Actor Osman Khalid Butt is known for speaking his mind, but words don’t leave his mouth without being premeditated. Neither does Butt preach anything he does not practice. The actor has often addressed numerous societal issues on social media and called out the several toxic practices against women.
But in a recent interview with Mira Sethi on her talk show, the Diyar-e-Dil actor addressed the Pakistani society’s obsession with criticism, anti-feminism and meaningless categorisation of anything remotely ‘vulgar’ as 'liberal' as per their understanding.
"No one has ever been able to define to me what Pakistani culture really is," said Butt, smirking. "I remember being young and doing folk dances — Sindhi, Balochi. I used to take part in all my annual school functions. No one ever said you're distorting our cultural and moral fabric,” he added.
He reinstated how in Pakistan, some misrepresentations are ingrained passively into impressionable minds on the very grounds made to educate them. Even religion, for that matter, was being used to push one’s own agendas, rather than being used to unite with its teachings of peace, love, coexistence, patience and forgiveness.
"There was a woman exercising on national television — and it is national embarrassment, that both your news reporters and politicians questioned 'To what extent will we bare this vulgarity in the name of liberalism and westernisation'?"
He then addressed the real problem – unawareness. “The problem is that our audience doesn't even know what ‘liberal’ is. It's used as a cuss word now. 'You are pseudo-liberal, you are a western puppet. If you know such cool terminologies, then look at what philosophy feminism is. You think it is that women want to be vulgar?!"
But the lack of awareness is also a ground too thin to leeway the benefit of doubt. “The entire world is in your palms,” claimed Butt. “Any information you want is on your phone. So this means that you don't want to study. It's a conscious decision. Had this been happening in 1980s, I would've understood that oh, we don't have the means to educate ourselves, but now? What's your excuse now?"
As for his activism for women’s issues, the Balu Mahi actor admitted it was a result of nurturing, more than his nature. "It's just my upbringing, and the injustices I've witnessed in my own childhood which made me very sensitive to the plight of women specifically," he recalled.
The actor recollected a quote by an American feminist, recommended by a friend, which stuck by him. "'The social is the political'. Your personal problems are related to the socio-political society you find yourself in. The solutions to it will also come through social change," said Butt.
He then addressed a topic most celebrities debate on, explaining how it is in fact an artist’s responsibility to be politically correct. "Artists are mostly responsible for this because art is very socially relevant. It teaches you empathy. And it's not just that I'm saying things online. Two years into my career, I decided I won't be speaking any problematic lines in a script, especially if my character is being presented on the screen like a moral compass."
The actor clearly acknowledges that while becoming a celebrity has its perks, it also has its fair share of responsibilities. And the responsibility of the being the right source of inspiration is perhaps the most burdensome, and important.
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