Interview with Ali Saleem – Begum Nawazish – Rangeeli
You either love him or hate him; but one thing is for sure, you cannot ignore Ali Saleem. He is daring, out-spoken and very passionate about what he does. His various personas have entertained and enthralled us and now he is back with a brand new show and his latest persona, â€˜Rangeeliâ€™, this time on HUM TV. Here, he talks to us about â€˜Rangeeliâ€™ â€“ the show and its host.
Q â€“ Who is Rangeeli?
A â€“ Basically, Rangeeli is a character who doesnâ€™t come from a very privileged background; she did not get the best of opportunities when it came to academics. She was raised in a typical â€˜mohallaâ€™ where her idols were the Sri Devis, Madhuris, and of course, Reemas and Meeras of this world. She is very filmy and like most women from her background, her only entertainment had been watching Indian movies, so she has been educated by Bollywood and Lollywood, and a bit of Hollywood. She always craved but could not afford to look glamorous and beautiful; to wear the latest clothes; to travel around and carry expensive handbags. But, she never lost hope and finally, hit the jackpot; but, because she has a sensitive heart and knows what it is to suffer without money, she decides that she is going to share the money she has won, with her sisters. So, she decides to start a show with very simple segments in order to get a chance not only to interact with other women, but also create a platform for women to come on, get entertained, speak their hearts and minds out, and of course win money as well.
Q â€“ Why did you think of creating this character?
A â€“ I thought the more the merrier, and why not create another romance in life? Begum Nawazish is happy doing her stuff and now that I have all this time on my hands, why not create another romance, another love, another interest in my life? I have a very fond association with HUM TV and especially with Sultana Apa, so I told her that I wanted to do a show for a female audience. There are a lot of women-oriented dramas, but there isnâ€™t a single show that focuses solely on women, and being a feminist, Iâ€™ve always felt very strongly about it, as I feel that women have been neglected in many ways in our society.
We live in a society that has a lot of gender biases; where there is a
lot of prejudice against women, and they tend to be typecast as insecure, jealous, nagging, and greedy. A woman is mostly viewed as an object of desire or affection â€“ if she is lucky. No one really cares what she feels or thinks. So, I wanted a reality show in which women from different strata of life could come and participate. Basically, the show is about connecting with and educating women and showing how a womanâ€™s circumstances can change her way
Q â€“ How is Rangeeli different from Begum Nawazish?
A â€“ Begum was the character of a widow, who was very well-off as she had married into money and had a very lavish lifestyle. So, Begum invited the whoâ€™s who of Pakistan â€“ celebrities, politicians, movers and shakers, basically people from high-society â€“ into her drawing room, and took on serious issues with them.
Rangeeli, on the other hand, is for the masses; her mission statement is to empower women â€“ the show is positioned on a more social theme. You have to understand, in todayâ€™s world everything is centred on money. It saddens me to say this, but it is a reality. Money has become much more important than it was decades ago, and so in a sense, freedom is linked with money. If a woman is economically independent and is capable of supporting and sustaining herself, she does not need to take any rubbish from a man. But if a woman is completely dependant on him, she will be forced to take a lot of crap. So we decided that Rangeeli would give away up to a hundred thousand rupees in cash prizes every week to women from different walks of life. We are on the one hand celebrating womanhood, and bonding as â€˜sahelisâ€™ – which is Rangeeliâ€™s favourite word – and on the other, subtly showing people the difference in various womenâ€™s approaches. For example, a show could have a housewife wanting to win money to buy something her husband is not getting for her; or a salon-owner who wants to invest in her business; so you see the difference in their priorities right there.