Short comedy shows what it's like to be a woman with a disability in Pakistan

Updated 20 Apr, 2020 11:55am

A comedy film featuring a main character with a disability, casting an actor with said disability. Keep up, Hollywood!

A comedy film featuring a main character with a disability, casting an actor with said disability. Keep up, Hollywood!
A comedy film featuring a main character with a disability, casting an actor with said disability. Keep up, Hollywood!

After several short films showing the plight of folks with different disabilities, all attempting to make us cry and be 'motivated' to do better, Pakistan gets a movie that shows disability in a rather lighthearted way.

Short film Fruit Chaat is written by Girly Things founder Tanzila Khan. She also plays the main character Shabana, a woman trying to maneuver life with a disability and being very done with people looking at her as an object of inspiration and motivation rather than a person who just wants to enjoy life.

The short film is definitely adorable highlights important issues in a comical way. If you ask me, the only thing missing was 'O Shabana' by E Sharp playing at some point.

Speaking to Images, Khan revealed that she wrote the script about a year ago and they "sent it to a couple of production houses but they had their own reservations."

"So we thought let's just go ahead ourselves."

For Tanzila, it was more than a short film but a way to show people what she herself goes through on a daily basis.

"Since I have a disability myself, I have personally experienced the reactions," said Tanzila. "The positive ones are usually compiled with a lot of charity and the attitude is like giving opportunities that make me feel like a token and not that I have actual skill or talent to earn it or so."

Pictures by Maheen Ahmed
Pictures by Maheen Ahmed

"This is the story of every person like me in the world. I felt it's time that we portray disability in a very ordinary and comical way to sensitise people to how normal it is to have a disability and it's our human experience."

We can't help but point out that a short comedy film in Pakistan featuring a main character with a disability featured an actor with said disability. Keep up, Hollywood!

According to Tanzila, "Fruit chaat reflects much of my own attitude towards life, about dealing with situations and issues in a very comic way and lighthearted way. Shabana goes through four stages of her life and the themes are education, employment, entrepreneurship and love."

"While it's about a disabled woman in Pakistan, this can easily be any person's story, in any part of the world. I'm very thankful to a lot of people who came in and worked on it voluntarily. So many didn't even charge us. The actors were really supportive. Fawad Jalal came as soon as he heard about the script."

Tanzila shared that director Moiz Abbas was on board to shoot the film as the two had previously collaborated for a shoot for Tanzila's company Girly Things; an app that attempts to make feminine hygiene products accessible to everyone.

"We shot it all in one day! Editing took two," revealed Tanzila. "It's all made in Lahore and the experience was amazing. We did meet some funny challenges."

She shared one such funny moment with us, saying, "This one time, a policeman came to stop Moiz from shooting a scene and we had to convince him that we're not beggars but acting."

Will this film make the impact Tanzila believes it can? She certainly thinks so and the proof came from the shoot itself.

According to Khan, "While shooting, this whole experience actually sensitised the people involved and around us, they saw what people with disabilities go through in Pakistan, especially women."

"It's a tricky slope because usually films about disability are tragic and sad but here we're portraying it comedy. If you ask me, this is Pakistan's first short comedy film on disability."

The plan for Fruit Chaat was different, send it to festivals and what not. But with Covid-19 becoming a global pandemic, that was halted. However, much like Shabana, Tanzila saw a different path for the film; letting people know we will all be fine.

"We decided to launch it so that people can watch it and get the message that it's okay, we can get through this, let's all be strong."

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