Stories about stereotypes

“They hired a Pathan?! I thought it was for smart people”: Pakhtun stereotyping is not ‘just jokes’

I recently moved to the United States for my graduate studies. At the Denver International Airport, a large poster of Malala Yousafzai welcomed me. I wished this would not be the only time I felt at home, but I remained sceptical. Only recently had I read a news article about the increase in race and religion-based violence in America. I decided to reserve my judgement for later. Inadvertently though, this brought back memories of another relocation I experienced three years ago. On June 10, 2015, a week before I graduated from the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute (GIK), I received a ...

Read Full Post

Young at heart: Badhaai Ho hilariously tackles old-age pregnancy and intimacy

The trailer of the much awaited Ayushmann Khurrana and Sanya Malhotra starrer, Badhaai Ho, is finally out and surprisingly, it is not what you would have thought. Badhaai Ho, which is basically a Hindi expression to congratulate someone, is not an ordinary movie. I was taken aback by the audacity of the filmmakers who came up with such a novel concept and that too in the world of Bollywood. First off, I would like to establish that this is by far the most hilarious trailer I have watched this year. The trailer begins with Nakul’s (Khurrana) father (Gajraj Rao) hesitantly breaking ...

Read Full Post

How travelling to Baku restored my faith in humanity

One major reason as to why the travel bug constantly tugs at my heartstrings, even more than the wonderment of places, is the diversity of the people I get to meet. It is amazing how social, cultural, geographic, religious and political factors concoct such diversity in human beings, giving them a distinction in disposition, aura, colour and character. And then, people’s individual quirks and personalities make these encounters even more insightful, enriching, and sometimes life changing. A few months ago, when I announced to my parents that I planned to travel to Baku, Azerbaijan, for the very first time, they became ...

Read Full Post

From Haseena Moin’s empowered female characters of the 80s to the damsels in distress of today

Presently, if we take a deeper look into our Pakistani dramas, there’s a reccurring pattern of female characters as ‘damsels in distress’, with the occasional strong female character arising every now and then. Characters like the ambitious, strong-valued and independent Mishal from Besharam and Kashaf from Zindagi Gulzar Hai ,who tirelessly battled through life’s obstacles to change her fate, are seen once in a blue moon. More recently, we were introduced to Dr Zubia from Yakeen Ka Safar, who despite severe mental and emotional trauma was determined to fulfil her dreams. The drama and her character has been quite popular amongst women ...

Read Full Post

‘Basmati Blues’ unsurprisingly does what Hollywood has always done – exoticise India’s ‘otherness’

In case you were wondering, the white man’s burden is still alive and well! Even though it is the 21st century, while India is launching US satellites into space and is the world’s fastest growing major economy, the country’s poverty and social ills continue be alluring for moviemakers in the West. Falling back on clichés is a remarkably effortless way to create content for mass entertainment. Every culture offers ready stereotypes, and there are a large number of people in other parts of the world who readily lap up the concocted and twisted narratives. It is not surprising then, that ...

Read Full Post

Who is a Pakistani? A Muslim? A desperate migrant? Different from an Indian? A caged woman?

Over the past two years, I have travelled to 15 countries, either by myself or with friends. Before this nomadic lifestyle of mine, I had lived my entire life within a bubble in Pakistan, and honestly, the question of what it meant to be a Pakistani never occurred to me. But as I travelled and met more people whose cultures and values were as foreign to me as mine were to them, my innate assumptions about the notion of the Pakistani identity were challenged. Numerous people helped me reflect on the overarching perceptions of my country. I was a medium through which they could know more about a ...

Read Full Post

What if Snow White was a little healthier and the dwarves were less perverted?

“What if Snow White was a little healthier and the dwarves were less perverted?” is perhaps what the poster for the new Snow White film should have said. Instead it said, “What if Snow White was no longer beautiful and the seven dwarfs not so short?” What if the marketing team of the South Korean children’s movie, Red Shoes & the 7 Dwarfs had more sense? The movie seems to have taken a rather strong and suggestive tone regarding breaking stereotypes, showing a version of Snow White that is a heavier girl unperturbed by the notion of “proper” behaviour that is commonly expected of ...

Read Full Post

This Mother’s Day, let’s pay a special tribute to mothers who don’t need their child to be “normal”

What is a special child? You could scour through piles of books or websites on the internet. You could ask doctors or child specialists. You could ask anyone but the only person who knows the answer to this is a mother – the champion of life and longevity, the captain of endurance and consideration – that is the mother of a child who has been rendered special. Hearing the following phrases must have a huge impact on a mother, “Is he a little different?” “Yes, your child is a special needs child. He cannot keep up with the ‘normal’ kids.” She spends nine months preparing for her bundle ...

Read Full Post

We are all Pakistanis and that itself is enough to glue us together

Recently, I came across an advertisement made by Filumbaaz for Leisure Club, a clothing company in Pakistan.  Inspired by Denmark’s TV2 ‘All That We Share’ concept, it was certainly something that we Pakistanis needed to see, especially keeping in mind the events of recent times. We have seen violence result from verbal disputes over literally nothing. We have seen people pull out guns because someone looked ‘weird’.  We have seen a person lynched over a rumor. The advertisement itself was dedicated to Mashal Khan and others who were forced to leave us long before their time. It starts with various people walking into a ...

Read Full Post

It’s time we stopped turning a blind eye to the racism and xenophobia that exists in Canada

I consider myself a very proud Canadian. I do. I love Canada with all my heart and soul, as utterly clichéd as that may sound. When my parents were thinking of immigrating ‘abroad’ – we lived in Saudi Arabia at that time – they kept insisting that we move to Canada. And they didn’t have a valid reason for it either; they just wanted us to move here, because everyone else they knew was immigrating in flocks to the United States. I guess they knew, in their hearts, that Canada was the better option. And it was; well, for ...

Read Full Post