Embellishing Cote d’Azur: Hina Khan| June-July Cover Story
While treading the path to success, people are often confronted with difficulties and challenges but their unwavering spirit to push limits makes them head and shoulders above the rest.
This holds true for incredibly talented and ethereally beautiful Hina Khan who is riding the crest of success while dazzling the global arena. Recently, she swayed millions of hearts with her beguiling visage and embellished the French Riviera.
From essaying the role of traditional ingénue to being assertive and super stylish prima donna in the house of Big Boss, she caught everyone’s heed with her sartorial sensibilities and winning streak. Furthermore, she demonstrated her side of adventure junkie and shifted gear while being a relentless contender in Khatron Ke Khiladi. Instead of resting on her laurels she moved on to explore virtues of versatility and ruled landscape of tele-entertainment while playing the most conniving character of Kumolika in Kasouti Zindagi Ki. Her ingenuity to play vivid characters bagged her the lead role in prestigious Bollywood ventures ‘ Lines’, ‘Wishlist’ and blitzkrieg of projects. She has come a long way and traversed a phenomenal journey that is mired with struggle and glory leading to stardom.
Divya Khanna, Associate Editor, High on Persona, had a candid conversation with very versatile and full of beans Hina Khan and dwelled into her personal and professional space, Hina gave answers to different questions asked by Divya.
Q. How did you venture into the arena of Acting while you were still pursuing MBA? Was it planned or you came inadvertently?
I was in my college in Delhi and my friend had told me about the auditions happening for Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, for which she really convinced me to go ahead and give the audition. And somehow, I managed and just went to give the audition, and Barkha and Hitesh who were the casting directors of Yeh Rishta kind of saw something in me, and so they had made me sit and rehearse lines for the entire day I remember. They had made me sit for the whole day, had given me food to eat as well, and made me say an entire paragraph which I had to do so without fumbling. And after that they let me go, and soon I got a call from them saying I had to fly down to Mumbai. It all happened so quickly! I remember how I had flown down to Mumbai without telling my parents or anyone else, I met Rajan sir, who had shown my audition to the channel, after which I was, of course, scared, as I was looking at it from a fun point of view, so I eventually called up my dad and told him about the entire scenario and he asked me about the production house, so I had kind of lied to him and said it was a Balaji show as TV back then was all about Ekta Kapoor’s!
And honestly my story was just like a Cinderella story, as I would see how people would wait in lines for hours and hours together to give auditions, and for me it kind of just happened with lots of luck by my side! I managed to bag the lead actor role for such an iconic show. My dad had then back then agreed to me doing the show but had made me promise him that I would also finish my studies and graduation anyhow. And besides all of that, for an entire month, my dad and I had not told my mother anything about my decision, but when she finally came to know about it she was of course very angry with me, but then she eventually supported me. My parents have really been a strong support system for me in every way possible! So yes, the credit of course first goes to my father and then my father and mother and brother too. And now, of course, Rocky, who is one solid rock of my life.
Q. What prompted you to pick TV as a medium to express your talent?
You never really plan these things, Like I mentioned, one day I was in college for my graduation & the next I was selected for the role for a show that went on to become India’s longest running Television show, which again no one must have planned & it all happened organically. I didn’t come from a space where I was hung up to be a movie star or a runway model, because I believe in the process of waiting for what you want, you may miss out on many doors of opportunities. If you work hard, you’ll reach where you ought to. I never imagined I’ll be cast in a music album or even do a movie playing a challenging role. I kept working & alongside life kept happening. It’s exciting when I don’t know what I’ll be doing next.
