'Ek Jhoothi Love Story' Star Madiha Imam Spreading Her Wings In The Trendiest AlKaram Studio Wardrobe

'Ek Jhoothi Love Story' Star Madiha Imam Spreading Her Wings In The Trendiest AlKaram Studio Wardrobe

Slow and steady is how one can best define Madiha Imam’s acting innings. She is not one to let pedestrian challenges get the better of her. She’s fiercely confident, boundlessly talented, a power-packed performer and yet, a perfectly relatable girl-next-door. 

Not one to be typecast in a genre, the actor has constantly challenged herself by playing versatile roles— be it her acting career in Pakistan or her work in Bollywood, Madiha is always a breath of fresh air. This year she had back to back success and with her latest digital series Ek Jhoothi Love Story, Madiha proved she is one fine actor to always watch out for. 

She lets us in on her journey, and what lies ahead. Read on...

Firstly, congratulations on having such a successful year with dramas that had massive following and now a digital series 'Ek Jhooti Love Story', despite the pandemic that affected every industry. How would you define the year 2020 for you and what would you say was your most successful project this year?

 Thank you so much. This year has been crazy, I haven’t worked so much but I think I had the most number of releases. So I had worked prior to this year and those projects were released this year and it’s a tough question because I can’t pick one. The audiences for each project were different because 'Muqaddar' was launched on TV in Pakistan, but as for ' Ek Jhoothi Love Story', it was on Zee5 so the audience was different so I can’t compare the success level of the two. But these are the two projects which did really well overall in my career and this year. I had 'Dushman-e-Jaan' which was very much loved, I had 'Muqaddar' which, again, was very critically acclaimed and people really liked the performances. ' Ek Jhoothi Love Storydid a great job, I got so many messages from the industry and otherwise - everybody really liked the work and how simple the story was, so it’s been a great year. God has been kind. I hope now that I have set a very solid foundation for my career, finally after about seven years of working, I get better projects next year and work with a good team.

What’s the best compliment you’ve received for all the roles you played this year?

There is one compliment which really makes me happy which is when people say that the role that you were playing was very convincing, as in they could see a departure from the person that I am to the character that I was playing. So I have had critics, journalists, people, the audiences, aam awaam tell me this and I think that for an actor this is a very, very big compliment which I have been getting for all my different projects this year. 

Let’s talk about your digital series ' Ek Jhoothi Love Story'. Why did you decide to do it and what did you like the most about your character?

The reason why I decided to do ' Ek Jhoothi Love Storywas because it was a collaboration between Mehreen Jabbar and Umera Ahmed, primarily and then of course it was a web series. I was slightly dubious initially because at the time not a lot of work was being done on the web; this was two years back when I was offered this project but then I was extremely sure that if this is with Mehreen Jabbar and Umera Ahmed, then the project itself will be great. So I had that clarity and it was primarily the reason why I wanted to be a part of it. Later on, when we were in the process of filming on set, then I really, really thoroughly enjoyed working with theatre actors, television actors and the collaboration was stunning. I really liked the idea of a web series because suddenly our audiences had a different approach and they were willing to watch projects here and there. All in all it was the collaboration between the two, the writer and director, the story was great, the cast was great and I just could not say no.

Would you ever get into a situation like your character in ' Ek Jhoothi Love Story', in real life? 

No I wouldn’t because I am not like Salma so I wouldn’t have to lie, to begin with and you can’t suddenly get into a situation like this, you have to constantly do it. I would never. 

Having worked with different male directors and now in your latest digital series you worked with a female director Mehreen Jabbar, how would you describe her working style in comparison to others?

I have worked with male and female directors - my film in India was hemmed by Sunaina Bhatnagar and there’s another project that I am currently doing with Sheherzad so I’ve had a blend of both in my career. I have worked with Mehreen Jabbar earlier as well and my experience of working with her was that I find her very sorted and she is a great director. I thoroughly enjoyed working with her, the way she conducts herself and how respectful she is to what you want to say, how you feel and if there’s anything you’re finding difficult. She listens to you, figures out a way to work around it, she is just incredible and very professional. 

