Meesha Shafi is a Pakistani actress, model, and singer. Shafi made her film debut with a supporting role in the 2013 Mira Nair's film ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’. The following year she appeared in Bollywood film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, which ranks among the highest-grossing Bollywood films of 2013 in India. She achieved further critical success for her role of Laxmi, an Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing's operative. Shafi also starred in Bilal Lashari's action thriller film Waar, which ranks among the highest-grossing Pakistani films of all time in Pakistan.
Shafi was born into a Punjabi family in Lahore, Pakistan to actress Saba Hameed and Syed Pervaiz Shafi. She did her A-Levels from Lahore Grammar School and graduated with a degree in fine arts from National College of Arts in 2007.
Shafi entered the modeling industry at the age of 17 when she starred opposite Jawad Ahmed in the music video for the song "Bin Teray Kya Hai Jeena". In 2009 Shafi became the brand ambassador for L'Oreal Paris Pakistan. She has featured in many Pakistani magazines and in international publications such as L'Officiel and Vogue India. She has appeared in commercials for Coca-Cola, Fanta, LG mobile phones, Mobilink, Allied Bank, Lipton Tea, Sprite among others. Shafi also won the "Best Show Stopper" Award at the "Paper Awards 2013" by Paper Magazine. In 2013, Shafi was named among the 100 most influential people in Pakistan by international franchise Hello magazine.
Shafi made her screen debut with the 2006 serial Muhabbat Khawab Ki Soorat on Hum TV. She then appeared in Geo TV serial Ye Zindagi To Woh Nahi in 2007.
She made her film debut with Mira Nair's 2012 Hollywood film, The Reluctant Fundamentalist (based on Mohsin Hamid's novel of the same name), alongside Kate Hudson and Riz Ahmed. The film describes the bad impact of Americans toward Muslims after 9/11. Shafi played a confident, modern-day Pakistani singer. The film received mixed reviews from critics, and failed to break even at the box office; however, Shafi's performance was praised by critics.
While talking about her selection in The Reluctant Fundamentalist she said, "I was selected for the film without audition. Mira Nair invited me to meet her when she was in Lahore scouting for actors. At that time I didn't even know what I was going to meet her for. But once the role was offered to me, I did not hesitate in taking it up. Opportunity comes, and I've been very lucky with that."
The following year, she starred in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's Bollywood film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, alongside Farhan Akhtar and Sonam Kapoor. The plot is based on the life of Milkha Singh, an Indian athlete who was a national champion runner and an Olympian. Shafi played the rebellious Olympic swimmer, Perizaad, who was romantically attracted to Milkha Singh. The film opened to critical acclaim and was termed as a huge box office success and was the third highest-grossing Bollywood film of 2013 in India. Shafi earned critical acclaim for her performance.
She then acted in Bilal Lashari's Pakistani film Waar, alongside Shaan Shahid. The film rank among the currently second highest-grossing Pakistani film of all time in Pakistan. Her portrayal of Laxmi, an Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing's operative was critically praised. The movie won her the 'Best Supporting Actress' award at the ARY Film Awards in 2014.
In April 2013, Shafi joined Strings, Ali Azmat, Shahzad Hasan and Alamgir as a judge and mentor on the singing talent show Cornetto Music Icons, aired on ARY Digital.
As of October 2013, Shafi had several projects in production and was filming Hollywood film The Tournament of Shadows (based on Karl Meyer's book of the same name), a biopic set in the 1800s.
Shafi started her singing career with the band Overload with her husband but left in 2011. Shafi achieved popularity for her collaboration with Arif Lohar on Coke Studio Pakistan Season 3, with the song "Alif Allah (Jugni)". The single with Lohar gathered over 20 million+ views on YouTube, was the most-viewed Coke Studio song ever, until it was overtaken by "Tajdaar-e-Haram", and was used in several films like Cocktail, Diary of a Butterfly and Jugni.
She sang a rendition of the folk song "Chori Chori", which also was highly viewed on YouTube and received critical acclaim. She returned to Coke Studio (Season 5) in 2012 when she sang "Ishq Aap Bhi Awalla" with the Chakwalees and sang a ghazal by Faiz Ahmad Faiz, "Dasht-e-Tanhai".
In 2014, Meesha Shafi returned to the Coke Studio floor for a third time to perform "Sun Ve Balori" with the composer and tabla guru Ustad Tafu and producers Strings. This song saw her return to her rock roots and "powerhouse singing style" that has become her signature. She has contributed to the soundtrack of The Reluctant Fundamentalist in a track produced by Mahmood Rahman.
In 2015, Meesha Shafi lent her vocals to two OSTs. One being 'EVA' that was produced by Strings is featured on the soundtrack of the critically acclaimed film Moor, released in August 2015, and directed by ace director Jami.
In August 2015, she released 'Mehram Dilaan De Mahi' for the OST of the biopic (directed and portrayed on screen by Sarmad Khoosat), based on the life and works of a prose writer, Manto. The track is produced by True Brew Records and the lyrics are by Punjabi poet Shiv Kumar Batalvi. 'Manto' released across cinemas on 11 September 2015.
In 2016, Shafi has a lead role in the TV costume drama Mor Mahal which is set in the mid-19th century.
Shafi's maternal grandfather, Hamid Akhtar was a novelist and newspaper columnist, president of the Progressive Writers' Movement, and editor of Urdu daily newspapers including Imroz and Nawa-e-Waqt. In 2008, she married musician, Mahmood Rahman. The couple has two children, daughter, Janevi, and son, Kazimir. The family resides in Lahore, Pakistan.