The film by Yasir Hussain and Ayesha Omar Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer, despite premiering in Karachi, was prevented from screening by censorship boards. After being the recipient of an unreleased project after all the hard work, Hussain has a lot to say about the hypocrisy of censorship endorsements and the kind of content that works “successfully” in the industry.
On Saturday, the 38-year-old actor made an appearance on Junaid Akram’s podcast where he had a candid conversation about what works and what bothers him in the world of showbiz. Currently starring in period drama Badshah Begum, Hussain has opened up about how baffled he was by “strange” ratings being revealed for some shows, implying deserving stories and projects go unnoticed.
“We have done Begum Badshahwe went to shoot basically haveli (palace). They showed a different environment with fields, canals and waterfalls but it doesn’t get the same audiences as dramas that show an abused woman…which is weird. There are dramas like Ranjha Ranjha Kardi, Ullu Baraye Farokht Nahi, and other Kashif Nisar dramas, all of them have different storylines and are excellent, but they don’t get enough ratings.
When asked about his future work, Hussain’s inner theater enthusiast shone. He revealed that his next project is about four boys and girls who want to work in theater but run into some sort of linchpin that traps the four theater enthusiasts. This show, he said, will be different from the same “chic” neighborhood the host claims to be shown in every other TV series these days.
The discussion then shifted to the portrayal of women in TV series these days with a chaddar-covered girl being portrayed as “the good woman” versus the “characterless” who wear sleeveless or Western clothing. Declining to comment on which actors choose to take on such roles, Hussain said if we can’t get past these clichés, the entertainment industry must shut down.
“I am very attached to our country suddenly closing down. We should become a real Islamic state and do away with the film industry, theater, radio, theater and dance. And if someone wanna [continue doing these things]they should just move out,” he said.
“And if we can’t do that, then we should just take a step forward, which in no way implies that we have to take off our clothes – we should promote the art with the respect accorded to it in the whole world.”
Giving examples from her own work, Hussain shared how her projects don’t show women as a “weak character” or those who change their fashion choices to find societal approval. “Whenever I’ve written a drama, no woman has been portrayed as helpless. I’ve written Karachi Se Lahore where Ayesha Omar’s character brings in three men begging her jeep to go on a trip only for her to set a condition that she and her brother will come. She would wear shalwar kameez as well as jeans. I didn’t stereotype her [and make her full of] innocence and just wearing a shalwar kameez and showing pants and shirts would make her a bad woman.
He also shouted at other projects that had strong female characters saying he still doesn’t understand why women have to be shown as the weakest character on screen. “Saba Qamar in Lahore Se Aagey has never been a weak character and Kubra Khan’s character from Shadi Mubarak Ho was a strong woman,” he exclaimed.
Hussain then raised his glass to Iran and its thriving film industry which recently won an Oscar, saying that a major problem with our country’s media industry is that it does not take a subject for what it is. it is and censors it according to ‘national values’.
Hussain said when At Javed Iqbal’s the poster was shared, it got everyone excited because of what the movie was based on. The film later received international acclaim for being screened at a UK film festival. He said the same thing happened with the Cannes winner Joyland.
“Is it a prank? These people are applauding your work. Now show me how this movie will be released in Pakistan? It won’t be. Why? Because the movie is about a married man who falls in love with a transgender [person]. It’s a story, it doesn’t mean you’re promoting it. How long will your stories remain romantic comedies? he ordered.
Tired of the same Bollywood tropes, he lamented: “[How long will] a hero does comedy, impresses the heroine, they will sing songs, they will fight, there will be a speech at a wedding and the hero will come out in a typical Ranbir Kapoor shot? How long will this last?
Reiterating that Jave Iqbal is our own story as the actual incident took place in Lahore, the Jhooti actor said the authorities cannot accept and are ashamed of such local stories. “Until there’s acceptance, a certain type of film or content can’t be made. Censorship needs to be fixed. Everywhere in the world, being ‘censored’ means your thing can’t be watched by a certain age group and then license it, it doesn’t mean that after you add beep beep beep you cancel the premiere.
Since Twitter trends often impact censorship decisions, the actor argued that positive trends on Twitter and Netflix should also be considered when it comes to censorship.
Concluding the conversation, Hussain went on to clarify his once negatively interpreted comments about Turkish dramas airing in Pakistan. Say he has “no problem” with Dirilis: Ertugrul and its lead actor, he added, “[It’s just like] people talk about strange doctor, which is just a movie. But our nation is ahead when it comes to TV series, and then comes a show like Ertugrul and now we’re broadcasting it on national television. In exchange, if they play one of our dramas on national television, it’s only a fair deal, just like how they’re currently doing a joint production,” referring to Selahuddin Eyyubi in making.
Hussain thinks it’s unfair that quality content is produced here and actors work day and night on certain projects only for an international show to take center stage unless there’s a mutual agreement that benefits both industries. takes place.