She graced cinemas around the world in early 2017 with her film Balu Mahi and delighted the audiences and critics alike with her seemingly effortless portrayal of the fiercely independent and determined Mahi. What really wowed everybody and made them sit up and notice was her incredible versatility switching between the characters of Mahi and her avatar Abdul Ghani. Ainy played a Pathan man as well as she did a Punjabi girl and she’s proven to is that she definitely has what it takes to shine on the big screen.
When she’s not busy shooting a film or a serial, Ainy flies around doing lawn campaigns, commercial and chairing competitions and contests. In short, her name has traveled throughout Pakistan, holding her different accomplishments and shedding light on her many talents. From her experiences in playing a mentor on a quiz show to her vibrant life in London, Ainy Jaffri Rahman sits down with us and shares it all! Check out the full interview below!
1. 2017 was an eventful year for you. The release of Balu Mahi, traveling for promotions, filming commercials for various brands, and it ended with the Telenor quiz show. How do all of these accomplishments make you feel?
It’s been a truly incredible year. Traveling around the world for promotions felt like a real treat. I wholeheartedly believe in the film and am extremely proud of the work we have done so it felt wonderful to to show it off to the world. I urge as many people to watch it if they haven’t already. Other than that, I have shot a film in London called Haraam which will hopefully hit the festival circuit at some point. I’ve come to Pakistan a few times for lawn & commercial shoots, awards shows, and I went to Thailand a couple of times as well for commercials and the Veet competition which championed women empowerment and that was great to be a part of. The year ended with me signing up to be a mentor and a judge on Pakistan’s first internet quiz show which promotes easier access to education for kids going to government schools and who do not have all the conveniences that we enjoy in terms of access to knowledge and a platform to showcase their skills.
2. What was it like to play a double role in Balu Mahi?
I felt very lucky to have the chance to play a double character. As actors the biggest blessing and reward is to be constantly challenged with different characters and directors trusting you to be able to deal with not one but two different avatars in a project. Playing Abdul Ghani required me to be very conscious of my body language and my tone of voice. I also did an accent and had to learn to play polo! It was tough but super fun.
3. What was it that drew you into the field of acting? Having studied at McGill and earning a business degree, and to not having the support of your parents initially, how did you cope with the challenges of entering a rather competitive and often difficult line of work?
You know, I have always been a bit of a performer for as long as I can remember. Putting on skits for my family, dancing, singing and generally trying to get everyone’s attention all the time. And I performed in school plays all my life. When I was 15, I had a major role in the play “Wait Until Dark” which was put on by the then Karachi Drama Circle, and I was asked by producers and directors to take it up as a profession. My father declined on my behalf and urged me to first complete my education and then pursue my dreams. I’m glad he did this. I ended up pursuing acting after graduating college and working in advertising while living alone which really helped me to gain a lot of confidence in myself and have a sense of responsibility and discipline. And while the work itself is very tough and gruelling both mentally and physically, starting out in the acting industry wasn’t all that hard. There is still lots of scope for talented newcomers as we are in a constant growth phase and producers and directors and continuously looking for the next breed of stars.
4. What would you want 2018 to hold in store for you?
Another great project (film or tv), quality time with family and close friends and lots of traveling with a focus on fitness.
5. Winter is a time for Pakistani’s to come back to their select cities and enjoy festivities. For you, it was that and work. How did you find the time to balance the two?
It was pretty easy to be honest! Most of the weddings and other personal commitments were scheduled before my shoots and filming for the quiz show, so my schedule was pretty manageable. I extended my trip to do justice to both work and family/friends.
6. What is the best thing about coming home for the holidays?
Spending time with friends and family, and of course the food! I am an avid lover of Pakistani food – a classic plate of daal chawaal and biryani is unbeatable. Though I cook in London, nothing can replace the taste of home. I especially love and miss the home made fresh chappati’s that are made to perfection.
7. When you’re home, which local designers do you love to sport when you’re in a casual setting?
Generation, Khaadi, Koel (love their block prints), Daaman just to name a few.
8. How was the experience of playing a mentor to young children on a quiz show?
It was a very humbling experience. The kids come from remote areas with underprivileged backgrounds and most of them have tough lives, balancing school and work and the full responsibilities of a household that most of us have only had a taste of as grown ups. Two of the kids were from the Hazara community and their stories of what their community has to endure is tough to comprehend; as we see in the news constantly. There was a time during filming where I broke down crying because one of boys was being sent home and his father got very emotional and thought we were being harsh on him. Even though I played a mentor, I felt as though those kids taught me a lot and allowed me to see their incredible resilience. These kids do not have easy lives, and it’s inspiring to see them so strong, positive and hard working. I really hope that other corporates follow suit and employ educational initiatives such as this as part of their CSR activities.
9. Now that you’re back in London, what are some of your favorite things to do?
I love living in London and feel very lucky to have a life in both the UK and Pakistan. My favorite thing about living in london in the simple freedom of movement; being able to walk around wherever, whenever, and just enjoy the city, the people and the nature. A luxury that one doesn’t necessarily have in Karachi. My husband and I recently moved into our new house in Hampstead on the Heath, and the new area is so serene, overlooking the park. At the moment we’re setting up house, so I’m pretty preoccupied with getting furniture and decorating our space. That and getting back into my Pilates and fitness classes now that vacation’s over!
10. What is your go-to street style look?
I can’t really say I have one to be honest. When I think about street style, it’s really whatever I’m comfortable with wearing and my mood at that particular time.
11. Which designers, international and national, are you loving at the moment?
I love Pakistani designers especially when it comes to our traditional Eastern wear. We have such intricate and beautiful work and i feel as comfortable in a lehenga or sari as I do in a shalwar kameez. i even love wearing plain cotton ghararas during the day. I love too many designers to name them, without offending the others :)
12. Are there any new projects you’re excited to work on?
At the moment I’m in talks with various directors and producers and exploring scripts. I’m taking my time in choosing my next project. Since I’m married I have to give priority to family first and balancing work life with personal life while living away from pakistan can be pretty challenging. So each project really needs to mean a lot.
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