Actor Zara Noor Abbas said sexism in the Pakistani film industry holds women more accountable than men.
In a recent interview with FUCHSIA Magazine posted on Monday, the Badshah Begum actor opened up about her acting career and touched upon the subject of sexism.
The topic came up when the actor discussed the inspiration behind artwork she posted in 2020 that featured a woman’s face with questions scrawled over it. She said she had issued a statement that wasn’t well received and provoked backlash on social media.
“I was avoiding reading all articles — it was fairly because I felt like [people online] ask really unnecessary questions — ‘when and why did this happen? Why was it like this?’ You just read a statement and add your own connotation to it, state your own opinion. It is so unnecessary [and] it is [directed at] women. Men are not asked that many questions. There is a lot of sexism on social media,” she said.
This shifted the direction of the conversation towards discrimination in her profession to which Abbas admitted, “There is a lot of sexism in the industry.”
The Ehd-e-Wafa actor elaborated, “I’m very loved by my entire team but I do notice [the difference in behaviour] with male actors and female actors. With male actors, they become buddies. [If] the call time becomes late, [they say] don’t worry. [But] if a female actor’s call time is 6am and she doesn’t wake up at six, arrives at seven mistakenly, a complaint is lodged. And it goes to the production, to the director, to everyone.
“Whereas the guy is told he has a margin of 15 minutes and lights are set up meanwhile. So this happens, I’ve seen that the boys become boys, become friends while the girls are busy [arguing] ‘You told me this is how it’ll go, etc’.”
Though Abbas has made peace with the “boys and girls” becoming comfortable in their separate circles, she thinks there should be a certain level of professionalism between an actor and their team. “And if that professionalism is assumed as arrogance or nakhray dikhana, it is not like that, these are very basic things that we don’t get on our shoots, we’re very far behind. I won’t even talk about Hollywood, but considering other woods — Bollywood, Tamilwood, or whoever — we’re way back when it comes to the ethics of working.”
The Zebaish actor concluded by saying, “Everyone should be respected, there should be equality that isn’t there.”