Q. Turning point of your career?
When I got selected for Yeh Rishta, I remember having given the first audition in Delhi after which I had flown down to Mumbai the next day, and here in the city, used to go to Amardeep Jha who is a well-known film actor, for 7 days to be precise for an hour on each of those days, and I would sit and talk to her, and she would give me a different life situation and ask me about how I would react to those, for a brief training. But I can never ever forget those 7 days, as I will always be thankful to her for what she taught me. So, I always dedicate those 7 hours of training to be precise to her, and so she has been my mentor! Also, post Yeh Rishta, I took the challenge to face my fears with Khatron Ke Khiladi. I had never really imagined that I would take up such a show but life is all about breaking one’s inhibitions and going beyond what you think you can achieve. I’d like to believe that was a turning point in my career.
Q. What has been your greatest accomplishment as an actor?
I have received almost all possible category of awards at various prestigious Indian television award events and some awards I have received twice maybe even thrice for Best Actor, also bagged a Dadasaheb Phalke award across categories, I have more than about 60 pretty trophies & award acknowledgment certificates at my home since the time I finished Bigg Boss, it has rained awards & am still counting and I feel good and blessed about these achievements that I have had so far. Whenever I look at these awards, I feel like these are my assets and this is what I have achieved and want to grow more and more in coming years and it gives me a lot of strength. I thank god for just being with me throughout, it feels great.
Q. How did a life change for you after receiving kudos in BIG BOSS?
Bigg Boss! Again, a show I couldn’t imagine myself doing as being surrounded by cameras 24 hours a day and then living with strangers under one roof is not easy. I have been a pampered daughter and am very close to my family, so being away from them was unthinkable. There were a lot of ups and downs in the journey but looking back, I realize Bigg Boss gave me the opportunity to show to the world the real Hina Khan. Today people appreciate me not only for my dressing but also my honesty and the fact that they know I will stand up against anything wrong I see. Being targeted is part and parcel of the game and I think you know that when you come to a show like Bigg Boss, you can’t walk out without any controversies. Honestly, it was a challenge for me. I never thought I will reach or achieve this goal so fast because breaking that stereotyped image of the ‘bahu’ that I played for eight years, where I wore all Indian clothes, was more difficult. I have done (one of the) longest running shows of Indian TV and it was difficult. When it is a one- or two-years long show, it is easy to move on (from a character), but for me, breaking that stereotype image was tough. However, I took it positively. I will not give up.
Q. Inspiration & role model for you?
I have said it many times before as well and the answer is still the same. As an actor I was in awe of the way Smriti Irani use to act and basically understood how small reactions and expressions can say more than you think way before I ever imagined to be an actor myself, credit goes to her.
And of course the female juggernaut of INDIAN Film and Television the one and only Ekta Kapoor, she has been my role model as a woman, as a creator, as an entrepreneur, as a storyteller, as an icon and as someone whom one should idealise to become because even if u manage to achieve half of it, you will be remembered for eternity.
Q. You have recently bagged few Bollywood projects, please throw light on that?
I am making my Bollywood debut with ‘Lines’ and another project ‘Wishlist’, Lines is directed by Hussain Khan and is produced by Rahat Kazmi, Tariq Khan, Zeba Sajid and also co-produced by Jayant Jaiswal’s Hiro Faar Better Films, recently we unveiled its poster from concourse of Cannes and got great reviews for the same. I would love to experiment with mediums as well as roles. I have already shot for one film and have a few more in the line-up this year, all the roles are quite interesting, different and I think I would really enjoy playing them but yes I would love to do more films, provided that I am challenged as an actor and given my fair share of character importance because I really wouldn’t want to just be an eye candy.
Q. Your opinion about content and element of supernatural or horror being used in many TV serials today, do you think it’s a healthy trend?
Trends keep coming and going and they are decided by the content consumption of the masses which live in Tier 2 cities. Globally viewers are consuming more of fantasy and fiction, and in our country currently its supernatural that is dominating. These trends will change and I don’t think there is anything wrong because at the end of the day its entertainment. Viewers need to put aside their daily worries and just be able to escape and enjoy.
Q. In an era of Netflix and web series do you feel insecure about the scope of entertainment offered by the small screen?
