Soul Sisters Pakistan’s (SSP) Kanwal Ahmed recently called out Chupke Chupke for portraying ghar damads in a negative light.
Ahmed, who was recently selected by Facebook as one of its 115 ‘Community Leaders’ using the social network to help others, criticised the serial for “disempowering audiences by reinforcing problematic stereotypes.”
Referring to a character (played by Ali Safina) belittled in the drama for staying with his in-laws, Ahmed said: “Such as here the ‘ghar damad‘ character is an object of constant ridicule. Only yesterday a woman on SSP was asking how she and [her] sisters can manage her old parents as none of them can move in with them.”
Responding to Kanwal’s tweet, Osman Khalid Butt – who plays the lead character in Chupke Chupke – said that in the context of the drama, the ‘ghar damad’ is not the victim.
“This is an interesting take. However, it’s important to mention that this ‘ghar damad‘ refuses to work despite being offered a job in the family business. He isn’t with his in-laws because of financial (or any) duress and while he’s played for broad comedy, he has his own arc,” said Butt.
Ahmed, in response, argued the character’s incompetence is to deliberately put him in a bad light to validate age-old stereotypes.
“My concern though is that comedy that identifies with problematic, existing stereotypes reinforces them in society. For example, how many men would want to be ‘ghar damads’ after watching this?” questioned Kanwal.
Agreeing with Ahmed that the stereotype was not as nuanced as it should have been, Butt said: “But viewers will also be considering the fact that his wife is shown to be quite obviously dominating / demeaning (which she’s called out on, albeit in a comedic manner). And he’s a slacker, no?”
Though the two are yet to reach a cohesive conclusion, it won’t be wrong to say our TV screens are yet to project behaviour that does not conform to societal norms in a positive light.
Written by Saima Akram Chaudhry, Chupke Chupke is a story of two families of late Daar Ji (grandfather), who married twice. The first wife Bebe (Asma Abbas) is a Punjabi woman and the second wife Bakhto (Uzma Beg) is Saraiki. Both gave birth to two children (hilariously emphasizing his equal treatment of wives) and unfortunately, both lost one of their children. We see Farhan Ally Agha as Bebe’s stingy son who has two daughters; Meenu (Ayeza Khan) and Muneeba aka Mirchi. On the other hand, Fahad aka Fazi and Gul (Osman Khalid Butt and Mira Sethi) are twin siblings and grandchildren of Bakhto.
If this seems confusing to you, embrace for more actors: Hadi and Wali (Arslan Naseer and Aadi Khan) are brothers, Ali Safina (Gul’s husband and a ghar damaad), Mishi (Aymen), and Roomi as OB’s sisters.