Mira Sethi was the spokesperson for every woman in Pakistan when she appeared on Taimoor Salahuddin's (Mooro) podcast recently.
She minced no words as she spoke about hypocrisy of Pakistani society reflected in roles offered to women, violence at Aurat March, and in allowing men like Khalil ur Rehman Qamar and Amir Liaquat to be the voice of television.
Talking about the limited characters written for women, she said, "In the context of Pakistani dramas, especially for women, the leads are boring. You're either crying, or somebody is inflicting violence upon you – which is not boring but it’s a very one-tone role."
She added that she felt there are not many opportunities for character-based acting, and to play a leading role, one has to fit into "a very good-looking mould."
While discussing television writing, the conversation moved to Qamar.
"Khalil sahib was an enigma five years ago; nobody had a face to put to the name, nobody had a voice or personality to put to the name. We had no clue who he was at the time," she pointed out.
"He has done a disservice to himself – though he doesn’t think so, because now he is a cheerleader for very, very ugly conservative, problematic thoughts in this country. He has unmasked himself and what he has revealed is deeply ugly."
"The very, very sad thing is that he has a constituency. I saw him speaking on a channel the other day and men were cheering him on. The producer told me, aap ignore karein, ap bhi tou engage kar rahi hain (ignore him, why are you engaging). Why should I ignore? He is sh**ting on my fellow artists, on women, on transgender folk. Except Amir Liaquat. This is the country where we live. It takes an Amir Liaquat to put a Khalil ur Rehman Qamar into his place and even then, they both know exactly what they’re all about," she added.
Sethi also exerted the labour of once again, breaking down the controversial slogan Mera Jism, Meri Marzi for those who still do not understand it.
"A lot of people said it should have been Meri Zindagi, Meri Marzi, (my life, my choice) or Mera Wujood, Meri Marzi (my existence my choice). The point is, the slogan was so triggering to men because of the word jism (body). When they think of jism, they think of all things sexual. Whereas Mera Jism, Meri Marzi is women fundamentally saying you don’t get to set the terms of my life, my body, my decisions, my agency, you don’t get to dictate."
With this, she also pointed out how men will manipulate you to behave a certain way, by creating this dichotomy between a 'good' woman and a 'bad' woman.
"This is the oldest thing in the world. Putting women on a pedestal but what you're actually doing is putting them in a cage. "Jo aurat hoti hai woh bewafa nahi hoti, aur jo bewafa hoti hai woh aurat nahi hoti’ (A woman is not a cheater, and the one who cheats, is not a woman). This means there is no room to make mistakes and if you do make one, you should be punished and exiled and ostracised from society."
"People are human, if a man can go astray, women have the same makeup as men. They can go astray too. Well-behaved women seldom make history," shared the Dil Banjaara actor.
She also spilled the beans regarding her upcoming project, a Ramadan transmission comedy in which she's working with Osman Khalid Butt for the first time.
"OKB is so great, he is woke but in a very real sense, he’s not the fake woke. If you scratch the surface, you won't get somebody who has deep, dark thoughts that are actually not progressive, he’s genuinely progressive. For OB, I'll say that thank god there are educated heroes in the industry. He’s one of those, he is very good at his work."
"And he's a sweetheart. I get him and he gets me and there’s a real rapport. Ali Safina is playing my husband, he is hilarious and a cutie patootie. And Uzma Baig is playing the dadi." The serial is being directed by Danish Nawaz.
You can listen to the entire podcast here