When Sar-e-Rah aired its fourth episode, the story shifted to the struggles of an intersex boy who struggled to get love and acceptance from his family, and was determined to work hard and make his father proud. A significant moment in this episode which had caused social media users to declare it as the best television series of the decade, was an interaction between father and son when he explained to his child that it was okay to embrace gender fluidity.
However, fashion designer Maria B had criticized the episode for encouraging acceptance of the transgender community, and called the actors who had taken part in the show ‘sell outs’ who were contributing to the destruction of Pakistan.
In an interview with Maliha Rehman, actor Muneeb Butt addressed the criticism of the episode being ‘anti-Islamic’ by calling it wrong and entirely taken out of context.
“I was disappointed to listen to her accusation because we are not anti-Islamic, we are Muslim, as well as the writers who wrote this script. We have a problem that we are quick to label other people as having agendas, or we distribute certificates that they’re anti- Muslim or taking an anti-Islamic stance. We think that we’re right, and the other people around them are wrong…When I read this drama, I was analyzing that there is nothing insensitive being spoken, clashing with my Islamic beliefs, and I didn’t think it was contradicting any Islamic value.”
Butt addressed the scene which was slammed by B and other right wing critics as promoting ‘vulgarity’, by explaining that these critics had not taken into account the back story of these characters to understand the scene properly:
“You should listen to the context behind this clip. If you watch a clip and judge an entire drama from this, then you’re completely wrong. No one can predict an entire drama from just a clip, because you don’t remember what happened before it. Before this, the father had seen his son dancing like a woman and wearing makeup, and his mother was forcing him to do this. The dad simply asked him did he want to do all of this in the bathroom, to which the son responded yes he does. The father is silent for a minute, then again asks ‘Beta, if you like doing this then tell me. I won’t feel bad at all.’ Then the son says ‘Baba, I don’t want to do this.’ It’s after that the father gently explains to him that right now his son is young but when he grows up that’s when you will learn to understand the feelings inside your body. He wasn’t saying that it’s your choice if you want to become a girl or a boy. The father was trying to make his son understand that the feelings your body is trying to tell you, whether you’re a male or female, that is something you will decide on your own. Right now it’s not necessary for you to figure out these things, you have to focus on your studies. This is the entire context, and it was beautiful how the father was encouraging his son to keep moving forward and study hard.”
Given the entire context, Butt slammed critics for labeling him and the rest of the ‘Sar-e-Rah’ crew, saying it could have placed his life in danger.
While social media overflowed with different takes on Sarang’s character, Butt had chosen to remain silent and did not address the allegations on social media. Butt explained that he had planned to write a note as soon as episode 6 came out, when Sarang gives a speech at a convocation.
Butt revealed that the wife of a prominent actor had reached out to him when this episode had aired, and had sent him an audio note which said some things that proved she wasn’t happy with the drama.
“It was her right to say all of these things because we make shows for the public. It’s their right to tell us about their opinions about our dramas, but for that you need to watch the complete episode to understand the context rather than judging it from a small video clip.”
Listen to the complete interview here:
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