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I am my own worst critic: Armeena Khan

Does Armeena Khan even need an introduction? She is an asset to Pakistan’s entertainment industry and has bagged two powerful and entirely different roles this year in ‘Sherdil’ and ‘Achilles Protocol’. With pleasure, I welcome you to Armeena’s world!
Tell me one interesting fact about yourself.
I don’t own cats anymore.

Is it a struggle convincing Armeena Khan for film roles?
Not at all; actresses live to work but it is very competitive. You look to constantly push the boundaries. I intend for something interesting and challenging however, if it doesn’t catch my imagination then I simply slog through it. It becomes cumbersome though. This happened a lot in early years of my acting career. I refused five film scripts last year as they brought nothing new to the audience.

Do you think you’ve exceeded your expectations as an actor?
This might sound like a cliché but I am my own worst critic. I am never, ever satisfied with my own performances so it is a constant struggle for me. I watch my plays when they are on air and pick out the areas for improvement. I think the moment you are satisfied with your performance, is the day you begin to stagnate. So, in answer to your question, I am far from it.

In your opinion, what makes an actress desirable?
I don’t think you can set a standard for desirability. It is innate; you are either likeable or you are not. However, the counter argument is that popularity can be ‘bought’ through PR these days. In the end, it is my belief that if you pretend, it almost always becomes obvious at some stage.

Which characters do you prefer not to act out?
Anything that screams ‘me too.’ I love originality, which is sadly lacking in our scripts. How many times are we supposed to exploit social issues and domestic violence for ratings? I want to see unique subjects being televised to open up minds. Personally, I would kill to play a female detective or scientist. Let’s see if things change in my life time.

You are currently working on Sherdil and Achilles Protocol. How are your roles different in both the films?
These two roles are poles apart. Honestly, I signed Sherdil for the love of air force, as it was my dream to be a part of something associated with it. My character in the film is neither ground breaking nor anything new. The film, as a whole is fantastic with amazing dogfight sequences, characters and cinematography.
Achilles Protocol is a different beast altogether. It is a role quite close to my heart. I play an A.I robot with a God complex gone rogue and is out to destroy humanity. I mean, how many times can you say that? One is a British short while the other is a Pakistani feature film. I am looking forward to these projects and since they are from different industries, they cannot be compared.

What is key to communication on set?
We all think that we have great communication skills but in reality, very few people do. I cannot emphasize enough on the importance of communication on set. This would solve many issues that arise both personally and professionally. I think production houses should invest in communications managers for every project so things can run smoother.

Are actors presumable extroverts or is it a myth?
Generally, actors tend to be extremely outgoing and extroverted. However, I seem to be an exception to this rule. I am a huge introvert and very shy, which is nothing short of a contradiction considering that acting requires a lot of confidence. I have had to change and evolve a lot over the years to match the requirements of my job. To this day I have my awkward moments.

What are your thoughts on ageism? How does it relate to Pakistan’s film and television industry?
It is an ‘age’ old problem; pun intended! Almost all entertainment industries suffer from it and it rears its ugly head in Pakistan too. I personally hate the term ‘senior’ as it is derogatory.
Many production houses don’t know what to do with an actress above 40 years. Sadly, immensely popular performers find themselves playing mothers or grandmothers of debutante actresses. I find this demoralising as these ladies have so much more to give than be mere accessories to the ever wailing and sobbing protagonist.

Viola Davis quoted in her Emmys speech ‘You cannot win an award for roles that are simply not there.’ Do you agree?
I have to agree with her. If films are male centric and we are simply there as window dressers with repetitive roles, then yes, there is no scope for actresses to win.

What is your life’s greatest regret?
I don’t have many, I must say. We all make good and bad decisions. Nobody wants to make the wrong choice and end up regretting it later. You cannot live life reflecting on your past; life is meant to be lived.

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