Mehwish Hayat recently attended a peace event in Oslo, Norway, where she was awarded the Pride of Performance award by Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg.
Four Reasons You Need To Listen To Mehwish Hayat’s Speech
The Gangster Guriya showed that she’s not afraid to take a stand for what she believes in. In a very level-headed speech, Mehwish portrayed the positive image of Pakistan and highlighted crucial points that need to be addressed immediately for peace to prevail in the region.
1) Bringing Attention To The Kashmir Issue
For us in Pakistan, peace has become a relative state of mind. Even as I address you today we are on the brink of yet another conflict with our neighbor, over Kashmir which literally blew up last week.
Mehwish addressed how Pakistan has always been on the brink of war since its inception in 1947. The country’s volatile birth and history haven’t helped matters. Establishing peace hasn’t been easy throughout the years and many lives have been lost. However, Pakistan is still branded as a “terrorist” nation and no one pays heed to the lives lost in the struggle. She highlighted the atrocities in Kashmir while most of the Indian artist community stay silent (or ignorant *ahem* Anupam Kher *ahem*).
2) Hollywood Needs To Bear Responsibility For The Damage It’s Caused
I sincerely believe that Hollywood films and programs vilify my country and portray us as backward terrorists- it has had a profound effect on the psyche of the west.
Mehwish called out Hollywood on its racist and Islamaphobic representations of Pakistan. She even name-dropped a few iconic shows such as Homeland & Zero Dark Thirty as promoting a negative and backward image of the country. She believes that it greatly influences people’s perception of what the country is like.
Hollywood has to acknowledge the damage they’ve inflicted on my country with the way they’ve been portraying us. I don’t ask for more positive representation, but at least can these representations be more balanced? There’s more to us than gun-wielding terrorists and subjugated women. Come on. That’s so cliched. Let’s move on from that.
3) Giving India An Ultimatum
Hitting the nail on its head, Mehwish questions why India doesn’t do more to promote peaceful ties with Pakistan. She states the obvious and wonders out loud, why India, with one of the largest film industries in the world, keeps portraying Pakistanis as villains. Subtly hinting at Priyanka Chopra’s recent outburst, she states that remaining neutral can be seen as being unpatriotic, however, if we plan on a better future we need to see beyond nationalism and take a stand.
As for our neighbors, they really need to decide. What is it that they want. Nationalistic fervor? Or a peaceful future? If they really want to work towards peace, as our Prime Minister, Imran Khan said, “if they take the first step we’re ready to take ten more”. I pray that common sense prevails and within this life we’re able to witness real peace in the region.
4) Advice For Lollywood
Why should all of this matter to me as an actress? Shouldn’t I do my films and move on? I cannot do that. Because I believe we in the film industry carry a tremendous responsibility. Cinema is a very powerful tool.
Mehwish Hayat dispensed words of wisdom for Lollywood. She believes that the Pakistani entertainment industry is too “insular”. In order to reach international audiences, Pakistan needs to cater to their needs. By making films that show how beautiful and tolerant Pakistan is, we can change the narrative over time.
We have been too focused on our own audiences. Maybe we should start making films about Pakistan and not only for Pakistan.
It’s about time we started working towards a shared goal for future prosperity. Mehwish Hayat has said some wise words, however, only time will tell if anyone paid heed or simply ignored the sage advice.
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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