Not at all! In fact, the web has opened up such a beautiful platform for actors as there’s now a lot more content for one to choose as a consumer as well as for an actor. And it also is giving our Indian entertainment industry some good competition for the urban markets.
Q. Your take on Feminism, gender equality, Women empowerment, and #METOO?
I wonder what would happen to the world if all the women who are not working started working. Before I also jump onto use these heavy words and make them a little less effective shall just say that I seek a day where we don’t need any of these words. A society of equal rights and opportunity for everyone alike.
Q Your favorite co-stars till date and qualities you admire in them?
Farida Jalal for her humility even though she has such a wealth of experience. And I was amazed at how young at heart she is, and she inspires everyone around her to age as gracefully as she has.
Ravi Dubey for the person he is, his intelligence and being real in an industry where we are constantly being captured and questioned.
Q. A lesson that life has taught you, in brief, the moral of the lesson you learned?
Be yourself, believe in yourself and the rest shall follow!
Q. Tips and habits that keep you organized?
Scheduling and delegating, one can’t do it all….so you need to have the right team in place who can manage everything and if your schedule is planned out well then there’s time for everything.
Q. Difference between Delhi and Mumbai in terms of lifestyle, fashion, and food, since you have experienced the best of both?
Of course, each city has its own flavor and there’s a vast difference in Mumbai and Delhi too. MUMBAI is MUMBAI, this city lets you be. It doesn’t judge you; it doesn’t hold you back and it certainly is safer than most cities. This is indeed the city of dreams but no one ever says it’s an easy ride, no matter how your entry was you will only make it if you are true towards your dreams and ready to pay for it in sweat.
Winters are just amazing in Delhi and I want to explore this city again. While I was studying here, I used to regularly visit Khan Market, Hauz Khas. Saket was our favorite destination for watching movies. We used to have a lot of fun, but we were alert whenever we went out and I always tried not to stay out till late. I have a special connection with Delhi and this city has been very lucky for me. This is the city that gave me a platform to act. I gave my audition for; Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai’ (YRKKH) in Bengali Market, and this is where it all started.
Q. Your fitness and diet regime?
In just a matter of a couple of years, I have become what you may say a fitness freak. When I have a lighter week work-wise, I usually go to the gym every day and when I am shooting back to back or traveling, I at least try to reach the door of the gym 3-4 times a week.
Of course, diet is a major part of the way you wanna work your body and reach a certain goal. I mainly rely on protein-based diet and anyway I don’t eat a lot so it helps my already fast metabolism.
But yes, we too have cheat days after as Indians who can live without the yums that our cuisine has to offer.
Q. Exercise and diet plan that keeps you fit and beautiful?
I make it a point to work out 6 days a week for 1 hour at least. My main workout regime includes a mix of weight training, functional training, kickboxing as well as TRX exercises, for the upper body which target the back, abs, shoulders, and biceps. I am mainly into hardcore weight training, functional fitness, core strengthening, kickboxing which is a great form of keeping fit according to me, as well as increasing your energy levels, and calisthenics as well which is a type of body weight training. Also, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) & TRX. I focus on always give special importance to my posture which is very important. My mornings start with a glass of lukewarm water with a bit of lemon in it, which makes for an awesome body detox. Post which I have a wholesome breakfast consisting of a glass of fresh fruit or vegetable juice, 2 bananas, corn flakes and alternately a cheese omelet. My diet mainly consists of low carbs and high proteins, which I strictly follow! And only Sunday lunch is a cheat meal for me where I eat anything and everything I like, depending on my mood and craving.
I love outdoor exercising too, and I indulge in some swimming, running or jogging and yoga as well, as and when I want a break from the regular exercise routine I follow.
Q. How do you unwind? Do you enjoy days when you don’t have to do greasepaint?
I love catching up on web series with Rocky or traveling with my family when time permits. I feel travel is the best way to rejuvenate and gives us the ability to learn and grow with exposure to what different countries and cultures are living across the world.
