Sarwat Gillani: “People are okay with item numbers but if a pregnant woman shares a photo of herself then she has committed some kind of sin”

Pakistani actress Sarwat Gilani is busy working for TV serials and is also gearing up for directing a theatre play for the Special Olympics. Recently, she received backlash from the audiences over her latest photoshoot.

Speaking to Something Haute, here’s what she has to say:

“I didn’t even know about the hateful comments till my PR manager messaged me, saying ‘Sarwat, what do you want to do about this?” Sarwat Gillani said that she doesn’t check social media that regularly which is why she was unaware of how the audiences reacted to her photos.

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“The kind of comments I got from people were really shocking! One woman said ‘Isko sharam nai aati apne husband ke saath ye kartay hue?’ I was like, excuse me? Whose husband am I supposed to be doing this with then?”

She continued, “But I’m honestly amazed at our society. People are okay with item numbers; they’re okay with actresses doing their latkas and jhatkas. They’re even okay with showing marital affairs on television. But if a pregnant woman shares a photo of herself with her husband, then she has committed some kind of sin.”

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“Pregnant women have normal lives up until the last couple of weeks. We work and go about with our businesses. Just because I’m pregnant doesn’t mean I’m crippled! It’s not a disease or something that needs to be hidden because haye it’s so shameful,” exclaimed Gillani. But the actress believes that there are numerous factors that contribute to this such as religious beliefs.

“A lot of it comes from Bollywood too. Have you seen the way they portray pregnant women? They have an almost god-like persona. There is also a lot of superstition around how nazar lagti hai.”

However, before we blame Bollywood, it’s best to take a look at what’s happening on our own screens. Women usually don’t have very respectable characters. They’re either being bullied, or intimidated by their husbands, mothers or other family members. If a woman isn’t a weepy willow then she’ll be an evil seductress. There’s no in between.

“I have made a conscious effort to stop doing regressive characters. I’ll sit and try to reason with writers and directors that what you’re showing on screen isn’t real. Also, the women who are actually watching these TV plays are nothing like the women being depicted on screen. These women are the real heroes; they fight with their families and husbands to drive their own lives. They fight against society and other factors that try to control and oppress them. These real women succeed every day but when they turn on the TV, they’re losing. Basically, when you make such TV plays, you’re telling women that they are losers and have no real worth in the society, even though many times, it’s the women who are the driving force behind men.”

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Sawrat doesn’t mean to give all the credit to women though. “For society to function effectively, both men AND women are important. Men cannot function without women and women cannot function without men.”

“There was a film I had to say no to recently. It was the perfect film, the kind of script I had been waiting for. But then there are times when I just want to choose motherhood over anything else. But it should be my decision,” she added.

Rimsha Butt