‘My Objective Is To Tell Stories In Which Women Exist In Their Own Right’

Angeline Malik is one of the Pakistani showbiz industry’s most strong-headed women. A conscientious performer and a poignant story-teller, Malik has always taken risks when it comes to direction, holding series and serials with taboo subjects to her credit such as “Mujhe Jeene Do”, “Woh Chaar” and “Kitni Grihein Baqi Hain”, and not to forget the horror serial “Woh” which she created during the times when the genre of horror was one of the many neglected genres on the small screen. Naya Daur caught up with the actor, director, and producer to ask her a few questions, to which she gave some thought-provoking answers:

Q) Throughout your career as an actress and as a director, have you ever felt that you are being treated unfairly owing to your gender? Did you ever come across challenges in the Pakistani showbiz industry which can be termed as gender-specific challenges?

Well, in a way, yes! One does face many issues being a woman and calling the shots. But then, you only have to work much harder to prove yourself. Hence, I would say that women in our industry have to work twice as hard as men to prove their worth. This, however, does not mean that I am complaining. In fact, the challenges have made me work for what I believe in.

Q) In your directorial works such as “Woh Chaar” and “Kitni Girhein Baqi Hain”, you have touched upon women’s stories but in a very unique manner. What was your objective behind these projects?

The purpose was basically to tell stories that had never been told before. I felt that most of the stories were revolving around men with women only apparently being the protagonists. I wanted to tell a story from the perspective of a woman; a story in which she does not have to be because of a man, but has her own existence and story. My objective is to narrate stories in which women exist in their own right.

Q) Do you believe that repetitive depiction of domestic violence, child abuse and sexual harassment makes the issues lose their importance? If you were to tell a story on one of these issues as a director, how would it be different from the other stories being shown on television?

I believe that if we tell these stories without caring for the viewership or ratings, then the stories will be told in a different way. I would tackle them in a very realistic manner and what people want to see would not be what I want to say.

Q) You acted in a women rights’ serial, “Mere Dard Ko Jo Zubaan Mile”. How was the experience of working on Haseena Moin’s progressive script? Which contemporary writer do you think can write in a similar way, keeping a balance between social issues and literariness?

Haseena Moin was a giant in literary and dramatic work and still is. I believe there are many writers who can do the same if they are given the freedom to do so. There is a lot of dictation these days and writers sadly have to give in. My favourite, presently, is of course Bee Gul, since she takes a stand on what she believes in.

Q) What, according to you, is the future of LGBT/Queer drama in Pakistan?

I have no idea about the future, but I would definitely say that one should be given the freedom to talk about any issue, be it related to society’s majority or minority. We can’t just censor it, as we have all kinds of people existing around us who are a part of our society and everyone has the right to be heard.

Q) There’s a belief that art is to be kept separate from the artist’s personality. Considering this, do you think that dramatists like Khalil ur-Rehman Qamar should be allowed to work?

We can’t stop anyone from doing what they believe in. I just feel that everyone in his or her own capacity should take some responsibility to see how their work or art is affecting people. I believe in responsible story-telling rather than something which would reinforce an ideology affecting the society in a negative way. We should try and change the mindsets and behaviours in a positive way.

Q) In such a huge industry, do ideological differences and mutual friends create professional hurdles?

That is very personal and varies from person to person. When it comes to me, I stay away from negativity and all of my close friends from the industry are very secure of who and where they are.

Q) What are your upcoming projects, and why don’t you act as frequently as before?

I am working on a project I cannot disclose at the moment in time. I don’t act much because I am a director’s actor. I am willing to work with anyone who believes that he or she can make me act.