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Despite female writers Pakistani TV dramas are not pro-women: Sarwat Gilani

With changing times, more women have started to make their presence felt outside their homes, also excelling in their respective professions. While this advancement hasn’t been used to its full potential in Pakistan, there are still many who believe that girl power can bring a lot to the table. Likewise, Sarwat Gilani hopes women start making films for each other.

In an interview with BBC, the actor discussed how some Hollywood and Bollywood films have turned into franchises, much like her latest release Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 (JPNA2). While the earlier Ocean’s series’ featured the likes of George Clooney, Brad Pitt – an all men cast – Ocean’s 8 was a feminine take on the franchise. Starring Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Cate Blanchett and many others, the film was one that stunned crowds with its girl-dominated cast.

Speaking about this, Sarwat revealed that this is what the team was initially planning for JPNA2as well. She said, “We had the same idea for JPNA2 – to this time revolve around the women. But the team thought that our audience was not ready for it yet. We still rely on men to take us to cinemas, so making a women-centric film right now wouldn’t be feasible as of yet.”

However, she feels that Cake was one film that was different from the other local releases. Sarwat shared, “I was even offered Aamina Sheikh’s role in Cake but four months down, I found out I was pregnant.” She then called Aamina and asked her to take the reins because she would be able to do full justice to the character.

The 35-year-old star mentioned that Aamina was earlier supposed to play Hareem Farooq’s role in Dobara Phir Se but at the time, she also got pregnant and had to walk out of the film. She believes helping each other is the key to success. Sarwat also considers Aamina as one of her close friends along with fellow actors Sanam Saeed and Mahira Kham.

“We even have a group on WhatsApp called The Chickens,” joked Sarwat. She added that the girls are mentally on the same page. “We want to do a lot in terms of work. We often talk about having women to make films for women.”

The Khasara star feels that while most TV dramas are led by female writers, it’s unfortunate that their storylines are not very pro-women. However, the morally-wrong characters are slowly diminishing, yet no one is ready to experiment and try to educate the audience.

Sarwat stated, “It’s our responsibility to think about the society and our women. We need to stop being selfish. No channel or producer even supports feminist content. Everyone just keeps talking about it that it’s the need of the hour but actually doing something to bring change is more important.”

The mother of two continued that film-makers like Mehreen Jabbar often come up with great story ideas for women but no one gives her a chance to let her do things her way. Sarwat explained, “It’s high time we take an initiative. I wish that our films now have females handling the camera and other technicalities of a project.”

She considers herself to be one of the few lucky women in the industry who people trust. Sarwat concluded, “I feel that now since people have since our work, people trust us and will therefore, support us.”

The Express Tribune