LAHORE: The recent comments made by Punjab’s Minister of Information and Culture Fayyazul Hasan Chohan, about stage actors Nargis and Megha, have come as a shock to many. Although the newly-appointed official has apologised since, much of Lahore’s film and theatre circuit – especially female artists – is still reeling from his “unacceptable” remarks.
Dancer Lucky Ali, for instance, told The Express Tribune, “Megha and Nargis are respected artists of our country and it is because of this that they have managed to garner so much public support. Our culture and information minister should give them the respect they deserve and refrain from personal attacks.”
Model Usma Kashaf echoed Ali’s sentiments. “We are respectable women from good families. Female artists receive respect all around the world but why is it that in Pakistan, some minister thinks he can make such judgements? He should understand female stars’ esteem and act in a respectable manner.”
Chohan, who recently swore in as MPA from the Punjab assembly as a PTI candidate, had stated that if it was up to him, he would make Nargis offer Hajj and Megha keep as many as 300 fasts a year, so as to eradicate vulgarity from Pakistani showbiz.
But well-meaning as his statement may have been, it has angered many. Kashaf added, “He did wrong. I support ‘Naya Pakistan’ but do not agree with this kind of behaviour that harms an artist’s honour. Prime Minister Imran Khan should take notice of this and rectify the situation to clear our concerns.”
Singer and actor Rabi Peerzada said, “I expect Pakistan’s entertainment industry to have a good future during and after Khan’s tenure but am disappointed now that a PTI minister has spoken so poorly of female artists.” The Shor Sharaba star further said that there are many other issues within the film and theatre industries that Chohan needs to focus on. “No one’s respect will be compromised and I am hopeful an incident like this will not occur again.”
Actor Noor Bukhari also added her two cents by demanding the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the Prime Minister to remove Chohan from his position altogether. “His comments have annoyed me a lot! I have never heard any minister speak like this about any artist in my whole career.”
In the same statement, Chohan also opposed the “vulgar” photos of female artists that are often hung outside theatre houses and praised India for producing quality work without engaging in any indecency. The politician went on to assert that he will make sure to correct all such wrongs and eventually, streamline Pakistani film and theatre.
The episode has sparked members of the artist community to start a campaign against Chohan, as well as PTI. Megha herself released a video over social media, requesting Khan to take action. She said she knows Chouhan has apologised and admitted that her time as a performer wasn’t all “clean.” Nonetheless, she believes she has done good work and never got banned from it.
“I am an honourable artist and it is the public has given me this honour,” claimed Megha. “I am not happy with the minister’s comments and do not understand why he is speaking ill of me. This news comes as a shock for me and my family. We are all very upset.”
Nargis also condemned Chohan for his behaviour. “I spent my whole life working for Pakistan. I did my best for our country’s film and theatre industry which has given me a great fan following,” she shared. “People from all around the world have given me so much love, regard and honour but Chohan’s comments were very disheartening and painful to hear. No nation’s information and culture minister speaks of their artists in such a manner.”
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Edited by Ramsha Vistro