Celebrate the colour and love of Pakistan with Balu Mahi: actress Ainy Jaffri

By Neeru Saluja

Pakistani film Balu Mahi has already created a stir on social media and is now ready for a worldwide release on 10 February. A light hearted romantic tale with stunning visuals, the film stars Osman Khalid Butt and Ainy Jaffri in the lead roles.

The Indian Down Under caught up with rising actress Ainy Jaffri to talk about Balu Mahi, thanks to Mind Blowing Films. The UK based actress was delighted to start the year on a high note as this film has become the most awaited film of 2017 in Pakistan.

Ainy, tell us a bit about your character ”˜Mahi’ who is a modern, contemporary Pakistani girl?

Mahi is the hero of the film. She is a very strong-willed, independent and fearless woman who wants to be in charge of her destiny. Without her will, she is stuck in an arranged marriage. Balu (Osman) is the escape route she finds at her wedding and runs away. She starts off as a bully and knows what she wants, but she is on a journey to find where she is from. Nothing can get in her way. But even though she is headstrong, there is a vulnerable side to her. Mahi does not fall in love with Balu at first sight. Slowly and organically they form this beautiful friendship and the story revolves. Mahi is a role model as she represents the strong Indian sub-continent woman.

As a Pakistani actress who made her foray from television to films, was there a bit of Mahi in you during your journey?

Yes certainly. I come from a very conservative family but have been very headstrong. As long as I’m not disobeying my elders and doing anything wrong, I always do things within boundaries. Being an actress was a struggle. There was a period where my father didn’t talk to me as he had his reservations of me being an actress. I fought to be an actress and it wasn’t easy. I have a big and close family and it’s a constant struggle to keep everyone happy. But I strongly believe that if you respect yourself, people will respect you.

What would you describe as the biggest asset of Bahu Mahi?

The audience will be wowed by the diversity, beauty and landscape of Pakistan. The locations are beautiful and we have focussed on the North of Pakistan. Indians and westerners have a very negative perception of Pakistan that only suicide bombers live here, we have been typecast as a scary country. We are like any other country and are celebrating the colour and love of Pakistan through this film. Hopefully the audience will see the softer side of Pakistan.

Indians are crazy about Pakistani dramas. Making your entry by the lead role in the popular serial Aseerzadi, what do you think wins the hearts of the audience?

Pakistani dramas are very different to the Indian soap operas. They are focussed on women and the majority of the audience of Pakistani dramas are women. The content is different and they find the language Urdu very soothing.


What are your views on the recent ban on Pakistani actors?

As an actor I don’t like to get political and I think arts should have no politics involved. They should be kept separated. It really saddens me. Even though I wasn’t born during the partition, it hasn’t been many decades since it happened. We used to be one country and it’s sad what has happened. It was a healthy relationship and it does affect our mobility as an actor.

You are one of those few actors who got married at the start of their career. Is marriage a hindrance when it comes to acting in Pakistani films?

Be it an actor or an actress, yes it is difficult. Though I have seen it’s easier for male actors. When it is the other way around, it’s difficult. I live in London and the roles are coming from Pakistan. The distance is the challenge. That’s why I do one project per year. I believe in quality over quantity.

While you are promoting this film in Pakistan extensively, what message would you like to give to the Indian audience for Balu Mahi?

Please do watch the film. It’s thoroughly entertaining film. This film is made for cinema and is not a telefilm. The songs are exceptional (a qawali sung by Rahet Fateh Ali Khan) and it has the message of women empowerment. We are a growing industry and every film has it’s up and downs. Inshallah we will get better.

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