Designer Maria B slammed for unauthorised photoshoot in private graveyard of Bahawalpur’s Abbasi family
A member of Bahawalpur’s Abbasi family, the former nawabs of the once princely state, is calling out the Maria B brand for posting and later deleting pictures and videos of a campaign shot in their private family graveyard.
The photos were from the designer’s new collection ‘Roohi’ and were posted on Facebook on Thursday. The campaign featured shots from various locations in Bahawalpur. In it, the models are seen walking and twirling around in various locations, one of which was identified as the private graveyard of the royal family of Bahawalpur. The videos and pictures have since been deleted and the Maria B page posted an apology for the “unfortunate incident”.
Images has reached out to Maria B for a comment but has not received a response yet.
The old Royal Graveyard is in Ahmadpur Sharqiya Tehsil of Bahawalpur and it is where the graves of the Abbasi Nawab family heads have been buried, including Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi, the former ruler of Bahawalpur state. There are several mausoleums around the cemetery, which were constructed for the wives of the nawabs. There are two sections of the cemetery — one in which the 12 rulers are buried and another in which the newer generation is buried.
Only members of the Abbasi family and people who come to pray at the graves are allowed in that area. The Abbasi dynasty ruled the state of Bahawalpur from 1690 to 1955, for nearly two and a half centuries.
Changez Khan, a grandson of Sahibzada Mohammad Daud Khan Abbasi, who was a son of the last nawab, posted pictures of the campaign on his public Instagram account where he accused Maria B of holding an unauthorised photoshoot on the grave of his maternal grandfather. He said: “This outline is my Nana’s grave. This model is literally dancing on my grandfather’s grave!”
Khan spoke to Images about the incident and said, “The area is our private property and a historic graveyard of my maternal family. The campaign shows a shot of a model twirling on the grave of my grandfather. The newer generation of the Abbasi family, including my aunts and grandfather, are buried there. Yet, Maria B trespassed on our private property without permission. This is both horrible and unethical.”
According to him, the caretaker of the graveyard said that women came to pray Fateha at the graves, therefore he allowed them to enter. “However, I’m not sure if the caretaker is telling the truth. He might have been bribed. We’re still investigating, but the place is known and it is evident that it is a cemetery, so it is unacceptable for Maria B and her team to be this insensitive.”
He said that they reached out to the designer but she blamed the situation on her team. “She said that she wasn’t aware of the location and it was her team who shot there. She told them to shoot at the famous Derawar Fort, which is close to the cemetery, but the team made the decision to also shoot at my family’s property,” Khan said.
Khan said the family wants a public apology from the designer. “We’re not looking for any monetary benefits. The family only wants someone to take responsibility for this. I’m glad Maria B has removed the post but we want to set this as an example that it is unethical and illegal. We want a public apology and if not, then we will file a case against her.”
Maria B’s apology
The official Maria B Instagram page posted an apology on Friday.
“The recent shoot for our brand was planned and executed by a production house with the concept of showing our magnificent cultural heritage in Bahawalpur,” read the statement. “The shoot was edited and published without any prior knowledge about the significance and sanctity of the site.”
The brand said it is “grateful to the people who have pointed out this mistake and we have taken immediate action by removing all the relevant content”.
“Our heartfelt apologies to all those who were understandably distressed by this unfortunate incident,” read the statement.
With additional reporting by Gulzar Ahmed in Bahawalpur.