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'Women can thrive at any age'

November 22, 2023 11:35 IST
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'It doesn't matter if you are from abroad or Indian, we are told that there's a prime time for a female actor.'
'It's time that people understand there is no certain age for women to thrive in.'

It has been seven years since Breshna Khan made her inroads into the Hindi film industry. Her ticket to Bollywood was a series of viral videos, which she shot with her sister as a parody of several Hindi films.

The Germany-born actress, who originally hails from Afghanistan, has always been fascinated with Hindi cinema.

This influence was so strong that she decided to become an actor after watching the 1994 film, Andaz Apna Apna.

As luck would have it, her first major break was Aranyak, where Raveena Tandon headlined the show as lead star.

She also stars in the Web series, The Freelancer, whose second part released on December 15.

Breshna is "happy and grateful" for all the opportunities coming her way but she is here to break the stereotype that the industry has against non-Indian actors like her.

"People who don't know you stereotype you: 'Isko toh sirf foreigner ka role hi de sakte hain.' The struggle is to make them understand that I can speak Hindi or that I can look in a certain way," Breshna tells Mayur Sanap/

You had a small but interesting role in Pushpavalli.

That was one of the first shows I have done.

Then The Freelancer, Aranyak, Undekhi 2 and Escaype Live happened, which got you recognition. Are you happy with the way things are working out for you?


I'm getting a chance to play different characters and have new experiences. I'm very happy and grateful.

You have an intriguing presence in The Freelancer. What can we expect from your character in part two of the show?

Well, she just gets introduced by the end of the first part. There's a lot more to come for the second part.

There are a lot of layers to this character, and she will be someone who will bring a twist to the story.

Is it overwhelming when you play such an intense character? How do you switch off?

I'm still learning. For me, it comes with every experience to learn new things.

I have to say, this character was quite intense. We were shooting in Morocco. I would get like goosebumps during the shoot because the set was so intense and real.

I coped with that by keeping myself calm and telling myself it just a shoot. After the shoot, I would do something that would bring me back to reality.

But somewhere, it also helped me to get into character.

You grew up in Germany, far away from the glitzy world of Bollywood. How did films happen to you?

I am originally from Afghanistan, but I grew up in Germany.

You will find a lot of Afghan people who grew up with Bollywood movies, listening to Hindi songs. That's how I also learned Hindi, just by listening to it.

I grew up watching Bollywood movies and listening to Hindi songs. After a while, I just understood what they were saying.

Bollywood had a big influence in my life.

Andaz Apna Apna was the reason why I decided I want to become an actor.

What kind of films did you watch back then?

The first Hindi movie I watched was Padosan. After that, I watched a lot of old movies.

Comedy is my favourite genre and Andaz Apna Apna is one of my favourite movies.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Breshna Khan/Instagram

Did your parents encourage you to watch Hindi cinema?

Yes, because they were also watching it!

Both my parents know Hindi.

They would watch those old movies starring Dev Anand and we would watch with them.

We couldn't find movies with subtitles, so we just learned and understood what they were saying after a while.

Did you have any favourite film-makers or actors?

Because of Andaz Apna Apna, Aamir Khan was my favourite.

I used to watch a lot of Govinda movies as well. I loved his comedy, and I loved him as an actor.

Even now, when you watch those movies, you see how he has improvised and how long those scenes were without a cut, and how perfect they were.

From the women, I liked Juhi Chawla and Madhuri Dixit. And, of course, Madhubala.

You worked with Raveena Tandon in Aryanak. Did you tell her about your fondness for Andaz Apna Apna?

Of course, I did. (Laughs)

How I got recognition in this industry was actually through a Dubsmash video.

My sister and I, just for fun, made videos on Andaz Apna Apna and some Govinda scenes. The videos went viral here. Because of that, I got calls for auditions here.

When I got the role in Aranyak, the director told me that someone from their team showed them my Dubsmash videos. When I got the role, I didn't even know that Raveena Tandon was playing the lead.

I told her about how much I love Andaz Apna Apna, and she was very happy about it. I had the best experience with her. She was very nice to me.

What was your perception about the entertainment industry before you stepped into it?

I had no idea about the industry because I have no one here. I am a total newcomer.

I didn't have information about stars and their private lives, and how it actually works.

At the beginning, my parents did not support my decision to become an actor because they are a little conservative. Now, they're okay with it.

So yes, I had no information and no perceptions. 


IMAGE: The Khan sisters: Breshna and Khatera. Photograph: Kind courtesy Khatera Khan/Instagram

When did you come to Bombay?

It was some six-seven years ago. My first break happened because of those videos.

I got a role in a theatre play.

Through that, I got more calls for auditions. Then the Web shows started coming in.

How difficult it is for non-Indian actors to mark their presence or build a network within the industry?

The biggest challenge is to not get stereotyped.

People who don't know you, stereotype you: 'Isko toh sirf foreigner ka role hi de sakte hain.'

They don't know that you can speak fluently in Hindi.

The struggle is to make them understand that I can speak Hindi or that I can look in a certain way.

I'm trying to break the stereotype.

What skill set does an actor require? How do you work on yourself?

I am still learning.

I take workshops seriously.

An actor should be ready to learn more skills. There must be a capacity to learn and adapt to new things because you can never be perfect.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Breshna Khan/Instagram

Do you worry that people will box you as an OTT actor?

Honestly, I don't see anything wrong in that because OTT is working well these days.

OTT has given me so much work and opportunity.

What changes would you like to see happen in the entertainment world?

The most important thing is the stereotype that every female actor is trying to break right now. It doesn't matter if you are from abroad or Indian, we are told that there's a prime time for a female actor.

That's not the truth.

It's time that people understand there is no certain age for women to thrive in.

Women can thrive at any age. You don't have to look 16 to be the main lead.

You are doing a period drama with Santosh Sivan. How's the shoot of that film coming along?

Yeah, we shot a few scenes.

It is a dream come true moment for me. I have seen Dil Se.. Asoka...

Santosh Sivan sir is someone who knows how to show a female actor in her most natural way and make her look the most beautiful.

The first thing that I was told when I came on set was not to put makeup on because he doesn't like it. I love that. I was very excited about it.

We shot during peak winter in Kashmir.

It was surreal to see how he works.

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