Fizza Ali Meerza, producer for Na Maloom Afraad, Actor in Law and Na Maloom Afraad 2, is one of the few names that come to mind when thinking about women in Pakistani cinema. While you have a lot of well known women working on screen, one would assume that there aren’t that many women involved with male dominated fields like production, direction, scriptwriting and cinematography simply because we don’t hear their names often.
Fizza Ali Meerza sheds light on the misconceptions regarding women working behind the camera in Pakistan.
Fizza Ali Meerza, producer for Na Maloom Afraad, Actor in Law and Na Maloom Afraad 2, is one of the few names that come to mind when thinking about women in Pakistani cinema. While you have a lot of well known women working on screen, one would assume that there aren’t that many women involved with male dominated fields like production, direction, scriptwriting and cinematography simply because we don’t hear their names often. But Meerza uses her interview as an opportunity to immediately share the limelight with other women.
“I think there is a misconception here. A lot of women are working behind the camera but they simply don’t have exposure,” Meerza told Instep as we sat down for a quick chat. “Almost 80 percent of the scripts for drama serials are written by women. Nobody is going to look out for Umera Ahmed (Baaghi) and take her interview, or reach out to other female writers. You can see that the quality of writing is much higher and the success rate is also there for everyone to see. The media will have to reach out to them and create examples. That should hopefully also encourage other women to come and join the field.”
Unlike many women in Pakistan who shy away from being labeled as ‘feminists’, Meerza’s opinion on the industry and how it’s welcoming to women proves that she isn’t one of them. “I think girls should know and believe that they are equal. There’s no way that anybody can ever underestimate me if I’m doing my job fully. I’ve never had a problem being a woman in this industry. I’ve been working for 17 years now. I started working at McDonalds when I was 17. I used to mop the lobby and clean the washrooms as well. My thought process was that I should do my job fully so nobody can say that you aren’t doing enough.”
In fact, Meerza believes that women have a sort of advantage. “End of the day, women are gifted because we’re good at multi tasking. We’re looking after work, our homes and our family. Our sense of responsibility is better. I feel bad for the men actually,” she laughed.
Meerza further reiterated her belief in equality by claiming that she would never favour a girl over a boy just to support feminism. “I would never favour a girl over a guy just because she’s a girl but I would also never discourage her from working. I would provide equal chances to both sexes. I think that’s my responsibility.”
Earlier, Meerza had gotten a lot of attention for a comment that she had made regarding film critics in which she claimed that film critics don’t exist in Pakistan. “Existence is when your work is being recognized globally. There are some film critics in India, like Taran Adarsh, who can influence the success of a film. People will decide whether or not to watch a film depending on his ratings and reviews. You have to bring yourself to that level of credibility. That’s what I meant by my earlier statement.”
But Meerza believes that we are too harsh with ourselves in this country. “We don’t like to make heroes in Pakistan. We like to look for problems, whine about them and criticize incessantly. Around the world, you’ll see that people glorify their artists. That’s how you make heroes. Over here, we are concerned with really petty things. We are more concerned about what somebody is wearing, or what they’re doing in their personal life. We don’t care about their achievements.”
With the release of Na Maloom Afraad 2, starring Fahad Mustafa, Mohsin Abbas Haider, Jawed Sheikh, Hania Amir and Urwa Hocane, right around the corner, of course the nerves are kicking in. “When you make a product with a lot of love, expectations are always high. When it’s a product this big, where you invest a whole year, you make memories, you make friends and you make enemies. A big part of your life goes away in that one year. So of course, sentiments are attached and you want your effort and hard work to be appreciated and recognized. But I’m very optimistic,” she concluded.
The News International
The Nation: Reviving the calligraphic art
The News International: The triumphant ways of Jaffer Zaidi