When Mawra's objection to marital rape in 'Qissa Meharbano Ka' led to changing the entire script

The actor's take in an old, resurfaced interview has been lauded for demanding nuance in marital rape plots

Entertainment Desk May 22, 2023

The immense backlash that Tere Bin is receiving within progressive spheres has opened up a larger conversation around violating one's partner's agency and sense of self under the guise of marriage.

Amongst statements from the team, an old interview of actor Mawra Hocane has resurfaced. In conversation with FUCHSIA Magazine, the star speaks candidly about tackling marital rape as a plot point in her popular drama serial, Qissa Meherbano Ka, and the nuance required to execute its portrayal. 

Hocane detailed how, upon coming across the way the topic was handled, she objected and asked for more nuance to be incorporated into the script. "I was reading an episode [of Qissa Meherbano Ka] and I read a scene where Murad forces himself on Meherbano. And that was it - the scene took place, it was brushed past and Meherbano got up in the morning and made breakfast. I called [producer] Momina Duraid. I said that this is marital rape. We can't just let it pass."

Looking visibly disturbed and trying to gather her thoughts, Hocane then said, "I was on set at that time and the shoot was in process. We'd already shot the scenes before and after that. It was a huge deal for me to stand up and ask [the producer] that this is marital rape and we need to build on it. I said that we can't let it pass. How can a project backed by her and me - women who have voices - let a marital rape scene just pass. Because a lot of projects let it pass. And we are angry about that. So what are we doing differently?"

The star went on to add, "Fortunately for me, Iqbal Hussain (the director) also understood the gravity of the matter and Momina also said that we'll call off the shoot and come for a meeting tomorrow. We were shooting, and tenth or ninth episode onwards, the entire script was rewritten, based on a scene I read, objected to and called the producer who was all in."

Continuing further, she said, "We all had a five to six hour meeting the next day where she also said I'm very proud that you've brought this to me, and you're ready to be the face of an issue like this because usually, [women] are reluctant. And I am also so proud of her that it didn't even take her a second to make the decision to stand up against marital rape, and of course, we'll get it rewritten. I know the kind of money that is involved in stopping a shoot and reshooting."

In 2021, Hocane also shared a tweet, highlighting what marital rape is. “Marital rape is defined as the forceful act of consummation by the husband with his wife without her explicit approval," tweeted the star. 

In February 2022, Hocane shared a clip from her show, accompanied by the following caption, "While marital rape is a shameful and derogatory crime violating women since time immemorial, it is still widely disregarded as a criminalised offence and more commonly labelled as disobedience on a woman’s part. Absurd."

She further commented, "It’s 2022 and men like Murad freely exist in all spheres of life who not only rape their wives but to make it worse also fail to acknowledge it and mock it. In the garb of love and duty, countless women are raped all across the world. Qissa Meherbano Ka was our humble attempt to start a conversation around this heinous act. It was heartbreaking to perform but my heart is full at the response & acceptance we have received."



As the conversation around the sensitive topic continues to unfold, many are applauding the actor for the resurfaced interview. Kanwal Ahmed, the founder of Soul Sisters Pakistan, applauded the actor, stating "This is brilliant!"  

Another tweep stated, "That's the power actors hold it's just they have to take the initiative."

Yet another user of the microblogging site penned, "Mawra is being too humble here! The credit goes solely to her and her alone. The script was approved and if anyone had a problem with it, they didn't bother to speak up. Bless Mawra for not keeping quiet."

While it is pertinent to address the evils that decay the fabric of society, it's equally important to give vital themes the respect they deserve. Normalising and moving past physical violation, under the guise of it being commonplace or something that's been seen on-screen before, simply does not cut it anymore. If sensitivity and nuance are factors that an entire production team cannot incorporate, then their competence and ability to do justice to compelling narratives come under scrutiny.

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