The Khawatoons

  • 06 Oct - 12 Oct, 2018
  • Pernia Suhaib
  • Spotlight

In a male dominated world, six humorous girls are making waves for all the right reasons United by their passion and quirky style, the Khawatoons never fail to make an audience burst into laughter. Led by the talented comedian Faiza Saleem, the troupe travel from one city to another, spreading smiles on people’s faces. The cities include Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore. A year ago, this group of young enthusiasts had started their journey and with the passage of time their popularity has only increased. The girls tackle one city at a time, bashing misogyny and highlighting stereotypes. Considering how gender-biased the comic scene is in our part of the world is, they are up for quite a challenge. However, the founder of the group Faiza Saleem is optimistic. She works extensively to polish her subordinates, taking it to months of prep before the final performance.

The lawyer turned comedian, Faiza enjoys special attention on social media, entertaining millions with memes and videos. Started off by making homemade videos, she has now made a clear standing in Pakistan entertainment industry with appearing in Parchi and hosting at Lux style awards. Her first step in comedy was her role in ‘Pseudo Burger Diaries’ and later on she released her first video ‘Baji… eww’. Faiza uses comedy as a medium to bash gender-stereotypes and body shaming. She is also accredited with putting together the recently held ‘Auratnaak Show’ that boasted a line of female stand-up comedians, another first in Pakistan. Her more recent work include her interview based web-series by the name Doodhpatti with Dadi, a light hearted comedy show were actors and artists come to discuss their latest work.

When questioned about the difficulties faced as one of the first female stand-up comedians, she talks about the double-standards she has to face.

In an interview she states, “We’re already very limited because we know that we can’t joke about religion and politics. Then, being a woman, we can’t use abusive language or talk about sex while it’s okay for men to do so. That makes it very difficult for us to do comedy. If a man cracks a sexually explicit joke, people will laugh but if the same joke is cracked by a woman, she will be greeted with a chorus of haw-haye instead”.

Her statement underlines the mindset of our nation. The sensitivity intervened with the concept of faith and public affairs. How uptight and intolerable people are to the female gender talking about her sexuality and individuality. Thus, as an only prominent female Pakistani comedian she realised the necessity of introducing the world of comedy to the female population. Although in one sense, this humorist is only creating completion for herself, nevertheless she chooses to be the guideline of the latter and create a legacy. Whatever the majority considers taboo, Faiza takes it head on and puts their audience in fits while subtly making them re-think ideas that they inherited over generations, holding so dear without question. With this positive adjective, she thrashes all sexist jokes.

With the same enthusiasm, she leads her comrades on stage. Although her movement is young, The Khawatoons truly have potential. However, the path they have embarked themselves upon isn’t so trivial. The group face many hardships, since they are a female exclusive band, traveling from one place to another isn’t always met with ease. Faiza worries about the safety of her sisters. The ladies are met with smirks and remarks of how they don’t follow the designated role assigned to women in our society. Being bold and fearless, they turn a blind eye to the harsh voices, moving forward. She talks about how the troupe has organised a system of positive criticism.

In another interview she states, “People can come to me and share their problems and I will always listen. There’s a system wherein we are disciplined but also have a culture of love and mutual respect for each other.”

The girls are lawyers, students and dentists gathered together to make a legacy. The Khawatoons troupe comprises of Amafah Mubashir, Rabiya Hamid, Natalia Gul Jilani, Sana Ahmed Khan, Sadia Khatri, Jaweria Khan, Nimra Nabeel, Laraib Asdaf and Saman Javed as their PR Manager. The Khawatoons introduced themselves to the public in the show, ‘Auratnaak’, that received standing ovation. Marching up to the stage in their black kameez shalwars and colourful waistcoats, their energy was contagious. The audience was engaged in games including Freestyle, Paper Chase and Questions. As the group focused on the social issues faced in our society, making them relatable to the gathering, the crowd cheered them on. Although small ups and downs were seen in the performances, overall it was well responded too.

On a concluding note, Faiza enthusiastically voiced the opinion that considerable artistic potential is yet to be explored. She truly believes that one should not be afraid to take the road less travelled, for though it may be challenging, there may also be great beauty and happiness on the way. Side by side, the efforts of the Khawatoons is to be well acknowledged, we hope to see more of them in future references. •