Friday, October 24, 2014 - 19:32

The News Minute | October 17, 2014 | 4.11 pm IST

Recent portrayals of India in the western media had Indian people up in arms against the inaccuracy and misrepresentation. Now it’s Pakistan’s turn. 

The fourth season of popular American series Homeland got a lot of Pakistani people curious as the season was to be set in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is interesting to see just on how many levels two Pakistanis – one an author and the other a stand up comedian – have ripped apart the details in the series, prompting one person to comment: “HAHAH Hilarious! I had somewhat similar observations about Season 4. In addition, they probably couldn't have chosen a more Indian looking guy playing the role of 'Aayan'. Life of Pi guy, seriously!? The actors are so confused about how to imitate a Paki accent that they seem to be in pain while delivering dialogues. Whoever does the research for this show should be fired!”

The above comment was for Shehzad Ghias’ blog post published by Pakistani English daily Dawn, who is currently studying in theatre in New York.

He writes: “Also, we all know Pakistan is just mosques and burqa shops. But I'd like the show to showcase the more modern side of Pakistan too. So, how about Homeland show us the US Embassy in an act of highlighting Pakistani culture and fusing it with the modern world...by organising a Burqa Fashion show at the venue?

You know, just your regular desi chic-conservative affair, with models walking down the ramp to the tune of 'Burqay mai rehnay do, burqa na uthao' while the Pakistanis outside the embassy still protest because the eyelashes of many a model are visible through the veil

I think they may actually be getting there, considering the third episode for this season is named 'Shalwar Kameez'.

In an understated criticism of an incredulous scene in one of the episodes, Ghias writes: “In case the gravity of that did not sink into you, a CIA station chief gets STOMPED TO DEATH in the streets of Islamabad and Pakistan continues to exist as a country on the world map.”

Homeland Long

Fiction writer Bina Shah is more eloquent in her take on the series. In The New York Times, she says: “whenever a Western movie contains a connection to Pakistan, we watch it in a sadomasochist way, eager and nervous to see how the Wester observes us. We look to see if we come across to you as monsters, and then to see what our new, monstrous face looks like. Again, and again, we see a refracted, distorted image of our homeland staring back at us. We know we have monsters among us, but this isn’t what we look like to ourselves.”

She also points out a lot of factual inaccuracies in the series, like the use of Urdu while showing a region in which the actual language spoken in Pashto, the depiction of the American Embassy. Ghias too pointed out that the series appears to have used Google Translate because saying the English “Im sorry” at a death isn’t quite the same as the Urdu “Mujhe maaf kariye”. Ghias points out that the latter would actually indicate acceptance of guilt rather than conveying condolences.

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