1) Tell us a bit about how you got into acting.
I did a small character for Geo TV’s play ‘Laado mein palli’ on a very short notice after which I was approached for Munkir.
2) Would you say you faced struggles being a woman in the industry? If yes, what kind of struggles and how have you overcome/ dealt with them?
Alhamdulilah, I didn’t face many issues because acting just happened, completely unplanned so there weren’t a lot of auditions or casting meetings involved. But on a couple of occasions where I thought things are getting shady I put my foot down and walk away respectably. Some people lack professionalism when it comes to dealing with females. For everybody out there, from every field of work, if she’s out of her house to work don’t take it any other way because work strictly means work.
3) Tell us about your and Madeeha Raza’s initiative Women Through Film and why you decided to start it?
Women Through Film is an initiative born with the mission to celebrate the success stories, struggles, and achievements of women from all walks of life.
Being an independent filmmaker and perturbed by the huge gender gap that exists in this field, Madeeha, my partner and best friend, founded Women Through Film as a movement, with an aim to encourage and facilitate young girls and women to use film as a tool to raise awareness regarding women’s issues and achieve self-empowerment in the process. It is an extremely important initiative, and a first of its kind in Pakistan.
Being a hardcore feminist myself, with an unrelenting faith in this initiative, I joined it with an utmost fervor and soon found myself eating, sleeping and breathing Women Through Film. Both Madeeha and I have been working day in an out to design activities and ways to get young women involved in this project. Madeeha’s focus is on trainings; mentoring aspiring female filmmakers, using an originally developed and extensive module, that covers not only the craft of filmmaking, but also how film can be used as a tool to, say, promote a small business venture. I try to ensure that this work is being acknowledged by the local and international communities, besides the many other things we do together to make this project grow by leaps and bounds.
4) What can people expect from the upcoming Women International Film Festival (WIFF) in March, 2017?
The Women International Film Festival aims to include all things promoting women. Our focus is primarily to promote female filmmakers and celebrate their films, give them an opportunity to network, learn from each other, and get acknowledged for their works. To make it more entertainment-loaded, the festival also includes a grand exhibition, inviting entrepreneurs, marketers, and sellers to exhibit and sell their products & services, as well as event attendees to have a good weekend with their families. Not only this, the two-day festival ends with an all-female musical concert on the closing night.
5) How is it an International film festival?
We call it an international film festival because our call for film entries reached out to international audiences, and so far we have received films from female filmmakers hailing from India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Nepal, Nigeria, Mexico, and the UK.
6) What type of content will be screened at the festival?
We had set three distinct themes for our film festival: Gender Equity, Violence Against Women, and Women of Wonder, and will be featuring the screening of short films, documentaries, public service announcements, and animated films in these three categories.
7) Who all can attend? Is it a ticketed affair?
Everyone can attend: Families, youngsters, and senior citizens. Though we won’t be allowing children below 13 to attend the film screening part. Yes, this is going to be a ticketed event.
8) What do you personally believe is the role women can play in filmmaking in Pakistan?
The female presence in filmmaking can dramatically affect the understanding of ideals and perceptions in a society, break stereotypes, and reshape traditional gender roles. As women, we need this change; we need self-empowered women. We need women empowering other women, by making them aware of their rights, and what other tool can be better than film to do that. It was a female filmmaker from Pakistan, who through the power of film was able to get the law on honor killing amended for its loopholes. That’s the kind of role women can play in filmmaking in Pakistan.
9) Will WIFF be a yearly happening?