How was your experience working with Zee5 and Group M? In your opinion how accepting is the audience (on both sides of the border) when it comes to these collaborative ventures? Do you see more of these happening in the future?

I do see a bright future and we will eventually get there because it’s happening around the world. Working with Zee 5 was amazing because if your producers are making sure everything on set is done perfectly and professionally, there’s liberty for people to be creative and the director can work freely and with ease, experience has to be great. 

It was also great working with Group M as they’re a team of professionals, who listen to you and do the best they can for you. They were there throughout and did an amazing job of bringing people together. 

Also, I believe good stories are universal and everyone would want to watch if the story is good and compelling so yes there is acceptance on both sides of the border.

Do intense roles, like the one in 'Muqaddar', take a toll on you?

No they don’t. I am very alright with playing characters because I have a very clear and sorted way of thinking as to what I will do on set and what I will not do. But as for my family, sometimes when I would come back home, they would see a different side to me depending on the role that I was playing.  So if I were to play a sick woman or a tired woman then I would be very lazy when I get back home. So I mean it does affect me but it doesn’t really take a toll on me. I’m pretty alright with switching from my character to myself but I’m sure that there are residuals effects which my family and the people surrounding me can tell. Otherwise I’m fine with it, as long as the director does not make me do the same thing over and over again. There were a few scenes in 'Muqaddar' that I needed to do a few times because of course, you have to take into account the logistics of a shoot. If you’re at a particular location, you may have to shoot all the intense scenes in one day that can be a bit difficult, those particular days were difficult for me. Otherwise, all in all, I’m alright, but you have to take into account the demands of a production. If you can juggle between happy and sad scenes, then it’s easier, which we did later, but a few days were tough.

What do you count as some of your biggest achievements since your debut in 2013?

I cannot pinpoint one achievement or one project but I was actually looking back a couple of days ago and trying to figure out how my career has panned out and where I am today. So I’ve been working for a while and mostly I’ve been working as a VJ and finally as an actor and a performing artist. I have been very lucky to have gotten great work with people who are professionals. I think my work has been very nice, I mean the work that I’ve been offered and then becoming a part of it, from there the process carries on. Overall, I have gotten good work, yes not the constant, conventional, commercial kind. I’ve got a feature film in India, which again was very unconventional - I was the protagonist but it was a 13/14 year-old living in Shimla. I’m doing a film with Fawad right now, which again is very unconventional but it’s really nice also. My career has been like that so I can’t pinpoint one achievement. Even the conventional roles that I have done have been moulded in a different manner. 

Following your passion also entails learning from your failures. What have your failures taught you?

Well I think for me more than anything, failing is when I cannot perform. There have been many times in the middle of my successful projects, where there were scenes that I knew I had not been able to perform, where I had not been feeling my best possible version, for whatever reason, that is a failure. It only teaches me one thing, how so many other people would like to be in this position and would want this opportunity, which always brings me back to my senses; assuring that you cannot ruin anything for yourself, whatever God has planned, accept it.

So when I think of it like that, if a project was very good and audiences didn’t like it, then it affects you but somewhere in your heart you know that the script was lovely, the director was happy but it was not a conventional project so it didn’t work. Of course it affects you regardless, but for me a failure is where I was unable to do my best and that affects me a lot. So I keep telling myself, ‘Today is a new day and I have to make sure that I do all my scenes properly, between action and cut, I have to be there’.

What Pakistani dramas are you currently following? Is there a role that you wish you had done?

