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Dissecting Bulbulay's Problematic Portrayal of the Khawajasira Community



Rated 7.7 on IMDB, Bulbulay is one of the most popular television shows of all time in Pakistan, and even if you're not a viewer yourself, it's likely that you recognize names like Mehmood Sahab, Nabeel, Khoobsurat, and Momo. It's almost certain that among your acquaintances, there is at least one dedicated fan of the show who brings others along to watch it. Written by Ali Imran and Saba Hassan, the show is a successful family sitcom with a high TRP (Target Rating Point) and holds the record for Pakistan's longest-running television series with 662 episodes as of June 6th, 2023.


While the show aims to entertain, it falls into the trap of perpetuating harmful stereotypes and mocking a marginalized community. In this article, we delve into the problematic portrayal of Khawasiras in 'Bulbulay' and explore the impact it has on society.


The primary focus will be on season 2 episode 43, since in this particular episode, the character Mumtaz impersonates a transgender individual inadvertently perpetuating a distorted, one-dimensional view of the community. The character uses exaggerated gestures, loud makeup, and comedic dialogue to elicit laughter from the audience, but at the expense of the dignity and respect of the already 'belittled' community.



Screenplay:

[15:02 - 15:50]

Mehmood: "Arey tum tou meri biwi hou, Mumtaz!"
Mumtaz: "Haye! mein tou hijra hun, tumnay nahin dekhe mere thumkay? Agar bol tou mein dikhaun dou chaar"

[Continued]

Nabeel: "Arey tou aap bahir kiya karnay jarhi hain?"
Mumtaz: "Badhaiyan lene! Ghar ghar jaungi, naach gaana karungi"
Khoobsurat: "Aap jayein inkay peechay puray mohallay kou pata lag jayega"

As the screenplay suggests, Bulbulay fails to capture the true essence of the Khawajasira community and instead reduces them to mere caricatures. The show portrays transgender individuals as objects of ridicule, emphasizing exaggerated mannerisms and dressing in an attempt to generate laughs. This portrayal not only reinforces stereotypes but also dehumanizes an already marginalized community.


The damaging effect of such depictions cannot be overstated. 'Bulbulay' contributes to the propagation of discrimination and prejudice towards Khawajasiras by portraying them as objects of contempt. It promotes the idea that they are somehow inferior to others and contributes to societal stigmatisation.


Missed Opportunities for Empathy and Understanding


Comedy has the potential to bridge gaps, foster empathy, and promote understanding. 'Bulbulay,' unfortunately, fails to recognize this potential and misses an opportunity to shed light on the challenges faced by the transgender community. By resorting to cheap laughs through mockery, the show sidesteps meaningful conversations about acceptance, inclusion, and the struggles faced by Khawasiras in Pakistani society.


As viewers, it is crucial to demand responsible representation in the media we consume. 'Bulbulay' has a vast audience, and with great popularity comes great responsibility. It is vital for the show's creators and writers to be aware of the impact their content has on society, especially on marginalized communities. Sensitivity and understanding should guide the portrayal of any group, ensuring that stereotypes are not perpetuated and that dignity and respect are maintained. It is crucial for the media industry to recognize its power and responsibility in shaping societal perceptions. By promoting authentic and respectful storytelling, we can strive for a more inclusive future where all communities are treated with empathy and understanding.

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