Pakistani actress Maya Khan spoke candidly to BBC Urdu about her career evolution, her recent appearance in the drama Mayi Ri, and the show’s depiction of child marriage. The actress discussed the difficulties of playing her latest role and the influence of the show on culture.
In her most recent film, Mayi Ri, Maya took on the role of a mother for the first time. Maya laughed and admitted her initial concerns when asked about her feelings regarding this change. As she put it, “I didn’t want to become the nation’s mother; that was a task… I was told about the protagonist’s background and journey, and it was the latter that really struck me. Then, the director is crucial, as I’ve always maintained.
She went on, “If I had to play a young mother today, where they say I got married at 14, would my daughter be an adult now?” Science backs it up and it makes perfect sense. That’s what the drama depicts. The current generation doesn’t want the next one to go through what they went through; they feel terrible for the next generation. That’s when I decided to say “yes.”
Maya added, “It was quite tough for me to play a mother’s part, given I do not have kids myself. I had a lot of trouble following along. It seemed like every time Aina and I got into an argument, we had to suddenly grow up. Even we got a reprimand from the director, who asked, “What two kids have I cast?” I wouldn’t call her a motherly figure. To put myself in a maternal frame of mind, I’d picture my nieces.
The delicate topic of child marriage is explored in the drama Mayi Ri. Maya admitted that there was pressure to handle social themes accurately in dramas, especially given the potential consequences of doing them wrong. She stressed the need for fair and accurate depictions of these topics to prevent unintended outcomes. “There was quite a huge reaction given the topic, which, had it not been dealt with in a balanced way, could backfire,” Maya said.
Defending the show against accusations that it normalizes child marriage, Maya said, “Showing child marriage is vital; receiving it is the viewer’s responsibility.” Everything will be revealed. There’s a family dynamic [in the story], and that dynamic occasionally includes an early marriage. However, as a unit, we’re aiming to demonstrate the benefits and drawbacks of getting married early. Because of that, every shade can be seen. The full spectrum of child marriage’s good, terrible, and challenging colors
She also addressed fears that Mayi Ri could unintentionally promote teen pregnancies. She supported the proposal by adding, “Definitely, tie the knot. The actor playing Fakhir expresses a desire to learn more about his character in the episode. Annie, a young girl, is very interested in learning. Young couples who share similar values have every right to begin their lives together. If they are confident in their ability to handle everything that comes with starting a new life, it is because of their own decision. The issue of liberty is central, though. Do they know and agree to the marriage of their children? Is it something that they have to do? Can the youngsters agree to take responsibility for the connection and proceed with it? This circumstance has several possible outcomes.
She stressed again that neither encouraging nor discouraging child marriage are Mayi Ri’s goals, but rather presenting multiple perspectives on the topic. She emphasized, “Nowhere in Mayi Ri is it shown that kids should not get married. What are the chapters that focus on the many facets of child marriage? A child is depicted playing and then having an unwanted marriage imposed on her. Her outlook may shift if she so chooses. She feels she can’t continue her studies since she doesn’t want to get married. She cared about only one thing: school. The audience is presented with a scenario, and their reactions will determine the outcome. To what extent do you grasp this?
Maya elaborated on the show’s depiction of moms, saying that they are not shown as weak but as individuals facing their own struggles and powerlessness. Mamas aren’t fragile; they’re defenseless. The mother in this narrative is under the impression that she has suffered a great deal of anguish and hardship, and her spouse is emotionally distant. However, her daughter does encourage her not to shed tears for such a man whenever she begins to feel weak. I’m here to lend a hand and make money for you. Maya remarked, “This is a quote from the advertisement, where Annie promises earnings.
Maya wrapped up the discussion by praising Pakistani dramas for their international acclaim and their ability to tackle complex social topics. She declared, “Our dramas are appreciated globally; people all over the world are watching our shows. There is a close eye on Kabuli Pulao. Viewers are tuning in to Mayi Ri because the shows are entertaining. It’s fantastic to know that this kind of creativity knows no geographical bounds. When it’s well received, it motivates creators to improve their future works in the same vein. If the public doesn’t like it, then producers won’t bother making more of it. There is no formula for success that says, “Do this,” and everyone will love it. Nothing can be guaranteed to be successful.
She elucidated how Ayesha’s complex personality had affected her by saying, “Yes since Ayesha has many hues. She had numerous facets, since she was a wife, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, mother, and second wife. She was a unique woman with her own personality. Many things in her life contributed to making her who she is now.