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'Balochabad' and Female Education

Films have often been produced to represent the social, political, economic, health and educational problems as well as family and religious conflicts in the world. The world had experienced numerous social changes and several films have been made on these social changes. Thereafter, there remain many impacts of films on society. Films are the easiest mode to disseminate a message to large masses due to which the film culture is always promoted by the state and society for bringing social equilibrium in society.

Very few films are available in Balochi film industry but most of them were made for the sake of comedy, not presenting the social issues. Many short or feature films have been made by Baloch filmmakers, but mainly, the purpose has been to fascinate the masses or serve only as a source of entertainment for the people. There were never serious films, which could provide a purposeful message for social reform or social restructuring.

In Balochi film industry, only the films of Dr Hanif Sharif or other filmmakers, are considered serious. They represent Baloch social issues, due to which most viewers consider them worth watching. The reasons for not producing good films vary and include a lack of intuition and economic constraints. Despite these, the Balochi film industry has improved as compared to the past because new and emerging Balochi filmmakers are coming forward and producing films. There is a need for far-better films that are the need of the present society.

Most of the Balochi films were made for the sake of comedy, not presenting social issues

“Balochabad,” a film directed by Shakir Shaad and his colleague, Arif Badal, is going to be screened inside Pakistan as well as aboard. It is the only film, which is made to depict the situation of female education in Balochistan. I may not be wrong to say that it is the first Balochi film, which is made on female education and women empowerment. Its official trailer was supported and appreciated by people and political figures of Balochistan as well as people in foreign countries.

It is the only Balochi film produced within the country in which a Baloch female actress is playing her actual role. Baloch females were never allowed to perform in films because it is considered a social taboo. In the past, women, who performed in films, were considered negative. But Shantul Film Production changed this mindset by releasing “Balochabad” in which a female played her actual role. If we take a glance at female participation in Balochi films, we can find little or no place for females in Balochi films. Previously, women had performed in “Hammal-o-Mahganj,” a film released in 1976, which was directed by Anwar Iqbal. Before the screening, the common masses had resisted and protested against this film and they believed that it was defaming the respect of Baloch society.

After that, women participated very rarely in Balochi films. Baloch women, who were in foreign countries, like the Gulf or Iran, did participate in films, but not in Pakistan. Films made in Pakistan were mostly male-oriented, and females’ roles were played by males wearing female costumes. This culture greatly affected the Balochi film industry. Both women and film directors have always remained in fear while selecting women for films due to social pressures. Indeed, women participation in the film is very important. The film has a great effect on the lives of common masses because it has the power to manipulate the minds of people. Films direct the minds of the people as to what to think.

“Balochabad” film has a great sociological significance for Baloch society. It promotes gender equality and women participation in film-making where women have always been neglected or presented with a negative connotation. This film shows the real situation of female education and would be a tool for the people of the province in getting a lesson and promoting female education. This film also paves the way of females who want to work in the films, but they were not allowed or feared to work in the Balochi film industry.

Films like “Balochabad” should be promoted because they perpetuate women empowerment and participation. Such films are very important, especially for Balochistan wherein the female literacy rate is 33.5 per cent, which is very low and the volumes of social taboos are very high in regards to female participation in film-making. Social taboos create impediments in the ways of female education in the province.

Such films should be appreciated and promoted. People need to participate in their screening so that other producers, actors, actresses and directors should be encouraged to make such films in future.

The writer is a MPhil scholar at the Department of Sociology, University of Karachi


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