 I’m not getting the time to watch anything but I’ve watched a little of 'Mushk' and apart from that I’d watched 'Pyar Ke Sadqay'  but I can’t think of a project that I watched recently where I thought, ‘I wish I’d done that part’. When I’m watching a drama I’m focused on how the fabric of the screen looks and how the actors are performing and how different they are from other actors. It seems to have become a trend that all actors must look a certain way. If I were to get a chance to play a role, I would like to play a role that I was offered back in 2015, 'Dhaani'. That was a role which I think I could have done justice to and people did not give the project its due. It was a very good project, beautifully done, great script but I would still want to live that life again because it was great. Other than that I can’t really think of anything.

We don’t hear you talking about your personal life much. Why is that?

Well that's because people tend to misconstrue my words. For example, in an interview I once told the host that I was looking for courses to pursue in college - for one reason or an other - and the media twisted it into this: 'Madiha paid for her education herself'. I mean, that's not even what I said! I felt that it was quite disrespectful because I shared something personal and it was twisted into something else. Also, when such things are posted on social media apps and sites I then have to answer to my parents too. And the rest of my family as well . Hence, I try to refrain from saying anything personal or private. Like it's fine to talk about your personal life if you are a larger than life kind of personality with a huge and dynamic portfolio; and you are okay with letting others hear about you. However, when you’re just focusing on work then I think it's irrelevant to share so much.

Tell us about somebody you look up to; a person who has shaped the way you think and behave?

I think I have some great women in my life and my father of course. However, my sisters - I have three- and my mother have played a huge role in my life because I am the youngest and my brought up was such that whenever I came across an event or hurdle in my life, my sisters or my mother - who had already experienced similar things would give me the best advice they could manage. Essentially, I have been raised by five people - my parents and my three sisters. While my father was obviously there around me; I couldn't casually talk to him, however, I did always watch the way he conducted himself and that is always important. And from my mother I learned the value of hard work. From my oldest sister - strength, second sister - optimism and third sister realism. So they all have given shape to me and made me who I am today.

Digital is the future for sure and we saw that more clearly this year when everything was shut down and our lives depended on the virtual world. Which digital series has been your favourite and you wish you were a part of it? And why?

This might sound crazy but in the lockdown I didn't watch TV; I was just writing and reading. I'm more of a reader than anything else; and I can understand the irony considering I'm an actor. However, if you were to ask me what I have reflected on this past year then I would say that my sister had asked me to watch 'The Theory of Everything' and when I finally got around to watching it I just fell in love with how the movie was executed. I mean no doubt the story was great but the film was beautiful. Eddy Redmayne was amazing and just being a part of something so wonderful, I think that is just an amazing experience.

We have a theme of virtual world this month! Tell us some of your favourite social media accounts you follow? Any celebrities you love to stalk?

I am mostly checking magazines but if I were to say who do I love stalking, I think it has to be vloggers like Alexa Chung who was a model and now has her own YouTube channel as well as Instagram. Leandra Medine is extremely witty with her fashion sense and also I follow Grazia a lot. I don’t really stalk any celebrities since I am from the same industry and stumble upon their pictures on my feed anyway (laughs). 

Let’s talk about fitness. What’s one fun thing that you do to stay fit?

I used to workout, I was a karate kid, did boxing as well and would regularly go for a run but now I meditate, I try to find my center. I get myself tested every two years to find out if there’s any deficiency. I do eat healthy but I don’t go crazy with it, I enjoy little cheats here and there but I eat everything! 

A style trend you love, and one you can’t get on board with?

I love graphic liners, puffy sleeves and short hair man! I love short hair

Tell us about your plans for the rest of the year and 2021. What are you looking forward to next year?

I need to wrap up the projects that I am already working on in 2020. I want to start 2021 with more enthusiasm, keeping in mind how reflective this year was. I read a lot of astrology so I am looking forward to Saturn retrograde going so hopefully it’s going to be a fresh new start and a great year for all of us InshAllah 

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WARDROBE: ALKARAM STUDIO

HAIR & MAKEUP ARTIST: TAUSEEF AHMED AT NABILA'S

PHOTOGRAPHY: YASER SADIQ

JEWELLERY: ESFIR JEWELS

STYLING: SANA PAREKH