Zareen Khan: 'I do not have many friends in the industry'

Debarati Palit Singh
Sunday, 19 April 2020

Actor Zareen Khan opens up on her non-diplomatic nature, playing an LGBTQ character, working in other industries and how she's utilising her coronavirus lockdown break. 

Zareen Khan has no complaints about being locked up at home. Since her family does not have a 24x7 house help, Zareen, who lives with her mother, sister and grandfather, says that they have divided the household work and that keeps her busy. 

“The work has been divided between three of us. By the time I finish my work, it’s almost evening. I am also catching up on my sleep and wake up late. I read or go live on my social media platforms,” says Zareen, who has a sizeable fan following on Instagram and Twitter, and has now come up with her YouTube channel too. 

She is brushing up her belly dancing skills by following videos on social media. “I used to do belly dancing in the past, but I haven’t done it for years,” she adds.

On the professional front, her film – Hum Bhi Akele Tum Bhi Akele was set to release in February, but following the pandemic, it was postponed. The LGBTQ film had its world premiere at the South Asian International Film Festival. While Zareen plays a lesbian, Anshuman Jha, who has also produced the film, plays a gay man. 

Zareen, who is playing an LGBT character on screen for the first time, says she had to convince both her director Harish Vyas and Anshuman that she could play the role. 

Recalling those moments, she says, “When I heard the narration of Hum Bhi Akele…, I went and met Harish and Anshuman. But they were not convinced about me playing Mansi because of the glamourous roles I have played in the past. They were like, ‘You have come from this glamourous side of Bollywood and have a certain image. This is a de-glamourised role where you cannot wear make-up’. They were very sceptical. I really had to convince them. I just wanted them to give me a chance,” she says. 

She adds that it was after the audition that they were convinced about her playing the character. “When the film was shown for the first time at Manhattan, the one feedback I got was that there could not have been a better Mansi. The audience’s reaction and appreciation was my award,” she says, adding, “Playing Mansi has given me a lot of satisfaction. Somehow, I haven’t got an opportunity to show my acting potential. When I have approached makers for serious or acting-driven roles, they have told me on my face that in our industry, it’s believed that beautiful girls cannot act. I did not react to that.”

Zareen says that she never had any qualms playing any character. “If I am offered a challenging role which takes me out of my comfort zone and helps me prove my potential, I will jump at it,” she adds.    

The reason, Zareen says she was so convinced about Hum Bhi Akele…is because of the beautiful story it tells. “It’s a human story of a gay boy and a lesbian girl and their friendship. It also deals with the dilemma that the LGBTQ community goes through. Even if the Supreme Court has given them the right to live their life the way they want to, their family members, and a certain section of society are still not ok with it. The subject is also close to my heart because I know the struggle many of my close friends go through,” she shares.  

Phatte Funde Chak Punjabi
The shooting of the first schedule of her upcoming Punjabi film –Phatte Funde Chak Punjabi, a Gippy Grewal production, was supposed to start in April but has been postponed too. “We were supposed to shoot in Punjab and then London, but I don’t know when it’s going to happen now. Just praying for things to get back to normal,” says the actress who will star opposite Binno Dhillo in the film. 

Zareen is also excited about her digital debut because of the kind of character she is playing. Without divulging details, she says, “It’s a strong female character, and I am waiting for the makers to make an official announcement. But right now, I am not even sure if they will stick to the idea or drop it.” 

Last year, Zareen made her Telugu debut with Chanakya. She is working in different film industry and platforms so it wouldn’t be wrong to say that she is making the most of what’s being offered to her. 

Being brutally honest...
The actress says, “I am happy if it’s coming across that way, but honestly, I am just trying to do my job. I am an actor, and my job is to bring characters to life. I do not like restricting myself.” 

She adds that it’s not easy for an outsider in the industry, especially those who not have friends here. “I do not have too many friends in the industry, nor am I seen at parties. I am not the kind of person who will stick to someone to get work out of them. Work is happening with friends, people who know each other, people who have been part of the industry, star kids,” she opens up.

This is not the first time that Zareen has spoken her mind. She is known for being blunt. She says that she has often been told to filter her thoughts and statements. “A lot of people from the industry have told me, ‘You cannot be like this, you need to have a filter, but I don’t know how to be diplomatic,” she says before signing off.

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