Four years ago, when Na Maloom Afraad hit the big screen in Pakistan, the film did wonders for the local industry – but it gave us a talented starlet who has steadily chiseled her name into a brand. British-born Pakistani actress Kubra Khan is more than what meets the eye. The belle has not only made everyone take notice of her, but in the last four years, ensured that she is a force to be reckoned with. How did she do all of that?
Did she jump the bandwagon and hop across the border? Or did she sign up for a ton of drama serials being produced locally? Or did she sign up for films, left, right and center, that local producers are churning out every season? Or did she simply craft her image in social media to build a perception. No. She did what every artisan truly would do to his or her craft. Follow the passion in her work. Kubra selectively worked on productions that she felt passionate about.
This year will finally mark her return to the big screen after a hiatus of four years – with two back to back big banner productions – Parwaaz Hai Junoon and Jawani Phir Nahi Aani 2.
When I last interviewed Kubra, she was in London and would shuttle back and forth for projects that were in the pipeline – that was the post-NMA period. But I recall from my interaction that it was quite an interview as I got to know the true Kubra behind the screens.
Born to Pushtun descent, Kubra, who’s real name is Rabia, was born and raised in north west London, where she has lived all her life. A skillfully creative person, Kubra has many facets to her – she is an excellent actor, a motorsports engineer by education, a pro-gamer and dabbles her hand in graphic designing, as well.
“I was 16 when I started working as a graphic designer, and then soon followed modeling, which eventually led me to a few acting projects – and that’s when I realised my true calling,” she told me.
Apart from her acting chops, which we all know, Kubra is fanatic about motorsports. She has pursued motorsports engineering from Brunel University and has impeccable knowledge of racing cars.
Bring the subject up, and you will see Kubra passionately talking about F1. She recalls she was the only girl in her class when she was pursuing her undergraduate studies, and that it’s ingrained deep down in her – the love and passion for F1.
Her favourite race car drivers are Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton, and she still follows the sport regularly even when she’s caught up in her acting schedules.
Her performances in drama serials like Muqabil, Alif Allah Aur Insaan and Sang-e-Mar Mar have garnered her critical acclaim. She not only delved deep into the characters she was playing, but made them look effortlessly real. You couldn’t tell while watching them, that those strong characters were being played by a British born Pakistani.
Talking about her role in the TV serial Sang-e-Mar Mar, she says the play changed everything for her.
“It made me realise how much I love acting. My character, Shireen was quite similar to me, generally in her attitude to life. But the environment she had been in, the restrictions and the fact that I could project someone else’s feelings was a very beautiful feeling,” she said. “Every single character I‘ve done, has been different. And my mind changed because of Shireen; I fell in love with her.”
Immediately after this, she dealt with child abuse and rape, and also played a somewhat comic character. However, what cemented her mark in hearts and minds of audiences was her serial Alif Allah Aur Insaan, that delved deep into multiple issues.
Her articulacy of Urdu is as effortlessly crisp as it could be. Despite having lived all her life in UK, this comes as a surprise to many, but she is careful to point out that all the credit goes to her mother, who ensured that she inculcated the language in their homes.
“It’s because of my mother we have been brought up conversing in Urdu at home.”
When she made her debut in film, she got her fair share of Bollywood offers too. So much so that she even signed up for a project, only to later opt out of it. Her reason to excuse herself: she just didn’t feel comfortable about the demands of her role.
Kubra, many a times, in her recent interviews has said that she has no interest, whatsoever in going to Bollywood.
This year, she has a crucial support role in air force themed film Parwaaz Hai Junoon that has a stellar ensemble cast featuring Hamza Ali Abbasi, Hania Amir, Ahad Raza Mir and herself. She will also shift gears into a different role in the bone-tickling upcoming comedy sequel of Jawani Phir Nahi Ani, opposite Humayun Saeed.
She’s quite excited about the latter, and says the character has great substance and panache to it. On the personal front, Kubra has a different side to her, as she loves reading comic and is quite an anime fan.
“I’m into Korean comics, love their popular culture and I wish I’d get to work in a Korean project some day,” she notes. Other than this, she’s also a video-gaming aficionado. Now due to her busy schedule, she barely gets to play video games, but back home in London, she has video game collection that can rival any pro-gamer.
She’s funny, explosive and can be any guy’s best buddy thanks to her tomboyish nature – but on the flipside she’s quite an introvert. She has a very small circle of friends, doesn’t socialise much, and lets her work speak for itself.
She is a very private person, likes to keep to herself and doesn’t appreciate the plasticity of mushing up to people – how typically is the case in showbiz.
Kubra has an air of simplicity around her, she’s focused on her work, feels passionately about what she does and wants to make sure that she chooses the right kind of projects as time goes by. She’s not in a rush, but the Kubra juggernaut is already rolling in on our screens.