LAHORE-Calm, composed, and compassionate, Mehwish Hayat has charmed her way into people’s hearts since ‘Jawani Phir Nahi Ani’ that marked Hayat’s reinvention.

Known to be the highest paid actress, she played the lead role in ‘Punjab Nahi Jaungi’, which set a new benchmark for Pakistani cinema earning Rs 500 million at the box office.

With her impeccable sense of style, Mehwish is undoubtedly one of the most sought after actresses in showbiz and her success story reflects that.

In conversation with The Nation, she talks about her career, success and upcoming film ‘Chhalawa’. Following are the excerpts:

You recently received Tamgha e Imtiaz Award, how did you feel when you found you were going to receive that honour?

I am very touched by the Government support who felt that I should have received this honour. Receiving Tamgha-e- Imtiaz by the President of Pakistan was a feeling that I can’t even explain in words. I’m really happy for it.

You received a lot of backlash and people were saying you don’t deserve that honour. What’s your take on it?

Honestly, it is public’s lack of knowledge because Tamgha-e-Imtiaz is given on the facts and figures of your achievements and the state awarded me this honour by seeing my accomplishments in Pakistani cinema.

Being choosy when deciding on a project seems to be a trend these days, but how is that process unique to you? What criteria do you choose for the right project?

I make sure the script is unique and different from my previous characters. There should be something in that script which should challenge me as an actor.

‘Load Wedding’ is being screened in China, How does it feel when your work is appreciated across the globe?

‘Load Wedding’ got a very positive response in China. It feels really great when people love your work across the globe and it is a step towards the revival of Pakistani Cinema.

‘Load Wedding’ focused on how the practice of dowry can cause havoc in many lives of middle class people of Pakistan. Do you think things are going to be changed after this film in our country?

Dowry is a social evil which has affected our society very badly. It has caused too much destruction to the socio-economic structure. After ‘Load Wedding’ I hope it will impact many minds in Pakistan and being an actor it is our responsibility to entertain the audience by giving them a social message at the end of the film.

Tell us about your character in Chhalawa ? How different is it from some of the other characters you’ve played in the past?

I cannot say much at the moment but what I can reveal is that the character is very different from anything else I have played recently.

You have previously worked with Azfar Rehman in ‘Punjab Nahi Jaungi. How was your experience working with him this time?

Azfar is a brilliant actor and it is always a pleasure working with him every time on the set.

Would you like to tell us about your upcoming projects?

There are so many things that I want to do. It has been an incredible journey up till now and I feel this is only the beginning. Let’s see where the next phase takes me.