- Vaneeza Ahmed, actor and former model, challenges gender stereotypes and promotes women’s assertiveness in an interview with BBC Urdu.
- Ahmed discusses her role in the show ‘Kuch Ankahi’ and hopes it will break stereotypes, emphasizing the significance of every character.
- She advocates for positive portrayals in dramas, breaks stereotypes about paternal aunts, and highlights the importance of empowering women through marriage contracts.
Vaneeza Ahmed, an actor and former model, recently shared her views with BBC Urdu on challenging gender stereotypes and emphasizing the importance of women being assertive and unapologetic.
During a discussion about her new show, ‘Kuch Ankahi’, Vaneeza Ahmed was asked about her opinion on the negative perception associated with the term “Phupho” (paternal aunt) in society.
Ahmed expressed her confusion regarding this stereotype and expressed her hope that her widely appreciated show ‘Kuch Ankahi’ can contribute to breaking such stereotypes.
“The response has been tremendous. I have never categorized roles as supporting or main roles. If we look at older shows like Tanhaiyan or Ankahi, there is no such distinction. We have created this categorization for award ceremonies. Every role holds significance.”
She further remarked, “What is wonderful about Kuch Ankahi is that it presents everyday stories, where each person is the protagonist of their own tale. That’s the reality of life.”
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Despite the challenges of balancing her acting career with the responsibilities of being a mother to two children, Ahmed shared that she was persuaded to take on the role after reading the script.
Nadeem Baig, the director of Kuch Ankahi, assured her that it would be a delightful experience and encouraged her to make time for the show.
Ahmed acknowledged the difficulties of readjusting to acting after a hiatus but found herself captivated by the character of Sofia, which motivated her to embrace the challenge.
“Returning to acting was quite challenging. My routines had changed, and I have two kids. It required a little persuasion, but not too much. When I read the script, I thought, ‘Yes, I definitely want to do this.’ The character was so compelling that I couldn’t resist.”
She continued, “I didn’t have much time to spare for dramas. However, Nadeem assured me that I would enjoy it, and he encouraged me to make time. He believed it was the right time for me to take on such a project.”
When asked about the similarities between her own personality and the strong-willed character of Sofia, Ahmed acknowledged the resemblance but highlighted that Sofia is more unabashedly assertive than she is.
“There are certain similarities. However, Sofia is more unapologetic than me. At times, I would question how I could say certain things to my brother or sister-in-law, but it wasn’t me speaking, it was Sofia. It’s a quality I aspire to have, and I believe every woman should possess it. Why do we suppress ourselves under the guise of shyness? Embrace your true self and be unapologetic about it.”
Ahmed also addressed the stereotypical portrayal of paternal aunts in Pakistani dramas, often depicted as antagonists. She humorously mentioned that she shares some traits with her character, as she is a paternal aunt in real life as well.
“That’s because I am also a paternal aunt in real life,” Ahmad stated with a chuckle. “My paternal aunt is also very kind. There are aunts like her and people like me. We tend to perceive paternal aunts negatively when they express themselves.”
Ahmed advocated for breaking stereotypes, expressing her disapproval of the focus on negativity in dramas. She emphasized the importance of showcasing positive aspects, such as kind-hearted paternal aunts, and expressed her hope that Kuch Ankahi plays a significant role in challenging and changing such stereotypes.
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“I hope Kuch Ankahi breaks numerous stereotypes,” she stated. “Why do we emphasize negativity? I am against that. That’s why I haven’t done many dramas. We highlight the wrong things. Why don’t we focus on the good, like portraying kind-hearted paternal aunts?”
One of the issues highlighted in Kuch Ankahi is the plight of women in Pakistani society, particularly concerning marriage customs and the suppression of their rights. Ahmed passionately discussed the viral marriage scene in which Sofia advocates for reevaluating the nikkahnama, the marriage contract, to empower women.
She pointed out that many women are unaware of their rights and are taught that they don’t deserve them. Ahmed shared her personal experience of feeling unheard during her own marriage contract negotiations, expressing her disappointment at the lack of consideration for her rights. She stressed the importance of speaking up and encouraged women not to be afraid.
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