Instep Today

Nabeel Qureshi, Fahad Mustafa and Mehwish Hayat weigh in on the anti-dowry bill

Instep Today
By Buraq Shabbir
Wed, 04, 19

Post the submission of the resolution, Instep speaks to team Load Wedding – a film that tackled the subject of dowry system in Pakistan.

Dowry remains a key concern in our part of the world and only adds to the miseries of parents wanting to get their daughters married. Despite criticism every now and then, this has become a pre-requisite more than a norm, without which weddings are incomplete. However, there is a good news: a resolution to ban dowry has been recently submitted in the Punjab Assembly.

According to reports, it was submitted by Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML - N) leader Uzma Zahid Bukhari, who has demanded a ban on the age-old practice by the state itself. Not to forget, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had passed a bill last year that not only bans dowry but also limits wasteful spending on weddings.

Pakistani film Load Wedding that released last year highlighted the issue of dowry aside from subtly touching upon other social taboos. Written, directed and produced by the dynamic Nabeel Qureshi and Fizza Ali Meerza, the film featuring Fahad Mustafa, Mehwish Hayat, Faiza Hassan and Samina Ahmed in key roles opposes dowry system in Pakistan without being too preachy about it. It generated mostly good reviews from critics, while it had a decent run at the local box office, followed by multiple international screenings and accolades.

The cast and crew of Load Wedding couldn’t be happier upon learning about the resolution against this practice. They expressed their gratitude on being associated with a film that dealt with the subject as Fahad Mustafa put it, “Finally there will be no more Load Weddings.”

Instep got in touch with team Load Wedding to find out their views on the matter and whether they feel films should tackle such subjects.

“I will be so happy if they regulate this law,” Fahad Mustafa told Instep in an exclusive conversation. “There have been so many laws in this country but unfortunately the implementation is not there. If they implement this one, it will be a great relief for the people of this country. I am really happy that after Load Wedding, this initiative has been taken; it is a job well done.”

Mehwish Hayat, female lead of the socially-relevant film, shared with Instep, “The curse of dowry was a major issue which we highlighted in our film Load Wedding last year. It is really great to see that the debate the film engendered has led to this anti dowry bill.”

“I have always felt that films need to be about more than just entertaining people; they need to be touching on social issues in our society,” she added. “While we as filmmakers cannot change the world, we can at least can get touchy subjects out into the open and get people talking. This bill is evidence that films can play a positive role.”

Co-writer and director of Load Wedding Nabeel Qureshi, who tackles social issues in his films (Na Maloom Afraad 1 and 2, Actor In Law), is of the view that such steps encourage one to make more films that talk about social change and that he hopes the bill is approved not just in Punjab but in the entire country.

“Pop culture definitely plays a key role in bringing social change if the subjects are handled well; I am glad that the film had an impact and led to such steps,” he maintained. “Two months back, UN Women launched a campaign against dowry and now this resolution has been submitted. It is victory for us as a filmmaker and it is huge.”

When asked if he plans to make more socially driven films, he responded, “Yes, definitely!”

“We totally believe that we should make films that have some substance besides entertainment,” he continued. “Films have a huge impact on society; worldwide, cinema is used to change people’s mindsets whether through propaganda or social change.”

We hope the anti-dowry bill gets accepted by the assembly, which will be a relief for masses. Besides, more filmmakers need to come up with content that has the potential to lead to positive social change.