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(Exclusive) My neighbour in Mumbai was disappointed when my daughter was born: Iqbal Khan

Television hunk Iqbal Khan will be seen in Waaris, a show highlighting discrimination against the girl child.
He tells Karan Bhardwaj that no religion curbs women’s liberty  

Waaris

Iqbal Khan/Source

QUICK BYTES 
‘RELIGION DOESN’T CURB WOMEN’S LIBERTY’
‘WAVE OF FEMINISM THAT ENDORSES MALE BASHING IS NOT COOL’
‘I FELT OUTRAGED WHEN A VISITING GUEST SAID, ‘NEXT TIME YOU’LL HAVE A SON’
‘TRPs ARE BEING RECORDED FROM REGRESSIVE REGIONS’

 

EXCERPTS FROM THE INTERVIEW

Your next show, Waaris, deals with discrimination against the girl child in society. Being father of a daughter who’s settled in city like Mumbai, did you ever feel uncomfortable?
I don’t find much change in the mentality of people. Even in Delhi or Mumbai, educated people practise prejudices against girls. When my daughter was born, a lady from neighbourhood came to congratulate us. I felt outraged when she said, ‘Don’t worry! Next time, you will have a son!’ I didn’t know how to react at the situation. In my own little experience, I have seen women emerging as a better caretaker of families than men. Seventy per cent of guys ask parents to get lost after their marriage. But women, who may also go away from home, remain more caring for parents.

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Iqbal Khan

Iqbal Khan, Arti Singh in Delhi to promote AND TV’s Waaris

However, a strange version of feminism is clearly dominating popular culture where it is okay to criticise men.
I know there’s a sudden wave of feminism to show men down. That’s weird. I don’t find it cool. I endorse gender equality. You cannot generalise men and say ‘mard to hote he aise hain’. We are equals and better believe in it. Pick up Quran, Bible or Vedas, there’s nowhere written that women should be treated differently from men. If you look at the women’s testimony in Islam, they ask for two women and one man as witness. Now that is also questioned by  a lot of men. But the fact is that women are given respite here as they have more responsibilities than men. So if one woman is expecting or held back for any reason, the other can step in.

Do you think religion contain women in a progressive society?
It’s more of a cultural issue than religion. In Mumbai, I see women in hijab doing all kinds of things like any other women. But if you go to Saudi Arab, you won’t find women with liberty. So it’s cultural and regional issue. I don’t think religion has got anything to do with women empowerment. In Islam, there have been legendary women as leaders in different times.

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Iqbal Khan

Iqbal Khan on the sets of Waaris

Unfortunately, television is gripped with regressive shows endorsing superstition and obsolete values. What’s your take?
It’s all due to misappropriation of the TRPs. Presently, TRPs are being calculated from regions which are really regressive. Every city is not like Delhi or Mumbai. You cannot even compare Delhi’s Connaught Place with Faridabad. Right now, they are recording TRPs from places like the interiors of Faridabad. So what do you expect? There was a time when an urban show like Bade Achhe Lagte Hain did wonders for Sony channel. But that was again based on the TRPs and its whereabouts. It’s not that the taste of the audience is getting deteriorated but it’s more about selection of the audience only. I am sure it will change after some time.

Coming back to your show, you’re looking so different in Waaris. How was the look conceptualised?
Well, I’m playing my age in the show. I’m 36. I thought I should keep my own beard and look natural. I started greying when I was 22. And I am sure there are a lot of guys like me. So there’s no shame in that. I am happy that the entire creative team agreed to my suggestion. I don’t colour my hair when I am not doing any show. I also grow beard after every project. It’s cool to look regular. Honestly, I haven’t experimented with my looks for the last ten years. This is the first time that I am looking different on screen.

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