A poser to society

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 02 May 2017 12:14:55

By Farina Salim Quraishi

Beauty and brains can be one charming combination, as petite and pretty Pankhuri Awasthy showed on a recent sunny afternoon. The actress, who received rave reviews for her portrayal of Delhi’s first women emperor in Razia Sultan as well as her powerful act as Draupadi in Suryaputra Karn, was in the city recently to talk about her newly launched show, Kya Kasoor Hai Amla Ka? (KKHAK?). The show is an Indian adaptation of popular Turkish TV show Fatmagul and Pankhuri hopes her first ‘social show’ will inspire people and herald in change just like Fatmagul did in Turkey. The soft-spoken actress, who speaks her mind, without mincing words, wants to be known for her acting than her appearance and considers herself really blessed for getting to play characters of substance. Terming her role as a really difficult one since it forced her to draw on all her emotional strength, Pankhuri says with KKHAK? she is learning lessons of life.

Elaborating upon her reasons for green-lighting the show, Pankhuri says, “KKHAK? is a very strong show. Its legacy was created by Fatmagul, which become a sensation world-wide. Such was the impact of the show in its country -Turkey - it lead to drastic changes being made in the laws of the country! The show is about a burning issue - sexual assaults - which is threatening to spiral out of control in our country. Rape has become the fourth most common crime against women in India, with majority of the cases going unreported due to culture and shaming of victims! What is more shocking that instead of shaming the perpetrators of the crime, society at large shames and blames the victims of the assault! KKHAK? is not run-of-the-mill day-to-day stuff happening on TV, where families are solving and ploting problems. I would say - instead of me - the show choose me to be Amla, an ambitious girl and her fight for justice against all odds.

I loved the concept of the show, as it gives out an extremely positive message and is the need of the hour given the atrocities women have to face everywhere. This show will help the victims of sexual crime to come out and voice their problems.

They will get the confidence to talk about things they’ve been through instead of suffering in silence,” says the very articulate Yeh Hai Aashiqui actress.
Pankhuri further says KKHAK? has changed her perspective about women safety and their problems! “Before the show, like most others, I would just read such news and immediately forget about them. Scarcely realising the gravity or heinousness of the crime. The show made me more empathetic to the plight of such unfortunate women, whose life has been wrecked for no fault of theirs.

If through the show, we manage to change even 0.1 percent of people’s perception, I would say our job is done! Amla taught me many things. Her unimaginable strength to live and face the trauma, with conviction, is something I salute. It has definitely made me stronger and given me the courage to speak up! TV has the power to spark meaningful change and KKHAK? is an effort in the same direction!” says the Lucknow girl, who has done extensive research for the role.

“To be able to convincingly play Amla, I met several psychologists and a practising psychiatrist to understand the mindset of girls who have been wronged. Most women face harassment and in one form or the other on a daily basis. When the shock of being touched inappropriately is so big, one can’t comprehend and the magnitude of distress of a rape survivor.

The research helped me a lot. Shockingly what I discovered is that most of these girls are married to the guy who raped them! It’s hardly surprising given the apathetic attitude of people, who are quick to blame the girl, her attire, her body-language, her preferences and even her views for the tragedy suffered by her! I really think it’s a very sad scenario and the voice of change has been strong and loud. And what bigger voice can there be than Mr Amitabh Bachchan. It’s really amazing to have Big B drive the conversation on the subject of victim shaming, by raising a pertinent question, “Whose fault is it?”. We need to foster a safe and supportive environment for the victims of sexual assault instead of putting them on moral trials. We have also roped in an NGO, Jan Sahas Social Development Society an organisation that works 24x7 providing support to survivors of sexual assault since 2000,” says the former student of Hindu College who once slapped a man, when he dared to touch her inappropriately!

Fatmagul was telecast on Zindagi Channel only a few months back and it enjoyed a popular run on the small screen. Ask Pankhuri where this will affect the show’s success as Fatmagul is still fresh in the mind of the audience and the former ITC employee is quick to rule out any such apprehensions.

“See if that were the case, we would never have remakes. Look at the biggest blockbusters, most of them are adaptations and remakes of stories of different language and cultures, not to mention countries. When they can find such a huge acceptance, I can safely say, even KKHAK?, will be welcomed by people. It’s a very big responsibility on the makers and actors as there would be direct comparisons. But we have made several changes in the show to suit Indian sensibilities. Some elements would remain similar, if not the same. India is finally waking up to the conversation on the heinous crimes of sexual assault against women and I say each and every step counts,” says Pankhuri of the project which is taking up all of her time and energy. As the pretty lady put it, when you are doing television, you can only do television!

Kya Kasoor Hai Amla Ka?” is one of the four new shows in the Star Plus’s Dophar segment. The other three shows being Ek Aastha Aisi Bhee, Tu Sooraj Mein Saanjh, Piyaji and Dhhai Kilo Prem.

To know more about Pankhuri’s struggle for justice tune into Kya Kasoor Hai Amla Ka? on Star Plus Monday-Friday at 12:30 pm. n