‘Mahira Khan isn’t heroine stuff, she’s a mediocre model. She’s not a good actress and not a heroine, sorry to say…”. These were the remarks passed by Pakistani veteran actor, Firdous Jamal in a recent interview with Faysal Quraishi.
In the segment called “Mashwara Dain”, Faysal asked Firdous Jamal to advise the actors whose images were being shown on screen. Mahira Khan and Mehwish Hayat made the cut and Firdous Jamal was asked to advise them.
Firdous Jamal had high praise for Mehwish Hayat, stating that ‘she had the potential to be a great actress and had what it took to be cast in films’. However, that same sentiment wasn’t expressed for Mahira Khan.
When Mahira’s image was shown, Faysal commented on how he wished her upcoming film would garner success because most of her recent films hadn’t done much business at the box office yet.
Firdous Jamal then commented, unprompted, about how Mahira wasn’t a great actress. He then went on and made ageist remarks about her saying that ‘she was overage and actresses in her age should be cast in the role of mothers instead of being cast as the lead’.
Celebrities Stand Up For Mahira
The people of Pakistan weren’t too happy with Firdous Jamal’s comments and neither were the celebrities.
Osman Khalid Butt took to Twitter to say, “If we as members of the film and television fraternity can’t keep our chauvinism in check, if we keep reinforcing our regressive and sexist stereotypes, how do we expect the public to treat our industry – and specifically the women in it – with respect?”.
After the backlash, Faysal Quraishi tweeted that he will be addressing the issue on air this week. He expressed that live shows can be tricky and Firdous Jamal’s comments were uncalled for and unnecessary. He further went on to state that Mahira is undoubtedly an icon for our country.
When Will The Misogyny and Ageism End In Lollywood?
Why is it that, when women turn a certain age in the Pakistani entertainment industry they “expire”. Their looks are fleeting and so is their fame in Lollywood. Why don’t we take talent at its face value?
Why are beauty and success so stereotyped in Pakistan? Just because Mahira is now middle-aged, doesn’t mean that she doesn’t possess the same prowess she did before.
Does that mean that celebrated actors like Bushra Ansari should retire? Why do we have to put so much emphasis on conforming to archaic ideas? Why do men feel so threatened by successful women that they feel the need to pit one woman against the other? Would this same sentiment be expressed were it a man instead of Mahira? No. Because the patriarchy doesn’t have an expiration date for men.
This prejudice needs to end in Pakistan. Otherwise, we’re only halting our progress. Let’s give people the room to succeed and let’s try to refrain from hitting below the belt.
Areesha Khan harbours a burning passion for writing. This is what she has to say for herself:
I’m your average Pakistani Millennial who loves binge watching trash-TV. When I can, I try to widen my horizons and watch profound works of cinematography as well. In the wild, I can be found sniffing my weathered paperbacks. I regularly obsess over true crime (much to the chagrin of my friends) and love discussing it unprompted. I’m currently working on my undergrad and would love to have a profession in print media.
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