In the Limelight – Elsa Mubashir Sajjad
Elsa Mubashir Sajjad is a young talented woman who is passionate about writing and directing plays. At the age of 18, this dynamic writer strongly believes in raising awareness about various social issues pertaining our society. Her last play revolved around the sensitive ‘Me Too’ hashtag, which was very powerful. Read more about Elsa Mubashir in our following conversation.
Tell us about yourself and your background.
I am 18 years old. I have lived most of my life in Karachi. I have completed my A levels from Cedar College. I have taken a gap year from my studies and thought I should focus more on writing scripts since this has always been my passion. I focus more on social issues or topics that are relevant to our society. The funds that I earn from these plays are donated to a charity in Pakistan. So far, I have done two shows called “Parday Kay Peechay” and “Aik Ghalti”. The funds from them were donated to an orphanage and people who have been victims of acid attacks. This year, we donated to Auraat Foundation since the topic of the play was #MeToo which revolved around sexual harassment.
Do you write the scripts? How many plays have you written?
Yes, I write the scripts myself and I direct the plays too. All these plays are fictional. The first play I wrote was called “Parday Kay Peechay”. This play was based on a murder mystery and it was covered by a local newspaper. After this play, Avicenna School contacted me to direct their play “Peter Pan”. Last summer, “Aik Ghalti” went on stage. This was covered by another local news channel and was highly applauded.
How do perceive sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is an issue that’s everywhere. Everyone knows it happens. Sexual harassment is acknowledged as something that happens but it’s a topic that we don’t talk about. When I came across the hashtag of Me Too on social pages, I was very reluctant to post, due to its repercussions. Topics that are based on social issues are considered taboo in Pakistan. Hence, I still posted and my newsfeed was flooded with positive feedback on this issue. There and then, I knew this is something that needs acknowledgment. It’s really sad, but this is a patriarchal society. Now we can hope for it to be equal, but until then we need the men to understand what is happening. The basic moral of the story is with women. It’s not about, “if”, but “when”. It’s not about “if” you were ever harassed. It’s about “when” were you harassed. This was the basic message behind the story. And it can very easily be relevant to any typical Pakistani family. #MeToo basically explored the relationship of a family that has been subjected to sexual harassment.
How did you decide to come up with this script? And how you do choose the cast and crew?
My friend Moin Khan and I decided to launch Blank Page Productions. It is a Facebook page where we made an event and told people to come for auditions. People from all over Karachi came to audition for #MeToo. We usually end up taking A-level students. If you use a younger cast, you’ll get a younger audience, and they are the ones capable of making the change and we need this change to happen!
Are you looking to expand your bracket of audiences?
Of course, I am. Right now the plan is to stick to the niche crowd. Eventually, my plan is to cater and spread these issues to everyone. As I get older, I do wish to pursue my career in this as I am very passionate about writing plays.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My mother has always encouraged me, and I genuinely feel it makes a huge difference. I was never ashamed of doing what I love. I believe it’s the storyline that has all the impact.
Any message that you would like to give to the people of Pakistan?
Be more open-minded and empathetic. The plays only work if people are willing to listen. I think the biggest problem in Pakistan is that people aren’t willing to listen. People need to hear and voice out what is right or wrong.