As hit drama Baaghi draws to a close with its last episode airing tonight, the producers land themselves in a pickle.
Update: In a conversation with Images, Qandeel Baloch's father Azeem stated that he had not been informed that Urdu1 intended to create a TV drama based on his daughter's life.
"A group of people came to me and asked for permission to write a book on my daughter Qandeel. However, they did not mention anything about a TV serial to me," he said. "They asked for the rights and gave me a sum of Rs50,000 and didn’t offer further compensation.”
"I did not know who they were nor had I ever met them before. They just asked me to sign a piece of paper." When asked about the drama he replied, “I’m a Baloch and I would not have given permission for a drama which would feature immodest acts.”
Azeem Baba confirmed that the lawyer handling his daughter's murder case was present during the signing. “My lawyer was there and even he doesn’t know of any mention of a drama." When asked whether he made any financial demands when they were approached by the people, he said, “When we didn’t even know about the drama how could we have made any demands? We did not have any [financial] demands then. However, we are poor people and if they can help us then we will be grateful to them.”
Update: Images also reached out to Azeem's lawyer Safdar Shah who is handling Qandeel's murder case. He confirmed that he was present during the signing and said, "The people approached us during nighttime and due to the poor visibility we couldn't read what the paper said and signed it."
He stressed that, "They very clearly stated that they will either make a documentary on Qandeel or write a book on her. There was no mention of a drama."
Admitting to his mistake, Shah said, "It's our fault we signed the paper without having read it."
Having found out that there is a TV drama based on Qandeel's life without the knowledge of the family or the lawyer, Shah contacted Yousuf, a man he had been acquainted with in regards to the matter, and asked him why they were not made aware of this, to which Yousuf replied, "Everything regarding the drama was detailed in the paper, you should have read it. Now you cannot do anything."
"I asked if Qandeel's parents could be compensated but Yousuf declined. We were not aware that these people were from any TV channel which is why we never asked for any money."
Last week, lawyer and Internet activist Nighat Dad took to Facebook to voice concern over the alleged exploitation of Qandeel's story at the hands of Baaghi's producers.
She claimed that "well-intentioned efforts to highlight Qandeel's cause, such as the Urdu One drama serial Baaghi, have exploited and misled her parents," by not having paid them their dues while pocketing the profits for themselves.
She added that efforts have been made by others to collectively raise money for the ailing parents as they fight the ongoing court case.
"Qandeel Baloch's parents are going through a rough time, they are spending whatever limited resources they have on going to Court regularly from Village (Shahsadruddin) to Multan. They are sick but still fighting back against the system."
The controversy snowballed further when Dad recently posted that Baaghi "made its massive profit out of Qandeel’s plight, did only bother to send few men who told poor parents that we are going to write a book on her and only gave 50k to them as a support a year ago and btw they are legally covered under disclaimer."
Dad's tweet immediately gained attention online and some have offered to help the parents.
As these accusations come to light online, Nina Kashif, producer of Baaghi and General Manager of Urdu1, responded on Facebook calling all such accusations 'false, baseless and wrong.'
Nina claims that the makers behind the drama took "proper permission for the drama serial from the parents, despite the fact that there were only a few incidents that were taken from Qandeel's life."
The producer even added that the parents signed a contract in Urdu and asked for an amount in return which they were paid.
Last year, in an interview with Images, a source close to the development revealed that "Qandeel's family was not interested in talking about her. When interest in buying the rights to her life story was conveyed, they sent over a lawyer to talk about money with the channel. They signed off the rights, giving the channel complete creative liberty."
Urdu 1 still stands by its claim that it took permission from Qandeel's parents before going ahead with the drama. However, Qandeel's father and lawyer say that they were unaware of any drama having been part of the deal.
Additional reporting by Abdul Rasheed.