Pakistani entertainment industry has flourished over the last two decades, one such reason has been an influx of promising new comers who went onto become leading ladies with scene-stealing performances and crackling screen-presence.
The audiences might remember an actor’s breakthrough project but, not many people are aware of the projects with which they started their careers. Often underrated and even undocumented, the very first or the debut projects of many of the popular actors are not known by the audiences.
Despite there being many actors that dominate our television screens, only a handful of actors have proved their mettle over the years in a way that makes them worthy of the title of being a “leading star”.
These divas have been working in the industry for quite some time now and have cemented their positions as being part of the top-of-the-list category of stars. The journey of these stars is truly inspirational.
Take a look at and see which projects actually launched these actresses’ careers and how much they have grown in the industry since then:
Mahira Khan was a popular video jockey prior to becoming an actress. She was approached by several filmmakers during her stint as a VJ, however, she ended up saying yes to the celebrated director Shoaib Mansoor. Mahira first made her acting debut in the 2011 film Bol where she was cast in a supporting role opposite Atif Aslam. The song picturized on the pair, Hona Tha Pyaar, became a national anthem and contributed to Mahira’s first brush with mainstream popularity. Later that year, The Hum Kahan Kay Sachay thay star made her television debut with Mehreen Jabbar’s directorial Neeyat on ARY Digital. She also made her Bollywood debut opposite Shah Rukh Khan with Raees in 2017. Mahira’s last film project was the blockbuster film Superstar (2019) and her next film, Quaid e Azam Zindabad will be released on Eid this year.
In 2004, Saba had gone to see a shooting of a play but when the heroine for the play opted out at the last minute, Saba was asked by the director to perform in her place. Saba acted out the lines given to her and received praise from the director and the crew. It led to Saba initially making brief appearances is some PTV plays that are undocumented. However, in 2005 Saba debuted with a prominent role in the drama Main Aurat Hoon for which she won PTV Award for Best Actress. Later in 2007 with Khuda Gawah on PTV, Saba got more mainstream popularity and was approached by several private channels. Saba was last seen on TV in the drama Cheekh (2019). Her next projects include two feature films, Kamli and Ghabrana Nahin Hai, and a web-series titled Mann Jogi.
Mehwish got her first experience of being in front of the camera at the age of eight in a commercial as a child artist. She forayed into the world of acting with a short film, InshaAllah with Mohib Mirza which was premiered at international film festivals in 2009. However, Mehwish’s first prominent performance was in 2010 with the multi-starrer soap Larkiyan Mohallay Ki, produced by Momina Duraid for Hum TV. She did her first drama in the lead role in the following year titled Mere Qatil Mere Dildar. Mehwish’s last project was the film Chhalawa (2019). She will be next seen opposite Humayun Saeed in the Nadeem Baig directorial film London Nahin Jaunga.
Sajal’s first acting stint was in Nida Yasir – Yasir Nawaz starrer sitcom Nadaaniyaan in 2009, where she appeared briefly in one episode. She auditioned along with her sister Saboor Ali for ARY’s soap, Mehmoodabad Ki Malkain produced by Humayun Saeed’s banner. Both sisters passed the audition and got cast in the ensemble soap serial. Sajal impressed the critics with her natural yet impactful performance and she immediately signed on more projects. She later made her Bollywood debut with Sridevi starrer Mom. She was last seen in the critically acclaimed film, Khel Khel Mein opposite Bilal Abbas Khan. The Mom star will be seen next in Jemima Goldsmith’s Hollywood production, What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Ayeza was discovered through an event held at her college. She had auditioned for a commercial campaign during her teenage which ultimately led her to make her acting debut in a supporting role in Fahad Mustafa – Sunita Marshal starrer Tum Jo Miley (2009). Despite limited screen time, Ayeza managed to make an impressive acting debut and the project got her more work as an actor followed by a breakthrough performance in Pyaray Afzal which made her the most searched actress in 2014. She peaked her career with a smashing hit in Meray Paas Tum Ho.
After a brief stint in the field of television hosting, Maya landed a small supporting role in the Sanam Baloch – Mikaal Zulfiqar starrer Durr-e-Shehwar. She played the role of Sanam’s younger sister in the drama. The project was produced by Momina Duraid, directed by Haissam Hussain, and written by Umera Ahmed. Maya managed to impress the team with her dedication and the director signed her as the leading lady in his following project Aik Nayi Cinderella (2012). Maya was last seen in the 2019 blockbuster film, Parey Hut Love and is currently starring in drama, Jo Bichar Gaye.
Mawra’s first stint on television was a VJ on ARY Musik before she got noticed by television producers. Her debut as an actress happened through a sitcom titled Kichari Salsa in 2011 which aired on A-plus where Mawra displayed her acting chops. She was immediately noticed by bigger channels such as HUM TV. Her Bollywood debut is Sanam Teri Kasam (2016), followed by Pakistani film debut was blockbuster Jawani Phir Nahi Aani 2. She is currently seen in the Hum TV drama serial Qissa Meherbano Ka.
After a brief stint with hosting, Yumna was encouraged by fellow-actor Affan Waheed, who was friends with Yumna’s older sister, to pursue acting in a serious capacity. She bagged her debut role in ARY’s Thakan (2012) which was produced by Asif Raza Mir. Yumna acted as the antagonist in the drama, which starred Saba Qamar as the protagonist. Despite being her first acting project on television, Yumna managed to impress the audience and ended up getting more projects as a lead actor. Her last drama Pyar Kay Sadqay got much critical and commercial success including two awards at the Lux Style Awards. She is currently featuring in Ishq-e-Laa and Sinf-e-Aahan.
Sanam debuted with Mehreen Jabbar’s Daam in 2010 which starred Sanam Baloch, Amina Sheikh, and Adeel Hussain in lead roles. Sanam played the antagonist in the drama and was praised for her refreshingly subliminal performance in the role. Before her television debut, she did theatre plays, modeling and even hosting as a teenager. Sanam got her first drama as a parallel lead in 2011 with Mera Naseeb followed by a leading role in Blockbuster Zindagi Gulzar Hai. Her next project is a film titled Ishrat Made In China and Zee5 web-series with Fawad Khan.
Hira started off as a VJ followed by a stint in hosting. Hira made her acting debut in a sitcom Teri Meri Kahani in 2013 opposite her husband Salman Saqib a.k.a Mani. Hira played a fictionalized version of herself in the sitcom. She displayed her humorous side on the show and was appreciated for her comic timing. The show, which initially aired on ARY Digital, was extended due to its popularity with its target audience and had a second season which aired on Hum TV. The Sun Yaara diva attained A-list stardom with Kashf in 2020. Hira is currently seen in ARY’s Yeh Na Thi Hamari Kismat.
Saboor started her acting career with a brief role in Choti Si Kahani, followed by a supporting role in the family drama Mehmoodabad Ki Malkain on ARY Digital in 2011. In September 2016, she made her film debut with Nabeel Qureshi’s socio-comedy film Actor in Law, starring Fahad Mustafa and Om Puri. Her portrayal of a supportive sister of Mustafa’s character earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination at Lux Style Awards. She entered the big league with Geo’s Fitrat in 2020.
Minal’s acting debut was in the Geo TV’s drama Kaash Main Teri Beti Na Hoti in 2011, as a child star. This was followed by a supporting role in the sitcom series Quddusi Sahab Ki Bewah (2012) on ARY Digital. She recently catapulted to stardom with back to back hit projects, Hassad, Nand and Jalan.