When you come from a family that is prominent in movies and sports, it is not surprising if you develop an interest in either one of the fields. While her paternal side of the family was legendary in squash, actress and singer, Zara Khan seems to have tilted towards her maternal lineage who belong to the films. Her great-grandfather, Jugal Kishore Mehra, was Bollywood icon, Raj Kapoor‘s, uncle. Her great-grandmother, Anwar Begum, starred in the first ever ‘Heer Ranjha‘, while her grand-mother Nasreen Mehra and mother Salma Agha were well-known actresses and singers of their time.
Zara, made her debut alongside Arjun Kapoor in Yashraj Films’, Aurangzeb. She then went on to star in the short film called ‘Khoj’, based on a 19-year-old girl’s struggle with the consequences of an NRI arranged marriage. It went on to be premiere at Cannes Film Festival‘s Short Film Corner and also reached the Oscars. We caught up with her to talk about her musical career in films with the song, ‘Kya Karte The Saajna’ in the movie Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhaan, her recent single, Khudse Zyada and ‘Jogan’, and how both films and music are equally important to her.
You come from such illustrious families on both sides and have grown up among celebrated personalities from various fields. Was acting and singing something you have always wanted to pursue?
I feel blessed to have been born in such a family because I got to share the artistic genes. I guess acting and singing is something I enjoy doing the most. It comes very naturally to me, so yes it’s something I’ve always wanted to do .
Given the talented family you come from, what is the one advice you were given when it comes to acting?
My mom has always told me to be honest to the characters I get to play. There should be no cheating or shortcut to that, you always need to be as real as you can while relating to the emotions. Obviously, at times, we cannot relate to a few emotions since we haven’t been through that particular feeling. But what I try to do is, I make myself believe that I am this character a 100 percent. That helps in adapting, understanding and thinking like the character I play.
After doing the feature film, Aurangzeb, you did Khoj, a short film that won you a lot of praise. What made you choose that film?
Firstly, I believed in the cause of the film. I felt that since this is something that’s very much real and happening in Punjab with over 50,000 cases registered, it was my duty as a human being to bring this matter to light. I have to thank my director, Kajiri Babbar, for wanting to come up and make a short film on such a subject. Secondly, it was the challenge of looking the part that really got me excited. It warms my heart till date thinking that I got a standing ovation at BFI for this film and my performance. For me, that was the biggest validation as an actor.
When it comes to singing, you have the latest single ‘Jogan’ and ‘Khudse Zyada’ along with the song, ‘Kya Karte The Saajna’, from Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhaan. What’s the thing you like most about playback singing?
Well, Khudse Zyada was like a baby step into the singles zone and it was an amazing journey because I got so much appreciation and a warm welcome from all the music listeners. Kya Karte The Saajna was my first ever play back song in a movie and that was also a dream come true.When the song plays in the movie, the whole cast is is present in the scene and it was one of the funniest scenes in the film. Just recently, my second single, Jogan dropped. Even though we dropped only the audio because of the lockdown, it has crossed 5 million + streams. It’s one of the best feelings an artist can have. All this appreciation and love has really pushed me to want to make more music.
Pursuing both acting and singing can be quite a task, and you handle both gracefully. But, is there something you will always be more inclined to?
I honestly can’t pick one, because both of them are a very strong parts of me as an artist. I would always want to pursue both equally and with the same passion.