Warning: Extreme Levels of Mahira Khan standom ahead.
I find it quite disconcerting that I, the self-proclaimed Mahira Khan (MK) stan, don’t have a list of favourite performances yet. While you non-millennials try to figure out what stan means, I just want to convey my profound regrets for this sacrilegious offence. If you’ve clicked on here, you know I’m about to rectify this great wrong right now!
Before I do though, I want to enlighten you as to why I picked the 1st of October to post this. Well, it’s on this day in 2019, that I finally got the ultimate ‘notice me senpai’ moment. Yeah I mean, I’ve met the queen twice, got a high five and a hug and what not. But those moments ended far too soon.
She mentioned me in her stories!
Hey, I did say it appealed to the millennial in me. The knowledge I got on the 1st, the fact that I am noticed, is a whole new feeling all-together. Also, the fact that I can’t remember the exact date of the two meetings despite having photos, may also factor in here. Just slightly.
Now once again, fair warning. I will gush from this point on. I stan a queen so it’s natural. This is your last chance. Don’t blame me afterwards.
Now, without further adieu and in no particular order, here are my favourite Mahira Khan performances!
This one is the freshest in my head. It’s also the only one I watched twice in cinemas. I’ll forgive you for thinking I liked it better the second time because I had just gotten a hug from her the day before. However, some things improve over a second viewing. Noor is that role.
Whether it was Noor’s stage performances or her heartbreak, you felt it. MK has a way of embodying her characters, letting them get under her skin. That is on full display in Superstar. Thus, Noor progresses from demure innocence to shining intensity. Even when the script falters, she doesn’t. Her emotional heft carries the film to a brilliant crescendo.
I mean, I watched it twice. In cinemas, less than two weeks apart.
Here’s another instance where you may be able to credit my appreciation to having just met Mahira. I’m surprised you think so little of my objectivity. Yeah, I may have bragged about this meeting for years but my enjoyment of the film is wholly separate.
Verna was a departure from the usual. Not unwelcome, however, as we got to see Mahira’s intensity for the first time in clear view. It was already a brave choice to take the role. But to take it, and not infuse it with copious amounts of melodrama, that was even braver.
Not to say that Pakistani media shies away from the more intense subject matter, it doesn’t. More often though, we end up overly sensationalising such stories to make them more palatable. Shoaib Mansoor Sahab, however, understood that for Verna to be effective, it needed to make us uncomfortable and Mahira only took that further. Though at times more subtle, she never shies away from showing Sara’s strength and fire and that made this role all the more memorable. Plus the tongue clicking at the very end still gives me chills (and the occasional nightmare).
Yes, I am terrified at the prospect of pissing off certain people, and Mahira Khan is very high on that list…
3. 7 Din Mohabbat In
If you haven’t decided to accuse me of being blinded by my standom yet, you will do so now. Before you get out your proverbial pitchforks and smash your keyboards, hear me out. I agree, 7 Din Mohabbat In (7DMI) is a terrible film. A ludicrous, disjointed plot, mostly horrible acting and hideous dialogue are its hallmarks. Why is this role on this list then?
Simple, Mahira was the one great thing about this movie.
I admit she was the only reason I watched it in the first place, unsurprisingly. I’ll gladly rewatch it again for Neeli. Oddly enough, in a movie as ridiculously over-the-top as this, Neeli seemed like the lone, somewhat grounded character. Not to say that she didn’t ham it out, she did. I mean she told an Indian Jin he was half an hour early to the climax, because time zones. Yet, only her reckless abandon seemed convincing.
I said earlier that MK has a way of inhabiting her characters when portraying them. Neeli is another example for just that. Neeli is extra, in every sense of the word, making her an easy role to fall flat on. Beyond that, the overacting from the rest of the cast doesn’t give up much room to perform, yet she manages to find that balance. Just enough to make Neeli believable. Or I could very well be blinded by my standom. I mean those dialogues!
Keeping this on the list though, have at me if you will.
I mean how could I not! Khirad is the quintessential Mahira Khan performance and for very good reason. It shot our queen to fame because Khirad felt instantly relatable for so many. A simple girl with big dreams, made victim by circumstance. I guess a lot of us felt like victims of chance and circumstance, some of us still do. Though, in the years since, I feel maybe that Humsafar’s popularisation of the demure heroine enforced a negative precedent. That, this is the only way a heroine should be.
Though, this article is not about the implications of these roles. I have already briefly touched that on a previous piece, click here to check that out! This is about the role itself. Khirad is the very first time that many of us saw Mahira Khan in all her glory. Yes, the MK cry may have been crafted in Bol but it was perfected in Humsafar. Oh, you’re wondering what the MK cry is? Basically, a dupatta-clad Mahira, hands folded, weeping softly, facing either downwards or sideways.
You didn’t just realise that now did you?
It may sound like I am making fun of her but you can’t imagine the times this exact trope got me emotional. Beyond that, it is very easy to overlook Khirad’s fierceness. We remember her wails when Atiqa Odho’s Farida is framing her. The line that still inspires countless memes till this day. But we overlook the fierceness with which Khirad begins to challenge her circumstances. Yes, the character does eventually make way for Asher to come in and save the day, it still is testament to Mahira’s range. One, that still rings true today.
There you have it. My four favourite MK performances. I honestly could have put so many more here. Like Bol, Shehr-e-Zaat and even her cameos in Churails and Parey Hut Love. Fun fact, I resisted the urge to walk out of the later, post-interval, just for her. But you knew that already. I have also tried to show as much diversity in her work as possible. You can still take this all as a testament to my standom though.