'Should we make PSAs instead?': Zarnish Khan stands by her character in Aitebaar and the drama

'Should we make PSAs instead?': Zarnish Khan stands by her character in Aitebaar and the drama

The drama showed a husband throwing a fit after his wife escapes a rape attempt and her begging for his acceptance.
12 Feb, 2022

Actor Zarnish Khan still stands by her character in Aitebaar and the drama itself, saying that her previous post condemned only the character's actions of begging. In a new video, Khan took it upon herself to call out viewers who had criticised the drama and her.

The scene she's talking about shows Khan as the main lead who escapes an attempted rape only to come home to her husband who instead of trusting and believing his wife, throws a fit and yells at her. Khan was also shown begging for her husband to accept her once again.

It wasn't just the drama being criticised for its problematic narrative — Khan was also called out for choosing to do the character and act in the series. Her condemnation of the role only agitated fans more because they didn't understand how she could condemn it after choosing to act in it. She's now back with another explanation.

Khan clarified that she isn't against such characters as "90 per cent of our content is based on such stories". She believes that playing such characters can help "spread awareness about learning to raise your voice for your right!"

"A 25-episode long series cannot be cut down to two minutes video to show what the society should be bound to do and follow," said the actor. In the video she also said that if they started listening to public and drama critics, then a 20+ episode worthy drama serial will be cut down to a five-minute "public service message" or a telefilm.

Khan also jumped to defend the storyline by saying that only three episodes have aired so far. She also said that there were some scenes she had altered "with mutual understanding" but those will be shown later. She urged critics to "use their brains", calling them out for judging the drama based on a short clip.

However, some of her followers reminded her that the cause of the confusion was her own post. One user said no one said not to make dramas like this, "but when you folks literally only make dramas that you know will try to instigate the audience with obvious exploitation of women and their circumstances you can then cry foul when people rightfully come at you for profiting off of the traumas of women who have undergone so much."

It seems Khan has misunderstood the criticism of both her post and the drama. No one was criticising the rape scene (though that could have come with a trigger warning). What people criticised is her husband's callous response to the scene. If there is a twist in the drama, all she had to say was, keep watching. But her post distancing herself from the drama and her character's actions (begging for her husband's acceptance) confused people, because it was as if she was saying the actions in the drama were completely wrong even though she chose the project herself.

No one believes television dramas are mirrors to reality, but when you show the most toxic and terrible parts of humanity — in this case a horrible husband — without making those elements the antagonists, you are saying it's okay. If her husband gets his comeuppance later on in the show, we'll cheer for it. But if, like many, many other Pakistani dramas, he will be able to evade accountability for his actions, that's a problem.

People are also sick of seeing damsels in distress begging men to take them back or accept them. Khan may have joked about the crying scene in her post, but the reality is, people are tired of seeing women grovelling before men. We would love to see a woman who knows her worth and walks out when a man has the audacity to say such cruel things to her.

According to the Journal of Pakistan Medical Association, in Pakistan 70 to 90 per cent of women experience domestic violence. It ranges from physical, mental to emotional abuse and we see all of this in our TV dramas. It's also all forgiven by the end of the series and the male lead gets his redemption by doing absolutely nothing to redeem himself. If nothing else, we hope that Aitebaar ends with Khan's character leaving her husband but we'll just have to wait and see.