Q. Favourite holiday destinations and plans for the summer holidays?
London is my favorite any time of the year! We just returned from the Maldives and I’ll be traveling soon to Europe for work.
Q. What lies in your bag and your favorite brands?
I carry almost every handy essential, my bag is stuffed with tissue papers, sanitary napkins, perfume & most importantly my key ring which holds access to all the places I want to go to.
I never leave home without my wallet, my charger & Air Pods. But again, it all depends on what type of bag I’m carrying.
My favorite brand in bags ranges from Gucci, Chanel, Hermes, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Charles & Keith!
Q. How do you cope up with work and home balance?
I’m blessed with a supportive family who understands hectic shooting schedules. I try to take time off every so often so that we can travel together and spend some time together.
Q. How much time you give to self-grooming on a daily basis and how does your daily grooming and beauty routine look like?
I feel that whatever we eat shows on our face. Our face is the mirror of our internal system. I drink lots of water, at least 12 glasses a day. It helps me clear my system which reflects on my skin. I also drink coconut water twice a day. A bowl of curd is also a must. I also have one amla a day to detoxify my system and retain the glow on my face. I eat both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food, but I don’t overeat. Moderation is the key to a healthy body and when you have a healthy body there is a glow on your skin. I prefer home remedies like applying fresh tomato face pack, as it refreshes my skin. I also put malai on my face sometimes and also take steam to soften my skin. A mixture of dried orange rind and milk is great for exfoliating the skin. I also use milk and rose water on my skin to keep it supple. For my over-night homemade spa treatments for hair, I use a mixture of egg and yogurt. For an extra dose of shine, I combine lemon juice with buckwheat water and rinse it after shampooing. I use a warm towel to wrap it around my head to steam the scalp as it encourages blood flow in the area. I never let even a drop of conditioner touch the scalp.
Q. What fashion means to you? Since people like your fashion sense, any tips for the youngsters?
Fashion as a term is quite elaborate & does mean different things to different people but most importantly it should stand for who you are & resonate with your personality. Fashion played a great deal in my shaping my career. I was clad in sarees, heavy jewelry for 8 long years & aged on screen from being a daughter to a wife & also a mother. People would often tell me back then that I could pick to play a bahu in other shows as well as I did a good job with the first one & that was my biggest challenge to let people know the real Hina Khan. Though a salwar kameez or a short skirt doesn’t define me fashion did help change people’s perception about me. I started to wear my heart on my sleeve & dress as per my mood & would often experiment & In no time I was not known as the character I played but as Hina so fashion is an integral part of my life. Youngsters these days are active on social media pretty early on & look up to us actors for style inspiration, my only message to them would be, what you like on someone else may not necessarily look good on you so don’t blindly follow, pick a style that brings out your attitude & mood & is also comfortable.
Q. What was your experience in Cannes like?
It was definitely an experience of a lifetime for me! Taking my country, heritage and representing Indian Cinema and the art that I am part of on such a prestigious platform like Cannes, was indeed a proud moment. Cannes is also about diversity in the land of cinema and films, an experience which I thoroughly enjoyed. Being part of so many different cultures and getting to know more about what each had to offer, was a big learning experience for me. And something which I will cherish forever!
Q. How did it feel walking the red carpet at Cannes Film Festival 2019?
It was definitely an experience of a lifetime for me! Taking my country, heritage and representing Indian industry and the art that I am part of on such a prestigious platform like Cannes, was indeed a proud moment. Cannes is also about diversity in the land of cinema and films, an experience which I thoroughly enjoyed. Being part of so many different cultures and getting to know more about what each had to offer, was a big learning experience for me. And something which I will cherish forever!
Q. How did you go about deciding the looks for Cannes?
My team and I had an entire calendar chalked out for all my appearances, for which we were working for almost two months..There were a lot of outfit trials that I went through, to get the exact look I had in mind. My team did a brilliant job..It had be to be something elegant and classy and at the same time something that defined my own style statement. And all the outfits that I chose did exactly that!