Done with clichés: Nadia Afgan wants better roles for women on TV

Seasoned actor feels there aren't enough empowered, interesting characters written for women to choose from.


Entertainment Desk October 20, 2021

Television actor Nadia Afgan is rarely seen on screen but when she takes on a role, she brings it to life with her infectious energy. Often approached for comedies, Afgan’s comic timing and delivery make her hilarious onscreen. But she adds her own flavour to even the serious roles she takes up.

Sometimes, courtesy of her feisty delivery, she manages to overshadow the main characters while doing the same. Thus, it is difficult to treat Afgan like a side character in the role of a female police officer in television serial Parizaad.

Speaking about her decision to take it on, Urdu News quoted Afgan as saying, "I’ve been working since a long time but my decision to take on comic roles in the beginning seemed to have confined me to comedy. All I ever got were comedy roles or even negative characters. With this character, I wanted to try my hand at something a little different."

Afgan, who’s been craving to play a ‘strong female character,’ since her last portrayal in Suno Chanda, went on to add, “Playing DSP Badar is giving me a taste of something new, just like Shahana did.”

Asked why she works so selectively now and refrains from frequently taking up more projects, Afgan shared, "Most of the scripts that come to me are clichéd. All I get to read are mother-in-law quarrels, sister-in-law quarrels, and cruel brother-in-law quarrels. I don’t feel like I need to act anymore. It’s like I’m reenacting the same scenes over and over again.”

Afgan feels that she might as well take on lesser projects but more diverse ones, or at least only take up projects that offer her a different role than the ones she’s played before. “I am an actor and every actor wants to try on a new skin, a new costume, find an alter ego. And play it out as well as they can," she said.

The 51-year-old actor, who’s evidently young at heart, explained how the role of the DSP kept her engaged. “It was like an experiment for me because it kept me on my toes. Before taking it on, I kept fantasizing about myself as an officer,” she unveiled. “I also did a lot of research and saw English spy movies. I just wanted to know and see what a policewoman behaves like,” continued Afgan.

Recalling how much fun it was for her to finally act out the role, Afgan shared, “I had a great time and I think I pulled off the role quite well. When I work hard and people appreciate it, that's enough for me.”

About her numerous comic hits and how they helped her find her niche, Afgan admitted, “I don’t regret being a part of them one bit. It was a learning experience for me. That was the time a lot of new kids in Lahore started acting, we’d all keep making these videos and small clips. Comedy was everywhere. Hoo Bahoo, Family Front, Shashlik and Teen Bata Teen propelled us to fame. It was a great wave with great actors, writers, producers and singers. I miss those days very much and I think we had a great time.”

But when asked if she is satisfied with the serials being made today, Afgan confessed, "The scripts that are being written these days are bogus and junk and I don't understand why the good dramas fail to get favourable ratings. It’s like no one wants quality entertainment!”

She went on to urge channels to take on board new writers. "We need fresh minds to dictate our narratives already! Sure, art imitates life but can the projection be better? Can the scripts be better? The question I am still forced to ask is; why can’t there be strong female characters on screen? Why can’t there be more empowered, interesting characters written for women?”

Afgan assured there are bigger problems in life than marriage and a woman, or a man, not being able to find a suitor is not the story people care about anymore. “There’s another drama in the making, jismen hero ki shaadi nae ho parae hai (in which the hero is not able to get married). Please stop.”

The actor started her career with PTV. She starred in many dramas and even hosted entertainment shows, including a PTV night time transmission for many years. Her titular roles in Shashlik, Raju Rocket and Bilqees Kaur made her quite famous.

In 2018, Afgan ventured into direction with television serial Parlour Wali Larki. And more recently, she was awarded for her performance in Suno Chanda.

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