A video of actor Saboor Aly went viral for all the wrong reasons.
Aly’s Instagram story featured a small clip of a man, cleaning a window pane. In the video, the Bay Qasoor actor could be heard mocking the man by saying, “Kya kya khwab leke iss ki maa ne is ko ghar se bejha tha (His mother must have had big dreams when she sent him to work),” after which she broke into laughter.
Giggling throughout the video, she then turned the camera towards Khattak, who added, “Ye apni bedsheet bhi subha uth ke theek nahi karta hoga, kambal bhi apna teh nahi karta hoga, (He won’t even clean his bedsheet or fold his blanket at home).”
And it didn’t stop there. Aly then asked for her co-star Affan Waheed’s comments on the matter, to which he simply responded, “Mehnat kar raha hai bechara (he’s working hard).”
It wasn’t as much the choice of words but the tone and condescending feel of the video that made people call Aly out for her classist behaviour and derogatory remarks.
“Distasteful comments from Saboor Aly and Saheefa Jabbar Khattak mocking a window cleaner. Tons of respect to Affan Waheed who simply turned around & said the window cleaner is working hard. We need to take a long hard look at our behavior when we claim we are ‘artists’,” journalist Mahwash Ajaz shared on Twitter.
“The jokes made by Saboor Aly (primarily) and Saheefa indicate class privilege and further strengthening of the gap between different strata of the society. Even if it’s your own time, when you’re relaxed and having fun, you need to be mindful of what you say,” a user wrote.
“I feeling like crying looking at this. Why are Pakistani celebs so extra disgusting? The disconnect between the poor and ultra rich is so vast just in morality it’s the difference between ghairat and actual ghalazat. Don’t eat the rich – they’re actual poison,” said another one.
“Saboor Aly’s crass humor regarding making fun of a hardworking window cleaner shows that never to forget where one comes from and to stay grounded and humble,” commented another.
Soon after the backlash, Khattak took to Instagram and did a live session where she clarified that the man in question wasn’t actually a window cleaner but an associate director.
“We work with each other for months, where we become a family. There are many inside jokes, a lot of fun on sets,” she said. “We didn’t mean any harm it was just a fun video. Please don’t listen to everything these bloggers who post. And they post everything.”
Later, Khattak seemed to think responding to the controversy won’t do her any good. “I’ll fail, I’ll miserably fail, but I won’t be able to clear the air and explain my side out,” she wrote in an Instagram post.
Aly’s clarification of the video came after Khattak’s. In a lengthy post on Instagram, she wrote, “The said window cleaner is actually an associate director (AD) of our play with whom we have worked for months. We share a lot of jokes and funny moments. As outsiders one wouldn’t know but at least give the other person benefit of the doubt before you start writing them off as being guilty.”
She continued, “No where have we called him a window cleaner or made fun of any specific profession. What was an inside joke with an individual, has been portrayed as an insult of the profession which was never the intention nor a fact even in the content that’s still on my social media. Frankly these are just not the values I have been brought up with.”
Talking about her critics, she said, “All I will humbly say in the end is – next time you point your finger on someone’s actions or words – especially when you are looking at them in isolation and not the whole picture – think and be responsible. Don’t just do it for the followers, likes, and engagement.”
But people still aren’t buying it.
“I just watched Saheefa’s live. If I was doubting their insincerity even a little bit that just confirmed it. Gross,” a user then wrote.
“Being very close to the field of production, I know Assistant Directors are treated very poorly in our industry, so I wouldn’t be surprised. However, I don’t think this information about who he is changes anything about the fact that the two women in the video are utter crap,” tweeted one user.
“Can you imagine, she actually stoop so low that instead of accepting her mistake, she pointed out the bloggers who addressed the issue. Also funny how she deleted her live. agar itnay guts thay toh delete na karti na behen. I’m out of words,” said one more.
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