There is an inevitable excitement that engulfs me when I wake up the morning I have to meet up with Meera for breakfast. As it turns out, she has already called me twice, telling me I’m late and that she has other commitments too. Red in the face, I jump out of bed and go rushing to her place, which luckily is not far from my house. Staying with her mother currently, Meera has been kind enough to invite me over to the place, where I can interview her comfortably. Or staying in her own comfort zone, maybe? Who knows?
Meera greets me with a huge smile on her face, when I hurriedly show up that cold December morning. Dressed in her pyjamas, she is seated quite comfortably in her mother’s drawing room, near a huge fireplace; the pretty house reeking of new furniture. “These are all antiques,” she says as if reading my mind. “I’ve gotten them from all over the world. Hardly any of them are presents from dear friends.”
Over her pyjamas, Meera is wearing a black fox fur coat, presumably very costly. She wears grey socks and bedroom slippers, without a dash of make-up, her face glowing and looking comfortable in her own skin. Other than the fact that she bears flawless skin and carries her nightsuit with a sexiness not many can pull off, I think what really pulls me towards her, rather warms my heart towards this sexy siren and Lollywood actress is her hospitality.
Urging me time and again to have more than just coffee, she insists I take a shawl and even offers to lend me a pair of socks, if I’m feeling cold. It’s only after I tell her I have a pedicure appointment later in the day, hence without socks, that she is pacified.
“Would you like your black coffee with milk?” she asks. The question leaves me confused. I wonder what’s the point in asking for a black coffee if you have got to have it with milk. I decline after a two-minute pause. The very hospitable Meera doesn’t stop there. She is adamant I have something to eat. “It’s only 10am. You have got to have breakfast. Loge kya kahenge? Meera kay ghar se aayi aur kuch khaya bhi nahi?” (What will people say to that? You were at Meera’s place and did not have something to eat?)
From a door attached to her drawing room, appears a woman who what comes across as her kaamwali (maid servant). “Meet my maid servant. She is in charge of taking care of me and my guests and also has been serving my mother for the longest of time,” Meera says. The woman greets me with a half smile. When Meera is done instructing the kaamwali to prepare a “delicious black coffee for my guest”, I proceed with my interview.
“I’m Shia, Alhumdulillah,” Meera goes on to say. “The values of being Shia are embedded deep within me. That gives me a sense of right and wrong.” Not being a morning person, I can’t relate to the heady smile on her face. Meera looks energetic, fresh, upbeat and very observant. She compliments me on my bag and shoes and I can’t help but wonder how one of Pakistan’s greatest movie stars could be so down to earth.
“I was nine when I stuck my foot into the industry. There has been no looking back ever since. Believe it or not, the movie business is a quagmire. Once you’re in, you’re in,” Meera throws her head back and laughs heartily. I try to join in, figuring out the humour in it.
“I believe acknowledgment begins at home, just like charity begins at home. Acknowledgement is a form of charity no? When I first started out as an actress, I do realise I wasn’t really groomed, but I sure didn’t need my daadi (paternal grandmother) rubbing it in my face. You won’t believe but she actually used to say, ‘Kaun shadi karega tere se? Bohut budsoorat hai tu’ (Who will marry you? You’re really ugly). Afterwards, she used to be on my mother’s case for encouraging me to be a part of the film industry and call her names. I owe everything I am today to my mother. She is my biggest supporter.”
I like the fact that Meera is so open, so unafraid and has a great sense of humour. I ask her to point out three things she doesn’t like about herself and she asks me to do that for her. When I push her to say whatever she wants, her reply comes, “I’m naïve, indecisive at times and not satisfied easily.”
She asks me what are mine and we both burst out laughing. Don’t you just love her? “The only thing on my mind these days is the hospital I want to set up. It’s really hard asking for funds for a dream project. Haath phailana asaan kaam nahi hai. (Asking for money is not an easy task.) On the other hand, I’m eagerly anticipating the release of my two films, ‘Hotel’ and ‘Barrhaas’. ‘Hotel’ is a Lollywood project, directed by Khalid. Kamaal ki filum hai. (It’s an amazing film.) ‘Barrhaas’ is a low-budget Bollywood film, directed by Ajay Yadav. So you see, my life is both busy, exciting, fulfilling and beautiful. I try to do as much as I can and the most that I can in this short life. After all, you only live once.”
I can just watch her talking to herself, her eyes distant, thoughtful and happy. We have to admit, Meera is gorgeous, irreplaceable and irresistible too. Some people are destined to be stars. It’s in their hands how to utilise their star power.
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