Veteran Pakistani actress Atiqa Odho has been dominating our TV screens for almost 30 years. Over the years, we have seen her as a young female lead, a supportive wife and mother, and a vicious mother-in-law. All of these roles proved her versatility as an actor and her vulnerability as a human. She recently sat down for an interview with Maliha Rehman and shared how she makes every character unique.
Atiqa Odho revealed that she picks roles that have something exciting to offer to her as an actor and to the audience as well. Whenever she is offered a script, she makes sure that the character brings a noticeable change in the story even if it’s ‘just a mother’. She said,
“There is no perfect role and every story has been told a thousand times before. There are interesting scripts and then there are those where my character appears to be lackluster on paper. It’s my job to add little twists to the character, marking moments that I think will particularly excite the audience. My good friend Marina Khan nicknamed me ‘the tap’ a long time ago — I don’t need glycerine to begin crying on set. I look for roles that allow me to bring some of these emotions on screen.”
Atiqa Odho likes to add her own twist to her characters
“Of course it was easier playing the romantic lead when I was younger, but then I hit mid-life and, inevitably, began getting offers to play the mother or the mother-in-law. I thought that I could either struggle with the fact that I was ageing or I could own this change in my career and fight for better characters to be developed for my age group. There was definitely a long period when the mother or the aunt were just figureheads in the main storyline, but I particularly handpicked characters that had something to say.”
The Humsafar actor revealed that according to her contract, she is allowed to develop her character the way she wants to and that has been very helpful, not just for her but for the entire drama.
“Even if we are midway through filming a drama and I feel that something about my character isn’t making sense, I have a meeting with the director and the scriptwriter and try to figure things out. I’m lucky that they respect me enough to know that I’m a team player and would want whatever is best for the entire project.’
But is she always correct?
About playing a negative role, she said,
“And I have very strong instincts about what will work and what won’t. For instance, I don’t mind playing a villainous role. In fact, if, as an actor, I have made the audience hate me, then I take that as a compliment.”
However, when she played the role of villainous Fareeda in HUM TV’s Humsafar, some women sympathized with her regardless of how evil she had been.
“After the drama, women would sometimes come and sympathize with me that their sons had also been whisked away by their daughters-in-law. I had women tell me that they had seen the drama three times and, every time it ended, they would cry for my character.”
She explained why.
“It’s just that, in Pakistani society, a lot of women are extremely territorial about their sons and they just sided with my character, regardless of how evil she had been. But because I didn’t agree with them, I’d just smile, not knowing what to say!”