Pakistan is finally getting an animated TV series entirely for children. Team Muhafiz, a project of Geo and the ISPR, promises to tackle social issues and teach the younger generation about the history of Pakistan, its forces and patriotism .
The series will feature teens fighting social evils in the pursuit of peace and harmony. The cast includes Sajal Aly, Ahsan Khan, Wahaj Ali, Dananeer Mobeen, Syed Shafaat Ali, Nayyar Ejaz and others.
Qissa Meherbano Ka actor Khan, who has voiced the character Havildar Farman, told Images that the show is being developed with the army in mind. "The saviours of Pakistan eradicate any danger or negativity in the country. These heroes do the same and it consists of one leaders and four to five team members." He said that each episode has been designed to tackle various issues, therefore each episode will have a different story.
Khan believes not enough content is created for the younger generation. "I've always felt like we haven't done enough for kids because we hardly have enough programmes for them. I believe Team Muhafiz will add to that. The show values patriotism, harmony and national heroes as well as history, which will educate them."
Comedian and TV host Shafaat told Images that the social evils seen in the animated series include drug abuse, the beggar mafia and abduction. "When we check our newspapers, there are ads that demand for a janitor of a certain religion. In our series, there's nothing as such. The lead character is from a different religion and as a matter of fact, many other characters from the show are also from different religion.
"When we see someone with a beard, dressed in shalwar above ankles wearing kheri (Peshawari chappal) we automatically see them in a negative way, that in the end this character would be a villain. The stereotyping in our society is very [prevalent] and we refuse to accept it because we believe it is not our issue. So Team Muhafiz rubbishes all these ideologies and concepts and is about celebrating inclusivity."
Going into the details of the storyline itself, Shafaat added, "There is a Pathan character in the show and he is very positive. There is drug mafia that has a boss who is a villain and then there is another man behind him. Team Muhafiz is a team that has a girl from Hunza, one from Sindh who is a Hindu, a guy from Quetta who is a Christian. We're trying to portray the religious cohesion that exists in our country and how our country doesn't cater to only the general public, a certain religion or race. In Pakistan, there are people of different faiths which we are presenting in the show."
For Shafaat, Team Muhafiz is a "localised" version of DC and Marvel Comics in which a team is fighting real life issues rather than "chasing aliens or Greek gods". "Everything is realistic in the show and the team is fighting something that is right there in front of us, things that we often don't talk about or have difficulty in explaining to the children. It represents our localised superheroes very well in the sense that these people don't have superpowers but they are doing everything by volunteering," he explained.
The comedian is voicing the character of Zane, a Christian boy whose parents died in a church attack in Quetta. He is driven by the thought of taking revenge against these social evils that contribute to extremism and intolerance.
The show will be releasing on June 27 on GEO and has a total number of 10 episodes that are 12 to 13 minutes long. Team Muhafiz will show Aly as Parinaaz, Mobeen as Mahnur, Wahaj as Reza, Adeel Khan as Badshah Khan, Ejaz as Rawka and Nimra Rafiq as Aarya.
Imran Azhar, CEO of AzCorp Comics, moved back to Pakistan last year after spending almost 20 years abroad, and opened a small company that produced Team Muhafiz, a comic book series about a group of ethnically and religiously diverse teenage athletes who fight injustice in the city of Karachi.
The many topics the series touched upon include child abuse, drug abuse, kidnapping, corruption and environmentalism. In addition to promoting the multi-ethnic aspect of Pakistan, Team Muhafiz also sought to promote ideas like women empowerment and positive body image.