| Sajjad Malik |
ISLAMABAD (dpa) – In a country where extremists shoot girls for attending school and ban women from visiting markets, a new film features a fashion model urging young girls to show their faces if needed to get their dreams.
Good Morning Karachi is about a young, lower middle-class Pakistani girl named Rafina, chasing her dreams by defying several social taboos and conservative religious restrictions.
When she pesters her mother to let her go out and look for work, she gets a stock response that most girls receive from their parents in highly conservative Pakistan.
“She wants to work but how I can allow her go out alone,” the mother says. “I just want a husband and children for her.”
The lead character, played by local model Amna Ilyas, refuses to give in and finally lands a job at Pakistan’s most exclusive salon. It opens a new world of opportunities and challenges.
She rises to become a top model, but is caught between two very different visions of Pakistan, between traditions and modernity. The former negates her dreams but is supported by many powerful people, including the militants fighting to impose strict Islamic Sharia laws.
Rafina rejects the traditions, and launches a movement to fight for emancipation of women through the fashion industry which helped her to shed conservative headgear and shoot to fame.
The film’s message encourages women to remove the physical and social restrictions which hold them back in life.
The movie depicts the extremists who attacked a rally of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, during her 2007 return to Karachi after several years in exile.
She survived but more than 100 people were killed. She was assassinated later that year.
Producer Sabiha Sumer said that the movie shows that people need a change to express their real talents.
“The purpose of starting a movement by the girl who has achieved success is to show that people from showbiz also want a change in the society,” said Sumer.
She said Good Morning Karachi is a commercial movie which shows struggle of a common girl with the hope that other can follow her footsteps to achieve the same goal.
Art critic and producer Jamal Shah said showing young women achieving high positions through struggle is not rare in the world, but still a big challenge in Pakistan.
“I appreciate the film producer for picking a bold topic and doing justice to it,” he said.
The movie so far got limited response from the public. The official Facebook page shows it got more than 7,000 likes, in a country of over 180 million.
It is not faring well at the box office either, as its release coincided with the hit Indian film PK, that is showing in all major cinemas in Pakistan.
Rehan Hayat, coordinator at Cinepax, a cinema company with branches in major cities, said Good Morning Karachi has failed to attract the movie-going public.
“It could be removed from our theatres soon as it is not doing the business we expected,” he said.
Shah said pulling crowds should not be the yardstick to measure the importance of a movie dealing with a sensitive issue like challenging the Islamic veil.