Why Pakistani Actors In Hollywood Can Usher In A New Era And Why Hollywood might be the best thing that happened to Pakistan, Much More Than Bollywood!
When news of Fawad Khan in Ms Marvel broke, we rejoiced with glee. We couldn’t really wrap our heads around the fact we’d reached across the Pacific to claim our space! And when Pakistani fans hadn’t even stopped anticipating the Disney Plus reveal, news of Humayun Saeed as a prospective Dr. Hasnat in Netflix Show The Crown took over our feeds, and then, the very latest news – Mehwish Hayat tipped to play in Ms Marvel – It’s a busy month in Pakistani Hollywood, yeah!
Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan with Iman Vellani is adding on more Pakistanis to the cast. But this is not just about Mehwish Hayat, FawadKhan and Nimra Bucha – the possibilities are endless – more recognition, future colabs & opportunities for Pakistani artists in overseas ventures, contributing our footprint to global platforms that extend our reach & hopefully, turn heads.
This is about why and how Hollywood is central to changing our narrative? Why Bollywood can never achieve for us, what Hollywood can, and there are 8 reasons why.
1. A Chance To Portray Our Identity
Pakistan is known globally as the nation that resides right next to India, and Afghanistan. That is the sum total of our identity (often). You can argue with me and come up with many other reasons, Cricket being one of them. But no matter how grand we make cricket, it is still played in a handful of countries. Our cricket ambassadors are doing a great job, no doubt, but, Netflix is taking over the world! So has Hollywood.
2. Give Back Role Models To Pakistani Youth
The youth in Pakistan is heavily exposed to western content, which is not a bad thing, if the western content contained a mix of Pakistani too. The Pakistanis we see on screen are often too westernized, too extremist or too few and far between to relate to a larger Pakistani diaspora that resides within Pakistan – the awam. In a world where people are curious to know about the ordinary Pakistani psyche, where references to them appear daily in the news, sometimes positive, but often negative, it is imperative that our youth watch and relate to characters they have been or known.
A young Pakistani girl or boy has her or his own identity, which might be very different and unrelatable to what they see onscreen today.
3. Tell Our Stories To An International Audience
Could we, would we tell Edhi Sahab’s story to the world? Could we, would we tell stories of the girls who made it to power positions, our men who supported them, our child prodigies who surprised us and our silent, social workers who went above and beyond to serve humanity. It is another thing to tell the stories in Pakistan, which we must as a given, but an entirely different mood when we can tell the world about our victories. These victories will tell stories of a Pakistan many do not know exist!
4. Stimulate Global Curiosity, Not Global Blame
People all over the world are curious about Pakistan. They want to know what makes them elect women leaders yet, not fight harder over domestic violence bills.
Instagrammers, YouTubers and bloggers are trying to do their bit, but the big screen is, after all, the big screen – bigger stories to tell!
5. Our Talent can Be Our Signature Export Commodity
We have immense talent in our country, and I’m not just talking cricket. Our actors, story tellers (dramas, barring some exceptions) writers, film makers are extraordinarily gifted. We have found a market in India (but not without the political tension, banned artists etc etc make a pretty story, yeah!), and now, we might just find a market abroad. This will not only give us a lift but also ensure that more and better talent is allowed to come up through proper auditions and training.
6. Upholding A Pakistani Cultural Ethos
Pakistani actors have often shied away from accepting Hollywood roles as the scripts might contain too much intimacy, or the storylines might be too bold.
Imagine if Umera Ahmed‘s writing could be transcribed into English, imagine the dynamics that could play out with an international audience. Challenging much? But then, entertainment is undergoing a revolution of sorts. If Pakistanis can watch “Crash Landing On You”, who knows which of our stories would appeal to international audiences?
7. Quality Parameters In Local Industry
Local industry will receive a boost in production, direction, in fact all departments. Film making on a large scale is a costly venture, but if the audiences grow, then it might reap returns.
Of course, only the best will filter through, it’s a tough world, but isn’t that what we want? To showcase our best to the world?
8. Hollywood Might Be The Key More Than Bollywood
Hollywood might help propel us into a world of entertainment where we work with and collaborate on projects that create a market and sell themselves. If Muslim Superheroes are the call of the day (who would have thought so, 20 years ago) we need to look ahead and shape our image, put our best face on, and welcome the change.
Hollywood might be the best thing that happened to Pakistan, much more than Bollywood!