Feryna Wazheir has been singled out for praise by critics and audiences alike for all her films. Be it when playing the bubbly Frenny in Rang Rasiya, or the troubled and vulnerable Kuwaiti Yasmin in Airlift, the actress has received appreciation for her varied and interesting roles. And the recently released Commando 3 is no exception. Here’s tracking more in her life.
How did you begin your journey as an actress?
I was studying film, communication and media studies. Simultaneously doing amateur theatre and voiceovers in Urdu and Punjabi to earn pocket money to help with university expenses. Somewhere along the line, I started get more offers to be in front of camera and that became my primary focus.
Not having any family background or Godfather in Bollywood, was it tough getting into the film industry?
It wasn’t a conscious decision to get into the film industry. I was in India for a school vacation and a photographer met me and started recommending my name to people. Before I knew it, within two weeks, I had shot for big magazines and been offered a film and theatre projects. I started doing theatre in India as I was very comfortable with the people in that environment. I was lucky to have good mentors such as the late Alyque Padamsee and Satyadev Dubey. Once I entered films, it was more challenging, not knowing how the industry works etc.
Did it take time for you to adjust in Bollywood?
That learning curve in itself takes years for outsiders to figure. My upbringing and sensibilities are quite straightforward, so dealing industry politics, patriarchy, egos etc has been bit of a challenge. But at the same time, I think we find our tribe wherever in the world we are. I have been fortunate to meet and work with some lovely people. I don’t believe in dwelling on negatives, and feel it’s good to focus on the positive.
You have been written about as one of the most beautiful ladies in Bollywood. How does it feel?
That’s very kind, I am flattered. There are so many far more beautiful women than me in Bollywood. But it’s very kind of people to include me in that list 🙂 I’m happier when people say, I have distinct looks like the actresses of yesteryear. Today’s actors have a danger of all looking very similar, sometimes it’s hard to tell some apart.
Your latest film Commando 3 with Vidyut Jammwal is being appreciated for its action. What is your role and where do you fit in the scheme of things?
I play Zahira, a British Muslim woman who is trying to rebuild her life after escaping her abusive ex-husband played by Gulshan Deviah. She’s lost custody of her young child due to the manipulations of her husband and is determined to get her child away from the influence of her radicalized husband. At this juncture, Zahira meets Captain Karan Singh Dogra (played by Vidyut Jammwal) who offers her a chance to escape with her son. Zahira is desperate, so takes this chance knowing well, it could lead to disastrous consequences.
We’ve heard you are a regular practitioner of martial arts and yoga too. Tell us more.
I practice Kalaripayattu which I really enjoy. I like yoga and pilates as that helps with strengthening and injuries. I also like horse-riding, surfing and boxing and dance. I enjoy physical activities which are about expression and mind-body balance. Activities where I’m learning things and my brain is engaged. I don’t enjoy going to the gym at all.
Would you also like to do action roles in the future?
Yes, that could be fun. So far, I’ve been offered the ‘damsel in distress’ kind of roles, so an action film could be exciting!
What are the other kind of roles you would like to do in your career?
I would love to do comedy and quirky small-town roles. I’m actually quite chameleon in my looks, so I can be made to look very Indian or anglicized. As an actor, there is always a danger of being stereotyped. I want to be able to explore interesting and varied roles of substance.