MANCHESTER: The Canadian-born, UK based, actress/model – who has taken Lollywood by storm – is none other than the gorgeous Armeena Rana Khan. The dazzling beauty is known for her roles in serials like Muhabbat Ab Nahi Hogi, Ishq Parast, Karb, Happily Married and Shab-e-Arzu Ka Alam. She also starred in Bollywood flicks: Huff! It’s Too Much and Unforgettable. The same year, Khan appeared in Writhe, which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival 2013. She was the first Pakistani actress to walk at Cannes. The talented actress made her debut in Lollywood with Bin Roye in 2015. Soon after her recently released superhit movie, Janaan, the star has won the hearts of millions worldwide. After the success of Janaan, Armeena talks about her vision of a different life; a life-less ordinary. Following are excerpts of the interview:

Tell us about your family and childhood?

Armeena Rana Khan: I have a brother and two sisters. We grew up in Toronto, Canada. We were relatively sheltered from the realities of the wider world, as anyone from suburban Canada will testify. It is a life of green lawns, barbeques, long summer days spent laughing with friends, vivid autumnal hues that silence the senses and limb numbing cold winters that hole you up indoors. It was a quiet and peaceful childhood. We were taught the best values of my parent’s homeland, Pakistan, together with the principles that makes Canada unique. To this day I carry these values and principles with me.

How did you spend your teenage years?

ARK: I had an extremely supportive family and my father particularly believed in educating his daughters. I was the quiet kid in school and very bookish. I did well in school and tried my best, as I really wanted to study medicine. My teenage life was full of expedited learning experiences but fortunately I had a reliable network of friends and family to guide me. Again it was an ordinary Canadian teenage life. But even then I had a vision of a different life, a life less ordinary.

What was your major in university?

ARK: I moved from Canada to study in Manchester, UK. I graduated with a degree in Business Studies with honours. I will go back and continue my studies later once the lights die down a little.

What is the one memory that still lingers in your mind?

ARK: When my niece was born (first child in the family) I was away from my family and I can remember being in agony thinking what would become of my sister. To my relief, everything went well. I also have wonderful memories of receiving my university place when I applied for it in Canada. I got a place but then soon after I decided to go to the U.K to study and did not take up my place in Canada.

What are you really passionate about?

ARK: My family. I mean what one is supposed to do without one’s family. I do not get to see them often so whatever time I get with them is a blessing and I cherish it most of all.

What’s your biggest fear?

ARK: I hate darkness, whether it is physical, emotional or mental. We all go through such periods and due to the nature of my work and geographical location I experience it from periodically. Whether it is load-shedding or witnessing an injustice or perhaps a dark interpretation of an intellectual idea. These things are my greatest fears.

Are you into books? If yes, which one’s your favourite?

ARK: Books are my best friends. It’s like having a constant companion to speak with. They question your beliefs and perceptions of the world. They challenge you and shape your mind in a way that very little else can.  Who would I be without them? I love the classics as I feel they have withstood the test of time and just like with food I am very careful about the intellectual content I let into my mind. My favourite novel is ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte’

What’s your favourite food? Are you a foodie?

ARK: Absolutely but not for taste or pleasure. For me food is fuel and if there is one thing your readers can take away from me on this subject it is this. “You are what you eat”. I eat the right kinds of food that are conducive to my fitness and my lifestyle. I need lots of energy all the time so I eat a lot of greens, fruits and lean protein. Oh and I drink plenty of water. I avoid fatty, fried and stodgy foods. I also give a wide birth to fizzy and sugary foods. In fact it’s all on the internet so I encourage everyone to get off your social media accounts for an hour and instead research the meaning of a good diet. It will change your life.

I love coffee and anything to do with eggs. But my taste changes and depends on my mood. I don’t really have one favourite in particular.

Who is that one person you really look up to?

ARK: I have had many mentors and guides in my life. I am grateful to all of them. But my earliest teachers were my parents specifically my father. As every little girl will tell you, to us our fathers are supermen. Mine is always positive, always imparting good advice and always supportive. I am sure all your female readers will understand me when I say “I love you daddy”.

How you started your career in media?

ARK: Throughout my early life I have always had a niggling feeling that I was not where I was supposed to be. My suspicions started getting stronger with time. I was in my final year of university when a film offer rolled in and changed my life forever. I am open to all eventualities. Let’s see where my life takes me post Janaan.

Coming to the movie which is already breaking records worldwide, tell us about your shooting experience of Janaan?

ARK: Shooting for Janaan was tough but at the same time enriching. I really received a lot of support from my director Azfer Jafri and the writer Osman, who are both incredibly introspective and reflective down to the detail about their work. I remember sitting with Bilal Ashraf into the early hours of the morning and rehearsing our lines. I have worked extremely hard on Janaan and the appreciation that I have received from the general public has been heart warming and encouraging.

Who are your favourite co-stars?

ARK: I spent a lot of time with Bilal Ashraf and Fahad Ali Panni in Swat. These two made me laugh and their chemistry on set was amazing. Mishi Khan was the heart and soul of the sets. Loud and super fun.

Tell us about your upcoming projects?

ARK: I’ve just finished a British short film ‘Achilles Protocol’ which is due for release this December at the international festivals. I am in talks with producers about scripts but as yet I have not come across anything that grabs my attention. Ironically the interesting stuff on the table in Pakistan seems to be around the small screen and I am tempted to come back there.