In India she’s known as ‘Wasim Akram’s girlfriend’. The tag isn’t welcome: “I don’t have to be known as anyone’s girlfriend, I’m talented enough to be known as Humaima Malik.” Wasim may be a super cricketer, she points out, but she’s “a supermodel too” with brands like Lux and Sunsilk, and after her film Bol, “a superstar”. “Wasim is a friend,” she says. “The Indian media misinterpreted my statement that our friendship could never lessen but only go further to refer to something more.”
After the release of Bol, on June 24, she’s become a role model for the Pakistani youth, the women in particular, with everyone wanting to be another Zainub, raise her voice against what’s wrong and fight for her rights. “They’ve learnt that there’s more to life than just delivering babies. There’s a line in the film where I say, ‘Agar paal nahin sakte toh paida kyun karte ho?’ (why give birth if you can’t raise them?) That and other dialogues have become catchlines. I’ve become the ‘Face of Pakistan’… A national heroine,” she exults.
She admits that when director Shoaib Mansoor approached her for the lead, she was flattered because after Khuda Ke Liye (2007), everyone wanted to work with him. “But he told me I couldn’t wear any make-up and for a second I hesitated,” Humaima reminisces. “But a Bol happens once in a lifetime and I knew it would work for me 50 years from now. I don’t know if any other model would have accepted it but the film made box-office history with a gross of PKR 22 million in six days, surpassing the records of My Name Is Khan (2010) and Dabangg (2010) in Pakistan.”
Bol is gearing up for an Eid release in India. Humaima is hopeful she’ll be just as appreciated here. Lucky to get out of a bad marriage, she lived the character of Zainub for three months, from 5 am, through sleepless, teary nights. “It was a traumatic shoot, particularly the last scene when I’m hanged. It was filmed from 7 pm to 7am in Lahore with the temperature dipping to minus 2 degree,” she reminices. “Another scene left me with a ‘sooja hua sar’ (a swollen forehead) because Shoaib insisted that my father (Manzar Sehbai) bang my head hard against the wall to make it look convincing. But it was worth it. I’m sure like Khuda Ke Liye, Bol will also do wonders across the world.”
Pakistani actors like Zeba Bakhtiyar, Meera and Veena Malik have travelled to India. So does Humaima have Bollywood aspirations? She says, “As an actor, my job is to entertain. If I get a good script, I’m ready to work in Bollywood and Hollywood. Heena (1991) gave the beautiful Zeba a lot of respect but that was 20 years ago. I don’t understand what Meera and Veena do, so I can only wish them the best. India made them feel special.”