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28 Sep

Video: Ushna Shah gets candid about gender inequality in entertainment industry

Ushna Shah

Beautiful, talented and extremely opinionated, Ushna Shah is an actress who speaks her mind and for that, she’s often in the news for the wrong reasons. In a recent heart-to-heart conversation with Something Haute, the actor opened up about all the controversies surrounding her and how has it changed the real Ushna.

“Anything I say becomes a headline; everything I say gets misquoted,” she said in an interview with Aamna Haider Isani, for which Ushna has gotten an overwhelming response from her fans.



The actress, who’s been working for around seven years and can currently be seen in drama serial Bandhay Ek Dor Se, talked about the inner mechanisms of the entertainment industry, the roles and responsibilities of an actor and most significantly, the gender disparity that is prevalent.

Here are some interesting highlights:


1. Roles for women are extremely limited


Ushna feels that the roles for female actors are very limited. She shares how she tried to add to Mahi’s character (in Bandhay Ek Dor Se) but there’s only so much she could do with it. “I’d love to do the kind of roles that Shabana Azmi or Tabu or even my own sister (Irsa Ghazal) have done but those kinds of roles aren’t being written anymore,” she said.


Ushna Shah

Ushna in Bashar Momin


Talking about Bashar Momin, which she considers her breakthrough project, Ushna said that the drama glorified domestic abuse and she would not accept that role if it was offered today.

“I’m very grateful for the breakthrough Bashar Momin gave me but I now recognize that the story was problematic in the sense that it sent out a message that if a woman is patient with an aggressor, he will change. I was very young when I did that role. I wouldn’t want to give that message out anymore,” she shared.


2. Female actors have a tiny shelf life as even 50+ actors want to be cast opposite 22-year-old girls


“A female actor retires at 34 where as men at 50 are cast opposite 22-year-old actresses so, automatically our career spans are very short. On top of that, you have to stay in shape and look pretty. I’m a food lover who is pre-diabetic and has PCOS so I have to work so much harder to maintain my physique,” she said.


3. The pressure to look a certain way


“I’m not against getting under the knife if you feel you need it; perhaps I will also need to get some things done one day but I am not in favor of changing your looks to fit a pattern. One should always let their individuality shine,” the actor added.


4. The unfair disparity in pay scale


“Though all our dramas are women-centric and female leads have more scenes and more work to do in dramas, male leads are paid much more than us. The statistics are that they get paid more; obviously if the woman is a bigger star and he is not in comparison then he won’t get it but otherwise in comparison of contemporaries, men make more money. That’s unfair!” she said.


Ushna Shah

Aamna Haider Isani & Ushna Shah


5. General attitude towards female actors 


“The drama industry is gradually evolving but there’s a lot of sexism and patriarchy in it which may not be visible on the surface level. For instance, there are all sorts of women coming from different backgrounds on a set and I’m that opinionated one who needs things done a certain way. So, no matter how a woman behave, people will inly attach negative connotations to her name; so if she is demanding, she’ll be called bossy, shrill or bad-tampered, whereas if a senior male actor or ‘hero’ is does the same, then it be swept under the carpet with excuses like he is senior,” she said adding, “people pass remarks on females which are often problematic but they don’t even realize it.”


While she spoke about many serious subjects and problems, confessing to her own social media blunders, Ushna also revealed some exciting news about her debut film. She revealed that she would be playing a cricketer, a leg spinner in fact, which she’s super excited about as it gives her the opportunity to do something different. No wonder the talented actress has been training hard and spending her days building muscle in the gym!

You can watch the full interview here to find out which character she auditioned for in Churails and much more:



The Haute Team

This article is written by one of our competent team members.