Wonder Women Of Pakistan
Happy Women’s Day! What? Today? Didn’t we celebrate the International Women’s Day on 8th March? Yes, we did. We celebrated all the women, including the mothers and daughters, the doctors and the astronauts, the activists and athletes, the writers and the fighters, the sisters and wives, national achievers and the International winners, the eccentrics and the thinkers, the leaders and the scientists, the dreamers and the storytellers. But keeping the celebrations within the confines of 24 hours in this age of smartphones is a superficial way of showing love and respect because the very next day it becomes out of sight, and therefore it is conveniently, out of mind.
In order to keep these celebrations going and to refresh our memory, here is an offbeat list of women who are truly inspirational with their exemplary careers and praiseworthy contributions to Pakistani Cinema and TV.
Shamim Ara (Actress/Director/Producer) – The late Actress was a star, a style icon who acted in and directed many super hit films. But what really makes this four time Nigar Award winner a legend was the 1968 film Saiqa which successfully launched her as a producer in a male-dominated industry. Shamim Ara’s career as an actress, director and producer lasted for over five decades.
Below is a clip from her super hit 1979 film Miss Hong Kong:
Sangeeta (Director) – Seasoned film director Sangeeta has made more than 70 films. After acting in over a dozen Urdu and Punjabi films, she made her directorial debut in 1976 with the super hit film Society Girl. She continued directing films even when the film industry was suffering from major crises. What makes Sangeeta’s films so unique and interesting to watch even today is how she has experimented with different themes. This is evident in Mutthi Bhar Chawal, based on a novel “Ek Chadar Maili Si” written by Rajinder Singh Bedi (in one of the first scenes, Sangeeta’s character is shown giving food to a stray dog who is standing at her doorstep; a nice gesture of kindness to animals). This movie is a must watch and it is available on YouTube. Other notable films by Sangeeta are Thori So Bewafai, Khilona, Nikaah and the upcoming Tum Hi To Ho.
Feryal Ali Gauhar (Filmmaker/Writer) – It would be utterly unfair to know Feryal Gauhar merely as an accomplished artist. She is a filmmaker par excellence whose film Tibbi Galli is a thought-provoking work of visual art. She is also a best-selling author whose novels “The Scent of Wet Earth in August” and “No Space for Further Burial” received critical acclaim. And, she is a Political Economist, taught Film at NCA and, she is a human rights/animal rights activist, she is an animal rescuer and she is also committed to the causes of preservation of cultural heritage and environment. Feryal Gauhar had served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Population Fund and she is the only UN Goodwill Ambassador who quit over the invasion of Iraq.
Amena Khan (Director) – Amena Khan is the leading lady behind many popular TV commercials and Music Videos. She introduced some of the biggest names in Pakistani Music. In her phenomenal career spanning well over two decades, Amena has worked with all the major artists including Vital Signs, Hadiqa Kiyani, Faakhir, Mekaal Hassan Band, Jawad Ahmed and Ali Zafar (whom she also introduced as well as directed the music video of his debut hit “Chhanno ki aankh main ek nasha hai”). Amena believes that girls have a lot of potential to achieve their goals in the entertainment industry. They can make good directors, but they also need to fill in other important roles. Girls can become good camera operators, D.O.P.’s, animators and they can be really good AD’s (Assistant Director) because an AD is one the most valuable members of a production team and an experienced AD is a highly sought-after professional in other countries.
Bushra Ashir (Producer/Casting Director) – When Bushra’s husband Ashir Azeem of Dhuwan fame made his much awaited comeback with his directorial debut film “Maalik” last year (which he wrote and acted in as well), faced and overcame many hurdles and challenges. Bushra stood by his side at all times. She describes why she chose to step up and extend her support for Ashir, in her own words:
“I could see that my husband who had a brilliant script was struggling and overburdened with too much work of the film… So I decided to support him and took over a lot of the management work of the film so he could concentrate on the artistic side.”
She asks young girls and women to work hard and never give up on their dreams:
“Whatever they are passionate about they should pursue and whatever they believe they should stand for it.”
Samia Iftekhar (Stop-motion animation artist) – Like all ’90’s kids, Samia loved to watch Cartoons and Animated shows. Her curiosity was piqued by a show called Gumby Adventures. After many years of indefatigable self-learning, Samia has mastered the art of Stop-motion Animation. Her work as the only self-taught female Stop-motion animator in Pakistan is mighty pretty impressive and speaks for itself:
Farah Ahmed (Animator) – You may not have heard her name or seen her face but her work as an animator has already caught your attention. Farah has been a part of the animation teams for Commander Safeguard, Burqa Avenger and TV commercials of Prince Biscuits, HBL Money Club and Igloo King Cone. She is a talented Animator who has always worked hard and intelligently to achieve nothing but the best, as it is evident in the video clip below:
Yusra Javed (Post Producer) – Yusra is a girl wonder who is the main source of communication for all the concerned persons i.e. clients and crew members, once a project moves to the post production phase. This may sound like a non-creative job description but it is one of the most pivotal roles in the creative industry which entails an active multi-tasker with outstanding communication skills. Yusra has been a part of many major projects in the creative industry but she likes to live a quiet life focusing on doing what she does well.
This list is just a drop in the ocean. There is an entire cornucopia of women who have shaped history of not just Pakistan but the world over. And we at YellowBean are proud of the achievements of these ladies and feel optimistic about the future of female endeavours in the creative industry.