pavilion and we asked her if she felt it truly represented Pakistan. She agreed. “Pakistan Pavilion represents our country. They’ve focused on the tiniest of elements of Pakistan to the massive elements: whether it’s our artwork, greenery, the hard work that our people do, how creative they are, they’ve showcased it all,” said the Do Bol star. “I saw the craftsmanship of the Kailash people … look at how we don’t need expensive jewellery with diamonds and all to display how creative we are. We can make beautiful objects out of the very basic of things, such as a simple seashell. That’s what Pakistan is. We are not about money or materials, we are all about love and peace.”
The crowd chanted her name and sang her drama OSTs with her. How did that make her feel? “The crowd was just like as if I was in Pakistan. I felt at home,” she says. “They loved us and I heard someone say, ‘I love you, Hira Mani!’ and I screamed right back, ‘I love you too!’ that’s how I feel about them. I came to Expo Dubai but it felt like I was coming home to family.”
What message would she have for her local fan base that seem to be increasing daily? “I just want to say that it’s fate where you end up working or living. However, we are Pakistanis wherever we are and we have a strong base which is Pakistan,” she says. “Our culture and tradition is what we hold dear and we celebrate everywhere. I’m sure the Pakistani community here is interacting with each other in the same lovable way that they do back home, too.”
We now begin talking about her TV shows which have made her a household hit, drawing fans from India, Bangladesh and Nepal. But she consistently is careful about her roles. She chooses positive roles and avoids negative ones. Why is that? “Positive roles impact me personally,” she says pensively. “They make me a better person. I often use the same values as my characters in myself as well. Hania from Mere Pass Tum Ho is a character that has stayed very close to me. I feel I am like that.”
A post shared by Hira Mani (@hiramaniofficial)
My next question to Hira was something she has spoken about a lot. I asked her as a married woman and a mother to two boys what the journey was like for her to be accepted on screen as a desirable heroine. “It was very difficult,” she says. “To get a fan following when you’re a young, unmarried person is easier than if you are a married person with two children. And it’s a phenomenon not limited to Pakistan. It’s all over the world. There’s a reason some stars hide their marriages or relationships from the public. It impacts their desirability. I think it’s important to be able to be convincing enough. We’re able to lie powerfully enough on screen and convince the audience that we’re not who we really are. Actors are all great liars.”
She’s added another feather in her cap with singing for Kashmir Beats, a musical show with various actors trying their hand at singing. Her songs have been very successful and I ask her if she would choose between singing and acting for life. “Choosing between singing and acting is difficult,” she states. “I think I’ll probably just choose acting. I really enjoy doing it more.”
She elaborates more as to why she chose to sing: “I think a lot of people love me as a singer because they love me as an actress. But you have to keep experimenting and you have to keep trying different things. It was difficult for audiences to accept that the girl who always cries in TV shows is now jumping onstage being all bubbly and cute. I also feel it’s great for me that my song Sawaari has millions of views on YouTube in just this year and it’s different from getting an OST hit. An original soundtrack for a drama is easy for people to love and hear but Sawaari was an original and I’m so happy that people loved it.”
So what’s next for Hira Mani? She’s a successful singer and actor. Are films next? “God is giving me every good thing in my life very quickly! I wonder if I’m about to die!” she laughs. She then turns serious and acknowledges her penchant for drama. “I know that was very dramatic. On a serious note, I think acting in films means that you have enough money to run your kitchen. I don’t have that kind of money! I’m trying to support my family and also save enough to buy a house and we never seem to have enough money. We thought we’d buy a house ten years ago and we kept thinking we’d get it ten years later but now prices have risen and we still can’t afford a house! I feel my dramas are better than the films I’ve been seeing, haha. But if I would get an offer from Shoaib Mansoor, I’d accept it. I don’t know if he will consider me but if I ever get an offer to do films from Shoaib, I’d do it.”
mahwash@khaleejtimes.com
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