Where have all the urban Pakistani girls gone?

Published: April 28, 2015
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If you go back to the memorable days of Tanhaiyaan and Ankahi, Marina Khan and Shehnaz Shaikh played normal urban women in the 80s.

Hello Pakistani filmmakers and television producers, my friends and I exist in this country too!

There are two types of Karachi girls shown in Pakistani dramas and films – she’s either “bholi bhali” ,“seedhi saadhi”, “masoom” larki or a complete “chundaal” aurat out to snatch your “bhola bhala”, “seedha saadha”,“masoom” man!

One of the reasons why I can’t watch anything “Pakistani” these days is because I can’t see a representation of women like myself on TV.

I yawned when people fawned over Khirad – I was pissed off that a smart woman like Mahira Khan would take on a role so submissive and meek. I watched it till the end hoping that she would kick Asher’s mummy-obsessed (albeit very cute) bum! Sadly, she took him back and everyone worldwide clap-clapped!

I couldn’t relate to Humaima Malik or Iman Ali’s characters in Bol. I couldn’t relate to Subeeka Imam’s rich daddy’s girl character or Zhalay’s courtesan character in Jalaibee.

I can’t see myself in the singers, morning show hosts, designers, models or actresses on TV!

Now, why am I cribbing about not finding a role model on TV?

Because there are tons of urban women like myself roaming around in Karachi.

Sadly, filmmakers and drama producers consider us too boring to really showcase our stories in dramas or films.

We don’t fit the stereotype!

We are neither slutty savitris nor sati savitris (Thanks Osman Khalid Butt for that expression)!

We’re opinionated, we’re tenacious, and we’re not wrapped up in a chaddar! At the same time, we don’t look or dress like the models on TV.

We don’t take shit from others and can gulp down silly men like a paratha roll!

Some of us have chosen to go the traditional route and marry, some of us haven’t!

We’re young, we’re fun, and our stories would be a much-needed departure from the typical characters seen on TV.

If you go back to the memorable days of Tanhaiyaan and Ankahi, Marina Khan and Shehnaz Shaikh played normal urban women in the 80s. I can relate to them more than anyone on TV right now.

Have our female characters in film and television regressed along with the nation’s regression?

Marina and Shehnaz did not look like models, they didn’t dress in designer clothing, they weren’t stereotypically masoom or chaaalak, but they made us laugh, they made us cry, they were strong, they were brave and their stories were interesting.

They were relatable!

I, for one, don’t want to open my television and hear another woman moan about her saas (mother-in-law) or miyan (husband), hatch plans against her bahu (daughter-in-law), or overact!

Filmmakers and producers, can we please bring back the urban Pakistani girl on television?

This post originally appeared here

Saba Khalid

Saba Khalid

A blogger for Rolling Stone magazine, a contributor to Kulturaustauch and Musikexpres, Saba is an Institute for Foreign Affairs (IFA) Cross Culture scholar for the year 2012 who also teaches creative writing to young aspiring writers. She blogs at www.thecityalive.com and can be found on instagram as @thecityalive

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.