Momal Sheikh is the latest Pakistani import to foray into Bollywood. Her father Javed Sheikh is already a known name in Hindi film circles having acted in movies like Namastey London, Om Shanti Om and Tamasha. Now, his daughter, Momal is making her film debut with Happy Bhaag Jayegi, which also stars him. What’s interesting is, the two play father and daughter in the film too! A TV actress in her own right, Momal is known for her serials like Yeh Zindagi Hai and Mirat Ul Osroos among others. Here the actress talks about stepping into Bollywood, the relationship she shares with her father and more.
Instead of making your debut as a second lead in Happy Bhaag Jayegi, wouldn’t you have rather had a solo heroine film?
No, I had no issues about playing the second lead. Didn’t Diana Penty make an entry into films as second lead in Cocktail before she baggedHappy Bhaag Jayegi? As far as I am concerned, I just had to prove myself. And, now since the trailer is out, I am on top-of-the-world and it’s finally hitting me that I am making my Bollywood debut!
How did you get this role?
Basically, my father (Javed Sheikh) was offered a role in the film. The makers asked him to suggest a few Pakistani actresses for the role of Abhay Deol’s fiancé. He had given them a few names except mine. They were still auditioning the girls when they googled for some names. They found my pictures with my father and asked him ‘Who is this girl, is she related to you?’ He told them that I am his daughter and an actress too. They coaxed him to give my number and spoke to me directly. I gave my audition, they sent me the script, I liked it and here I am.
Why was your father reluctant to give your name? Didn’t he want you to do Bollywood films?
No, nothing like that. He just wants me to get work on my own merit, he has never spoken to or pushed someone to give me work.
Tell us something about your role in the film?
I play a self-made, confident Pakistani girl Zoya. She is emotional and completely in love with her fiancé Bilal (Abhay). The two are happy in their own world when Happy (Diana) comes into their lives. She is an Indian girl who gets stuck in Pakistan and that’s when some issues crop up between Zoya and Bilal.
Was it easy working with your father?
It was a great experience working with Baba. It was for the first time that we shot together. It is always fun to work with family and a learning experience. Baba is not strict at all on the set. He is more of a friend. He has given me everything. Baba says, ‘Do whatever you like, enjoy your life and then learn for yourself’.
Lately, several Pakistani actors are foraying into Bollywood…
Yes, it’s amazing. We feel proud that lot of Pakistanis are coming here and being appreciated for their work.
Yet, only Fawad Khan has made it big. Imran Abbas and Ali Zafar despite acting opposite big heroines have failed to make a mark. Even Mawra Hocane hasn’t clicked…
Sometimes destiny also plays a role. Yes, Fawad has connected, because he is good looking, is a good actor and people like his personality. As far as Mawra is concerned, I believe her film was not successful. People liked her work. Even I have seen the film and I loved her performance. She is a brilliant actor. Acting mein kahi kami nahi dekhi. She has been offered good projects, you guys are going to see more of her in Bollywood.
Are you friends with her?
Yes, we are good friends. Even Mahira Khan (Pakistani actress who is making her debut with Raees) is a good friend of mine. In fact, a short while ago, both our shooting spells were at the same time in India. We used to share our experiences together, it was good to have someone from back home here.
Who do you like among Bollywood actors?
Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan. I don’t miss a single film of theirs.
Which actor is on your wishlist?
Ranveer Singh.I want to work with him. He is a brilliant actor, has a great personality and is such a lovely person. Whenever I have seen him on TV or films, I get positive vibes. He is a fun-loving person. Kaam karke bhimazaa ayega.
The movie is slated to be released on 19th August 2016 by Distribution Club across Pakistan.