Kanwal Ahmed, a former make-up artist who successfully created a virtually safe space for women after soothing numerous brides in salon chairs, recently tweeted against television serial Chupke Chupke.
The 31-year-old – who was selected by Facebook as one of its 115 "Community Leaders" using the social network to help others through her group Soul Sisters Pakistan (SSP) – called out the serial for “disempowering audiences by reinforcing problematic stereotypes.” She referred to the character of a man who is recurrently belittled in the drama for staying with his in-laws, and connected it to the situation of a woman on SSP, who complained about not being able to take care of her aging parents because she couldn’t move back in with them.
Trust our dramas to disempower audiences by reinforcing problematic stereotypes. Such as here the ‘ghar damad’ character is an object of constant ridicule.— Kanwal Ahmed (@kanwalful) April 17, 2021
Only yesterday a woman on SSP was asking how she & sisters can manage her old parents as none of them can move in with them. pic.twitter.com/58F51J3Qc2
But actor and writer Osman Khalid Butt – who plays the leading character in Chupke Chupke – has responded to her tweet explaining why in the context of the drama, the ‘ghar damad’ is not the victim. “This is an interesting take. However, it's important to mention that this 'ghar damad' refuses to work despite being offered a job in the family business. He isn't with his in-laws because of financial (or any) duress and while he's played for broad comedy, he has his own arc.”
This is an interesting take; however it's important to mention this 'ghar damad' refuses to work despite being offered a job in the family business, isn't with his in-laws because of financial (or any) duress, & while he's played for broad comedy, has his own arc.— Osman Khalid Butt (@aClockworkObi) April 17, 2021
After thanking Butt for his response, Ahmed then argued the character’s incompetence is to deliberately put him in a bad light to validate age-old stereotypes. “Thanks for the response, Osman. My concern though is that comedy that identifies with problematic, existing stereotypes reinforces them in society. For example, how many men would want to be ‘ghar damads’ after watching this?” she asked.
Thanks for the response Osman. My concern though is that comedy that identifies with problematic, existing stereotypes reinforces it in society. For example how many men would want to be ghar damads after watching this?— Kanwal Ahmed (@kanwalful) April 17, 2021
So in response, Butt agreed that the take on the stereotype was not as nuanced as it should have been. “But viewers will also be considering the fact that his wife is shown to be quite obviously dominating / demeaning (which she's called out on, albeit in a comedic manner). And he's a slacker, no?” argued the actor.
I understand that this isn't a nuanced take on the stereotype but viewers will also be considering the fact that his wife is shown to be quite obviously dominating/demeaning (which she's called out on, albeit in a comedic manner), and he's a slacker, no?— Osman Khalid Butt (@aClockworkObi) April 17, 2021
Although the two are yet to reach a cohesive conclusion, it won’t be wrong to say our TV screens are yet to project behaviour that does not conform to societal norms in the positive light.
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