2017 has been the year for innovation in Pakistan cinema. The silver screen saw several big budgeted films raking in a huge box-office collection (Punjab Nai Jaungi and Na Maloom Afraad 2), but more importantly, we also saw women being offered slightly more progressive roles on the big screen. Where Chalay Thay Saath showed the urban, independent, working woman, Project Ghazi showed Syra Shehroz as the lead scientist for a military program. Mahira Khan was a fiery woman in Verna who fights against rape and Mehwish Hayat was leading a patriarchal, feudal family in Punjab Nai Jaungi.
Now, Hareem Farooq plays the lead character in her upcoming film, Parchi. She is also the biggest star in the cast of the film and plays several roles in real life as well, one of an actor and one of a producer on the set of the film.
As seen in the trailer, Hareem is apparently a gangster who is making a bunch of men march to her tunes. We wondered where this concept came from as women are usually weeping willows or romantic accessories to the men in the film.
“The concept came from (Imran) Kazmi and Azfar (Jafri). Initially, it was going to be a story about four boys but we wanted to add a woman too. We didn’t want her to be a ‘romantic accessory’ as you just said it,” laughed Hareem. “We decided to add a badass female character because the film is very grungy and gritty, so it wouldn’t have made sense to add a typically girly character.”
Hareem added that the production team was very particular about the character’s wardrobe. “So we wanted to do a very desi bad-ass look so I knew that I couldn’t be dressed in jeans and tee-shirts. We knew we were taking a risk with this character. But we were overwhelmed by the response. It was exciting to see so much acceptance of such a character. Honestly, it says a lot about our society, in a good way. We are used to seeing women in a certain way, and not like this. I guess it was something different and also that people were waiting for something like this.
More and more women are becoming part of the filmmaking process now. We are seeing more female directors, producers and writers as well. Is that what’s causing the change? “If you look at the situation globally, women are coming out in other fields as well. Previously, we used to have this mindset that women can’t do certain jobs but not anymore. Things are changing. People are opening their minds regarding what women can and can’t do. We are ready for a change,” she concluded.