Animal Rescue Foundation ACF announced on Wednesday that they are making a short film ‘Aisa He Hota Hai’ which will explore the issue of animal rights in Pakistan. The five minute film will be directed by powerhouse Marina Khan, while the script was written by the founder Ayesha Chundrigar and veteran actress Sania Saeed will star in the film.

The Current spoke to Chundrigar about how this project came about. The animal rights activist revealed that the short film reflected how animal abuse isn’t an isolated issue, but connects with every other issue in society. She also told us that the project was made without a budget, except for necessities like cameras and petrol, describing it as “a film about animals, but at the same time, it’s not about animals, its so much more.”

“I am a psycho therapist by profession and what is very interesting for me, especially in my line of work with animals, is that I have to deal with human behavior of all sorts. I meet some of the best people, the kindest people, but then I also meet the worst kind of people that abuse those who are more vulnerable than them, who exploit them and treat them very badly. I have had the privilege of doing my work, while also looking at it through the lens of a psycho-therapist. And everything I do on social media, if you look at ACF’s, I tell stories of animals, of how we help…I try to get to the root of the problem.”


Chundrigar said that the film was born out of her fascination by the connection between animal abuse and all other kinds of things that can happen in society:

“We normally see animals and animal abuse as totally separate from issues in society. But what I find fascinating is how animal abuse is linked so deeply to every other issue in society, we just have a blind spot to it. But it’s so necessary to look at it because it’s so pivotal to everything else. So I thought it’s finally time to address it through the most powerful medium, which is a film, because it can reach all sorts of patents on social media and can have a really wide range. The difficult part is to put it in a story form, but it was honestly one night. I was just sitting and thinking…and this idea just came into my head. I wrote it within five minutes.”

Chundrigar partnered with long time animal activist Sania Saeed, who is often spotted at the shelter and during rescue operations as well. Chundrigar gushed about Saeed’s enthusiasm for the project, and said she was the first person who Ayesha had reached out for the script:

“I shared this idea with Sania because she’s the most amazing human who comes to the shelter all the time to help us with our rescues, with re-habilitating, and grooming animals there. She’s come with us to places like Empress Market to spread awareness. She is truly one of my top five most favorite people in the world. She’s so deep, incredible and empathetic. When I told her about the idea, she immediately came on board and also wrote all the dialogue because I wrote it in English, she translated it into Urdu.”

It was through Saeed that Ayesha connected to the producer Imaan, veteran actress and director Marina Khan’s niece, who both came on board to help push the project forward:

“Marina herself is amazing”, Chundrigar praised the ‘Dhoop Kinare’ actress. “She has visited us several times, and has even adopted a paralysed puppy from us who has grown to become this naughty little cartoon who lives with her. And Marina is the biggest animal lover, and an inspiring woman. I was lucky to be in her and Sania’s presence and working and learning with them. It happened organically, like I didn’t have to do anything. We talked with each other, and then had a couple of meetings, and then everything came together easily. Iman got the best team together for our sound, photography and so on.”

We also spoke to Marina Khan on what drove her to participate in the project. She said that it was to help encourage empathy towards animals, and to show respect to all of God’s creatures:

“The project was about addressing empathy towards animals and show respect to all of God’s creatures. We may use animals for labour and we may use them as food but we can still show them some respect. Also to show that the mistreatment of animals leads to the mistreatment of humans.”

Pakistan is currently witnessed a rise in animal cruelty cases, most notoriously the elephant Noor Jehan, who passed away in Karachi Zoo in April due to poor health and neglect. Furthermore, there have been consistent cases of dog culling, as was the case in a May incident, when a man was arrested after a video showed him killing a dog by hanging and another case in KPK where another man was arrested for butchering dogs.

To ensure that there is a shift in society in how animals are seen and treated, Chundrigar said that her organisation has been working through their social media pages to raise awareness about showing empathy and compassion to animals, so that the work for ensuring better rights for animals keeps progressing:

“The state of animal rights in Pakistan has always been bad, the difference is that animals were never highlighted as a cause being worthy of even talking about. But now you and I are talking about it. Animal rights has become news now, and that is what my organization has been building towards. Because it’s very easy to say something like ‘we need laws’ or ‘we need our rights’. Of course we need them, that’s common sense! But to implement a policy, we need to ensure that the cause is seen as important. This is what my organization has been working towards for the last ten years, we have been building this case to become worthy of news. This is how we know about Noor Jehan, or the rising reports of dog culling, and the reason why people are trying to stop it and those in charge and now taking notice. This is a movement of animal rights, and like any movement its not just going to happen. You cant force it, but let it take shape slow and steady, but you have to be consistent and set an example through your actions. This is what we share on our social media about why animals are important, and what it takes to make a compassionate society. This is what I’m keep doing, because I look at it through a psychological perspective. The moment people start noticing animals, automatically you’ll seem ore things done to benefit them, which is why I’m working on psychological roots of change as oppose to just working on surface level stuff, because that is the way to bring about change not just through laws or policy, but through the mindset.”