POPSTAR SAYS HER ACTING CAREER IS ‘DIVINE TIMING’

PAKISTANI pop icon Hadiqa Kiani has left a permanent mark on the music industry with her path-breaking achievements, popular songs and inspiring journey that has empowered a generation.

After a lifetime of hit tunes, unforgettable live concerts and a thriving beauty business, the multi-talented star surprised fans by adding acting to her impressive list of accomplishments with critically acclaimed performances in drama serials Raqeeb Se and Dobaara.

Despite making a dynamic acting debut, however, the talented diva hasn’t disconnected herself from music. Her new album VASL explores the roots of her music and reproduces original compositions from the start of her career for the next generation of listeners.

Eastern Eye caught up with one of Pakistan’s greatest and most influential stars to discuss her magical career, new album, successful transition to acting, motivation and the pressure of being a pathbreaker.

How do you look back on your amazing journey?
Any moment from my journey can easily feel like yesterday. I’m grateful my path was really clear and that I have always been really blessed with all that I have received. I feel any challenges and setbacks were always steppingstones for me, which have led me to where I am today.

What finally made you take a leap towards acting?
I can credit the leap of faith into acting to Covid. I’m someone who enjoys working and being active. I have fortunately always had a very active life with music, my salons and family, but with lockdown, I was forced to explore other creative avenues within myself that I had left ignored. I received a call from (producer) Momina Duraid and it was like divine timing. I wanted to explore my artistry and there she was with this role of a lifetime [in Raqeeb Se]. I asked her to send me the script and after just a few days of reading, I knew I had to portray Sakina. There was no denying this path.

How much did the universal praise for your acting and dramas mean to you?
I feel blessed and strongly do believe that it’s all due to my mother’s prayers. God has always listened.

You are a really fantastic actress, so why didn’t you take it up sooner? 
I believe in the timings of the universe, and of God. This was the time that our creator chose for me, and I am grateful for that. And as far as my artistry goes, I was able to fulfil my acting instinct through my music videos.

Is the plan now to balance acting and music?
Honestly speaking, there is really no plan at all. It’s just a matter of getting the right script that speaks to me and then I’ll act. I won’t do it just for the sake of it. My music will always remain my priority. I think planning too much really creates more conflict than good.

Tell us about your new album VASL?
Like the name implies, my new album unites me with my roots. These are songs I started my career with, and I wanted to realign myself with them, and who I was at that stage of my career. So I’ve reproduced them with modern acoustic sounds and a production that maintains the integrity of the raw human voice, and of the organic instruments.

Songs you composed are also on the album. What was that experience like?
These were the original compositions from my album Raaz. Over the years I kept revisiting them, adding some improvisations, and changing up the melodic structure.

How does this compare to your previous albums?
I don’t think it really can compare with any of them. This one, like the rest, reflects my current state of mind and my creative process. But I think if I was to compare it to any of my albums, it would be to Rough Cut, with the great Amir Zaki. That was a raw and carefree expression of where we were at the time, without any concern about the public, trends or demands. It was for us like VASL is to me now. Usually, albums have songs that can be for concerts or weddings, but these are just meant for me.

Is there a song on it that is closest to your heart? 
I really cannot choose – the whole album, from start to finish, is very close to my heart.

You are very grounded, but also one of the all-time greatest artists. Do high expectations make you nervous or put you under pressure? 
Not really. I’m the only one who has ever set expectations for myself. I don’t see myself in competition with others and I can’t be bothered with the expectations of others.

You have achieved an incredible amount, so what keeps you so motivated?
There is just something inside that keeps telling me to push forward. I don’t think anything I’ve achieved constitutes contentment with my career. I am content with myself and with my work, but there is always an urge to push for more music, more creativity, more concerts and more art.

What can we expect for the rest of the year, and will you try acting in films too?
There is a lot to expect this year. Outside of VASL, I have recorded a few songs designed for celebration and I’m working on getting those music videos filmed. They are the exact opposite of VASL, full of momentum and designed to ignite happiness. That’s where I am at right now in my life and it will be reflected in my forthcoming music. As far as acting goes, I will only take on scripts that touch my soul – they could be in the form of film, TV or digital streaming, I have no barriers.

You have been a strong symbol of girl power. How much does it mean to you that so many have followed in your footsteps?
Honestly, if someone does follow my footsteps, then I’m really grateful. I can only tell this generation to be honest to themselves and take control of their own lives. My journey was never inspired by ‘girl power’, it was to be the best me I could possibly be. I saw pop music happening and felt a connection with it that I wasn’t going to deny due to my gender. Nothing was going to stop me, and I am happy to see girls now feeling that same inner strength to keep fighting for what is right for them.

What advice would you give young girls embarking on their journey?
Take ownership of your life, aspirations and career. No one else should be allowed that position.

What inspires you creatively?
Sounds and colours of nature and of our culture inspire me. I feel inspiration is everywhere.

If you could master something new, what would it be?
Painting is something I would possibly be interested in, but I get enough of using that side of my brain with my salons and doing make-up.

What is the biggest life lesson lockdown taught you?
No matter what, never lose hope. Stay connected with your loved ones and keep doing what makes you happy.

Finally, why do you love music?
How can one not love music? The universe, our world around us, it’s all covered in music. From the birds chirping to the waves of the ocean, these are all sounds in the music of our lives.

Instagram: @hadiqakianiofficial and Twitter: @Hadiqa_Kiani