In an industry dominated by men, a successful female director always brings a fresh perspective to our screens. Pakistani television and cinema has witnessed the best of drama and filmmaking, thanks to its dynamic lot of female pros. These wonder women have not just created engaging commercial content, but have also sent across powerful messages and given voice to underrepresented stories. Films are vehicles for delivering entertainment, but they’re also educational tools through which audiences can learn more about their own society and its ills. Read on to discover more about the women changing the face of Pakistan’s entertainment industry.
1. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy
With more than fifteen prestigious accolades to her name, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy leads the charge for our list. Two Academy awards, six Emmys, a Lux Style award, and Pakistan’s prestigious Hilal-i-Imtiaz to name a few. Her impactful documentaries, such as Saving Face and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness highlight widespread issues such as acid attacks on women and honour killings, which are narratives otherwise neglected by mainstream media, despite the prevalence with which they occur. Her work is not just confined to the screen, but has crept into and shaken the corridors of power, putting pressure on lawmakers to take actions against these heinous crimes which are often relegated to nothing more than living room discussions. Beyond serving justice, Chinoy identified and imparted her fingerprint on the blank space which should be occupied by original Pakistani content for children. While growing up it’s important for children to see their own voices and experiences represented in big films, which doesn’t happen when the content geared towards them solely comes from the west. The animated film franchise 3 Bahadur also delivers powerful moral messages, with a new film slated for release in 2019.
2. Mehreen Jabbar
Mehreen’s prolific filmmaking career spans across two decades. At a time when TV serials were all about glamour, but majorly lacking in new ideas with depth, Mehreen came out ahead of the pack with her realistic approach. Each of her works focus on hard hitting storylines and multifaceted characters. Not only are her dramas a visual treat, but they have the power to make an instant connection with a large audience. Dramas such as Doraha, Daam, Mata-e-Jaan, Rehai and many more, all of which lay emphasis on social attitudes and morality. Almost all of her projects have been outstanding, but it was her critically acclaimed directorial Ramchand Pakistani that earned her immense praise globally. Mehreen also contributed to the revival of Pakistani cinema with her star-studded film Dobara Phir Se, which did not fail to impress audiences.
3. Sultana Siddiqui
Sultana Siddiqui is undoubtedly one of the most prolific names in Pakistan’s entertainment industry as it exists today. Her contribution to Pakistani television is arguably unmatched by any of her contemporaries. While she is currently making waves as the president of one of our countries biggest media networks, it was her directorial talent which brought her to our attention. Back in the days of PTV – the glorious era of Pakistani dramas – the veteran director gave audiences some of our most noteworthy plays, such as Marvi, Sassi Punno and Zara Si Aurat. After an 11-year hiatus, she made a blockbuster comeback with Zindagi Gulzar Hai. The ground breaking drama was a trail blazer in terms of dramas which centre around women empowerment.
4. Angeline Malik
An actress, producer and director: Angeline Malik is a multitalented woman. Her unique storytelling aims to highlight deep rooted issues that plague Pakistani women. Extremely selective about her projects, she is known for her powerful telefilms, which never fail to leave the audience in awe. Angeline’s most popular project is the telefilm Kitni Girhain Baqi Hain – a collection of assorted stories. Each story based on a female lead, constructs a narrative with a different, common issue faced by women in our society. This telefilm cemented her name as a legend in the Pakistani drama industry. Currently, she’s launched the initiative Inkaar Karo which brings together strong women to speak up against oppression. Her desire to empower women can be clearly seen in all her projects.
5. Afia Nathaniel
The latest name to be added to the talented fold of female filmmakers in Pakistan is Afia Nathaniel. A member of ‘Film Fatales’ independent women filmmakers, Afia founded her film production company Zambeel films in 2008. Her 2014 feature film Dukhtar gained her immense popularity. The film – based on the story of a mother and daughter – was about child marriages in Pakistan. We can only expect bigger and better things from her in the future.