A young author in 2010 brings to life a story set in undivided India with a husband and wife. At the second annual Hum Telefilm Awards, the telefilm was the only entry to receive nominations in each of the categories. Talkhiyaan, an adaptation of Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, follows shortly after, also to the astonishment of the audience. It explores the conventional mindset of males who live by ancestral pride. And the deeply ingrained ideals of a caste system by Bee Gul.
Despite shifts in government and social norms, Bee Gul writings and commitment to social justice remain unwavering. After more than a decade. Seven stories, to be exact, are now under development for Raqeeb Se, and the author has no plans to slow down. Three plays, one with Rafay Rashdi and two with Kashif Nisar for Zed 5, plus a short video
The writer wants to make her mark in film, theatre, and television, and she is careful about the creative team. She chooses to work with them since she believes that only a small number of performers, directors, and writers are willing to bring about change.
Bee Gul recently talked about what we might expect from her in the near future. One of my short films just premiered at an international film festival. Before that, I worked on a few television shows that were about to premiere. Sajal Aly, Wahaj Ali, Sania Saeed, and Hamza Firdaus appear in one of the films directed by Yasra Rizvi. She gushed and gave the actors high marks. Since she has never played a role like this before, I admire her wit. This time, she even appears different.
The writer is relentless.
“I excel at navigating the nuances of male and female interpersonal dynamics. It focuses on the importance of accepting responsibility for one’s actions, wants, choices, and identity within one’s immediate and extended family. “It’s a fresh take on the whole thing,” she remarked.
Bee Gul also confessed that her scripts subconsciously prompt a commentary. That this commentary originates from a point where she wants to discuss the world she observes. The patriarchy has been around for so long that it has permeated every aspect of life, not just in this region but throughout the West. It hasn’t been completely wiped off, but people are aware of it. Everything a man does, from what he eats to what he wears to how he walks around the house and the world at large, is geared towards the approval of women. When the next generation breaks away from this norm, they are labeled as “selfish” and “outlandish.”
Bee Gul said, “You don’t have to be selfless to be a woman, and the burden of sacrifice should now take a leave,” and that when people question her feminism and attack the “adult, women-centric, and bold content” she presents, she responds, “Why are you, not one?”
What price censorship?
Bee Gul acknowledged that the amount of screenplay material she produces is more than “a lot,” but the creative teams do not use all of it. As many as three scripts come to mind that I haven’t been able to show anyone yet. I’ve told a few filmmakers and producers about them in general terms. But I don’t think my screen is quite ready for them yet. “The type of producer I’d be interested in isn’t available, and due to censorship issues, two of them have no shot at all,” she groaned.
Yasra Rizvi directed the movie Working Women, which I just finished filming with Kashif Nisar. Kashif called me and asked, “What are you even expecting with this?” when I sent them my script. We haven’t even been able to start filming yet. You can’t expect your ideas to resonate with Pakistani audiences; they’re too daring, she said. The author was unfazed and complained that it was the director’s fault.
It’s the director’s problem with how to shoot it, so I just requested that he let me write. I disagree with such sentiments and am unable to self-censor. The screenplay should be well thought out. “I do my best to keep things suggestive, but it’s up to the director to know just how much to show and in what context,” she said.
Working Women is an extremely risky script in many aspects, but I think Yasra has done a fantastic job nonetheless. These challenge preconceptions and shines a light on controversial issues. It touches on the taboo subject of women’s sexuality in modern times. It came to me in a very forthright way, and that is how I have written it.
However, Bee Gul admitted that she is aware of the weight of responsibility. This comes with creating content for a platform as pervasive as television. Television is something I appreciate and value. I’ll be the one to decide what to show and what not to. So put your trust in me on that front, but we do need to open lines of communication and test the limits. She stated, “I consider it a great success just to have a script like Working Women Air.
An escalating wave
Bee Gul is “looking forward to a progressive wave” on TV and hopes it sets a trend. The author said of the glut of dramas set to premiere in the second half of the year. Because of the way things work in this country, I believe it will serve as a precedent of sorts. It’s only a matter of time before every network produces a show about female cricketers if one of them does it.
When members of the entertainment industry, such as Gul, say things like “the screen isn’t ready for that kind of content,” it opens up a discussion about what the screen is ready for. Is it just the absence of love and devotion that’s to blame, or have we missed something else? Gul claims that the fault lies not with the screen but with the program’s creators and broadcasters.
As in, “When I say my screen is not ready, I mean the production houses and channel owners aren’t ready.” She said it straight out, “They’ve been really lethargic in terms of inventiveness lately. Both the script and the direction are sloppy. They’re all quite greedy in that they want to get a lot done in as little time as possible.
A new low has been reached.
The author of Kitni Girhain Baaqi Hain argued that it is unfair to place responsibility on consumers simply because they have access to international media. It’s all thanks to the capitalist ethos that permeates satellite television. My generation spent a lot of time in front of the TV, and we watched local shows because they had substance. I didn’t get to grow up with Netflix. She went on to say that she is aware of both current and forthcoming entertainment channels that have a policy “not to show feminist or bold content,” indicating a regression from the teachings provided by local media.